February 24, 2010

Social Media & Cheese

Posted in Social Media at 8:02 am by R

A perfect storm of things happened to me in the past 24 hours.

I’m in Atlanta, GA this week for the Ragan Social Media for Communicators Conference at Coca-Cola. (To follow the action check out the hashtag #ragancoke. LOTS of good stuff will show up there I promise.)

I decided for my plane trip I would download some audiobooks to my iPod. Things I’d been meaning to read or have been reading about forever. Here’s what’s been playing so far:

I will have lots of great things to say about The Four Agreements at another time. Today my attention has been grabbed by Who Moved My Cheese? I do love a good cheese, which is perhaps why the tale resonated with me. But I think I was even more impacted by the proverb of Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw because of the conference I’m currently at.

In brief, here’s the story. Sniff and Scurry are mice, Hem and Haw are little people creatures. They all inhabit a maze. They are all looking for cheese. Sniff smells the air and Scurry takes off in the direction of the cheesy smell. Hem and Haw use their complex brains to reason out where the cheese might be. Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw eventually all find cheese at Cheese Station C. They eat. They are happy. Sniff notices the cheese dwindling and he and Scurry are prepared to head out to find more. Hem and Haw are surprised when they show up and there’s not a morsel of cheese left at Cheese Station C.

Scurry and Sniff repeat their process of sniffing and scurrying until they find more cheese at Cheese Station N. Hem and Haw stay at Cheese Station C wondering “WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?” The rest of the story reveals how Haw departs from Cheese Station C and faces his fears of change in search of new cheese, while Haw grumpily (and hungrily) sits at Cheese Station C, waiting for his cheese to return.

Obviously cheese is a metaphor for success, whatever you want to define cheese as you can. Having your cheese moved is a metaphor for unexpected change to which we must adapt if we still want to have cheese.

Whenever people talk about social media, they often do so in the context of change. Social media is the great change of the moment. It’s shifting paradigms in the way we communicate and the way we do business. Social media has moved the cheese.

I heard Ari Adler speak today. He began his presentation by talking about the past. In this case, the 80’s: when cellphones were the size of my laptop bag and front line brand ambassadors were the ones answering the phones.

Technology and time have of course changed all that. Social media, for now, is the fruition of all those technologies. We are truly mobile. We are truly real time. Things have truly changed. The cheese has moved. And if you or your business doesn’t move you’re going to get hungry.

The information I’ve learned here this week has been both illuminating and reassuring. Those of us working in the field are experiencing a lot of the same things — which is a relief! And there’s a lot of great minds here, which makes for a lot of good in person crowdsourcing. I know I’m bringing home some great ideas from the brilliant people I’ve met.

The cheese has moved. But if you are armed with good ideas you can become the cheese mover.




  1. D. Kellus Pruitt DDS said,

    Or one could just make cheese.

  2. aribadler said,

    Glad you enjoyed the Ragan conference so much. I agree there was a lot to be learned there and, hopefully, people were able to take concrete information back that will help them do their jobs better.

    I like your Who Moved My Cheese reference. When it comes to social media, the cheese is always on the move now. As you pointed out, however, if you work hard, you can become the one responsible for moving the cheese instead of being the one always having to react to the move.

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