Tag Archives: corporate communications

An incomplete taxonomy of social media for communicators

An incomplete taxonomy of social media:  comments welcomed!

An incomplete taxonomy of social media: comments welcomed!

We amateur cartographers have been trying to map the changing landscape of social media.  While lots of smart people have put together some visually interesting taxonomies (including this nebula-like graphic just about Twitter, created by Brian Solis as shared by Beth Kanter), I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around how to classify and organize these things in my head.  When there are 19 Twitter clients, and counting, it can be daunting (maybe even impossible) to try to keep up with every new entrant in this rapidly changing arena.  Any list or directory that you create is out of date in about a day.

I’ve been using this Powerpoint chart (handily available on SlideShare) as a means of charting the territory that communications professionals really need to understand.  We need to know how people are communicating with one another, finding people with like interests, and sharing interesting content.  We also need management tools.   We need convenient ways of scanning social media, finding people of interest, listing ourselves in directories, organizing our stuff and so on.  And, of course, we need ways of monitoring communications and measuring the impact of campaigns.  Understanding the range of social media tools and tactics can help us do a better job of efficiently and effectively implementing strategy.

My taxonomy is an attempt to think about social media and tools in terms of how they function and what we do with them.  As the web – and particularly mobile – technologies evolve, there will be new functions.  So many of the buckets on this Powerpoint chart arose in response to problems people encountered in their social media experience.  For example, at one point I said something like, “Ack!  I’m overwhelmed with the blogs I’m reading through my email!  What do I do?”  I started using an RSS reader.  As soon as you hear someone complaining about something, like more SPAM coming through Twitter, you can bet someone’s developing a new tool that solves that problem.  Maybe someday there will be something that doesn’t feel soldered on.

Any PR agency or corporate communications department should have someone who is familiar with and actively using at least one channel or tool in every single bucket depicted on this taxonomy.  There’s simply no excuse to be unfamiliar with these capabilities.  They’re too important.

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Corporate communicators: transform or die

Corporate communicators need to be more like transformers (flickr credit: naladahc)

Corporate communicators need to be more like transformers (flickr credit: naladahc)

The role of emotion is going to have a huge impact in the next year.  We’re not very good at thinking fast, but we’re very good at feeling fast… The emotional substrata of all media will rise.”  – Clay Shirky, author, Here Comes Everybody, speaking at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, April 27, 2009

Kind of a harsh title, isn’t it?  If you take comments by Clay Shirky to heart, this will be the year that social media — those irritating, buzzing pests that keeps strafing corporate communicators’ ears — will actually sting.  With tweets about swine flu up to 12,000 per hour (and rising), it’s clear that many people can share and collect “information” as quickly as they can type the # hastag symbol.

As I type this, I can hear the virtual “buts”, as in, “but my audience isn’t on Twitter*,” or “but we’ll lose control of the message if we start to just jump in on social media.”  Didn’t your mother tell you “no buts”?

Amy Mengel, a blogger who describes herself as “late to the party and trying to catch up”, asks “Are corporate communicators hopeless in social media?”  (Hat tip:  Tracy Campbell, CHA)  Her post was triggered by a cringe-inducing comment by Amber Naslund of Radian6 who said that if she had to replace herself, she’d recommend a grassroots rookie with lots of energy and a willingness to question old assumptions and approaches.

Many companies fear that their brands could be highjacked by the great chattering masses, according to Shirky.  The problem is, “The nightmare that you feared has already happened.”  I’m with Amy.  I think corporate communicators can transform.  We all need to get over the “buts” and adapt to the current reality.

PS Did you know the largest demographic on Twitter is 45-54?


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