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sncr 2009 research symposium and gala

November 13, 2009

in communication

it’s been a few days since i got back from the society for new communications research (sncr) symposium and awards gala.

i couldn’t say it earlier, but a key reason for my attending was because my work with ikea on their @icoworker twitter account was a finalist for the 2009 society for new communications excellence in communication award. we were honored to receive a commendation of merit in a very competitive category. another reason was sniffing out the organization to see whether we could be mates.

i needed some time to percolate, plus i’ve been waiting for the presentations to go up on sncr’s site. some are now up and i’m ready to roll, so let’s get started:

the standout content. of the seven presentations, the standouts were reports on how businesses, higher ed, and not-for-profits are adopting social media (which included information from this study); how online professional networks affect decision making; how social media is altering the world of journalism and journalists; and my personal favorite, francois gossieaux and ed moran’s discussion of their 2nd annual tribalization of business study. of these, only gossieaux and moran’s presentation is currently available on the sncr site.

you do not need to understand web 2.0 technologies;
you’re better off understanding human 1.0


i was surprised that much of the content didn’t bring me fresh insights or a-ha moments—and frankly, felt disappointed. but thanks to that aforementioned percolating, i have come to appreciate that the research validated our assumptions about social media’s effectiveness, told us where the disconnects still are, and provided the much-requested stats for selling it internally. still, i would’ve loved to have heard more predictive research and interpretation.

i did walk away with a few kernels to further mull over:

  • a yet-to-be released dartmouth study shows social networks eclipse all other forms of social media in 2009 across businesses, higher ed, and not-for-profits. use of podcasts and video tanked. i’m not surprised about the podcasts, but i am about video. and i’m interested to see if this depends on purpose and use. at any rate, how will this alter our marketing, community-building, and communication efforts going forward?
  • think emergent messiness, not hierarchical fixed processes. this came from gossieaux as one of his guidelines for successful adoption. can we get used to company and community lines blurring, down to up, inside to outside, and back again?
  • individual decision making is becoming more social, yet companies generally use social media for marketing only. are examples of using social media for collaboration so rare that they register only a blip on the research?

terrific array of attendees. sncr members include academics, researchers, futurists, economists, media, consultants, and practitioners. it was an intelligent, scholarly lot, and the diversity of backgrounds made for interesting discussion.

use of new media. since they are the society of new communications research, it’s fair to wonder, as paul hebert did before i left, what’s their use of it? during the conference, there was the requisite use of twitter, plus video and photo for eventual posting on sncr’s site. the presentations themselves were strictly powerpoint—nothing inspiring there, and certainly a few fell into common powerpoint traps. the gala showcased winning case studies, which i assume is a glimpse into sncr’s newcomm forum, where they share case studies, strategies, and tactics.

right environment. we were in ha-vahd, dahling. i busted out the pearls and pappagallo. kidding aside, it was a fantastic facility in a fabulous setting, and perfect for this organization: you want to be thought of as an erudite think tank? you can’t do much better than harvard. 

very chummy. i’m not shy, but i definitely felt like i had to work it. it felt a little like breaking into a club. i would’ve appreciated a few of the fellows with whom i opened discussions asking me about my experience and what brought me to sncr. i may be more attuned to this missed opportunity having dealt with it as a board member of council of communication management (ccm). our past president made it his mission to ensure newcomers felt included, and he started with us, the board. it became our charge to welcome each new member via email or phone and to take every new attendee at our once-per-year in-person event under our wing.

are professional memberships worth it?

actually, this is interesting and may explain why fellows took no singular interest in grooming me, a new attendee. i can’t find anything about becoming a member on their site. when i click the link to find out more about membership, i’m led to a sponsor page. i’ve shot off a note to sncr’s founder to say, hey, how does one become a member? i’m waiting to hear back.

perhaps they’ve figured out that memberships in their old form aren’t necessary for their survival. and if that’s the case, then in this particular instance, they’ve answered the question for me. bottomline: i am a geek about smart people, and they were there. i wouldn’t be surprised to find myself sniffing them out some more.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Hebert November 13, 2009 at 9:47 am

So – it sounds like a normal conference. I was hoping to hear they had 3-d screens with interactive presentations and used twitter to vote on presos, etc.

Well… congrats on your nomination and your recognition! Good work!


Liz Guthridge November 14, 2009 at 1:38 am

Congratulations again, Fran, to you and Beth for your commendation of merit!

SNCR is a great organization doing some ground-breaking work, especially thanks to its super executive director and fellows. (I’m one of the members, cheering them on.)

I’m hoping we’ll see more companies using social media for knowledge management. Last month, the WSJ and MITSloan reported that social-computing tools, such as blogs, wikis, social networks and tagging, could help employees in an organization determine which colleagues were the most knowledgeable, trustworthy and willing to help others. These attributes are so important to knowledge sharing.


fran November 14, 2009 at 11:50 am

paul and liz, thank you for the congratulations!

liz, i definitely enjoyed the people i met there, as i hope came across in my post.

thanks for pointing me to the wsj article. here’s a link, for those who might have missed it: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052970203946904574302032097910314.html



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