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Charlene Li answers your questions on social engagement and open leadership

3 min read

Social Media

Leading up to our Buzz 2010: Social Media for Associations event on June 16, we asked you, our readers, for questions that you’d like to ask our keynote, Charlene Li. We selected four of the best questions, and passed them along to Charlene, (recently named one of the 100 most creative people by Fast Company) who provided us with some very insightful answers.

(via Kate) Is governance a thing of the past? Is it destined to backfire (or go completely ignored) in a fully participative model? Or is fully participative overly optimistic?

Governance is actually even more important in an open organization, because you need being open to be accountable — otherwise, no one in business would adopt it. When there is greater participation, there is in fact greater accountability because everyone, not just the leader, is aware of what people are committing to doing.

(via Brian Cheung) I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether social-media initiatives in companies should be top-down (i.e. directives issued by the c-suite) or bottom-up (consumer-generated, more grassroots).

“Should” is an absolute, and the only thing that’s absolute in social media is that it changes relationships. As such, I think that you need a balance of both top-down and bottom-up to be successful in social media. One without the other leads to an unbalanced strategy that isn’t sustainable in the long run.

(via Alissa Sheley) How do you think Facebook’s open graph will affect brands’ and customers’ use of social media? I’ve watched Levi’s early incorporation of social media into their website and see promise, but was curious how you think it might change a customer’s shopping/buying habits.

Levi’s makes it easy to involve your friends, but I think we’re just at the beginning. It’s more than just what your friends “like” — it’s also what they bought, for example, on The service automatically does this for certain merchants that you enable. The key is that our comfort level with making our activities and purchases automatically public — even to our friends — isn’t quite there yet! But I think some semblance of greater sharing is coming, and that will enable broad social shopping.

Marjorie Clayman) How can you preserve the relationships you have created via Facebook if your company/brand/product is now represented solely or also by one of these new, rather impersonal community pages?

First, hopefully you already have a presence on Facebook where you’re developing relationships. If not, these Community Pages should be a big huge prod to get you going!

Second, it’s up to you to develop and manage the relationship you have with Facebook users. You should easily be able to do a much better job, and thus more likes, if you’re able to invest in the relationship.