An opportunity

 180 406467113 B1776D05Aa by Erik Charlton

No surprise, it looks like we’re headed for a sustained period of tough economic times.

The hurricane has blown through, metaphorically speaking. Now it’s many long months of cleanup and getting back to normal, or maybe redefining what “normal” might be.

But there might be a silver lining to this economic storm.

A Quick Recap

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know we’re on a journey towards social media proficiency.

We’ve had our internal platform up for over a year, and we now have all sorts of external communities heading towards our external platform group.

But — challengingly — not enough people have been “thinking differently” about how to get things done.

Sure, we can revel in many successes. But against a vast backdrop of people, behaviors and legacy business processes, we’ve only just begun.

Forcing The Situation

It’s very likely that my company, like many, will be rethinking its budgets for 2009.

There probably won’t be a lot of budget for “expensive” stuff: in-person forums, face-to-face meetings, slick advertising and the like.

There’s been no official mandate in this regard yet. But smart business managers (mostly those in the marketing world) can sense the change of economic seasons, and are looking around for more cost-effective mechanisms for reaching and engaging with the outside world.

Besides, even if we can afford a nice event in a nice venue, who can afford to attend?

Randy (who runs our external community group) tells me his phone is ringing off the hook. All sorts of internal groups are coming out of the woodwork, interested in the idea of a near-zero-cost mechanism for achieving their marketing and engagement goals outside the company.

The good news? As a result, we’re accelerating change.

The challenges? None of these new groups are especially proficienct at what it takes to design, build and launch an external community. More problematic, they bring a host of pre-conceived notions about what they think they want, how they think they’re going about doing it.

Finding ways to be more efficient, to be more productive, will be of prime interest as things go from bad to worse. So many Web 2.0 tools can accomplish this but too many people still do not know how to implement them best for their particular organization.

Some organizations are lucky and already have people who can help educate others. But many companies, especially small ones, do not have those sorts of ‘gardeners’. I expect this will be a useful niche, serving as a gardener-coach, as soon as the organizations actually realize they need something.

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