Tag Archives: social media

LinkedIn. LockedOut.

groucho_marxGroucho Marx was said to have told the Friar’s Club of Beverly Hills, “Please accept my resignation.  I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”  Funny stuff from a very clever guy.  While the heyday of restrictive brick and mortar private clubs may have passed, their brand of exclusivity has migrated pretty effectively to a new locale—the Internet.  A growing chorus of complaints replete with snarky comments and asides about being locked out of groups across the frontier of social media sites are on the rise.

Increasingly the rationale for “exclusivity” is based on whether you paid the requisite freight to attend a conference or participate in a given event.  The rejection comes dressed up in diplomatic business speak…”we are only able to extend invitations to participate to members of our audience, past and present speakers and presenters…”  Entrepreneurs are leveraging a familiar twist to social media groups—membership fees so you may become part of the “in” crowd and finally the ultra, ultra-exclusive, “inclusion in the XYZ Social Media Group is by invitation only.”

Theorems of social stratification are alive and well even as the value of these groups remains unproven.  Sure, we all understand that exclusivity and scarcity for humans are like candlelight to a moth.  Humans are inextricably attracted to that which is beyond their reach.  Yet even those holding the reins of the most exclusive events in technology, education and design, like the TED conferences or All Things Digital Conference-D7 (hosted by the Wall Street Journal and sold out since last fall) understand the value of openness and sharing.  Even as they use a “time-lag” strategy to differentiate participants and the public, the power of engaging an audience that did not or could not attend their events remains a valuable part of their overall marketplace focus. 

Association leaders face the identical “inside/outside” challenge.  While the traditional dues-based model of association membership faces ongoing questions and competition, the use of social media tools to attract attention and build awareness will expand the base of possible participants.  How do you balance the exclusivity and economic value of membership with the broader branding essentials and power of being the most trusted and vital advisor for a given profession, industry or cause?  Are the demands mutually exclusive?  The rise of exclusive and restrictive participation in online groups may actually offer associations some pretense of cover in the near term, but being LinkedIn and LockedOut will undoubtedly backfire.  The bigger question remains—what will the optimum “membership” model be in an increasingly transparent and open universe?

Say It Ain't So, Seth!

In a recent SpearTalks interview Seth Godin opined that “Trying to convince a CEO of anything is a little like trying to convince a cop not to give you a ticket. It’s possible, but rarely worth the effort, given the odds.”  Hmmm.

What truly caught my attention was his notion that it is “rarely worth the effort”.  I disagree.  While you may not win the day by pressing your point of view on the CEO, it is equally possible you will stir some sense of consciousness and at the very least spark some discomfort with those long held CEO notions of what works.

By the nature of my work, I engage with dozens of CEO’s on a regular basis.  While they are not easily persuadable, they are in my experience amenable to considering alternatives and with the leverage of solid information even likely to accept and adopt a new perspective.  A recent discussion with a CEO about the potential and value of social media illustrates the point.  Initially, she seemed to miss the value proposition of social media entirely.  Her basic position simplified was “who needs it!”  When I persisted by pointing out that the younger managers on her staff had likely been using Facebook to communicate with friends and colleagues since before their high school days, she seemed to grasp the idea.  Her questions flew fast and furious.  Who controls it?  Who operates these sites?  How much time does this require?  What resources do we need to implement it?  What are the risks?  Is there a measurable ROI? 

When I reminded her that that someone else could easily start up a company page if she didn’t, the lights went on and someone was now clearly at home in her decision tree.  Seth’s right in saying it doesn’t always work, but I’d argue given the right fight, it’s worth the rare effort still.