Social Strategies for Revolutionaries Session at sxsw

Social Strategies for Revolutionaries was Charlene Li’s presentation to a full audience in one of the big rooms at sxsw. She will also be posting the slides on SlideShare after the presentation, so this post just covers a few of her key highlights.

There have been a few social revolutionaries driving campaigns like reviving Jericho with peanut shipments. This is a groundswell, a social trend where people get information from each other (also the name of her upcoming book).

Four-step approach to groundswell:

  • People – assess customers social activities.
  • Objectives – what are you trying to accomplish
  • Strategy – Plan for how you will get there
  • Technology – decide which technologies to use after you figure out the above 3 points

Age is a major driver of participation. Participation in social networks tends to drop off as you look at older populations, since much of the content isn’t geared to older people on social networks, but this is gradually changing.

Blendtec has increased sales dramatically from the viral nature of the “will it blend” videos on YouTube. Ernst & Young is successfully using Facebook to recruit college students, not by using it as a marketing tool, but by having conversations with students and answering questions at the executive level. She also used Josh Bancroft as an example of someone who made something happen inside a big company using social software (wiki) to create Intelpedia under the radar of the executives (bonus points for a little Portland geek cred) 🙂

Find and support your revolutionaries within your organization, and let those people use their passion to make the company better, but this involves education for executives to help them understand what is happening and why. You also need to make it safer to fail for the people who are driving these initiatives. It also helps to start small, but think big and iterate to make corrections and adjustments as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. The social strategy also needs to be the responsibility of every employee and not just one person or group. These transitions and cultural changes take time. It can’t happen overnight and requires a great deal of patience.