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Harrisburg University Social Media Summit

September 22, 2010
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Harrisburg University cut off all Social Media for one week

Harrisburg University has been running a social media experiment with their students, cutting off their access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for a week.  With a slight bit of irony, in the middle of their “Social Media Blackout” last week, they are held a Social Media Summit. I spent the day at said summit and picked up some interesting bits during the four panels.

Panel 1: Social Media and Policy Issues for Employers, Educators and Parents
The first panel contained four lawyers.  The one major thing I learned – lawyers hate social media. With the inherent risk through the openness, you obviously need to be smart and be careful.

As an employer who uses social media, it is important to have a policy in place for your your employees. While the lawyers might want you to give a detailed “do not do” list, it is more important to give guidelines and encourage them to do positive things.

They sited the case, City of Ontario vs. Qwan, as a case where you can legally dismiss employees for using technology for personal use, while on company time. In this case, police officers were using city issued cell phones to make personal calls, while on the clock, they were lawfully dismissed from their jobs.

The lady lawyer kept emphasizing that you are able to punish your employee’s (or student’s) actions, but do not make it a habit, policy, or expectation that you will monitor their online presence.

Panel 2: Cyber Advocay: Social and Media Political Change
As someone involved with social media to ignite change, being told the power that social media has to make social change (notice the social aspect of both) is fairly unnecessary.  However, this panel felt the need to reiterate this.  Still though, there were a few good points and thoughts.

Highlighted were some key online threats.
Accidental – In 2008 United stock dropped significantly due to an accidental news alert. The news alert was generated because of a site reorganization, that caused an old bankruptcy article to be resurfaced, which was then posted by a significant Wall Street blogger, which caused a panic selling of United stock.
Deliberate but uncoordinated – Two dominoes employees posted a video, documenting the disgusting journey of a piece of cheese. Dominoes had no social media presence and they were caught with their pants down, and no way to quickly react. This single video and the inability to react quickly cost dominoes 2% of profits.
Organized Campaigns –

Also in this panel they discussed the big question Return On Investment (ROI).  What is it? How do we measure it?  The general consensus is the ROI is about interaction, in short – Quality over Quantity.

One interesting sited example was (national educators association), they looked beyond themselves to see who is affected by the issues concerning educators and how could they leverage those connection.  As a result, NEA helps to organize parents supporting the issues that affect both their children and the educators.  I thought  it was a great example of using your connections to make an impact online.

Dennis Owens, news anchor, WHTM, Harrisburg, discussed how he was reluctant to adopt new technology, in part because he felt threatened that the permeation and speed of technology and news would replace him as a news anchor.  He joked with the internet and Twitter, “I’m irrelevant,” and said, “Everyone is a journalist now.”

Personally I think this is an interesting topic, “the current state of news” with the ability to follow events as they happen from many angles, I wonder if it is going to give a fuller understanding of the events, or because there is so much out there is it going to polarize the news even more.

Joyce Davis from the Save the World Foundation, discussed how governments can loose control (whether that is a good thing or a bad thing probably depends on the situation).  She also brought out the fact that many people underestimate the power of emerging technologies to make social change.
Champions of Causes

Throughout this panel I was continually thinking about the redefinition of “community.”

Panel 3: Social Media Innovation something or other
This panel started by posing the question to the audience, “What is innovation?”  I’m not sure what the answer ended up being, but for me, innovation is a new solution to an old problem.

During this panel, I was reminded of how many people have an incorrect view of social media. Few people would say there is anything wrong with staying in touch with friends, marketing your service or product to interested people, expressing your opinion to your political leaders, but when you do this things “online” through “social media” people view these things as new and scary.  While the means might be slightly different, the message and the concept is the same.

Richard Bonds, from the PA Department of Travel and Tourism (or something similar) summarized how everyone should think and act in regards to social media and their interactions and promotions, “Be real. Be human.”  I can’t describe it any better.

Be real. Be human.

Panel 4: Training and Education through Social Media
Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration was the take-away during this panel, and really should be a driving factor behind all things social. John Chamber of Cisco, was quoted as stating that cisco was “moving from command and control to collaboration.” Hence, the “human network.”

This panel, more than any other got me excited for teh power that can be harvested through social media.  People are unlocking potential, by building “thinking networks,” where collective thinking can come together to solve complex problems. There truly is power in numbers, but even more so there is power in numbers, where those involved have diverse backgrounds and thought processes, everyone looking at one problem from different angles. The potential power is amazing.

One of the panelist brought out how if around the proverbial water cooler, everyone stopped complaining and started sharing the things that they are learning, we cuold work together to increase each others knowledge. Just imagine the rich knowledge that could be shared in an organization

“If you don’t work for a company that supports social media, quit your job and get a new one, you will be pushing a rock up a rope.” Being involved in social media is no longer not an option.  If you expect to survive as an organization, you must be in the social media conversation, if you are not there and have no plans to get there, your organization will probably not be around in another 5 years.

Overall, it was a fairly interesting day with some great conversation.

Watch the Panels here:

Panel 1:

Panel 2:

Panel 3:

Panel 4:

Be real. Be human.


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