Watering Plants, Putting Out Fires and other Social Networking Folk Songs

Three events attended last week and at two of them I gave a presentation about the current trends in online recruitment – more of that probably in a future post.

The other event was an enjoyable evening hosted by Bernie Mitchell of Engaging People in which four social media networking professionals shared their take on Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Thank You Economy.

At these more informal events, where networking is mixed with learning, the Twitter stream is usually alive with ideas as attendees interpret and assimilate what they’re hearing with their own impressions and thoughts.

Previously the hashtag thread would have mainly contained oft repeated soundbites with speakers tailoring their quotes and slides to be tweetable.

But now most of those who present are telling stories and sharing experiences so the input from those listening is crucial. Some of the key points are delivered anecdotally. In the way traditional stories and folk songs were passed on and down, each time gaining a little more colour and emphasis, so those who share these new ‘stories’ are likewise creating a heritage – albeit a constantly shifting and evolving one at 140 characters a time.

So here are my top 10 nuggets from last week’s event…

  • Can we stop talking about social media and social media f***ing marketing. It’s social networking
  • Our grandparents are better equipped for being social because they remember the importance of real relationships
  • Social networking is about watering plants and putting out fires
  • Don’t wait until you know how important someone is before you say sorry, please or thank you
  • Tonight I was happy people DIDN’T talk about social media ROI. It is about connecting with people: do that & the sales will come
  • The fact is that people don’t join social networks to be sold to or marketed to
  • I think everybody in marketing should take an exam in social networking
  • Making your customers smile can bring you business
  • Service & relationships first, sales & commerce second, people share emotions not facts.
  • You wouldn’t push crap product on your friends – see every customer as your friend

…hope you find one there to share with someone today

Should Schools Go Social?

Whilst we wrestle with the various dilemmas, opportunities and pitfalls of social media policy in the workplace, I’ve yet to see anyone advocate a banning of mobile phones. I appreciate that we’re in much more enlightened times…mobile phones are no longer an accessory; they’re an extension of one’s being, they’re a vital networking and communications medium.

So it was with some surprise that I learned from my son that his phone had been confiscated by his school because he had it switched on during the day. He wasn’t looking at it during lessons, but between lessons…he wasn’t phoning or texting, but reading a text that he had received. Seems that the school has a zero tolerance policy towards mobiles…they must be switched off on entering school and not switched on again till outside the school gates.

15/16 year old boys being, well…15/16 year old boys, no-one switches them off. They leave them on silent in their pockets just in case a mate or girlfriend (hell, never a parent) sends them a text.

Now, as part of this policy, the punishment is confiscation until a PARENT comes to collect the phone. This makes me unhappy, because:

1) it’s like I am being punished as I now have to take time out of work to go pick it up, and

2) as well as a communication device, the phone is there for security in case he is in trouble/needs help

Once this irritancy had subsided though, I started to think of a wider issue. We are all talking of embracing social learning, and undoubtedly mobile learning will follow, so no doubt this will eventually be adopted by schools…yet surely if we want to instil good learning habits in tomorrow’s workforce we have to start those habits today. Shouldn’t schools be leading the way?

This is, after all, our teenager’s medium. Their platform. Social networking is in their DNA!

Half the boy’s in my son’s class have a smartphone (it’s an all boys school, in case you’re running away with the idea that there is a separate rule for girls!), so theoretically they could do some homework, read notes or generally catch up on missed topics whilst on their journey to & from school, or whilst on the move in some way.

I have typed this blogpost on my iPhone on the train journey home and sent it to my wordpress account…couldn’t my son do likewise with homework? With work becoming mobile, why not schoolwork? Why does it have to be done in a classroom or at home?

There is a school intranet, so why do boys have to go home, type their notes/essays on to a computer and print them off to hand in? Why not post it into a teacher’s file set up for individual pieces of work? Why not make the intranet into a social network? Give them the opportunity to share thoughts and information with teachers and each other in a way that will prepare them for the brave new business world of the future?

The world is going social.

The world is going mobile.

Continuous learning & development, upskilling and evolving, will be crucial for tomorrow’s workforce…wonder if anyone is brave enough to start preparing them now.