Can We Give the Jedi/Ninja Thing a Rest?

Introducing the Social Media Shogun
by: geoffliving

“As an Interactive Jedi, I created the Triangle of Relevance as a means of wielding the Force to lure target audiences into my inbound marketing strategy,” Angie Schottmuller.

OK, we get it. The whole social media Jedi/Ninja thing is supposed to make work funner. It was cool when Todd Defren used it to start a social media education series years ago.

Now it’s reached the point of ridicule, and really hurts the sector more than anything. If you think clients — you know, the serious ones that everyone wants — are amused by Jedis and Ninjas selling them social media, think again. On the contrary, they are demanding the latest information on measurement and integration so they can demonstrate ROI to their internal management.

Most serious brand managers are leery of hiring yet another social media expert that 1) takes themselves too seriously, 2) isn’t serious about business, and 3) can’t deliver the results. Telling them you’re a social media jedi or ninja is the fastest way to send them a red flag.

Plus, generally speaking, the entire industry has an image problem thanks to such sophomoric behavior and shoddy performance. Have we forgotten the Telegraph’s now famous, “Time to Ditch the Blood Sucking Social Media Gurus” article, one of many recent discussions questioning the social media sector?

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If levity is the answer, then go a step further, and make it truly funny. For example, you could say, “I’m a social media PAPA Smurf. That’s right! I wear the bad ass red hat, suckaz!”

Point being, humor has its place, and making work fun is a good thing. However, the Jedia/Ninja thing should go the way of the social media rock star meme and fade into the night. It’s over-played and doesn’t help.

Shiny Object Syndrome: Don’t Fondle the Hammer

The following is draft material for the second edition of Now Is Gone, which is almost out of print. Comments may be used in the final edition. You can download the first drafted chapter of the new edition — Welcome to the Fifth Estate — for free.

foursquare.jpgWhen seeking to inspire a conversation about one’s initiative — whether it’s product, cause or simply education — the first instinct drives one to reach for the hot tool of the day. Since the first Now Is Gone was written, this has shifted from blogs to Facebook/Twitter to widgets and applications to iPhone apps to now geolocation networks FoursSquare and Gowalla, as well as Facebook again (thank you, Open Graph).

First dubbed Shiny Object Syndrome by PR Squared Blogger Todd Defren in 2005, this phenomenon plagues organizations, companies and individuals to adapt the latest social communications tool. It’s often based on peer pressure, buzz, or a desire to be one of the first. The issue belies strategic approaches to social communications.

Ace social technology analyst Jeremiah Owyang has in time called the phenomena “Fondling the Hammer.” Web strategists oft focus on the tool rather than their strategic approach. While we have a general strategy towards creating a great conversation, we need to best understand how to participate within that community, create an approach that will work with it, rather than just run to the shelf an pick up the latest power tool.

Unfortunately, while in the short term placating a need to play with the newest communications toy, Shiny Object Syndrome can create terrific wastes of money. That in turn, can create terrible consequences for organizations, executives and communicators alike.

In Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff‘s classic book Groundswell the home run statement, “concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies.” The community drives social media, not social media in their many technological forms. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff also note that Shiny Object Syndrome can become a major barrier to success in their fourth chapter.

Getting beyond Shiny Object Syndrome requires the lead communicator to STOP! Then go back to the master communications plan. As unsexy as it is, a blog or a widget may still be your most powerful tool. A healthy evaluation of social media tools should reveal the tools stakeholders and their influencers are using, a critical determinant as these are the relationships you seek to forge.