Case Study: Lessons Learned

So it turns out my other lessons learned (you can’t control everything, plan ahead, automate and social media is a culture) proved fitting for the final assignment. They all apply to the group work we had to do for this #smrtcce class.

We had a unique group being that we were a foursome, instead of a group of three like most of our classmates. In one way it was nice to be able to divvy up the work, but it was also tricky to coordinate. We don’t live in the same city either. But that’s the point of social media, right? To be able to transcend distance…

So let me answer three “questions”, and briefly summarize what I gleaned from this experience (I’ll make it short and sweet – that’s why I said “briefly”).

1. What you learned about your personal abilities, work habits and behaviours.

I have a decent work ethic. I like to do things according to a timeline. I tend to become the leader (read: take control). I can perform a mean gap analysis and fill holes when needed.

2. What you learned about working as part of a team.

I’ve worked in teams before. I love team sports; collaborating at work. This was a unique experience though because we had to use social media tools to complete the project. And we all had different comfort levels when it came to using those tools. I have to say that everyone made a real effort and I appreciated working with our team.

I like team work, but I also dislike relying on people who aren’t me. I have to credit our team with making that adjustment a lot easier (on me) than I anticipated.

3. What you will do differently in the future to be more effective both as an individual contributor and as a team member.

I need to learn to be more flexible (like Lesson 1) as an individual contributor. Because I like to do things my way. Only my team mates can tell me if I hid my bossy tendencies as well as I think I did.

As a team member, I could have stepped up sooner to help plan ahead a little more (like Lesson 2). As I move on in my career, and as I age, I’d like to think that I am capable of really changing my behaviour – to be able to plan ahead more. But I know that’s probably not going to happen.

Yes, I like a timeline, but I trained long, and I trained hard in my undergraduate years and now I’m a procrastinator extraordinaire. No one can take that away from me 🙂

Final note

Being effective to me means being flexible and adapting to the group’s needs. If the group seems to need a leader, step up. If the group needs someone to do the technical stuff, offer up your skills.

When it comes to social media, as I learned earlier, it’s a culture. Successful social media campaigns, just like successful group dynamics, depend on the ways you participate.

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Lesson #4: Einhorn is Finkle. Finkle is Einhorn.

Usually when I take a class, I learn a few things. The #smrtcce class is no different. (I think I just heard Jared let out a sigh of relief.)

You can read about some of the other things I’ve learned in this class:

This culmination of learning brings me to my next (and maybe final) lesson. The whole “final” thing depends on how epic I think this post ends up being.

The catalyst

Earlier this month, I tweeted under the #smrtcce hashtag. Here’s a screenshot:

The tweet linked my followers to a Ragan’s PR Daily article called “The Army Reserve’s 10 rules for social media practitioners.” Now, that title may have scared some, but Lt. Col. Andrew Morton (who wrote the article) offers some really great tips – straight from the U.S. Army Reserve.

Scroll to the bottom of the article (the Summary section).

Warning: reading the Summary section may elicit brain synapses and extreme feelings of minds exploding.

The realization

Among his words of advice, one thing really stood out to me. He says, “Social media is not a device, a platform, or a medium.”

Say whaaaaat?

He continues, “It’s a culture.”

Woah. Mind blown.

I definitely had an Ace Ventura moment (hence this blog’s title). Here’s the moment I’m referring to:

____________________________________________

Saying social media is a culture might be a simple concept to a lot of people. But this was completely revelatory to me. And the idea sums up the #smrtcce class for me.

Social media is a culture that people choose to opt in to, or opt out of. There are those who fully embrace the culture. There are others who sit more on the peripheries. Some folks are “counterculturalists” who sit outside the hegemonic circles (thank you, Antonio Gramsci).

Whether we’re coming from a business perspective or a personal perspective, we choose how we’ll interact with social media. And there are many tools to help us participate (to what degree is the choice).

Just like with other cultures, there’s also etiquette to be aware of. For example, in Thai culture, it’s considered rude to point or touch anything with your feet. In Canadian culture, it’s considered rude (even if justified) to show somebody your middle finger.

And just like those instances, there are accepted behaviours and there are behaviours that are frowned upon in social media culture. Even though social media is a culture that can transcend other cultures.

What now?

Now that I know how to use many of the tools, and how to plan, strategize and measure activity in social media culture, I guess I’ll have to decide how I’ll participate…beyond an academic setting.

Plan ahead — lesson, the 2nd

However pitiable it might be, it’s time to impart my wisdom. Again!

Plan like you’ve never planned before

In the throes of my case study research, I often found it difficult to visualize the end result. There’s so much information to wade through, and having to blog about my research has been so different from other, more traditional academic requirements. It was a challenge to “see the forest for the trees.”

Personally, I like to learn by doing. So, after completing the first part of this semester-long project, I can tell you that
planning is paramount
.

Particularly for an academic blog, advanced planning makes all the difference for keeping up with regular posts. When you’re tackling a case study (like my fellow #smrtcce classmates and I have been doing this semester) it can be even tougher to get that up-front planning done before you sit down to write.

And, in an attempt to have some semblance of a social life, I’ve been forced to plan ahead.  In a perfect world, I’d tell you that this works 100% of the time. But like I mention in my first lesson, something always manages to get in the way. Reality usually works out a little more like that Brian Fantana quote from Anchorman: “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.”

Image courtesy of quickmeme.com

Big picture

This #smrtcce lesson has a broader meaning for the PR profession too. PR pros often find themselves in tactician roles and we struggle to find a way to work toward that strategist role.

It’s important to keep the end result (or big picture) front of mind and work toward that goal, strategically. Even if it means doing a lot of the planning up front.

Short-term pain for long-term gain, if you ask me. Armed with a clear, logical plan that aligns with the strategic business goals of your company, you’ll be better positioned to get that coveted seat at the executive table.