Recognizing Opportunity

This afternoon I had a presentation with a regional law firm on Social Media. It was great to see an organization that had the foresight to expose its employees to new media. The world is definitely changing but there’s still a misnomer out there that social media is ‘what the young folks are doing’ and it’s still not getting taken seriously.

The Newspaper Industry – Missed Opportunities

A decade ago, I worked with newspapers and watched them silently watch eBay and Craigslist. They thought it was for geeks and young people as well… until the billion dollar rug was yanked out from under them. In fact, it wasn’t really yanked, it was gently pulled.

Many newspapers wrote in awe of the growth of these technologies, unfazed that it would chip away at their own industry. Many newspapers had their toes in the Online Industry (InfiNet was one that my parent company worked with) but they failed to pull the trigger when they could have to make the necessary investment… even when they knew there was still time to do so. The corporate profitability lines had been drawn, and no manager was going to take 50% off the margins to go after this new world.

Newspapers had the coverage and the monetary resources to battle the losses. They even had the advantage of a regionally trusted brand. Rather than adapt, though, they pointed fingers and swapped one manager who didn’t understand with the next that didn’t understand.

In the decade I was at the newspaper, I don’t ever remember a session where someone came in and discussed the new technologies and asked or discussed how they could be leveraged to improve efficiency or maximize profitability.

It was refreshing today to see a local firm with a different outlook!

The Burj Dubai – a Solid Foundation

One of the slides in my presentation is a great photo of the Burj Dubai, a building under construction in the United Arab Emirates that will tower above all other buildings. It’s scheduled for completion by the end of next year and is currently estimated to have 162 stories.

162 stories is the latest estimate, though. It’s rumored that the goal has changed over the years, partly due to possible engineering estimates that underscored the strength of the foundation and how tall the building could be raised to.

One look at the building and you can begin to understand why. The foundation of the Burj Dubai is absolutely mammoth, and the spire thins as it goes up.

Social Media – A Foundation in Business

Social Media is your company’s opportunity to begin building a foundation for incredible growth over the next decade. Establishing an online brand through social media and social networks lays the groundwork for established connectivity.

Much like a web, starting today will provide you with a huge net to capture a huge volume of business in upcoming years. The landscape is changing. Search engines – even Google – will lose some of their grip on how we navigate the web as micro networks continue to rise and flourish.

The earlier your company adapts to these technologies, the better positioned it will be when your livelihood depends on it. The firm I spoke to today has exceptional opportunities. They have talent that has established authority and results in burgeoning cases like non-compete clauses and patent law.

If their staff were sharing those experiences online today and establishing online authority, especially geographically, it will provide them with the networks to grow their business tomorrow. It’s an exciting time for this firm in particular – they’re a firm that is open-minded, large enough to have an impact, but small enough to maneuver and adapt in this space quickly.

I hope they take advantage and recognize the opportunity that a few of them identified right there in the room!


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    On the whole, I agree with the principles of what you are saying. However, Social Media is a vast category that is growing by the day. You probably do this within the presentation, but it’s worth breaking down Social Media into categories and demonstrating how each category can be utilized to its own individual potential.

    Social Media primarily is a way of sharing in volume. Therefore you have a breakdown of the elements that you’d like to share and even how you would like to share them. Thoughts, whether professional or personal, can be shared through many forms of online social media. Video too has its own outlets. The number of outlets is growing at a rapid pace. So fast in fact, that it’s easy to be confused at where to draw the line once you do ‘get involved’ with Social Media.

    But, the thing to bear in mind is the awareness factor that your brand, knowledge base or product will receive once time is spent digging a little deeper into Social Media. As recent studies show that despite growth in Internet users, the traffic to the top sites from a year ago has not grown at the same rate and even decreased in some cases. This is due largely to people using Social Media and looking at good quality, syndicated content.

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      The presentation does go on to differentiate the different mediums and technologies utilized and how to leverage each – from social networking to blogging to twitter, etc. I go on to speak to some of the measurable (and immeasurable) impact of each of the technologies.

      Too much to put into a single post, for sure! This was about an hour long conversation. 🙂

      What I want to emphasize to my readers is that they have to start today… not have a ‘wait and see’ attitude. If you don’t, you could very well put the future of your organization at risk.

      Thanks Michael! You always provide insightful comments that add color to the topic. I really enjoy you and encourage everyone to visit your blog!

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      Hi Jayce! Yes, the Boston Globe was, in fact, one of my clients in the late 90’s and did a fine job at implementing database marketing techniques. They even utilized some retention analysis tools that I (and others) developed.

      Other newspapers, like the Toronto Globe and Mail, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Suburban Newspapers, and the Detroit Press invested quite a bit into new technologies. I enjoyed working with each of them immensely!

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      Perfect example. Sometimes folks ask me ‘when are we going to be done’ with our product development. I tell them not as long as we’re in business! Innovation requires leadership that recognizes that companies must continue to invest in innovation, or they will perish. It may take 100 years or more… but they’ll still perish.

      Great article!

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