Is it me or is the whole social media thing getting a little out of hand? It seems we Brits are especially good at hype and ‘bandwagon jumping’ onto the ‘next big thing’.
Whether it’s property development or ‘the Internet’ (web 1.0) we have a horrible habit of diving in as though our lives depended on It. And the smugness of those who get in early is palpable:
“So John, what yield are you getting? Oh! You mean you don’t have a rental portfolio?”
Cue a raft of self styled ‘experts’, ready to play on your insecurities, all claiming to know more about it than the next guy and banking on the fact they know more about it than you.
Well of course they know more than you – they don’t have a proper job like you and can afford to sit around all day catching up with all the other ‘experts’ and reading the latest reports. In the land of the blind there is this one eyed guy…
It seems to me that most organisations are struggling with social media because they are over complicating it. They are seeing it as a marketing strategy in itself, rather than an extension of our natural inclination and ability to communicate.
Some time ago I was having a debate with Bill Boorman about social media guidelines for employees. I countered that I don’t have a set of guidelines to help me converse on the phone so why do I need some to help me with social media. Similarly, Tim Latham tweeted the other day asking why we need social media consultants now when we didn’t need ‘telephone consultants’ back when the phone was introduced in the 1800’s. There is a valid point here and the comparison with the phone is a good one.
Social media, like the phone, is a framework, a network, an enabler of conversations, communities or movements and no more. Sure, it’s likely to have a major impact. But fundamentally, that’s what it is.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no harm in educating yourself to what’s happening in the market and there are some good educators out there that can share their learnings. But remember the old joke about consultants borrowing your watch and telling you the time? Social Media is no different.
If you find yourself wanting to know more I’d have a couple of recommendations for you.
Dive in and use social media yourself – Search out and connect with other companies that are using it and Learn from those that are also learning. An hour on Google with a cup of coffee will give you plenty of leads.
Take a look around your office – If you work in a medium to large organisation you are likely to have a good cross section of employees, including some who are in their late teens or early twenties. Go over and talk to them. Get them to remove their earphones for a minute and ask THEM about social media. Get them to show you their Facebook page and other tools they use to interact. I guarantee that 60 minutes dialogue with them will give you real insight. Oh, and don’t forget any ‘oldies’, like me, who may be using social media ‘cos we do you know!
I’m not saying that this is all you have to do, it isn’t. Navigating the waters can be a real challenge and sometimes its good to do the journey with someone else at the helm with you. But you could save yourself a lot of time and money, simply because its all so accessible, by doing some of the groundwork yourself.
OK, that’ll be £10k please! But don’t worry, ill give you a discount on the workshops….
Like I said, there are some good ones out there who will do a great job of educating you but don’t abdicate or outsource the responsibility for getting into the conversations otherwise you will find that, once they are gone, the only real difference you will be able to see is the reduction in ready cash having spent it all on the experts.
Ultimately, we are in danger of becoming so obsessed with social media as an end in itself that we may ultimately miss out on the obvious and very beneficial outcomes of being in the conversation.