Do you mentor using social media? [call for help]

I have been asked to provide a one-hour talk on the potential uses of social software for mentoring in September. I’ve come up with a few talking points, but I’d love to get input from “you” about ways you’ve impacted (or been impacted by) the use of technology in formal or informal mentoring relationships.

My tentative speaking points…

  • Overview and demonstration of social software: Wikis, blogs, profiles, bookmarks
  • Discussion of applications to mentoring: Traditional, reverse, group, “stealth”
  • Generational, cultural, & technological considerations
  • Creating a strategy: Choosing the right tools, piloting the idea, integrating with existing strategy

What am I missing? What examples can you provide that support the benefits and challenges of using technology to enhance mentoring programs?

Using a “big shovel” to drive Enterprise 2.0 adoption

In a recent post, Seth Godin describes the concept of using a “little shovel” to gain acceptance of an idea. In it, he asserts:

If you want to dig a big hole, you need to stay in one place.

If you walk around town with a little shovel, you’ll just end up digging thousands of little holes, not one big one.

As a trainer focused on teaching the hows and whys of using collaborative/ enterprise 2.0 tools, I take this advice to heart. In some of classes I teach, I see a wide range of individuals from across the organization. This provides opportunities for students to share widely diverse strategies and thoughts on using the tools. But sometimes this seems like using a little shovel…

My team also frequently reaches out to specific groups to arrange “bulk” training for a team to quickly get up to speed together. By continuing to push on teams that indicate some receptivity, we often find we’re able to gain some decent ground. Staying still and using a big shovel digs a deeper hole.

What strategy have you found works best? Going broad to get a smattering of committed folks across the organization (i.e., in a grassroots manner) or going deep and pursuing more wholesale adoption with teams and groups?

The strangeness of social marketing passe

I’m as much about leveraging social media as any social media enthusiast, but I had an odd experience opening the mail the other day. As I rifled through the coupons, I snagged one for Baja Fresh, one of our favorite eats. And there, sandwiched between the locations and the coupons, was the following line:

“Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!”

At first, my reaction was “Cool! Baja Fresh is on board with social media!” But then I experienced a moment of mixed emotion as I realized how flippantly many brands are throwing around their social media presence. Especially after a brief search on Twitter revealed a couple of local franchise accounts, but no central “Baja Fresh” account. And there’s no mention of any social media presence anywhere I could find on What gives?

I think perhaps the mainstream media emphasis on engaging on sites like Twitter and Facebook might have some companies scrambling to “get on board.” But this strategy can only lead to embarassment as it is frail at best, as my simple experiment proved.

If you’re involved in initiating a “social media strategy” (or are helping a client do so), which is better: Get a small presence in order to not fall behind the competition or stay away until you can fully invest in it?

For those who wonder where “mrmerlot” has been the past month or so, I’ve been taking care of my family after welcoming our latest addition on June 30. Our newest baby girl joined her three sisters and the whole family is doing well. Now that the dust has settled, I’m able to get back into the social media flow again!