Monday, April 19, 2010

Beware the Social Media ‘Cone of Silence’

Can social media suck you into believing you know everything? Absolutely.

I call this phenomenon the Social Media Cone of Silence … and it could be deadly for you and your business.

The “cone” is that space where you are so surrounded by online input that it feels like you’re on top of everything: You’re following the best blogs in your industry. You follow the smartest people on Twitter. You are involved in the deepest discussions on relevant LinkedIn groups. In a nutshell you’re so plugged in you’re the go-to person for what’s hot, what’s new and what’s over the horizon.

But this “cone” of information is a trap … and you need to see it for what it is. It has taken your attention away from some more basic information sources and can lull any business into a false sense of security.

So who are you likely ignoring (or at least not paying enough attention to)?

Sales people:What’s the word from sales? What are they hearing and seeing that you aren’t? They’re in the trenches day-in and day-out and they literally hear from customers all the time. What are they hearing? Is what they hear changing?

But don’t stop there. What do they know about competitors and how competitors are perceived in the marketplace? What opportunities are sales folks seeing? Given the chance to change one thing about your business or your product what would they suggest?

Sales people have your goals too, listen to them.

CRM specialists: Your customer relations specialists likely have obvious and not-so-obvious responsibilities. But the one thing they all have is a gut feeling about what is going on and what should be getting more attention.

Find these people throughout your organization … and look hard. For example the front-desk security guard or the delivery driver may not seem like customer relations types but they are. The handle customers every single day and because of this they know a lot of stuff that you don’t. Find them and listen to them.

Carol: This person may have another name in your organization, but in the first newsroom I worked in many years ago Carol was the secretary and receptionist. That is to say she was the smartest, most community connected person in the room. If Carol said something was a big deal the reporters and editors would always come to regret not following up on her ideas. Who are the Carols in your organization? Get to know them. Listen to them.

Can social media provide you with a lot of real-time business intelligence? Yes. But don’t forget to mix it in with a heaping helping of smarts from the real people around you. Who will you go talk to today?

Possibly related posts
Just How Big is Social Media?
10 Commandments for Social Media


  1. I like your perspective and approach to this topic, and I agree. I've previously taken the angle of being wary of "best practices." To paraphrase previous posts:

    You can keep researching, read blogs, talk to consultants, etc… in the end, however, the only thing that is going to determine your successful strategy is you... Listen to the experts, but don’t be discouraged when following the best practices doesn’t work for you. Be flexible, learn from your mistakes, adapt, innovate, and continue to listen to the experts. It may be your project they are talking about next.

    (yes, maybe you can be a case study in the cone of silence!)

  2. Mike - thanks for the comment and it sounds as though you are well on your way to being able to completely avoid the dreaded social media "Cone of Silence"! All the best.

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