The ultimate global knowledge community Wikipedia tells us that the Trojan Horse of the ancient Greek siege of Troy may not have been an epic military ruse after all.

Historians speculate the ‘horse’ is simply a myth: in reality it was a battering ram whose shape merely resembled that of a horse. And historians also tell us – with little or no certainty – that the siege took place probably near the Strait of the Dardanelles likely in the 12th or 13th century BC and that it may have been ended with the help of a gigantic ram.

2300 years later, corporate and institutional North America is besieged by a myth born in this century but no less threatening than the Trojans found the Greeks to be.

The modern mythology is that Web 2.0 and its social media of blogs, podcasts, instant messaging and myriad of applications (many of them mobile) is the harmless playground of teenagers, twenty-somethings, music junkies and disgruntled blog writers.

market2world’s Trojan Mouse hopes to deconstruct this myth starting with “Web 2.0 Leadership: 10 Questions for Executives”. Our cause is helped by leaders in the public and private sectors who are noticing subtle changes and asking some obvious questions of their own.

"What’s that little red RSS button at the bottom of the New York Times web site?" "Why does National Post.com have ‘Weblogs’ sharing a frame with ‘Features’ and ‘Promotions’?" "Is an iPod necessary to hear a podcast?" "How does a moblog differ from a blog?" Less subtle will the be questions arising from Forbes magazine’s bellicose cover story “Attack of the Blogs” coming November 11th.

Answers to the simple questions are usually only a mouse click away. But the deeper questions cut right to the heart of many of today’s corporate and governmental missions. How will emerging social media impact me and my organization? How do we respond? What are the risks? How do we mitigate them?

Having spent the last decade re-inventing their organizations with digital media and web-based transactions, these executives are now experiencing deja vu with social media. They fear making substantial investments once again in time, money and web-based marketing with no clear outcomes in sight.

Fortunately the first investment in Web 2.0 for many companies and institutions is simply listening and learning. Any investment in the BlogOn 2005 Conference in New York in mid-October would have paid-off with the first panel discussion, “What You Don’t Hear Can Hurt You – Listening to the Blogosphere”. Elizabeth Albrycht’s high-powered guests discussed everything from why owners of Whirlpool washers discuss their repairs online to how DaimlerChrysler listened carefully to the blogging community of Dodge Charger enthusiasts before introducing the 2006 family version of the 1970s muscle car.

But if listening and learning represent the first steps for Fortune 500 corporation with early adapters, what comes next? What steps should smaller corporations or institutions (large or small) in the public or community sectors take?

market2world respectfully suggests 10 questions executives and their teams might ask as they ‘listen and learn’ and eventually ‘leap’ into Web 2.0.

1. To what extent do we understand the social media of Web 2.0 and its context, relevance and pace of change?

2. To what extent are subjects that concern us being discussed in the social media among blogs, vodcasts, and podcasts and do they relate to the issues, policies or products which affect our organization?

3. Can we qualitatively or quantitatively assess the impact of social media discussions as they relate our organization, public or customers?

4. Is there a need for a Web 2.0 SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) assessment for our organization?

5. To what extent can your discussion and dialogue with customers or the public migrate to social media from our traditional media and methods?

6. Does our organization have guidelines for creating or responding to social media?

7. Do our employees, suppliers, partners, customers or competitors use social media as part of their communications and marketing mix?

8. Does our organization embrace the necessary candor and openness inherent in social media and its participants?

9. Does the opportunity exist to apply social media internally to supplement our organization’s intranet or knowledge base?

10. Could an internal application of social media be repurposed externally once our processes, policies and protocols have been tested and proven?

These 10 ‘Trojan Mouse’ questions can help an organization break down their fear and loathing of 2.0 while developing a risk-averse social media strategy.

And the time to ask these questions is now. The first decade of the 21st century has already seen much spilling of corporate and institutional blood as legions of bloggers and podcasters are using the spoken and written word as mightily as any Greek sword.

(Blog entry by Mark Jodoin. Mark is Creative Strategist at market2world communications inc.)

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