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Machiavellian Social Media

Friday, October 1, 2010

Niccolo Machiavelli is probably most well known for The Prince, but I wonder what advice he might have for organizations in the era of social media. Maybe it would look something like this ...


People and Tactics
  • Make sure you have the right people running your social media efforts;
  • Give those people robust rules of engagement;
  • If you can't afford to actively manage the presence, at the very least defend your name against squatters;
  • Deal with dissenters quickly;
  • Whenever possible build your organization's own capacity, prior to borrowing resources from others or hiring outside talent;
  • Study the successes and failures of others; and
  • Be diligent during quiet periods so you are ready when/if the shit hits the fan.

Self-reliance
  • Number of followers/friends/subscribers is less important than loyalty;
  • Loyalty is strongest when it is earned over time; and
  • Underdogs who fight the status quo have a hard time moving up but enjoy greater respect if/when they are successful.

Change Management
  • Using social media to address organizational change is one of the most difficult things to do because people are naturally resistant to change;
  • Those who benefited most under the old system will be your biggest resistors to change; and
  • It is impossible for anyone to live up to everybody's expectations; disappointment is inevitable, so the mission must be compelling enough to rally supporters when they are wavering.

Reputation
  • It won't always be good news. While you should avoid things that contribute to a negative reputation, ultimately you should pursue whatever is most beneficial given the circumstances of the day; but
  • Don't break your word unnecessarily. It will cost you.

Generosity
  • Sharing is great but be cognizant not to overwhelm your stakeholders with your message; and
  • It is desirable to be both true to the organization's mission and be popular in the space; the former is more important than the latter.

Honour
  • Pursue organizational goals by engaging and you will earn respect, sit on the fence and you will lose it.

Avoid Ego Tripping

  • Don't only discuss your organization's efforts with yes-men, have a core group of trusted advisers who will always give it to you straight.

Luck (Fortune)
  • Luck is at most half the battle, every other inch requires effort, follow-through, and a relentless drive to be the best.

I particularly like the last one, you?

[h/t to Chelsea and Mary Beth for inspiring this post]
[image credit: anonymous9000]