I just had an eye opening experience with one of the people who works on our TV show. My co-producer has asked him to write a blog post for the blog we are launching soon. Thing is, he’s a general contractor. He spends his day on the job site, not on a computer. The concept of writing a blog post is pretty foreign to him. So needless to say, he’s a little unsure about how to go about it. About as unsure as I am about how to build a 2 storey addition.
We live in such a bubble with all this social media stuff. I don’t have to step too far into my circle of friends, family and colleagues to get to a place where social media doesn’t exist beyond Facebook (and only one step beyond that are those I know who only use the web for Googling and email).
Those of us engrossed in social media know the power of this new medium to share, communicate, collaborate. We spend countless hours talking about it. To each other.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of people out there who call themselves “social media consultants”. They are knocking on the doors of businesses and marketers, trying to teach them how to get the most bang for their buck in this online world. That’s all fine and well, but what if we took a different approach?
Start With the Regular Joe
Instead of spending so much time yammering on with a bunch of people who are saying the same things back to us, maybe we should spend a little more time talking to the people who aren’t talking about this stuff (i.e. most people). Look at my contractor buddy. We took the time to explain to him what a blog post is all about in terms that make sense to him. He immediately saw the value in doing it – after all, he runs a business. He knows that people will see his post and that it will help him promote his business. For us, we get to expand the stories of the characters on our show and provide additional, valuable content to our viewers. Everybody wins. We’re not selling him social media…we’re providing him an opportunity to make a connection with his customers. And being a smart businessman, that’s something that he totally gets.
Instead of trying to ram social media down people’s throats, let’s find ways incorporate it as an extension to what already exists. This requires education. The kind of education I’m talking about here is not educating clients. It’s educating the web developers, content developers, designers, PR and marketing specialists of tomorrow.
In the new year I am going to be teaching what is one of the first courses on social media to be taught at the community college level (at least at the college where I’m working). I am going to have the undivided attention of 2nd year web designers and developers for 11 weeks. It’s a tremendous opportunity. These young people (most of them are under the age of 25) going to be working in the Web industry in the very near future. They need to be armed with a knowledge and understanding not only of the tools that exist, but of how to use this medium to build relationships, share information, collaborate, help others, and build communities.
Wouldn’t you rather hire someone who already incorporates social media as a fundamental part of the way they create web sites? Wouldn’t you rather hire someone to whom interacting in online communities comes naturally? Wouldn’t that help you to integrate this medium into your development more easily? I think yes. Educate the Web workers of tomorrow, today. Let them be the ones to help you work the magic.
Get Your Other Networks in the Loop
I’m not talking about telling your Grandma to get on Twitter. I’m talking about showing people the value FOR THEM. What I define as value in social media is entirely different than what my Dad defines as value. He gets his value from being able to subscribe to read a few blogs he likes. He gets value from using WordPress to run his Square Dancing troupe’s web site. He gets value from watching his grandkids in the videos my brother posts on Facebook. I get my value from being part of a bunch of networks to do with my industry and with my interests outside work, from working on my blog, and from being a power user of Twitter. Everyone’s perfect fit is different. The key is, show the people around you where they can find value and they will find their own ways to get engaged.
What about you? Do you think we are living in a social media bubble? How do you intend to help burst it?