Being social means knowing—and acting on—the latest developments. Being a social leader also means knowing—or at least having a good prediction about—the next developments.

Kevin Alansky, head of Blackboard’s growing social marketing team, was a social leader before the term “social” was widely used. As revealed in a particularly curious document he had forgotten about but recently uncovered, the title he once suggested for himself was “Blog Czar.”

Was this in 2007, the year commonly reported as the peak for blogging? No.

What about 2006? No again.

So it had to be 2008 then.

A really great guess, but still no.

Kevin urged Blackboard to launch a blog way back when mailer-daemon sightings were still common and the killer app was still e-mail: 2005.

He prepared a 21-slide presentation to sell the company on the idea. Blogs were new enough then that he had to start by defining the term, a definition that included the phrase “an abbreviation of ‘weblog.’” (Yeah, that helped Luddites understand.)

The evidence was considerable and compelling, but the high-ups vetoed the idea. They felt it would make the company more vulnerable to potential criticism.

But now we know…that’s the point. Companies want an ongoing dialogue with their clients…because clients want that. They want an outlet to show more personality…because humanizing is a proven sales strategy. They want a public forum to receive praise…but also to address concerns or complaints. Content is (and really, always was) king, and content without transparency is nothing more than white noise.

The Blackboard blog launched in early 2006.

Turns out Kevin was not only the Blog Czar but also the Master Prognosticator.

Don’t be surprised if he next digs up a deck from 2001 in which he invented Facebook.

What do you see on the social horizon, and how are you taking advantage of it?

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