My Counter-Rant on Social Media ROI

David Meerman Scott posted a podcast rant against demands for assessing the specific ROI of social media efforts. Here is my podcast push-back on that rant.


In short: Asking how social media can generate value for the company or organization is a perfectly valid question. Any social media advocate or expert has to embrace answering that question if they want to gain support from decision makers. It doesn’t have to be in dollars and cents but it must be answered in the context of how it contributes to the organization’s goals, strategy and operations.

And thanks to David for stirring the pot on this issue!

Creating the Complete Social Media Experience for Your Meetings and Events

I am presenting a webinar with Boston Conferencing/Peach New Media next Tuesday at 12 Noon. The title is Creating the Complete Social Media Experience for Your Meetings and Events: Effective Practices from the Leading Edge of Association Social Media. From the description:

Learn how to plan and implement the complete social media experience for your next event, conference or meeting in this unique webinar. C. David Gammel, CAE, will lead us through the entire process from beginning to end, helping you to identify the specific value you wish to create with social media at your events and how to make it happen. David will share cases and examples from associations and others who have effectively used social media to enhance their meetings and events.

Should be a fun program, hope to see you there!

Starting a New Collaborative Space for Small Groups

I fielded a question last week about what factors are the most important in launching a wiki to support a small working group, such as a committee, task force or team. I’ve decided to address it a bit more broadly by looking those factors for online collaboration in general.

In my experience designing and facilitating collaborative spaces online for large and small association, volunteer groups, alumni and others, you need the following to maximize successful outcomes:

  • Have a very clear and focused goal for using the space that all participants understand and support. The narrower the better;
  • Provide ample handholding and individual training for those who need it;
  • Leadership of the group MUST be avid champions for using the technology;
  • Start with one group that is excited to use the tool as a pilot test and early exemplars. Their success will draw others to adopt the tool;
  • Make sure the technology you use is very user friendly and provides the functionality your group will need to achieve their desired outcomes. Bad tech is the kiss of death.

Tools like a wiki can be greatly valuable for group collaboration but people who are new to it must have the value for THEM explained and heavily emphasized. A really strong WIIFM value proposition will get late adopters over the hump.

The Opt-in Panopticon

A story is making the rounds about a Swiss woman who was fired by her employer after they saw her active on Facebook while she had told them she was too ill to work with a computer and stayed home.

Regardless of the facts of the story above, it does illustrate a new dynamic that we are all wrestling with as a society: how to balance our personal, private, and professional identities online.

Welcome to the opt-in panopticon, where you chose to make your online activity easily observed by others.

A panopticon is a type of prison design proposed by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. The design allowed every prisoner to be viewed from a single point, which creates the perception among prisoners that they are always being observed, even when they are not. The design is still influencing prison design today.

In the context of social media, we are moving to an online environment where we are all prisoners and guards in the panopticon. The more you use social media to reflect your current status and actions (think Twitter or Facebook status updates) the more you are placing yourself into a self-imposed panopticon. You never know who might be following your actions so you must behave as if everyone is following them. This includes: friends, family, spouses, children, employers, employees, clients, members, IRS agents, you name it!

This is certainly a rather negative analogy and ignores the benefits of social networking and other participatory media. However, it is a genuine factor to be aware of and prepared for.

Some things to consider for yourself and your staff or volunteers:

  • Educate staff and volunteers to this new dynamic and how the separation of personal and professional online is increasingly hard to maintain;
  • Set expectations for representing the organization online;
  • Be forgiving. The next variation of Warhol’s famous aphorism may be that we will all be stupid online for 15 minutes. If you fire everyone who makes a mistake online you’ll have very few people left!

What do you think? How might this impact your organization and how you work with your staff and volunteer leaders?

Defining Breakthrough Results with Social Media

Today’s podcast covers what I consider to be breakthrough results with social media for membership organizations.


I debut a new offering in the podcast as well, David Gammel’s Coaching Club on Social Media. This is the perfect opportunity for any executive who wants to work collaboratively on achieving breakthrough results with social media for themselves and their organization.

Two Resources for You Today

How did it get to be Wednesday already! Fast week.

Here are two resources for your data and social media needs.

First, Wes Trochlil’s book on data management had just been released by ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership this week: Putting Your Data to Work: 52 Tips and Techniques for Effectively Managing Your Database. You can get it in ebook or dead tree versions. If you manage membership data, you should buy this book.

Second, the archive of my webinar on increasing social media participation for associations is now available from Boston Conferencing: They Built It and We Were There: Maximizing Participation in Association Social Media Programs. If you want to increase participation in your social media programs, you should buy the recording. You can hear some free follow-up podcasts on this session here and here.

Customer Service as Performance Art

Supporting your customers and members with social media is a very different kind of activity than supplying a call center. It requires a whole host of new skills, not least the ability to engage as a person with other people.

That ability to engage has to be a formal policy and expected behavior for your staff that you plan to turn loose online to engage with your customers. You can’t simply put call center people who only know how to read from a script onto a Twitter account with your company name and hope for the best.

Talking to a scripted call center staffer is usually unsatisfying. A scripted support person using social media is merely making the substandard experience transparent to the entire world. This is not adding value for anyone.

View social media based customer service as more performance art than as transaction. The quality of the interaction is going to be of more value to your organization than the individual improvement in outcome that you create for the customer or member in question.

Creating Member Value with Social Media

I gave a presentation a few weeks ago to the Maryland Society of Association Executive on creating member value with social media. This presentation is always very well received and I post my slides below for your perusal.

I offer professional speaking services and can tailor this presentation for your staff or leadership in keynote and workshop formats. Give me a call at +1 (410) 742-9088 If social media is on your radar and you want to maximize the value your organization creates with it.

Quoted on about Cleaning Up Your 'Digital Dirt'

I was quoted yesterday by an columnist about what to do when your online history, as shown by Google search results for your name, begin to cause career problems.

Here is the main portion that quotes me:

Many of us may want to find ways to erase the negative information about us on the Web, but that may not be the best strategy.

“What to do when you don’t like the impression given by your online persona?” asks C. David Gammel, a corporate technology consultant. “The counterintuitive response is the best: Post even more content about yourself online.”

However, he adds: “The content should be of a nature that is at least neutral, at best positive, for your career prospects. Blog about your professional interests. Discuss research you have conducted yourself on a topic of interest.”

Gammel believes in burying the Internet skeletons in positive cyber dust. “Once the less savory items are pushed off your first page of ego search results on Google, you’ll be fine with most people,” he notes. “That’s why you have to post more, not less, to get rid of the impact of those skeletons.”

The same thing is true for organizations as well.

Podcast: Social Media and Young Professionals: An Interview with Lauren Turner

Today I have a real treat for you: an interview with Lauren Turner who is leading some innovative efforts to use social media to engage with young professionals for the Chamber of Commerce in Fort Worth Texas.

In the interview I ask Lauren about where their young professionals are engaging online, how they have reach out to them and which techniques seem to be the most effective.

Here are a few links mentioned in the interview:

The podcast is a tad over 15 minutes long. I will also be discussing Vision Fort Worth as a case in an American Chamber of Commerce Executives webinar on October 2. Be sure to register for that event if you are interested how to engage with young professionals in your community.

Play the interview below or follow the link to download the MP3 file.