Supporting Role

16 04 2010

I love fishing for metaphors. One of best fish I have fried from that pond is that of driving down a highway. The windshield represents the future. The hood ornament represents this moment in time. The rear view mirror is everything we have passed along the way.

And the faster you’re going down this highway, the faster things slip from Ahead to Behind.

Not that Behind is a bad place, for it represents everything we know thus far. There’s a lot of good in that rear view mirror.

This all became humorously apparent to me yesterday when I was working with my partners in crafting a response to an RFP. I started diagramming various social media components, a phone app, etc., and then drew this circle that I labeled The Four Pillars of Social Media. Inside I penciled in TFFY.

You know. Twitter. Facebook. Flickr. YouTube. Five years ago none of these outlets existed, but today they are so much a part of the fabric of our online existence that they have slipped from avant garde to traditional.

Yes, you read that right. Traditional. I never saw it coming. Maybe I was driving too fast (like that photo I posted yesterday to my FB). But on the internet highway we travel at warp speed, and we’ve been doing social networking long enough that text book authors have been able to catch up. No longer is this the stuff of only the popular press, or bleeding edge bloggers who live for the adrenaline thrill of finding The New New Thing.

And so our proposal includes these four pillars, destinations that must be included in a media strategy. Kind of like how web sites joined the toolbox over a decade ago. And all of these handy tools must somehow point to one another, each reinforcing The Big Idea. Toss in some flair to set it apart from the other voices in the crowd, and you have something there.

Twitter and FB often can have the same verbiage, because the Venn diagram of users has little overlap. With over 100 million Twitter users (this just announced at the Chirp conference) and 400 million FBers, there’s opportunity to reach the equivalent of 1.5 USAs. Load stills to Flickr and video to YouTube, and you’ve got a platform that will be tough to topple. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how to deploy content on these media.

Our subject matter for this RFP is a very abstract one, having to do with the selling of an idea, a value, a social good. That does not mean the basic model changes, though. Intangibles can often be hard to capture in all four of those pillars. Try taking a picture of an idea. We stretched and flexed our muscles until 2am today working to come up with not only The Big Idea, but also notions on how we might leverage each of these pillars.

I was pretty wound up from our brainstorming, and got home at 2:30 wide awake, excited and ready to submit this baby by the deadline tonight. And as much as I like to fancy myself a forward-thinking kind of guy, I must acknowledge that there is a lot of goodness in tradition. Even if it only took five years to go from hot to not, from passing lane to passe.

If we weren’t driving so fast down this road, maybe we could savor the newness a little longer. But until that fantasy comes to be, I’m buckling up for a wild ride. The dashed lines on the road are beginning to look like dots.

Dr “No Stopping Now” Gerlich




One response

20 04 2010

Goodluck!!! Love the pillars model.

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