It struck me in the past couple months working with large companies that the difference between social media and traditional media is like football and basketball. It’s the difference between the scripted and the improvisation. It’s the difference between believing you can plan your life and living it.
Ready Sports Fans!
- has set plays with a beginning middle and an end.
- on most plays only 2 of 11 offensive players on the field touch the ball
- is measured down to the inches, it’s often called a game of inches you know
- has a rule about certain players being ineligible to catch a pass
Sounds a lot like classic marketing, top down, methodically planned.
- has offensive sets where each individual has a chance to score
- all team members on the court in many cases touch the ball
- allows for any individual to capitalize on opportunities
- everyone plays defense and offense with interchangeable positions (those Boston Celtic fans who have seen 7 footer Kevin Garnett bring the ball up like a point guard, you know what I’m talking about)
Sounds a lot like social media.
At any point in the day, you can have a customer service issue, a new product design idea, or an employee issue change your plans for that day. I’ve coached basketball for 10 years now, so I’m a bit biased. It has a greater opportunity and tolerance for improvisation. I heard another comparison of football and basketball as being similar to a symphony versus jazz. The point is the perspective of one form of business communication and discovery is more open to the randomness of life.
It struck me during a recent presentation i gave, that this concept of the randomness of social media causes anxiety among many in a football-like corporate environment. I could see the room divide. The basketballers, those that want to move the ball down court by throwing it to any one on their team offered ideas on how they could use different social media tools like Twitter, and those footballers who saw these tools as rule breakers thought the randomness was unproductive and raised objections.
This is a nagging question for those further up the Everett Rogers Diffusion of Innovation curve.
Rogers Diffusion of Innovation.bmp
Gartner says by 2010, sixty percent of the Fortune 1000 with a website will connect to or host a form of online community–that’s those folks in the Later Majority phase. Gartner also predicts by 2011, micro blogging will be in 80 percent of enterprise social communities.
If Gartner’s correct, the American football-dominated corporate culture will have figured out how to incorporate the random opportunities and uncertainties presented by the social web into a process that makes the players who enjoy it comfortable. Take heart, football fans, even the game with such meticulous planning can have its share of random acts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07zsdF0ysP0
George Carlin’s football vs. baseball was a bit of inspiration here – RIP http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmXacL0Uny0