Part One in a Four Part Series: Common Objections to Social Media.

I'ts not a fad. It's a cultural shift

No one can predict the future. But we can make educated guesses based on the evidence in front of us. So here is a bold prediction. Social Media, in some form or another, will last.  The genie is out of the bottle. Social Media has given us a new way to do something as fundamental to human nature as breathing (okay, maybe not that fundamental): communicate!We are by nature social beings. We love to talk, to gather, to share. We’ve been doing this since we lost our tails and started walking upright. I think its safe to say we’ll keep doing it. Will the sun come up tomorrow? Probably. Simply put, the social tools at our disposal are making it easier to do what we’ve always done.

Aren’t  a Visionary? You Just Need an Open Mind.

It’s easy to understand why blacksmiths in the early part of the 20th century desperately wanted to believe that the horseless carriage was a fad that wouldn’t last. Their livelihoods hung on that hope. Gary Vaynerchuk, in his absolutely must have book, The Thank You Economy,  quotes a few less than visionary “visionaries” whose take on the latest trends of the day seem … well just plain dumb in hindsight.

  • “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”
    — Western Union Internal Memo, 1876
  • “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
    — an investor in response to David Sarnoff’s push for radio, 1920
  • “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.”
    — Lee De Forest, radio pioneer, 1926

Closer to my own world and our own time, I recall the day in 1995 when the IT Director of the company I was working for at the time asked me to investigate this new “internet thing”. I was not in the IT department. The thing was he couldn’t find anyone on his staff who was willing to take the time. They all thought the internet was a fad that wouldn’t last. I rest my case.

Don’t Make it About the Tools

We focus too much on the tools of social media. That’s why we’re skeptical. If we make it about the tools, our belief system is shaken every time a new one emerges. And there will be new tools emerging all the time. Today its Facebook and Twitter. Next month it could be something else. We need to focus more on the objective, on why we are using these tools in the first place. So what is the objective? Okay, here it is. Ready? It’s all about building and maintaining authentic, meaningful, caring relationships. Once we commit to that, it becomes a simple process to determine which tools best serve the goal.

Are you with me? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said. What are your thoughts about the role of social media in our lives?

Stay tuned to this channel for part two in the series: Common Objections to Social Media. Next week we’ll look at why companies are afraid to incorporate social media into their marketing plan and why they shouldn’t be. (Hint: maybe they should be).

Photo credit: Brian Lane Winfield

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