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Scaling the Social Media Strategist: The Presentation

On Monday I had the opportunity to present at Social Media Club Portland on the topic of Scaling the Social Media Strategist. This Friday I’ll be presenting in Portland again at WebVisions on the topic of How to Build a Community Around Your Company that Won’t Turn on You.

I always struggle with how to recap my presentations after-words. I usually can’t capture them in video an even if I did, who’d want to watch a 30-60 minute presentation and I don’t have the video editing skills to edit it down. Embedding it via Scribe works (which I’ve done at the bottom)  but unless your slides are filled with a bunch of words, it doesn’t make any sense.

So this time I wrote out a talk track (actually copied most of it from older blog posts) and then decided to post my slides as images and copy the talk track underneath each image. But, even then it’s still not really the same presentation I ended up giving. Like I wrote yesterday on my personal blog:

When I prepare my presentations I usually prepare more than what I present. I only present about 1/3 of what I had planned and I then make up another 1/3 that I didn’t plan on presenting. And the scary part is that when I’m done with my presentation, I can’t remember half of what I presented or didn’t. So what you end up with is a few stories, mixed in with anecdotes, tweetable quips and random pictures of Star Wars Lego, all delivered at a frantic, half rambling pace, with a lot of arm waving, that I’m always afraid comes off as more of a rant than an actual presentation.

So this is my best effort. I hope it makes sense, and I hope you get something useful out of it anyway. Let me know if this style works.

The topic that I was asked to speak on was kind of an accidental topic. I’ve been working as a social media strategist, or some iteration of that for 6 years. But in the process of working in this space I’ve learned a few things and lately there’s been a lot of interest in how we as individual people working in this space make it all work without killing ourselves.

Here’s all my vitals. I was just recently promoted and as of July.  I’ll be moving to London to head our digital strategies there and build out digital teams throughout EMEA.

When I was an infant, I didn’t sleep very much. My mom was really worried about me because, well, she was a first time mother and that’s what first time parents do, they worry. The Dr. told her not to worry and that I was just over stimulated. She asked what she could do to under stimulate me and he said nothing. It’s just the way I was. Then in my early adolescence I was diagnosed if Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, ADHD. ADHD is kind of a misnomer because we actually don’t have a deficiency of attention, we just have a harder time focusing that attention. We actually have lower levels of serotonin in our brains. Serotonin is the chemical that allows the synapses in the brain to make the electrical connections. So why the biology lesson?

I tell you all of this because I’ve learned a few things about how brains work, specifically my brain. And more relevant to all of you is that I’ve learned how to live, work and learn in a World that is over stimulating. How many of you feel mentally over stimulated?

Here’s what my typical day looks like.

I’d like to start by taking us to the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

In the Brazilian rain forest there is a man who lives in complete isolation. He is the last surviving member of a native tribe that has lived free from any interaction or influence from the outside World. Early on people tried to make contact and he tried to kill them so instead they put boundaries around his part of the rain forest to stop any development and allow him to live out his life in isolation.

Can you imagine living 15 years of your life in complete isolation? Can you imagine going 15 minutes of your waking life without some sort of text, tweet, email, phone call, text or other communication?

Could you imagine such a life? There are some of you who are thinking that it might sound pretty nice right now.

We live in exponential times. Everything is changing at an increasing rate of volatility. Technology, business, even the weather.

We are hyper-connected. I like to do informal ethnographic research when I’m out in public places where “normal” people hang out. Places like Target, Costco, wherever. This is a young couple with a baby on the way price shopping and looking up reviews of baby products.

If you think you’re overwhelmed with information now, I hate to tell you that it’s not going to get any better. We will look back years and years from now and think how primitive we were. How easy we had it. I know this because every generation in existence has done it and thought those words. Just like in every generation has had someone to say how horrible it is that X technology or X way of communicating was destroying the very fabric of society. Whatever X was, it’s going to make us stupid.

I have never heard a teenager complain that there was too much information. I’ve heard teenagers complain about everything known to man, but never about the ability to communicate or the amount of information out there. Teenagers don’t care if they miss some piece of information. If they didn’t see something, it wasn’t important.

Teenagers are learners. Teenagers think they know everything not because they actually know everything but because there isn’t anything they don’t think they can learn.

In both Michele Foucault’s  Madness and Civilization and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, they do a really good job of covering the evolution of society and the mind looking at different societal developments during key periods of time like the Middle Ages The Renaissance and compare the prevailing attitudes to our more current thinking. But while Carr is looking at the development of writing and technology, Foucault is looking at the development of insanity and the asylum. It’s interesting that the more advanced our thinking becomes the more mental illness there is.

Most of us don’t think about the mentally ill or the developmentally disabled people in our society. I grew up with an aunt who was a special ed. teacher and spent most summers working as a volunteer with the Special Olympics. Our understanding of these illnesses and disabilities has improved a great deal over time and fortunately our treatment has become more humane. But we still have one primary method of dealing with those who aren’t higher functioning: confinement.

Even for higher functioning individuals suffering from developmental issues or mental illness there are only small places for them in our modern society. Back in an agrarian culture, when school was optional and labor was physical, there seemed to be fewer mental illnesses and those with “below normal” IQ’s would still be functioning members of society. Working on a farm didn’t require much mental cognition. A strong back was more desirable than a sharp mind.

But society has evolved, technology has advanced and for the most part, those of us that have made the evolution agree that it’s been (mostly) a good thing. We have more mental illness, a lot of which can be traced to stress, but that doesn’t stop our progress.

I learned this great trick from a teacher of mine; when you can’t think of something (you know when you’re in a conversation and you forget the name of a book or something) say “I’ll think of it,” instead of “I can’t remember it,” and then move on and you’ll be surprised how often you’ll remember it. You’re telling your brain to keep looking for it instead of admitting defeat and giving up. This works because your brain is a problem solving machine. It is always working on things that are at different levels of consciousness.

Most people learn how to handle a basic amount of information in school. We can pay attention in class and take notes and not miss too much. But they stop there. This used to be enough. These basic juggling skills translated to a work environment where you had to do your job and handle email and the occasional phone call. Although many people feel the need to turn off email when they work. Most people handle information in a linear fashion. One thing at a time. They quit learning how to juggle.

Today’s Digital Natives (and those of us who adapted quickly) process information in a hypertext fashion.

It’s hard. This is really hard. (I was going to show this video here but I didn’t because of the AV setup.

I am not advocating for always on multitasking.

I am advocating for working smart and being smart. For growth and development. Anytime you build a new muscle, rest is just as important as stress.

Unplug, read a book (a real book). Write. Write a lot.

Schedule breaks in your day. Write in a journal every day.

You are one person. You are not scalable. Create a team.

Create a team and fill it with people who complement you. Don’t fill it with people just like you. This doesn’t have to even be an official team. Find like minded people at work. Build networks of people in social media that can act as a peer group.

Don’t let social media be pushy: Turn off all push notifications. Social media is there for you. It will be there even if you leave for a week. Nothing is that important that you have to look at it right now.

Social media should reduce, not increase email: It doesn’t today, but it should. Turn off all Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Empire Ave or any other social networks email notifications. All of those messages will be there when you log in. You don’t need to see them in email too.

Be selfless with your sharing and selfish with your time: This is why I blog and share links on Twitter. When people ask me about something and I’ve blogged about it, I just send them a link. I don’t need to spend my time rehashing the same topics over and over again. When I put this presentation together most of it came from 5 or 6 different blog posts. Share everything but don’t waste your time doing the same things over and over again.

I think the concept of having a speaker present to a group of people like this is funny because collectively, you all know more about this topic than I do. So I want to open it up to discussion. We promised that people would walk away with actionable tips. Mine are easy. Play with new tools. Set aside time to experiment. Get comfortable with RSS. Get a good RSS reader. I like Feedly and My6Sense.

What are your tips?

Scaling the Social Media Strategist

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyJoHorton Kelly Jo Horton

    Great stuff. Enjoyed the presentation on Monday night. Wish I could actually have a schedule like yours, but being a single parent tends to put a kink in schedules.

  • Anonymous

    I am so glad you were able to post about your presentation and love the format you chose. This very personal, yet applicable approach to what some of us try to balance everyday inspired me and I am so glad to have heard it live and to have met you.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    @twitter-117806740:disqus  It’s tough even married. But even then I’m not advocating my schedule is the right one. I think everyone needs to find what works for them. My wife for example couldn’t do this because she needs more sleep than I do. 

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Thanks @jeffreyrbunch:disqus It is a personal choice in that you have to find out what works for you. This is what works for me. I’m glad you like the format. I’ll probably keep doing it. 

  • Jill A

    Great Post Tac. Wish that I could have been at your presentation. And, congrats on the promotion!

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/how-to-build-a-community-around-your-company-that-won%e2%80%99t-turn-on-you-the-presentation/ How to Build a Community Around Your Company that Won’t Turn on You: The Presentation | @NewCommBiz

    [...] How to Build a Community Around Your Company that Won’t Turn on You: The Presentation By Tac Anderson ⋅ May 31, 2011 ⋅ Post a comment Filed Under  Community, Presentation, Social media Tweet Last Friday I had the opportunity to present at the WebVisions conference in Portland, Oregon. It was a great event and a great crowd. @sherylmaloney has a great writeup of several of the sessions she attended, including my own from last Monday. [...]

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