Where is the IB?

Deconstructing the value of socialized media for businesses, and guiding businesses to consider the role of these communication platforms, is one angle that Brian Solis takes in his book Engage.  Solis’s book explores how to create valuable relationships between an organization and its online audience.  More importantly, however, is his clarity regarding how a business can either grow or thwart its brand and interest by using social media.

I found this part of the reading interesting and applicable.  His approach to what he calls the “new media,”  is ultimately to share best practices with businesses.  Solis provides concrete examples and practical suggestions to businesses, specifically related to corporate interact with customers, both current and potential, through the use of social-marketing and media platforms.  Using what he calls the “Rules of Engagement” companies can become better equipped and informed as they create and further define their brand in this new media market.

In chapter 12 of Engage, Solis discusses the importance of the relationship between a corporate brand and the platform used by the corporation to pursue public engagement and interest through socialized media.   He suggests that an organization risks “brand dilution” when it approaches the process with a ‘ready-fire’ attitude, and jumps into the whole media scene without considering the target or goal.  Additionally, he goes on to describe how a lack-luster presence might do more harm than good, since an organization’s presence online needs to represent an articulated goal or point of view in order to garner public confidence or trust.  Strategies for accomplishing this are many, including customers first-hand, the voice of the employees, etc.

Take, for instance, this blog: IBOnline.  It is one of several blogs that are listed on the IBO website.  The purpose of this blog is very unclear.  Perhaps because it doesn’t have the direction or the attributes that Solis recommends in Chapter 19 — “The Rules of Engagement” .  Looking at the blog, the most recent post is October 7th, 2011,  and the purpose of the post is basically to encourage others to tweet, albeit for a cause.  I would think sending this message out on Twitter would be the better platform to encourage others to do the same.  Perhaps the team did use Twitter, and wanted to cover all the bases by posting it on the IB online blog as well.  But I question the level of readership on this blog in the first place, and so I wonder if the post ever yielded much of a response.

Generally speaking, the IB blogs seem to be misused or misinterpreted.  The stories are missing.   The voice of the organization (whether it be many or one) is missing;  instead, the blogs seem to be staging for announcements.  Announcements which are often already presented on the organization’s main website.  Solis cautions against this use, specifying that blogs, “when used as a corporate platform for marketing, shilling, pitching, or broadcasting promotional messages, are completely ineffective.”

As Professor Lutz suggested in his first lecture, some corporations do not know how to negotiate all the offerings for social media communication.  I view the IB as an example of such an organization.  Not knowing where to begin with social media, it tried everything.  In so doing,  the consequence is that the IB is not using any single platform to the full benefit or intent.  Ultimately, it is only the IB annual Conference blogs which have the most information, and for the time during the conferences, the most use.  They come closest to the model described in Solis’s book.

In addition to these blogs,  Twitter use and tweets during the conferences seem high as well. However, some of the tweets from the staff of the IB itself again suffer from lack of authenticity, and suggest unfamiliarity with the technology.  Regarding Twitter, it too is used in a similar mouthpiece fashion, rarely used to share insightful bites about the mission of the IB, or progress towards the goals which the IB has for global education.  While I think the IB has taken the initiative to explore different social media channels, after reading Solis, I wondered if the staff executing the IB plan had read this book —  or would do things differently if this book had been available to consider the ideas Solis presents. 

The voice of IB, as seen through its current social media use, will need to grow and personalize in order to engage readers and participants.  This will in turn, according to Solis, “create authentic voices and authentic opportunities for engagement with a world-wide community of learners and educators.”

While my past exposure to social media and communication has been minimal, this book has helped me to have a more informed concept about the use and purpose of social media marketing, and how these tools are used and can be used by businesses looking to reach customers through this important and growing medium. 

NOTE:

There are three pages  listed in the menu on the side-bar:  IB Public, IB for Teachers, and IB for Students.  I have created these pages in order to collect examples that might apply to the different stakeholder groups.  I have already started adding information and links to them.  Please explore these if you can.

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