One Voice, One Vision – or an Entire Choir Singing the Same Song?

Freddy Leading a Choir of Thousands 

I was reading the article Why Corporate Communicators are Failing Social Media earlier today and while it is a great article, before I was halfway through reading, I thought, “A key reason is that too many companies are still stuck on the idea of a voice, and not embracing and enabling diverse voices joining in harmony to sing the same song as choir.”

I love the concept of One Voice, One Vision – in theory. I recall hearing Queen’s inspirational anthem blasting through the speakers to welcome customers, partners, and speakers to the opening of a huge user conference years ago in Boston. Adrenalin pumping, feet tapping, the crowd of bodies rocking forward sharing a dream, while singing the same song. 

Therein lies the key to what I see as a common failure with many Social Media plans for communities & brands.

There is so much emphasis placed on defining the organization’s single voice, and so little placed on how to turn the message into music that communities can sing.

The four key elements of music are melody, harmony, rhythm, and dynamics. All are essential in creating the essence of music.  Imagine if we created our communities and messages like creating a memorable piece sung over and over through the ages.

Melody gives the music soul, while rhythm blends with harmony and the dynamics of the tempo of a passage. All are necessary to create a recognizable pattern known as a ‘song’. (And you can’t harmonize alone as one voice.) 

Build your Social Media Choir as if you were writing a song for them to sing:

The Melody is the Message

  • Range – covers the distance between the high notes & the low notes, with the pitch scaling between low, medium and high notes. A piece with a narrow range has a message that centers around only a few notes, often limited by a single singer’s abilities.  By contrast, a wide range carries the audience from lows to highs through many steps on the scale.
  • Messages, like melodies, are structured much like sentences in spoken language. A phrase in music is but a single unit of meaning in the entirety of the song. Wouldn’t be much of a song if the message is spoken continuously in the same limited voice, yet often, we see an organization putting out the same phrase over and over, “Come see this link on our site. It’s cool.”

The ‘one vision’ message is the organization’s chorus written by the brandmeisters, while the other voices chime in to write different verses, harmonize and get others humming along.

Creating Rhythm

  • Rhythm is the beat. It is the sound that drives to make music (and your message) move and flow. Rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. Rhythm has a steady beat, but can also change tempo with some beats stronger, softer, shorter, or longer.When delivering your message, think like a composer, changing up the tone & the tempo, including different voices adding the high hat notes, the clapping, the different sounds that create more than just a simplistic, steady thumping of your bass line message.

Who is singing harmony?

  • Harmony is the relation of notes to notes and chords to chords as they are sung or played simultaneously.  Melodic intervals are those that are linear and occur in sequence, while harmonic intervals are sounded at the same time.In other words, while it is important to stick with the core vision and play the same message consistently, the song will be richer with more voices adding depth and subtle complexity to the sound of the lead power voice.

Pause here to listen to Roseanne Barr and her infamous attempt at singing the American National Anthem in 1990.

Now listen to the same message sung by a chorus of proud voices – The Academy Choir.

You want to make Social Media music, or keep singing with ‘one voice’?

You can’t make music like that with ‘a voice’, especially if the voice is off-key to begin with. When you build your Community Management team think about who will sing bass, tenor, soprano, and if you’re lucky enough to have Do Wop singers handy, let them join in to add some soul to the single ‘brand voice’.

How do you make your message & community sing?

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Intermission is Over – And A Twitter Homecoming

I never did get around to putting up the message that I would be

for an extended span of months, but I’m chuffed being on the other side of the intermission.  My first twenty-four hours back in the zone have been filled with inspiration, tasty brain candy, laughter and a surprisingly warm Twitter homecoming. When I opened TweetDeck for the first time in months to play catch-up, little did I know the treasures I’d find. 

The first gem was in learning that @BlogBrevity, a Thought Leader DJ, will be speaking at TWTRCon SF10. Angela is a powerful communicator who understands crowd concepts and conversations – they’re lucky to have her. 

It was stimulating to also check in with @Brainzooming, a guy worth his weight in diamonds when it comes to inspiration, especially when I need a rocket tied to my behind to get back to blogging. Mike oozes creativity writing about or sharing juicy goodies that feed all of my pet passions like collaboration, innovation and dryer lint. Never a dull moment learning more about corporate strategy, or discussing spray-tanning’s impact on the love of the colour orange. 

I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy Twitter and the exchange of ideas with people like Angela and Mike, plus many other interesting brains like these sparkling jewels that I follow:

Damn it’s good to back among the living, and the sharing.  Catching up on my feed was like walking into Aladdin’s cave.  Riches in heaps & piles!

Some People are Just People and Some People Are Resources

I took an unexpected trip down memory lane today that lead to several insights about ideas and people I take for granted too often. One of which is the title of this article:  Some people are just people; some people are resources.

The catalyst for this thought was a tweet I received earlier today from a past-coworker at Exact Software. @Ronald_Voets shared:

“TERMS00012 is now called People. Bye bye Resource, we had a lot of fun.”

That probably sounds like cryptic mumbo-jumbo to you, but for me it felt a bit like the end of an era.  I remember when I started with Exact Software in 2000, I was confused initially to find that ‘people’ were refered to as ‘resources’ throughout all of the software products.  I remember thinking to myself, “Why don’t they just call them people?”

It wasn’t long before I got it.  The people of Exact’s own organization, and those of our partners & clients were indeed the most valuable resources each company could count on for their growth and success.  This was  demonstrated each day as we worked in, alongside of, and with other resources in Synergy, which was my first exposure to a web-based collaboration tool.  Synergy does much more than simply enable collaboration, but for me the longest-lasting impact has been a passion for and strong belief in the benefits of enterprise-wide communication and participation at all levels of an organization. 

Nine years ago, as a fledgling implementation consultant for Exact Canada, I had so much to learn.  Occasionally overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of information available to me, I quickly developed a system that I now realize set the stage for the way I approach Social Media on a daily basis.  I learned to search out and follow key ‘resources’ like Ronald.  Not just any old person who authored a help file I read, or who posted a similar question to one that I had.  I’d stalk the people who answered the questions, were innovative with technologies and designed the functionality. The efforts to surface right resources to help me excel were much easier and more succesful because of the shared information created by Synergy ‘resources’ all around the world who collaborated on ideas, issues, documents, planning, workflow – all of which was readily available and well-organized. It was an amazing career experience. 

If I had a question about an integration tool idea, not only would the Director of Innovation, Aad ‘t Hart, (a Big Kahuna way over in the Netherlands,) assess it critically and instruct on better options for functional design, he’d make a point of going over it again in person on his next visit to Canada. Then there is my very prized friend, Robert Klein, a excellent Sales Solution Architect for Exact.  Rob and I passed a demo database back and forth across the North American continent many times over a span of years, enriching it, enhancing it, then sharing it with our other co-workers and partners for their benefit, too.  We’d pull many late-nighters trouble-shooting issues, role-playing for sales demos, reviewing RFP’s and collaborating our little hearts out on all things Synergy. I’ve only actually been with Rob in the same physical place a hand-full of times in the many years we’ve worked together, yet I would recommend him as a great team-player with creative ideas. We’ll likely keep in touch for life, helping each other through brain-storming anything and everything we may encounter professionally.

These are but a few examples of Exact’s excellence in practicing what they preach, I can’t possibly name them all though I wish I could.  But each ‘resource’ shared one thing in common: A belief that enterprise-wide communication, collaboration and accessibility to the right resources does improve products, increase productivity, and build strong, enduring internal & external communities.

I didn’t really realize until tonight how much I took that for granted. Those experiences are the key influential drivers of my behaviors and actions as I traverse the web and social media communities now – almost 10 years later.  There are many millions of people who have a lot to say and put a great deal of information out there in the web-sphere.  The ones I consistently follow, communicate with, link to and read regularly are in fact carefully selected ‘resources’ that mentor, teach, create and reinforce ideas in a collaborative way, every day. These are resources who are passionate about Enterprise 2.0, Knowledge Management, growth, change and innovation.  The big brains mapping out further technologies that will enhance our future.

I’m excited and understand the need for this change in term for Exact’s Synergy application (there’s no denying that customers will like it), but I am also very grateful indeed that I was part of that by-gone era, the one that helped me define the difference between ‘people’ – and real resources working passionately for an organization or idea.

Learning by example…

Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m a Social Media neophyte.

Luckily, this student has had a few serendipitous encounters with several experts willing to share their knowledge – teaching by example.  I’d like to introduce you to several of the thought-leaders that have recently mentored me (whether they knew it or not,) in sifting through mountains SM information to find the real precious jewels of education.

The first, Chris Jones, is a master collaborator.  I don’t even recall how I met Chris on Twitter, but I’m grateful that I did.  As the founder of #smchat, #e20ws, and #ecosys Chris has rallied social media innovators and leaders as active contributors in weekly twitter chats to define the principles, discuss the modes and assess outcomes of Social Media. The workshops are lively, informative and thought provocative for all – expert or newbie.

Aside from the obvious knowledge imparted, the act of using many SM tools in order to inspire collaboration like this is an education and demonstration of the power of social media in itself.  Chris helps to surface prizes on the SM treasure hunt.

Another stunning example of an expert practicing what he preaches can be found on TheJordanRules. Jordan is an accomplished Digital Strategist with an enviable client list – and the most graphically pleasing blog I have seen.  It is sharp and edgy with clean, crisp graphics. 

Even more appealing than the look of the blog, the content is consistently peppered with examples, questions and instruction that is knowledge-driven, not opinion oriented.  It is like visiting a diamond mine filled with the highest quality gems like this ‘ Review of the Importance of Social Media Management‘.

These are just two of the SM thought-leaders that I’ve been fortunate to be a student of recently.  I’d recommend both to the SM experts out there, too.