Monthly Archives: April 2013

10 Reasons Why Social Media Community Managers Are Like Common Sense

obviously-common-senseOne of the most frustrating things about being a social media or online community manager is trying to define what is the set of rules, framework, or principles by which you work with. You can do two things: you can attempt to “legislate” all that encompasses community management in some sort of rule library or bible; or you can just put it down as common sense.

“Common sense”? “That’s not acceptable – it’s too short an answer!” comes the retort, sometimes from yourself. If you can’t define it, you can’t possibly have it….. yes?

So that’s the trouble. Online community management is made up of a lot of healthy ingredients. 25% Trust, 20% Credibility, 12% Leaps of Faith, 15% Just Do It and 24% (at least) Common Sense, with 5% trace elements.

Wait, isn’t that more than 100%?  Yeah, because it feels that way most of the time.

So here they are:

10 reasons why social media community managers are like common sense.

  1. Like common sense, social media community managers are actually (you guessed it) uncommon.
  2. The more you try to wrap rules around them, the more they break down.
  3. You can count on common sense, but you can’t count it.
  4. Often when you try to count it, it makes no sense.
  5. Best learned through making mistakes. (That’s common sense).
  6. When you meet someone else who gets it, it feels surreal, like realizing you aren’t actually the last of your species.
  7. Everyone believes they are an expert in common sense. But the moment you call yourself a guru, you lose it.
  8.  When you attend a talk on it, you find that it’s all – common sense.
  9. You get it, and then you have to deal with people who don’t get it.
  10. When a social media community manager dies, there is no funeral, because everyone knew common sense died long ago.

(Hey but we’re still here, right? :)

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Nuclear power is just like social media

nuclearI was munching on my lunch while reading this io9.com article – “Nuclear power will kill fewer people than natural gas“. Basically, NASA scientists Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen say that nuclear energy leads to fewer pollution-related deaths and greenhouse gas emissions compared with fossil-fuel sources.

The argument is simple: the ongoing pollution caused by burning fossil fuels is much more dangerous than the problems caused by nuclear power, objectively speaking.  Using nuclear power prevents more fossil fuel-related deaths than fossil fuel pollution causes.

Here’s another good article about this: Fossil fuels: Deadlier than nuclear radiation. Look at the death figures for the coal industry.

WAIT! This article is not about whether this is true.

This article is about how nuclear power is like social media. Both hold great promises for their proponents and users. Both promise to generate tremendous results. Fossil fuels are like traditional marketing – you can generate results too and you can’t live without them, but the cost is high and there’s a lot of wastage.

Nuclear power has its inherent risks – that core meltdown that one hopes never happens. Social media crises are often also described with the same term, a meltdown. It seems the promise of quick wins also holds the risk of a major crisis.

In theory, if handled properly, such a meltdown is very rare. The benefits of social media are worth it in the long term. Nuclear power advocates say the same thing. The argument in the above article is that fossil fuel pollution is far worse – in part because the damage is guaranteed and sustained.

Societies use fossil fuels because it is an old habit. Same with traditional marketing. Nuclear power is used by those who are maybe considered more risk-averse, forward-thinking, or plain desperate for energy – but viewed by others as risky. Social media? Same – companies that use social media are often considered more forward-thinking, more willing to experiment, or they simply must have the attention.

You can stick with fossil fuels, but the long-term future is catastrophic for the environment. Traditional marketing too – you can continue to use it, and it will still be helpful to your bottom line, but it is arguably less competitive compared to social media marketing.

So which makes more sense? A powerful modern solution with a rare chance of disaster, or a costly solution that is tried-and-tested but cost-inefficient?

Smartphones and folding screens: bending rules for your human hand

George Colony at Forrester research writes about “Apple’s Folding Future“, and some people are skeptical.

I’m not, actually. Foldable screens is something that I’ve predicted will happen. Yes, it’s something that you and I  have seen in science fiction, and in recent years it has become reality, not just in a foldable form (2009), but a bendable form (2012), courtesy of Samsung.

Samsung-flexible-AMOLED-display_CES

But, far from just a fancy city-night lighting toy, it will solve a number of problems, such as the limitations to the size of smartphones.

iphone-handThe fixed factor is the size of the human hand. It’s this size that makes most phones about the size of an iPhone, and the Samsung big phones “comically large“. We’re forced to design it for that size, and that is ergonomics. Anything larger is uncomfortable. For a long time, the thinking is that we can’t make phones any bigger without making them uncomfortable to hold. That’s why some said in the past that the iPhone will never have a screen larger than 3.5″.

But we know today that that’s not true. Not only has the iPhone stretched to 4″, there are Samsung’s galactic screens as well. All’s well for people with big hands, for people whose need for a large screen outweigh discomfort, for people who don’t make many phone calls (or people who don’t mind holding a big tablet to the ear to make phone calls), and for those (i.e.women) who keep their phones in their handbags.

Since we can’t evolve larger hands soon, but we still want larger screens, one solution would be to make the phone collapsible or foldable. That way one can hold it like a phone when making calls, and still transform it into a bigger screen when needed.

Fold-Screen-Smartphone-from-Samsung

Foldable phones and computers already exist, so to speak – clamshells. But those are still awkward because of the relative bulk, and that half the device is keypad. But with the coming of foldable screens + existing touchscreen technology… maybe what we need is truly a foldable screen with no hinges. That would make more sense, something flat like a typical smartphone today, that unfolds without hinges into a larger tablet.

Picture from http://blogs.forrester.com/george_colony/13-04-02-apples_folding_future
Picture from http://blogs.forrester.com/george_colony/13-04-02-apples_folding_future

Don’t get thrown off by the above horribly congested “prototype” shown at Forrester – one thing one should bear in mind is that, when one paradigm (in this case the concept of the screen) changes, other paradigms will shift and change as well, so we should not expect to see a wall of icons. The phone OS for a bendable screen won’t be the same as that for a fixed screen,

George Colony admits he has no inside knowledge of what Apple is planning, but I do agree that this is a viable future. Coincidentally, Apple recently patented a curious “iPhone with wrap-around display and seamless glass housing” that seems to be using a folded screen in some way, though it doesn’t seem to unwrap, so to speak.

Oh, and you would imagine that having such a MASSIVE screen estate will mean your battery won’t even last half a day. Don’t worry – the battery side of the equation is being resolved as well. Truly, we live in an age of #scifireality.

Do check out the Samsung videos demonstrating their bendable screen prototypes and ideas – some people may not agree with the size of their smartphones (it’s the main reason I don’t want one, too big for my pocket), but their daring ideas and quick innovation is admirable.