This question has been nagging at me these past few weeks like I was being pecked to death by a chicken, could it be that these words are not computing with local business owners? It’s like your smallest child learning how to read an can’t pronounce a word, they end up creating a new word because they can’t say what they are reading. No it’s not a learning disability, it’s an understanding of what those words actually mean and how to use it in this new age and environment of marketing. It’s changed, or has it? Anytime you have the word ” Social ” attached to a phrase or sentence, people think less formal, beach party, BBQ or relaxing on the deck with friends. Yes, that is a form of being social and it is somewhat related to the term in business circles as well. The problem isn’t the word, it’s the thinking that is attached to the words, and small business owners can’t seem to break how they feel or think about the word. It’s not that they can’t, they just don’t know how and it’s embarrassing enough that they won’t ask for help on the topic for fear of looking stupid. I mean come on, it’s the words ” Social Media ” how could I not know what that means! So rather than find out, they think, let’s not go there and or I’ll avoid the conversation all together. Worse yet, I’ll ask my kids. Small to medium business, all business for that matter needs to educate themselves on the tidal wave before them and how to ride that wave without being wiped out.
In my corner of the world here in Western Canada, a very small group of people participate in the formal sense of the words social media. This group is comprised of mostly people from chat rooms or FaceBook and the like, not a many are business owners trying to add this environment into their marketing mix or even their support systems. I say this because I’ve been coming up against this lack of understanding everyday and this uncomfortable feeling when you try to share with them, to help them understand what it is or could be for their business. It’s like the words Social Media aren’t even in their vocabulary or business language, it’s completely missing, and if it is there, it’s a picture of people standing around a water cooler. So in light of that, I am posting the Wiki definition of Social Media here for all the world to see.
Social Media Definition
Social media is online content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content. It’s a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologues (one to many) into dialogues (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. Social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form relationships for personal, political and business use.
Distinction from Industrial Media
Social media are distinct from industrial media, such as newspapers, television, and film. While social media are relatively inexpensive and accessible tools that enable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information, industrial media generally require significant resources to publish information. Examples of industrial media issues include a printing press or a government-granted spectrum license.
“Industrial media” are commonly referred to as “traditional”, “broadcast” or “mass” media.
One characteristic shared by both social media and industrial media is the capability to reach small or large audiences; for example, either a blog post or a television show may reach zero people or millions of people. The properties that help describe the differences between social media and industrial media depend on the study. Some of these properties are:
1. Reach – both industrial and social media technologies provide scale and enable anyone to reach a global audience.
2. Accessibility – the means of production for industrial media are typically owned privately or by government; social media tools are generally available to anyone at little or no cost.
3. Usability – industrial media production typically requires specialized skills and training. Most social media do not, or in some cases reinvent skills, so anyone can operate the means of production.
4. Recency – the time lag between communications produced by industrial media can be long (days, weeks, or even months) compared to social media (which can be capable of virtually instantaneous responses; only the participants determine any delay in response). As industrial media are currently adopting social media tools, this feature may well not be distinctive anymore in some time.
5. Permanence – industrial media, once created, cannot be altered (once a magazine article is printed and distributed changes cannot be made to that same article) whereas social media can be altered almost instantaneously by comments or editing.
Community media constitute an interesting hybrid of industrial and social media. Though community-owned, some community radios, TV and newspapers are run by professionals and some by amateurs. They use both social and industrial media frameworks.
Here is the link from the above: Social Media Definition
The real issue isn’t what the words mean, it’s how a consultant or media firm explains them, provides a case study that reflects that a business can derive an ROI from Social Media. Thus, giving the term value and a new way of marketing and communicating with their customers, by building a deeper, richer relationship that builds a new kind of loyalty. More importantly it provides a forum where you the business owners actually cares about what your clientele think about your products and services. A place where you can give them and even better experience of dealing with you.
Another challenge for these words and business owner’s; there are people out there claiming to be knowledgeable and understand social media that just plain don’t. These individuals land high positions in large organizations, they get the position and then scramble around to figure out how to do the job when they have no business being there in the first place. A great rant on this topic is from my friend Olivier Blanchard of The Brand Builder, his video entitled, “Is your Social Media Director qualified?”, it articulates far better than I Olivier’s frustration and concern with these individuals in one short video. Take the time to view it.
As you can tell there is alot of work to be done, an educational track that needs to be articulated in a way that business owners can connect the dots, connect the words to a real opportunity and value they have not considered before. Each business owner needs to bone up and learn that the term Social Media is a new marketing environment but also a relationship they have avoided in the past. You can no longer avoid it because it is the new word of mouth, it can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You have to decide which it will be.
Whatever happened to meeting face-to-face, is this no longer the best way to build relationships, to build trust and the best way to move products and services. I find myself spending more and more time online than I do out in the market place interacting and networking, is something broken here or is the world truly being driven more and more indoors? I have also found that it’s far too easy to misread typed words because there’s no body language or tone of voice, talk about being misunderstood! My world is getting smaller and smaller by the moment, and me being the highly relational type needs to interact with others. So how do we accept or fight this paradigm of living online to get anything done or to get what you want?
Now I’ve been a computer geek for a very long time and I embrace new technologies, even the ones that make me wonder if we should be developing them. Computers are getting smaller, TV’s are thinner, computers run so much of our electronics now we couldn’t go back to a time without them if we wanted to. You know how you can tell if you can’t live without your hand held devices or computer…do you lie in bed at night thinking about how to make so much money so you can tell your boss which bus to get back on? I know you do, because there are so many so called experts out there telling you how to do it, in your e-mail, on your phone it’s everywhere! We are bombarded by so much information now we can’t distinguish the difference between real life and fantasy, (I think daytime soaps started this) Virtual Reality is making huge strides and that’s when we’ll have a real dilemma. But I digress.
Social Media Networks have us, Ala Matrix, Twitter is as real time as you can get and you can make more friends in five minutes than you could face-to-face. Facebook gets you connected to high school buddies much like the old website called Classmates did back in the day. Like golf courses where more business is done in a day than the whole week, Social Media Networks are becoming just like those golf courses, will we want to make that shift or will we hang on to old ways?
So what’s my point, the reality is we are changing at a pace we can’t keep up with technologically, the gap between the haves and have not’s is becoming wider every minute of the day. The truth is we are becoming less connected physically, we are dependent on technology and in the very near future we will be giving control over to technology. We will come to trust the very thing we enjoy blaming for all the crashes and freezes that force us to reboot in the windows world. The shift to Linux is real, most hand held devices run it, not windows….zero’s and one’s are the base from which all things called technology are birthed. So if you think we will be able to go back to the horse and buggy days you are in for a big surprise, technology won’t let us.
Universities are using video conferencing methods and there are more learning management systems out there than ever before making it easier to acquire accreditation online. Newspapers WILL be a thing of the past, everyone is a news reporter now which means the controls for quality are no longer held by the big blues. Which increases the percentage of error but also means we will see and hear even more about events and happenings that are less important than our current global economic meltdown.
With Nanotechnology – The New Technology, we will see the likes of nanobots doing our work for us, they will learn from their environments and eventually think for themselves. Many a person far smarter than I will argue this point but I’m not convinced we will stay in control of these technologies.The question begs to be asked, who will oversee and say what is acceptable and what is not. In my eBook The New Technology – The End of Mankind? – The Beginning; I scratch the surface on why technology hasn’t saved us time and where the new technology is headed. In the future we will communicate in such a way where you & I will integrate with technology, we will become wireless devices and no longer have to meet face-to-face! If you are interested in getting my eBook please send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to come to terms with the fact that I eventually will have to learn to live without, I mean human interaction. This electronic world is slowly killing human contact don’t you think? Technology killing human contact, that’s another story to be told.
I would like to hear from you on this, do you agree or disagree, do you think we are doomed and will be sentenced to our rooms to interact on the Internet. Or, will we mantain control?
I rebuilt this Blog to address a great number of things, there are great works in the world and most of us never hear about them, new technologies, new business models, new products and so on. Maybe you are an inventor, a futurist, a scholar or someone like me who is wondering where technology is taking us. How will it impact our lives? How will it drive new business? Some technologies have done somethings well, but mostly it’s complicated our lives rather than free us up to do more of the things we wish we had time for. Wouldn’t it be nice if technology shortened our work week? Skeptical? Read the book by Tim Ferriss called the 4 Hour Work Week, you’ll shake your head and wonder if you could do what he has done.