To Be or Not to Be a New Media Strategist [en]

For years now (since I became self-employed, and maybe even before) I’ve been struggling to define myself and what I do. There are two main components to this problem, as I see it:

  • working in a fast-moving, cutting-edge field, where I’m creating my job and job description as I go along, and boldly going where none have gone before (haha)
  • inside that field, having a bit of a “generalist specialist” profile, which means that I do tons of different things which don’t always seem to go together (talk about teenager/education issues online; give strategic advice to startups; install blogs and teach people how to use them; etc)

Now, along my freelancing career, I’ve called myself a bunch of things (non-exhaustive list following):

  • blogging consultant
  • social sofware consultant
  • social media consultant
  • web consultant and commentator
  • 2.0 consultant

More recently, I more or less dropped the whole title thing, going for taglines like “I help you understand the internet better” and even giving up almost entirely before Lift09 and having “Online Person” written on my badge.

So, again: part of the problem is me (and my issues with defining myself) and another is the field in which I am. High tech and social media is a bubbly field. An expression is hot one day and cold the other. Hot in some circles, passé in others.

Take “blogging consultant”: when I started out, there were hardly any blogging consultants around. A year or so later, everybody and his dog who knew how to set up WordPress suddenly started calling themselves that. I remember talking to a friend some years ago: his company had hired a “blogging consultant” and we were both appalled at the kind of advice he was giving and things he was doing.

So at some point, to distance myself from such people (newcomers clearly more intent in blinding their clients with buzzwords), I stopped calling myself a “blogging consultant”.

Basically, it’s been more or less the same problem for all the titles I’ve tried to wear (like clothes).

Now, back to my own issue: the trouble I have explaining and defining what I do. I had a breakthrough conversation with Florian Egger at the Lift09 party (despite the dreadfully loud music during what was supposed to be a “networking lounge” time slot).

Here’s the image I like to use to explain this breakthrough: what I do could be represented by a tree. There are many branches and leaves, and a trunk. Until then, when I was asked what I did, I would talk about the leaves and the branches, but I never managed to pinpoint what the trunk was. It left an impression that what I was doing was ill-defined, scattered.

I have now understood that the trunk of what I do is new media-related strategic consulting, thanks to Florian who made me go through example after example of what I did, concluding each one with “well, that’s strategy too, if you think of it” — and I’d go “no, it’s not strategy… oh, actually, yes, I see what you mean… it is!”

So, that would make me a New Media Strategist. It sounds nice. And it fits. You know, like when you finally find a pair of trousers that seems to have been stitched for you?

And clearly, being able to say “I do strategic consulting” sounds way better than “well, I know a helluvalot of a stuff about the internet, and all this so-called web2.0 stuff, and I’m really good at explaining it and helping people and companies figure out what the hell they’re going to do with it, and how they can use it, and why it’s interesting for them, and I can give talks, do training, help set blogs up, promote stuff online, coach people on more or less anything social-media related, oh, and give advice, of course, people keep coming to me for advice, you know, and a whole lot of other things…”

See what I mean?

I also realised that until then, the services that I had advertised were my “side-services” — my branches. In a way, I’ve always tried to do the strategic/advisory stuff undercover. Not very satisfying!

So now, the question this post is leading to: is “New Media Strategist” already old and loaded? What does it sound like? Is “everybody” calling themselves that nowadays? (I hope I don’t come across as pretentious because I consider I have a tad more expertise on the subject than newcomers in the field who have been blogging for 18 months and tweeting for 6…)

One could argue that titles don’t mean much, specially in today’s hypernetworked world, where connections are the most important thing in life (aside from drinking water… and even that could be subject to debate). Reputation, that’s what counts.

I disagree. I may be well-known and respected amongst my peers, but given the nature of my job, my clients are usually outside (even very far outside) the social media bubble. A title of some sort gives people a starting-point to figure you out.

“Social Media Consultant”, in my opinion, is dead from overuse and abuse. “New Media Strategist” seems better to me (because I “came up” with it during that discussion — of course I’d probably heard or seen it somewhere before, but it didn’t sound like something that is being thrown all over the place on Twitter et al these days). Or “Social Media Strategist”? What about “Social Media” itself… does that sound too much like an empty buzzword today (just like “Web 2.0”, which I never liked and honestly, was a media/marketing buzzword from the start). And then, for me, is the added issue of translating things in French. “New Media Strategist” doesn’t translate well — neither does “Social Media”, actually.

Lots of questions, as you can see.

Do you have trouble defining what you do? What do you put on your business card? What do you do? I’d love to exchange stories. And, of course, hear what you think about “New Media Strategist” — as a title in general, and to describe me… if you know me, of course. ūüôā

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Come to LIFT'08 [en]

[fr] Si vous ne pensiez pas aller à LIFT dans deux semaines, j'aimerais vous encourager à vous inscrire pour nous y rejoindre.

J'avoue qu'une des raisons que j'entends souvent de la part de gens qui me disent ne pas y aller, c'est le prix. Un peu plus qu'un iPhone, et moins qu'un vol à destination de San Francisco (à plus forte raison, meilleur marché également que deux grandes conférences technologiques ayant récemment eu lieu en Europe: Web2.0Expo et LeWeb3).

LIFT est un événement extraordinaire. 3 journées dont une de workshops, la fondue, deux événements supplémentaires gratuits (venture night et sustainable dev), ainsi que la fête -- et vous repartirez proprement "liftés". LIFT est une conférence qui change la vie des gens. Elle est au carrefour des questions de société et de la technologie, d'une pertinence incontestable par rapport aux problématiques de notre temps.

J'explique dans cet article plus en détail pourquoi je vous encourage absolument à venir à LIFT (il est encore temps). C'est un investissement qui sera largement récompensé. Quel que soit le domaine dans lequel vous travaillez, prendre 3 jours sur l'année pour s'informer à la source sur les problématiques de notre société liées à la technologie n'est pas un luxe.

The [LIFT Conference](http://liftconference.com) is taking place in just two weeks from now in Geneva.

If you’re free on those dates and haven’t considered attending, I’d like to encourage you to [register](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-registration) and come and join us. It’s really worthwhile. And if [the price tag](http://www.liftconference.com/pricing-students-etc-etc#comment-15) is making you hesitate, think again. Here’s what’s included in your registration fee for this three-day event:

– a full day of [workshops](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-workshops)
– [two days of conference](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-program-thursday-friday) (more about that below)
– nice buffet lunches (upgraded since last year!), [fondue](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-program-thursday-friday#fondue) evening, open bar [party](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-program-thursday-friday#fondue)
– [venture night](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-venture-night) and [sustainable dev](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-program-thursday-friday#wattwatt) sessions
– [lots of WiFi](http://www.liftconference.com/wifi-ugrade)

So, here we are. 850 CHF (that’s $781.50, 530.80‚ā¨ or ¬£396.30 [as of today](http://www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi)) for three days. Even though it is a sizeable chunk of money for many people (I’m not talking about you lucky ones who get sent to great events like LIFT by their employers), it’s not that expensive, when you think of it (just a little perspective):

– an iPhone: 399‚ā¨
– the MacBook Air: $1799
– LeWeb3 (Paris): over 1000‚ā¨
– Web2.0Expo (Berlin): over 1000‚ā¨
– a cheap flight to San Francisco: $800 (you spend only 2 days on the plane, and it’s way less fun)

Now, as that is out of the way, let’s get to the meat. Why is LIFT worth so much more than what you pay for it? I’d like to add my two cents to [what the organizers already say](http://www.liftconference.com/12-reasons-come-lift):

– **new speakers:** the LIFT team goes to great lengths to introduce speakers that you haven’t already heard at all the other conferences you go to. I’m told it’s becoming a habit for other conference organizers to do their “speaker shopping” at LIFT. (Insider scoop, from Laurent himself: Eric Favre, the inventor of Nespresso, is one of the latest confirmed additions to the speaker list.)
– **great talk quality:** heard of [TED Talks](http://www.ted.com/talks)? They gather the best speakers around the world, and last year, started including talks from partner conferences. [LIFT is one of the four events](http://blog.ted.com/2007/11/talks_from_part.php) they chose to select talks from.
– **at the crossroads of Life and Technology:** this, I think, I the top reason I really love LIFT. It’s about technology, but it’s also about people, society, and the world we live in. It lacks the dryness of the all-tech conference. It’s visionary. It blows your mind and lifts you up. It changed my life, and I’m not the only one.
– **non-commercial:** though I’m not against profit ([Going Solo](http://going-solo.net) is, after all, a [commercial event](http://going-far.com/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/ “A little background.”)), the fact LIFT is a non-profit labour of love does reflect in the overall atmosphere and quality of the event. No pitches or sponsors on stage. It’s about ideas and about us. It’s friendly and welcoming and human.
– **more than the stage:** LIFT is about what happens during breaks, in corridors and doorways. Yes, the most value one gets out of an event is generally in networking. LIFT has however taken this awareness a step further, investing a lot in [LIFT+](http://www.liftconference.com/2007/lift+/), activities and exhibits that populate the “in-between” spaces.

I hope it’s obvious from what I’m describing: LIFT is truly an event beyond all others. It’s well-organized and touches topics which are over-important for understanding the world we live in: technology has taken an increasing place in our society (all societies, actually), and this is a chance for geeks and “humanists” both to take a few steps back and think about the “big picture”.

Still not 100% sure you want to [register](http://www.liftconference.com/lift08-registration)?

If you’re used to the conference circuit: LIFT will be a welcome change from what you’re used to.
If you don’t usually go to conferences: if you go to one event this year, it should be LIFT. (Well, you should give Going Solo a go too, but it’s [a rather different kind of conference](http://going-solo.net/2007/12/14/announcing-going-solo/).)

If you are attending, it’s still time to spread a bit of [link love](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/01/22/going-solo-venues-open-stage-and-link-love/) for LIFT — have you done it yet?

I’m looking forward to seeing you there. I’m part of the [electronic media crowd](http://www.liftconference.com/electronic-media-crowd), though, so if you see me [live-blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/01/on-liveblogging/) like mad, don’t be [offended](http://blog.nicolamattina.it/?p=536) if I’m [not very chatty](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/06/too-many-people/).

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Qu'est-ce que je fais, au juste? [fr]

[en] Roughly the French equivalent of the post Working on My Professional Site, with an added question in the end. I'd like to provide a list of the talks I've given and clients I've had. Most of my commercial clients have been public about my involvement, so that's not the issue -- it's more the dozens of schools I've spoken in. Some were long ago, I've lost my contacts, so I'm quite tempted to simply put the list online, and remove names if I'm asked to. Do you think it's blatantly unprofessional to do so?

Je suis en train de donner un coup de peinture fra√ģche (enfin, plus qu’un coup de peinture, parce qu’il s’agit de contenu) √† mon pauvre site professionnel. Qu’y mettre? Voil√† la grande question. Donc, je brainstorme.

Voici un peu o√Ļ j’en suis. Si quelqu’un a une bonne traduction pour “social media”, je suis preneuse. Pour l’instant, je vais utiliser le vaguement douteux “nouveaux m√©dias”. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus. Attention, c’est brouillon et redondant.

### qu’est-ce que je fais?

– j’aide les gens √† comprendre des trucs au sujet d’internet (nouveaux m√©dias)
– j’apprends aux gens comment utiliser ces nouveaux m√©dias
– j’aide les entreprises √† voir comment elles peuvent utiliser les nouveaux m√©dias
Рje donne des conférences
– je connecte les gens
– je veux donner les moyens aux gens d’avoir une voix sur internet
– je fais profiter ceux qui en ont besoin de mon expertise sur la culture internet
– j’aide les entreprises √† repenser leur strat√©gie de communication
– j’organise des √©v√©nements (journ√©es de conf√©rences, congr√®s)
– j’aide les gens √† d√©marrer avec les blogs et outils associ√©s
– j’initie les gens √† la gestion des aspects techniques de l’installation et la maintenance d’outils comme WordPress

### qu’est-ce qui m’int√©resse?

– les questions linguistiques sur internet (multilinguisme)
– les adolescents et internet
Рles nouveaux médias et comment ils changent la façon dont les entreprises, institutions, et personnes communiquent
– les “social tools” (“outils socialisants”?), comment nous les utilisons, √† quoi ils servent, et comment ils fonctionnent

### qui sont mes clients?

– gens normaux qui veulent en savoir plus (sur les blogs, les ados sur internet)
Рécoles et associations travaillant avec les adolescents
– personnes occupant des positions-cl√©s c√īt√© m√©dias et communication dans de grandes entreprises
Рpetites entreprises ou indépendants
Рmédias
– gens du marketing, de la pub, ou de la comm
– webmasters ou techniciens

### qui suis-je?

– polyvalente
– je connais bien internet (de l’int√©rieur et de l’ext√©rieur)
Рje comprends également bien le fonctionnement des gens et des cultures
– blogueuse depuis belle lurette, citoyenne du net
Рcompétences: expliquer, enseigner, inspirer, assister processus de décision ou de pensée, conseiller

De l√† o√Ļ vous √™tes, j’ai rat√© quelque chose?

J’ai aussi commenc√© √† compiler une liste de toutes les conf√©rences que j’ai donn√©es (et il y en a un paquet, je peux vous dire). La part de moi qui a un peu froid au pieds me dit que je devrais demander √† tous mes “clients” (surtout des √©coles pour les conf√©rences “priv√©es”, en l’occurence) leur accord avant de mettre leur nom sur une liste publique. (La plupart de mes contrats commerciaux sont d√©j√† publics d’une fa√ßon o√Ļ d’une autre.)

Je suis cependant bien consciente d’une chose: en “demandant la permission” de rendre quelque chose public, on court bien des risques de se heurter √† un “non” prenant racine dans des peurs infond√©es ou simplement du “on sait jamais, soyons prudents”. Alors que mis devant le fait accompli, probablement que personne ne trouverait quoi que ce soit √† redire. Ce n’est pas un processus nouveau, clairement.

Que feriez-vous √† ma place, sachant que bon nombre datent d’il y a lontemps, que je n’ai plus forc√©ment les contacts de l’√©poque, et que je suis pr√™te √† courir le risque qu’on me demande de retirer un nom ou deux de la liste apr√®s-coup?

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Corporate Blogging Talk Draft [en]

[fr] Je donne une conférence dans un peu plus d'un mois à des responsables de communication d'entreprises suisses. On m'a demandé de fournir une présentation de mon intervention, qui figurera sur l'invitation. Voici la version resultant de deux jours en sueur (oui je sais, c'est pas très impressionnant!) -- j'apprécierais votre feedback en la matière si vous lisez l'anglais.

A little over a month from now, I’ll be giving a talk on corporate blogging to leading communications executives of Swiss companies. I’ve been asked to provide an introduction to my talk, which will be included alongside some biographical information in the invitation to the event. Here’s my draft, based on examples of previous invitations I was given:

> Blogs are way more than teenage diaries, and it is now common knowledge that they can be a precious tool in corporate environments. Many companies today are interested in embracing social media, and some take the plunge — unfortunately, not always with the desired results.

> Blogging is not a magical solution. Though it requires little technical skill to exertblog (akin to sending an e-mail), it comes bundled with the culture of openness and real human dialogue described at the beginning of the decade in The Cluetrain Manifesto, which can be at odds with existing corporate communication practice.

> When a corporation starts blogging, whether behind the firewall or on the internet, it changes. Not all corporations are ready for that. Not all corporations can accommodate those sometimes unpredictable changes.

> Though one could just start blogging blindly, it is wiser in a corporate setting to identify some particular needs or problems which can be addressed with social media. Though social media is by nature error-tolerant, it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of learning the “blogging culture”, or the time required to keep a blog alive.

> Stephanie Booth will share her insights on how blogs can find a place inside corporate culture, and how to go around introducing them in such a setting. The focus will be on blogging culture and practices, illustrated by real-world examples taken directly from the blogosphere.

I’ve been struggling with it for the last two days, and I’d appreciate your feedback in the comments (both on the language and the content).

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Delicious! A Great Bookmarks Manager [en]

Delicious is an online bookmark manager. It makes it very easy to add and categorize bookmarks, as well as share them with other users. You can also extract your bookmarks from delicious and integrate them in your blog to create a linklog. When I say ‘easy’, I really mean it!

Now, why on earth didn’t I start using delicious ages ago, when I first stumbled upon it? Maybe it didn’t look pretty enough, and didn’t flaunt its features loudly enough for me?

A couple of days ago I paid delicious another visit. See, somebody on #joiito mentioned my Keeping the Flat Clean post, and I suddenly found there was a bunch of people from delicious visiting that article. I thought: “My, people are actually using this thing!” and signed up for an account.

So… what does delicious do? It allows you to easily add pages you visit to your bookmarks, using intelligent bookmarklets (two clicks and no typing to add a link if you want to be minimalist). This is already easier than what I have to do to add links to my LinkBall.

You can categorize your bookmarks very easily by typing words in the “tag” field of the bookmarklet. No need to define categories — delicious takes care of it all for you. You can then view your bookmarks by category or (and this is where it gets interesting) all the bookmarks marked with a same tag. Each bookmark in your list is one-click editable, and each bookmark in somebody else’s list is one-click copyable. For each link, you can also view a list of all the users who have bookmarked it.

Does it stop there? No. All the bookmark lists (by user or by tag) are available in RSS and can be subscribed to within delicious. As a user, you have an Inbox which aggregates the feeds you have subscribed to. You may subscribe to a “user feed” or a “tag (category) feed”. On top of that, bookmark lists are available in plain html, and many users have contributed various hacks which can help you integrate your bookmarks with your weblog. (Update 02.06.04: one thing you shouldn’t do, though, is simply include that HTML feed with a PHP include or an iframe, as this will cause the delicious server to be hit each time somebody views your page.)

If you aren’t a user of delicious yet, you need to go and register right now.

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