But there's a startling lack of accountability swirling around right now, both in business and individual senses. And it's arresting to me.
This isn't a post with the answers. Rather, it's a post fraught with questions (and as usual, a pile of opinion). I need your help to think it through. Am I crazy?
Shortcuts In Business Social Media
I posted recently about how social media is much more about culture shift than operational capacity. And in the comments, my astute friend Olivier Blanchard discussed the social media industry's responsibility to better teach and educate about what social media is and isn't.
I agree. But. Yes, I think we need to continue emphasizing social media's impact as a core business philosophy and not just a set of tools and technology, and raising those points enough to drown out the shortcut seekers. But I also maintain that businesses have to WANT this to work for them, and be willing to implement the changes and adjustments to their business communications approach across the board.
In short, don't we have the make them accountable for their own culture, and doing the hard work on their own? Where's the line when you have to let a business fail because of their own shortsightedness, and when is it because the Royal We have failed them?
Information Overload and Boundaries
I get that there's a ton of information available to us like never before. I get that there are social networking sites galore and media from the every man. I get that we're all more accessible than ever. I get it.
But I'm a bit weary of the idea that because there's all that information, we have to digest it all, and then complain that we don't have the time to read things thoroughly or make truly informed decisions because we have "information overload". Last I checked, this is all opt-in stuff, and if you're focusing on the things that matter to YOU (instead of to "them"), you have absolute control over how much you digest and when. (I'd even argue that with all the tech that's available, you might have more control than you ever have. The universe invented the Mark All As Read button for a reason.)
Drawing your own boundaries is every bit as important in this warp-speed age as it ever was. And respecting other people's boundaries and choices seems like it's even more important given all the variations on a theme that are possible now. Yes? No?
Entitled To Free
There's an immense amount of free information out there today. I put it on my blog every week, and I'm not even the best at it. You've got amazing content creators all around you putting their expertise on video, blogs, e-books, podcasts... you could choke on the quality free content that's out there for the taking.
So this post by Whitney Hoffman on the power of "no" stopped me in my tracks. And it made me reflect on the fact that our expectations have changed for what we're entitled to have and get for free. There's a fine line between asking for someone's input or sharing in someone's valuable content, and taking advantage of someone's expertise and livelihood. Where's the line? I'm not sure I can define it (maybe you can?), but I can sure feel it when I see it or experience it.
I believe that businesses, professionals, and artists should be paid for the value of their work. And I absolutely adore the culture of openness and collaboration that social media perpetuates. I, personally, believe in giving tons of it away and I try to do that a lot. So when do we cross over from sharing and venture into the realm of demanding too much? Can our culture of free coexist with the business world?
But They Have Status
I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard "yeah, but it worked for them because they're big/famous/talented/Jesus". This chaps me, every time.
Companies don't succeed in social media because they're big. They can succeed more easily at scale because they're larger, but the philosophies that underpin their strategies are the same as they should be for the not-so-huge business kicking ass at social media. It's about intent and approach, not firepower.
Same applies for the successful social media efforts led by social media leaders. In most of the best examples, the leaders are leaders because their work is good. The quality work and contributions beget the notoriety. Not the other way around. And it usually takes a heck of a lot more time and commitment than is ever reflected in the flash of microfame.
Does the size of the audience help with the kickstart? Sure, if the effort is worthwhile and based in the right intent. But if it sucks, the audience is just as big, and just as likely to loudly articulate just how bad it is.
This to me is just an excuse. Sorry. YOU can do this. Yes, you can. Every single person doing this well started somewhere. You don't have to start huge. But you can do this, and even if you fail a few times, you will find success if you're in it for the right reasons. You don't have to be "them". Be you, and find your own path to success. Stop getting in your own way.
Am I Crazy?
So, am I imagining these things? Has our instant gratification world caused us to more quickly point the finger at external factors preventing our success, rather than taking on our own challenges? Is personal accountability lacking here more than elsewhere, or am I just jaded and cynical because I see it every day?
I'm such an optimist. I believe in potential and the power of words like "might", "could", "possible" and "maybe". But I'm frustrated. Help me work this out constructively in my head?
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