Who's first to embrace social media?

In Across the Sound New Marketing Podcast #13 (minute 28), Steve Rubel talked about the Going the Distance discussion on the NewPR/Wiki regarding the adoption rate of social media. Rubel reported that the common thread is that “it’s going slowly. It’s account by account, team by team … and the best way to get folks involved is by throwing them into the pool.”

Our experience at Thornley Fallis with social media is similar – with one very interesting twist.

For the last year, we’ve been building our social media pool and inviting all of our team to test the water. We launched our team Wiki approximately a year ago in December 2004. Since then, we’ve moved forward to introduce an internal blog and to encourage people to author their own blogs. We’ve recently revamped our Wiki and phased out our traditional webmaster-controlled intranet to entice our people to assume responsibility for authorship of our common workspace.

Like many others, we have found that adoption has been slow.

But here’s the twist.

The first to test and then to embrace social media have not been the youngest people on our team. They have not been the most computer-oriented.

In fact, our most senior people have been the first to experiment with and adopt social media. They have seized on our internal blog as a means of creating between people in offices in different cities a conversation that has the same immediacy as the conversations they engage in with the people in their own office.

We’ve had a similar experience with our Wiki. The most aggressive user has been one of our Vice Presidents who has begun using the wiki to manage one of our largest client relationships – posting work, deadlines and calling on the team to share information in a way that the whole team can easily see it and update it

So, right now we have the interesting experience of having people at the level of CEO, President and Vice President using our blogs and our Wiki while our younger staff mostly look on.

So, we’re off to a gradual start, which has required patience and a willingness to backtrack and try new approaches. And I believe that the early participation of mostly senior people is actually a good thing because the whole team can see that the folks who run the company really are “walking the talk.”

Hopefully, the next stage will see the more junior folks jump in to the pool. We’re doing our best to convince them that the water’s warm.

  • Just curious to know what, if any, political hurdles were overcome in order to phase out your traditional webmaster-controlled intranet. . . ?

  • Paul, we ran our traditional intranet alongside our test wiki for approximately 11 months. We didn’t really have any “political” hurdles to make the change given that the move was driven by the CEO. However, we do have the practical hurdle of engaging people to add their own material. So far, a few people have taken tentative steps in that direction. However, the vast majority of our consultants are still sitting on the sidelines. We are attempting to engage more people in the Wiki through ongoing discussions about the importance of learning about social media by using social media.