Facebook Revolution with SMUG on KTTC

I had a fun opportunity to be interviewed earlier this week as part of this story that ran on KTTC TV in Rochester Thursday night:

I also kind of broke my general rule about not initiating friend requests with females under 30 because Lauren Hardie, the reporter, mentioned SMUG in the story, and that she had some additional video of the interview with me on her Facebook page. So if you want to see that snippet, go see Lauren’s videos.

The Danger of “Core Competence”

Among the books I’ve been devouring recently is The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton Christensen. (I highly recommend it!) As I was listening to the unabridged audio version, the following statement — though read in the same measured tones as the rest of the tome — screamed its relevance:

Core competence, as it is used by many managers, is a dangerously inward-looking notion. Competitiveness is far more about doing what customers value than doing what you think you’re good at. And staying competitive as the basis of competition shifts necessarily requires a willingness and ability to learn new things rather than clinging hopefully to the sources of past glory.

The challenge for incumbent companies is to rebuild their ships while at sea, rather than dismantling themselves plank by plank while someone else builds a new, faster boat with what they cast overboard as detritus.

The context of the statement is a discussion of companies that outsource elements of their product or service that they perceive to be less important. For example, in developing its PC in the early 1980s, IBM outsourced both its microprocessor (to Intel) and its operating system (to Microsoft.) This enabled IBM to catch up with Apple, but in the process it handed over the two most significant revenue streams and sources of profit to others. Today Intel and Microsoft are still earning billions of dollars a year from the PC business, while IBM is no longer making PCs.

This is relevant not only for our organizations and employers as a whole but also for us as individuals, and now I’m speaking directly to those involved professionally in communications, public relations, marketing, advertising or related disciplines. 

I wish I had $82.43 for every time I’ve heard someone say, “All you need to do to use social media in your business is hire some young kids, just out of college. They really understand this stuff.” As the father of two relatively recent college graduates, I appreciate the job opportunities such a statement offers. But I offer a word of caution.

You need to understand social media yourself, and not dismiss them as being outside your “core competence.”

OK, that was 17 words. But the point is that as social media grow in importance over time, and as the audiences for mainstream media shrink, if you fail to adapt your “core competence” will become less relevant. That means less marketable.

By understanding social media, you will see how they can be applied to solve your business problems, or perhaps even as a whole new business model. Otherwise, as Christensen indicates, you will find yourself disrupted by low-end innovators.

To think more about the implications of disruptive innovation, get The Innovator’s Solution or anything else Christensen has written. I’m particularly looking forward to reading his books about health care and education.

To learn how to apply the sustaining (and in some cases disruptive) innovation of social media to your work, you’re at the right place already. Become a SMUGgle and we’ll learn and share applications together.

Social Media Sends Marketing Back to the Future

Below is an interesting video my wife discovered this morning, and it highlights why continuing education through institutions like SMUG is so important. One of the interesting segments says:

The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010…did not exist in 2004. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…using technologies that haven’t been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

I don’t agree with everything in this video (for instance, how can they know what the top 10 in-demand jobs will be in 2010?), but in general it’s quite thought-provoking.


Here are a few of the thoughts it provokes in me:

At least half of my job as it currently is structured didn’t exist in 2004. My title is “Manager, Syndication and Social Media.” The syndication part, providing medical news content for traditional media, isn’t new. But being a manager for social media (and the fact that we have a social media team at Mayo Clinic) is definitely a more recent development.

The pace of technological change is amazing, but in many ways it reverses some societal trends. Following widespread adoption of radio and TV (the timeframe of which is mentioned in the video) we entered a mass marketing era. Before that time, we were a society of smaller communities, and word of mouth and localized media were the most important ways of disseminating information. But mass media meant advertisers carpet bombed us with their messages because they could, and there was no way for us to really escape.

While in some ways the era of social media seems to be hurtling us toward a wild new world along with other technological innovations, in another sense it reverses some of those 20th century realities.

It’s never been easier for word-of-mouth messages to be distributed. For instance, I have a few hundred Twitter followers who will get a tweet about this blog post. If some of them decide to retweet it, they may pass it to thousands of their followers. And RSS, Facebook and Friendfeed (to name a few) are other ways the message will get distributed. RSS is the oldest of these technologies, and it first became widely available in 2003.

So with hundreds of millions of people able to make their thoughts potentially available to anyone in the world (for free), and with the social media tools making it easier than ever for friends to stay in touch and reconnect (and for people of common interests to congregate, regardless of geography), the mass media aren’t the only game in town anymore. Which is why we continue to see headlines like this one.

Word of mouth is free. As my friend Andy Sernovitz says, “Advertising is the price of being boring.” Or as Seth Godin puts it (I just downloaded one of his audio books), “Small is the new big.”

And that’s why SMUGgles will be ahead of the game; you’re preparing for and adapting to the changes that are happening, and seeing how these new tools can help you solve the problems you face in your work.

What thoughts does this video provoke in you?

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YouTube 102: Broadcast Yourself Globally

This is a more philosophical follow-up post to “7 Steps to Getting the Most Out of YouTube.” While the former gave you some practical steps, this one looks at how advances in video equipment and the Web make it possible for anyone to be a worldwide broadcaster

Let’s take a minute to reflect on how the world of video has changed in just a quarter century (or to fit my personal example below, it’s more like 27 years.)

In 1981, most local television markets had three commercial network affiliates, and in some major metro markets there would be a PBS affiliate and occasionally an independent station. Station owners paid millions of dollars for FCC licenses, cameras, studios, transmitters and staff to create programming and pass it along to local viewers. Sometimes they had to pay fees for the exclusive right to broadcast events. Then they had to hire commercial sales staff to sell ads to car dealers, furniture stores and other local merchants, so they could interrupt your viewing pleasure with messages hawking their wares.

Today, by contrast, you can

  • buy a Flip video camera for $150 or less,
  • use a computer you already have (there are a few hundred million computers in the U.S. today) and free video editing software, and
  • create and upload programming that can be seen not just locally but worldwide, for free.

And frankly, a lot of what is being produced by amateurs today is of better quality than the professional grade of the 70s and 80s. For example, here’s some video from the 1981 Minnesota High School Boys Basketball Tournament:


The vintage video has degraded somewhat over the decades (as has your Chancellor’s physical condition), but if you compare the professional-grade graphical titles from ’81 with what comes free in iMovie today, and the clarity of picture from today’s $400 camera with what we used to see from cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars, it’s amazing to see how far technology has come. Also, the fact that I even have this historical footage is due to a friend who recorded the action with his $1,000 VHS VCR (which would be about $25 today!)

Here as a more recent example is your Chancellor’s daughter, jumping center at Target Center in this year’s Minnesota Girls Class AAA Tournament:


Of course, the even better thing is that you don’t need to get to a state tournament in order to see yourself “on TV.” In fact, here’s the Facebook group I set up for my daughter’s team, where I uploaded videos from almost every one of their games from this past year.

And thanks to Facebook and YouTube, the members of the team (and their parents) will be able to share highlights of their special season with family, friends and descendants for decades to come.

“Days of Rage” for Weathermen, Other TV Newsers

When I first heard about Paul Douglas losing his job at WCCO-TV as part of the nationwide layoffs at the CBS owned-and-operated TV stations, my first thought was that this is the worst day for Weathermen since 1969.

Paul will be just fine; he’s a natural entrepreneur who has already started and sold one successful business. But the layoffs aren’t just among weathercasters like Paul. A $2 million-a-year anchor in Chicago, and 17 of her WBBM colleagues.  WBZ in Boston laid off 30, and the layoffs are affecting all 29 CBS O&O stations.

As part of this trend, news organizations will be increasingly inviting readers and viewers to become writers and producers.

And at KCNC-TV CBS4 in Denver, where last week the CBS O&O laid off at least nine employees, including NPPA member and Video Editor of the Year Shawn Montano, the station is this week heavily promoting their new feature called “YouReport.”

Going beyond the “VJ” or “one-man-band” new wave of video journalism, “YouReport” urges viewers to use their home video cameras and cell phone cameras to shoot spot news when they see it and then deliver their citizen photojournalism to the station, as as quickly as possible, by uploading it to the KCNC-TV Web site. They’ve even written and published a “YouReport Users Guide” to help citizen journalists.

I’ve written repeatedly (here, here, here and here, for example) about the dislocations in the mainstream media. If TV rock stars like Paul Douglas can’t bank their futures solely on mainstream media, it just illustrates that people in PR need to diversify, too. In our increasingly fragmented world of communications, we can’t count on mainstream media being sufficient for “getting our message out.” And even more than that, we need to understand that it’s not a one-way world. It’s not just about getting our messages heard; it’s about hearing and responding to what those formerly known as the audience have to say.