“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
“Embrace the Chaos” was one of my favorite chapters in The Whuffie Factor. I’ll go out on a limb and say that student affairs professionals should, by nature, be inherently good at this skill. Chaos is something we are used to, right? However, I believe that a hesitation to fully embrace the chaos is one thing that stands in the way of many colleges and universities making the most of Web 2.0 tools.
Embracing the Chaos is about letting go of control and resisting the need to plan absolutely everything. To my student activities colleagues who live and breathe a semester in advance on a planning calendar, the “roll with it” approach doesn’t always work, right? Author Tara Hunt writes of ad campaigns that changed 25 times along the path in the name of staying current with client needs and taking advantage of new ideas and directions. Her whole foundation is that by being transparent and flexible, we can remain open to truly hear our “customers” and bring them into the inner circle of the heart of our “business” when opportunity presents itself.
Hunt writes of the Library of Congress success with asking the online community to utilize their photo collections by loading the pictures on Flickr and getting the community to tag photos and use them under a wide open No Known Copyright permission. The Washington Post grew their list of blogs from one to sixty after abandoning fear around the “what if” associated with blogs and the comments that can possibly ensue. Jet Blue embraced the chaos by allowing “real people” to interact with Twitter followers and “tweet” with honest conversation like this:
JetBlue: There’s a lot of talk going around about corporate rolls in Twitter. Since this IS a conversation…What WOULD you like to see?
SarahM: @jetblue, did you mean “corporate roles?”
JetBlue: @SarahM sighh…yes first role: spelling.
I don’t know about you, but that kind of exchange between a company and its customers makes me a little giddy. It’s real people interacting and hooray for Jet Blue for not suppressing this type of customer interaction.
Embracing the Chaos means, as I wrote in the last post, to stop analyzing social media for the “Why” factor and instead looking at “Why Not?” Let’s capitalize on the essence of our profession and put the heart back into our “institutional” communication. The slickest brochure about a student leadership conference can’t compare to a student’s honest and unfiltered feedback about the experience itself. Maybe that student won’t always say the identical things we would say – is that so bad? Maybe it will be even more effective in reaching students?
I’ll post next about her take on “Higher Purpose” and how it applies to Whuffie. Yet again, Tara Hunt is speaking our language!
What do you think? Are you ready to Embrace the Chaos and up your department’s Whuffie Factor in the coming year? What are you thinking of doing to become more transparent and open in your social media communication?