What the frack is fracking?
Fracking is an aggressive, invasive technique for extracting valuable raw materials out of hard to reach places.
More specifically fracking is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing. Huge amounts (e.g. 8 million gallons) of carrier liquid and other substances are pumped at high pressure into underground rock layers to create fractures through which trapped oil or gas can escape and be extracted to the surface.
Fracking is controversial.
Fracking is to fossil fuels what breaking a few eggs is to an omelette.
The fractures caused by fracking can puncture the water table, leading to understandable concerns about the pollution of drinking water (it’s not just water that frackers pump into the ground).
But as the scarcity value of these resources increases, the economic viability of fracking looks ever more attractive. And, in some eyes at least, the negative environmental consequences start to look more acceptable.
But what the frack has this got to do with stories?
Stories are the fuel for social media marketing.
Stories are valuable.
And in large, complex, multi-divisional, geographically distributed businesses, stories can be difficult to “extract”.
What’s more, in large, complex, multi-divisional businesses there is usually a lot more to “social” than marketing. The value-add from a properly planned approach to all things social can take the form of hard, commercial benefits, and/or softer brand reputation benefits. The value-add can be delivered externally and/or internally.
Social value is hard, soft, internal, external and various permutations of these.
It’s not just stories that are hard to extract from these complex organisations, but also the full potential business value of applied commercial sociability.
I was very taken by a pre-Christmas post by John Bell of Oglivy. He talks about the complex, multi-dimensional value of “social business” done well. And he talks about the varied skill-sets required to arrive at robust social business solutions. There is a lot to be said, based on my recent experiences, for Ogilvy’s approach of combining management consultants with the usual marcom suspects
At Blonde, we’ve been taking on social media strategy and execution work for ever larger, more complex clients.
And in so doing we’ve found ourselves doing more and more stakeholder insight and immersion work.
We’ve had to deal with issues pertaining to corporate culture, organisational structure, processes, systems, IT and plain old politics.
As a result we’ve found ourselves sorting out internal communication channels as a precursor to, and enabler of, external communications.
This internal comms work is the social media equivalent of fracking.
We create platforms, forums and showcases that “fracture” existing cultural barriers to allow stories to be found, told, appreciated by internal audiences, and “extracted” for external audiences.
Social fracking is invasive in that crosses well-established internal boundaries.
But, thus far, it has not been perceived as aggressive or controversial.
Quite the opposite in fact. We’ve repeatedly found large reservoirs of ambition, appetite and aptitude for social media across client organisations. But this ambition and appetite has been suppressed within silos, and needs (gentle) fracking to rise to the surface.
Well executed social media fracking opens up rich storytelling reserves and, in so doing, turns frustration into corporate pride.