So I keep asking myself “What is the role of social media in innovation?”

Social media haunts us all. For many years you first become aware, then very aware and then fully aware that social media is changing our lives.

Let me confess: I am not alone I am sure but I seem to be presently suffering from Social Media Return Dilemma. There I’ve said it, it is out in the open, “I suffer from SMRD”.

To be honest I am struggling with social media in innovation, struggling to get my head around it for my business, for me for a long time. It often seems overwhelming, do you feel the same? I worried about this years ago and still do. What is the best social media to have as part of your communicating strategy, how much time do you network?

It starts with a realization

I can see daily the amazing power that social networking can provide, it is certainly eating into my day, more and more. Is this a good thing or bad? What suffers, what benefits? The time issue has to increasingly be managed, and I have yet to come up with a repeatable plan to manage social media consistently each day into my work. I get so much from viewing, commenting, relating and learning.

I don’t have a clear enough strategy for it or where to direct my social media energy, does anyone? It continues to evolve in front of our eyes, are you cresting the social media wave or swimming like crazy to get back up on the surfing board?

I am still learning, experimenting, exploring through a combination of writing blogs, contributing to others, updating my connections, tweeting sometimes like crazy, publishing, promoting or simply clicking on a retweet or offer a “like” back to the author or the one that has publicized something that interests me. Often I do wonder all this frenetic energy leads to what end. It does nag away at me?

My daily bread is innovation

I focus 100% on innovation- I research, I advise, I coach, I mentor, I consult around it. I also write a fair amount about the subject. It is a little “all-consuming” and maybe social media is eating into this a little more than I can digest.

Not an uncommon dilemma

Presently I work as an independent but find this has its marketing difficulties so I need a greater exposure and through social media, I feel I can achieve this. It can lead to a clearer awareness of what I stand for and what I can offer and to date I can see solid progress in others responding, connections made, work undertaken on behalf of others. I want more, so I have to stay on this social media treadmill. The building does take time and time is a precious commodity, so I try to balance this accordingly. Is it “the chicken and/or the egg” so it becomes part of this social media return dilemma?

For me I certainly want to contribute to others, to provide back some of my experiences and significant knowledge gained in working across different aspects of innovation, as many people struggle with this daily. The one problem is I want to get paid for this and I keep wondering how social media can give me that monetary return?  At present, it seems more a constant outpouring and I have not figured out yet, the return for this. The more traditional channels to market still yield more but I think, no I believe, this is changing but it is early days. I’ve just got to figure out my SMRD model better to make this happen more.

The #influencer model- things are changing fast

Things are changing at last. There is a growing recognition that over time your thoughts, opinions, views build up a level of trust. Now, this is precious, as you really do need to guard this, hold onto it and keep improving it as best you can.. Achieving a “go to” trusted resource means you are entering the emerging #influencers domain. This #influencer phenomenon is presently hitting a fever pitch for consumer brand marketing and digital influencing. Perhaps innovation is following from where I see and partly where I seem to be heading, into the #influencers camp, in understanding this and re-orientating to what it requires. What do I need to put in and what do I want out of it- gigs and (close your eyes or look away, those of you that are sensitive to this) paid work for sure!

Connecting is one thing, engaging is another!

The opportunities are certainly endless to engage across the many innovation communities and social networks. To be honest it really is becoming a full-time job and I am simply ill-equipped to go there. I run a business, this must be only a part of the running, not the taking over.

I am trying to balance time, need and return.

I have certainly found offering a considered opinion on “all things innovation” as hard work. My time spent in research gathering and exploring, let alone reading all this collected wisdom is hard work. Yet in my view, to be recognized as an innovation expert, where I think my knowledge does reside, you do have to put in this hard graft and can be very satisfying.

I’m equally always in search to engage. By engaging in numerous conversations, in exchanges, asking/ answering questions and gathering value contribution back, needs a consistent synthesis of how to channel this back into my business in a more effective and productive manner. I’m told the opportunities are endless but are these leading to work? So far it is difficult to tell as my experimental strategy maybe is muddling the social media water, or is it all the combinations that keep me “bobbing along”. I often ask myself am I straying away from traditional models of consulting and client approach and is there one better than another?

Is anyone out there, really listening?

All I know is most clients seem to have given up listening completely. That is until they run into their own brick wall and then you see all the signs of panic and suddenly and urgently need to seek from others, finding answers to their problems. Often these are the new ‘burning platforms’, self-inflicted,  as many simply were not aware what was actually coming towards them, they ignored the warning signs, that building up of a head of steam, that then suddenly blew the cap off their innovation well.  Then it is “parachute time” for help to arrive and full-scale rescue. That familiar roar of the innovation fire engine coming to help douse the fire before it fully consumes those that waited for far too long, for it to happen.

Where do you go to generate awareness? We are told to form a social media strategy and execute it. Oh yeah, right! Is that on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, Flickr, Tumblr and soooo many more. Anyone got some half-decent solutions to manage this without an army of helpers, human or robot? Of course as pointed out by @mirko_ross in reply to @akwyz, for super-nerds Medium, Slack, and Discord. We can go on.

What I really do enjoy about social media

Social media allows me to build real relationships with my potential innovation audience, to inform them instantly of new developments in my area of expertise, in my company, in my travels, in my thinking and more and more in my life. I really have got to know many others that are social #influencers or experts that you can turn too and get some reaction.

Social media is allowing me to bring a previously unseen human factor into these relationships and I like that. It does seem the person at the other end understands the #influencer brotherhood and more than often wants to respond, as they are actually looking for that same important value in their social/ business need of being seen as contributing?

The blurring in front of my eyes

Don’t you wonder who really has time to read the “stream” of tweets that just “blur” in front of my eyes? How do we sort out this stream and extract value? I really wish I had a few more magical tools for that.

Are people on the receiving end really connecting with what you say or recommend and more importantly listening to all this advice being offered? Are we forming deeper relationships from this or just fleeting ones? Am I still a click away from the recycle bin or buried in a flood of messages crushing my message by arriving later and on top of the page?

So I’m asking myself many open-ended questions, on the contribution and impact that social media is having on my business life. I learned many things, I’m moving towards a better social media strategy from all this questioning. Will it transform my business- well that is another open question?

What I’ve learned to keep remembering

  1. Social media is not a ‘fad’; it has become deeply embedded in my daily life.
  2. I’m needing to engage across multiple groups to contribute and to learn from others
  3. I am getting a ‘pulse’ on innovation happening all around me, each day, that shapes my thinking and response.
  4. So far I have been dealing with social media on my terms but struggling to extract the value I need to build this fully into my business. I need to go with a different “flow” and “letting go” as you can’t relate to everything but what does that mean?
  5. Broadcasts don’t work, self-promotion is not welcome and there is emerging a clear accepted social behavior depending on the social media. I’ve avoided these pitfalls and pleased that I have, as so many others seem not to be as socially aware.
  6. It takes a lot of time to build up a reputation, a feeling of being a trusted voice, going to bed each night you worry constantly over not losing that.

Where I’m still learning

  1. I need to select and settle on the social media applications that can fully support my strategic development priorities of building a thriving innovation knowledge practice.
  2. I certainly feel I need more professional guidance to this whole area to make more sense of it as they seem to be fragmenting even more and experimenting just for the sake of it is tougher for small organizations to do. I just still feel inadequate when I see others seemingly working this space seamlessly- or are they?
  3. Getting recognition of the expertise and knowledge that resides ‘within’ my business is still hard to achieve through the tools and applications. Knowledge platforms that work like Google or even LinkedIn are not so aligned to knowledge depth or breadth, they seem aligned with clicks, views, and shares.
  4. The time that this engaging in social exchange is taking out of my day needs to be capped. It really is a huge daily struggle.
  5. These “online exchanges” are running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year…even on holidays! You choose when you want to get involved yes, but is this just not leading us into an even bigger treadmill of never-ending activity?
  6. The development of #influencing is valuable within my business mix, more than ever. Social media, my growing network are connecting me more than most other marketing channels into prospective clients.

What I still question to find the right answers to on four topical points:

  1. That links are the Key to Success! It goes beyond that, it is to do with engagement, sustainable engagement and links are just not enough.
  2. There are out there amazing building opportunities that wait. You can’t engage in social media half-heartily, it has to be full on!
  3. Opening up new markets for your business will happen. Yes but I think over time, a time you have to put in to make this happen and it is often random, fickle and fleeting and must be the real struggle within the corporations at present, seeing a return on investment. Can we afford to just’ go with the flow’ on this?
  4. Social media can provide instant market research abilities and feedback. The larger you are, the more demanding this will be. The more opinionated you are the more popular you seem to be but that has its downsides. The fickleness of crowds. The instant reaction may not reflect the long-term value.

So, I struggle on social media and its role in my chosen space of innovation. When you suffer from SMRD like I do,  they do tell me that part of the cure is to talk about your own troubles. A trouble shared……is a trouble tweeted!



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