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On Social Media

For me, Olivier Blanchard is a MIT faculty member and the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. But there is another Olivier Blanchard, who has been writing extensively on social media at his blog The Brand Builder, and practices what he preaches at his company Brand Builder Marketing, where he helps "companies develop, build, integrate, manage and measure Social Media Programs."

I thoroughly enjoyed his latest post, "Back by Popular Demand: Is Your Social Media Director Qualified?" I can't do his excellent analysis any justice by summarizing it here, but one of his points is that using social media effectively in a business context requires qualifications that go beyond being a Facebook or Twitter personal user.

I sometimes read in the media sentences about engineering or technology that don't make sense, but at least no one denies becoming an engineer requires training. The journalist's words might show he did not understand what he wrote, but he is not going to walk around telling real engineers what to do. What is more dangerous about social media is that people without adequate training or experience can become social media directors, simply because the older generations, who tend not to use Twitter or Facebook as much (euphemism!), do not understand what requirements the position should entail.

Since younger people all know how to log into Facebook, they are expected to magically translate their knowledge of how to poke their friends and upload pictures into a workable social media strategy for a company. Good luck with that, Blanchard says. (I paraphrase.) The social media directors who are not qualified for the job also make statements they do not understand - which Blanchard enjoys debunking at his blog, especially on social media ROI - but they also try to implement their pseudo-strategy at their unsuspecting company, possibly hurting their employer's prospects.

Fortunately, there are also many qualified social media directors, and Blanchard offers valuable tips to identify them (see "Tip #4: the only social media requisition primer you'll ever need").

Other posts by Blanchard that I have enjoyed reading include:

  • "Calling foul on bogus social media experts. Again." (September 24, 2009.) I loved how Blanchard dissected the pseudo-equation of the social media expert. "As much as I would love to be an F-18 pilot, I don’t know how to fly an F-18 (or any aircraft, for that matter). As a result, you don’t see me walking around in a flight suit  pretending that I am an F-18 pilot. More to the point, you don’t see me advertising my services as an F-18 flight instructor."
  • "How to NOT calculate social media ROI" (May 29, 2009) Blanchard tears apart a ROI calculator posted on the web. "Note that this calculator was developed by two pretty smart and well respected people in the New Media world, and I am sure they meant well, but this is the kind of thing that companies really need to watch out for: Well-packaged nonsense that just doesn’t work."
  • "Embracing Obstacles: A Leadership and Project Management Manifesto" (July 24, 2009) "When I was in the French Fusiliers Marins, the unspoken motto, the underlying mission imperative was always “make it work.”"
  • "What won't you compromise (and compromise on?)" (August 12, 2009) From vision to credibility, from fresh sushi to good running shoes, "[s]ome things are too important. Some things deserve champions, not compromises. Some things deserve to be seen through all the way, no matter how hard, no matter what the obstacles."


The latest of his posts you referenced, actually, inspires me to write another post on the sorry state of financial engineering education.

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