Getting Started with Social Media: playing in the sandbox

A summary of the August 30, 2011 Dreamforce session, covering:

  • Why social media is game changing
  • The new rules of social media engagement
  • How to get your organisation started with social
  • Why you need a social media policy and what to put in it
  • An action plan to help you play in the social media sandbox

The Speakers

Jack Holt
Blue Ridge Information Systems and Georgetown University (formerly of the Department of Defense and the US Federal Government)
Dave Thomas
Director of Community and Strategy, Radian 6.
twitter@davidbthomas - Dave’s blog


Watch the full ‘Getting Started in Social’ Dreamforce session.

Customer Video

Quick Summary

The goals of the communication game are still the same but the rules have changed. This Dreamforce session introduces why social media has changed the way we communicate, and why you need to get in the game or be left behind. It also gives you an action plan, so you can get started.

Social media stats


Why is social media important?

- 91% of adults access some form of social media each month1.
- 57% of companies have acquired a customer through their blog.2
- 41% of companies have acquired a customer using Twitter.2

Social media sound bites

Jack Holt

“A comment I got from an Israeli professor: ‘This social media is not new tools that we need to learn to use. It’s a new environment in which we need to learn to live.’ ”

Jack Holt

“How many times have you pitched stories to the press to be told ‘that’s not news; we don’t care’… it may not be news to them but it is news to somebody.”

Dave Thomas

“Something to take back to the skeptics in your company. If the Department of Defense has a blogging program… your company can have that as well.”

Why the Internet is game changing


The Internet changed everything… over 2,000 years ago.

Because the first high-speed Internet was not the 56k modem. It was the hard-surface Roman road, built over 2,000 years ago.

Like our modern information superhighways, Roman roads were built by the Government for a military purpose. Significantly, however, Roman roads didn’t just empower the Roman people. They also empowered Roman citizens. Suddenly, Roman citizens could communicate better, they could also trade and transport their wealth.

Until recently, there was no greater technological revolution than those hard-surface Roman roads. But now we have the Internet – a totally connected world – and everything has changed.

People no longer have to wait for others to bring them information. They can access it themselves – and this has changed the game for everyone.

How the communication game has changed

Before Internet - Distribution


After Internet - Discovery

You tell your story to the press; they may choose to ignore it, or tell it later   You approach people who are interested in your story. They spread it for you
Journalists are gatekeepers   You can reach people directly through social media like Facebook and Twitter
Journalists create the stories   You create the stories – journalists will come to you for more information if a story you release creates a buzz
Journalists and mass media have the power   You give people the best information you can to help them make the best possible decision.
    People have the power – they can find you because they’re now empowered to find things, learn things and follow things

So can you control the game?

No – and neither can journalists. The message belongs to those repeating it. It often gets distorted – just like in the children’s telephone game – but, with social media, you can set people straight. You can also bring people to the table to hear your side of the story.

Social media case study

Winning the war of words about Afghanistan

In 2006, the US Department of Defense felt it was in danger of losing the war of words about Afghanistan.

Despite press conferences and briefings, their stories about heroes on the ground weren’t running because journalists said, “it’s not news.”

So the Department of Defense took the stories to those for whom it was news. They set up conference calls between bloggers and troops in Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to tell their story.

The result? Bloggers spread the stories – and journalists frantically contacted the Department of Defense for more information.

Jack Holt

“I knew we were successful when we started getting questions from the press about what we had already seeded in the public debate”

Action plan: Journalists may tell you something’s not ‘news’. But it’s news to someone. Find the people who care and bring them to the table, or join them where they congregate – from Facebook to Twitter.

Jack’s three laws

Follow them to sharpen up your communication.


Communication and information are linked, but they’re not the same. These three laws highlight the difference, helping you gain more from your social media communications.

  • Information is power but only when it’s communicated. Imagine a library you can’t access, or books you can’t read. If you can’t get your message out there you’ve failed.
  • Information power is measured by the difference between intent and effect. You must have an objective, or how can you know if you’ve achieved your mission?
  • Proficiency in wielding information is the difference between reacting (on your back foot) and responding (thinking ahead and engaging appropriately). You must be strategic, so you can stay one step ahead.

Action plan: The only way to control information is to stay in the conversation. To accomplish your mission, for example, selling your product, you must influence what people are saying.


The power of social media

A war story

The US navy needed to deliver supplies and help but was struggling to find the right place to board its amphibious landing ship.

Suddenly, someone in navy intelligence noticed the Tweets of a woman named Becky.

Becky’s sister was in labour so Becky was desperately attempting to drive her to the main hospital in Port-au-Prince. En route, she was receiving help from people in the Haiti Twitterverse who were telling her which roads were accessible.

Using these Tweets, the US navy plotted a path to the hospital – and arrived in time to help Becky. Just as well because the hospital had been destroyed by the earthquake.

Action plan: Social media is becoming increasingly relevant even in unexpected situations. Ignore it at your peril.

Social media policy

How to ensure your people say the right thing

22% of time spent online is on social media sites.3

So it’s highly likely that some of that time could be spent talking about your company. And, while most people working for you are doing so because they like working for you, they may inadvertently say something wrong.

Social media guidelines will help ensure that, if you’re happy with your people talking about your company, they do so in an appropriate way.

Action plan: Make sure you have social media guidelines for all your staff – and include dos and well as don’ts. Not sure what to say? Be inspired by 170 corporate social media policies at


Social Selling links

The Mini-Guide to Social Selling

The Social Sales Revolution: 7 Steps to Get Ahead

The Social Selling Resource Round-up

1 Experian Simmons, August 10, 2011 (USA only)
2 HubSpot, State of Inbound Marketing Report 2011
3 Nielsen, April 2010

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