Social Tech, Working Smarter and the Power of the Collective

A few weeks ago, I decided to set up Social Souls. A private group specifically for people who have questions around social media or digital marketing.

social media tips
Social Technologies helping us to harness the power of the collective and work smarter.

Why set up a group? Well, pretty much, on a weekly basis, I get an email or a message asking me a question. Largely, the message goes something along the lines of…

‘Hi Michelle – in your capacity as social media ‘queen’, ‘guru’, ‘expert’ … (of which I am none by the way), … what do you suggest…, how do I do…, do you know how I…? Etc, etc.

You get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong, I love helping and supporting, I’m a natural educator – and where I can, I do. But the reality is, that … I don’t know everything. Yep, very comfortable putting that out there.

And really, honestly, who does?

I love the saying, ‘If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room’ – and I couldn’t agree more as in this ever-changing world of social and digital – we’re all continuously learning. It’s part of keeping up.

So, it got me thinking about the best way to facilitate a useful solution and voila – a group, titled, Social Souls was created.

I toyed with putting the group on LinkedIn – but then in reality, I asked myself the question, when did I last visit a LinkedIn Group? For some reason, Groups on LinkedIn seem to have significantly lost their momentum over recent years. Personally, I’m hoping there’s a resurgence because gathering a collective of like-minded individuals all with the purpose of sharing knowledge, asking questions and encouraging everyone to learn more and get smarter – can only be a good thing. Right?

For now, the group is on Facebook. After all – who isn’t part of Zuckerberg’s empire?

It’s early days – but so far so good. There’s a mix of industry professionals, educators, business owners, individuals, marketers, social media managers, PR and comms people. And the conversations and support are a plenty. In fact, this week, I received a telephone call, on my landline, (I know, unheard of), from one of the Social Souls – simply calling to say how much value they were gaining from the group and thanking me for pulling it together and curating content and questions. The main takeaway – people enjoy the group, are learning and finding it really useful.

As an avid reader, in fact, total bookaholic – when writing my latest book, ‘Get Social – Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders’, (shameless plug pre-order if you wish ;), I was recommended to follow and connect with a few people. And a few of them had published books, so of course, as an author in the space, I’m always keen to learn from others. I was introduced to John Stepper, and his book, Working out Loud, which discusses real world examples of how working and workplaces are being transformed by ‘working out loud’. At the same time, (I often read in tandem), I started to read, Isabel De Clercq’s book, Social Technologies in Business. Isabel’s book, brings together 13 influencers in the social technologies space, each penning their own chapter and sharing their professional viewpoint. In fact, in many ways, her book is a perfect example of ‘working out loud’.

This also got me thinking about Social Souls – and the great things that were starting to happen just by simply bringing together a collection of people, with a shared purpose of supporting one another – with no other intention than to share knowledge and learn.

No selling, no pitching, no advertorials and certainly NO EGOs.

A safe place where people can feel free to ask ‘stupid questions’, in the knowledge, that no question is a stupid question – it’s purely an opportunity to learn, one to many.

Social Souls is also a great example of ‘working out loud’ – we’re all learning so much from one another. We share our views, our work, our experiences, our challenges – and the wisdom of the crowd provides practical real world, fast learning and support.

In fact, in a recent ‘live stream’ I did into the group, I called us a ‘smart organisation’. We are rworking smarter. Gleaning information from one another, cutting out unnecessary strife, hassle and time by learning methodologies and short cuts from others.

Someone else may have already tested and measured a specific tactic. And instead of one test going on at a time – perhaps 4 or 5 are being conducted – all individually doing their own work, yet bringing their work and findings back to the group – to glean insights collectively. Brilliant. We’re like a human algorithm.

If we were a true organisation we would be working really smart. No silos, no departments – just knowledge, learning, shortcuts and transparency. My kind of organisation.

This way of working is starting to happen. Yet it’s very much fertile territory. Social technologies in organisations are starting to break down silos allowing information to flow more freely. But what about bringing other organisations into the conversation? In Social Souls there are other ‘consultants’ in the social media space, a few of us, do exactly the same work. And that’s the real wonder. The fact that – it doesn’t even matter. We’re all learning from each other. Instead of keeping everything close to our chest for FEAR of someone stealing our ideas – we’re sharing our ideas and helping to generate more creativity, insight and know-how. We’re all learning smarter… faster.

So, here’s my big thanks to Social Souls, and everyone participating so openly and transparently. And teaching me a thing or two about the benefits of ‘working out loud’.

Meantime, would love to hear your views about the future of work, collaborative working, and not only breaking down silos within organisation, but breaking down silos within industries and sectors.

Over to you…

Michelle Carvill – Helping leaders and organisations to ‘Get Social’. Making a difference one leader at a time. Founder of digital marketing and social media agency Carvill Creative, Curator of Social Souls. Author of Get Social.

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