Friday, September 16, 2011

It Might Be too Late to Learn Social Media

When I started my company, Building Blocks Social Media, one of the populations of people I wanted to serve were the folks who still needed basic social media training, and that is why I picked that as my URL for my website. As I am approaching my one year anniversary, I am finally getting to the point where I can be honest with myself and realize that the population of people who need to learn social media may have missed the boat, and I may not be able to help them.

In the beginning, social media was free and it was social. The early adopters saw value in it and enjoyed using it as a communication tool. It used to be purely conversation! Then, the marketers realized the power that held for businesses and they started learning how to use it for business. These people were comfortable having the same online presence, whether they were on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. The personality types of these folks is much more transparent. They used the last five years to learn how to use the platforms. Much of this time was spent with trial and error, but they were all learning together so it was o.k. I spoke with Mike McAllen and Jon Trask about this issue in the meetings and events industry recently and our conversation will be posted on the Meetings Podcast site shortly. 

Recently, I have been feeling a change in the wind. It is as if social media has become a profession. You have a lot of people like me trying to develop a business model around all different facets of social media. There are self-proclaimed social media experts, specialists, gurus, certifications. How do you know who to trust? One of my recommendations is don't trust someone who calls themselves an expert. The platforms are changing every day so it is nearly impossible to keep up with the best practices and important developments. Instead, look for someone who is trying their best to keep up and continually learn what the important changes are for the business uses of social media platforms.

Or, maybe you still think that hiring an intern to manage your social media and online presence is good enough because if they are young, they should know how to use all of these tools. Facebook's company page product is much more difficult to do correctly than the personal profile. Many Generation Y'rs don't use Twitter and, again, don't understand the conversation value it can provide to a brand. You need someone who knows you well enough to speak for you with your most important client or prospect. You are clearly that person, but you are too busy and important to "bother" with social media.

It is never too late to learn a new skill, but it isn't something you can learn part-time by trial and error anymore. You need a coach who can spend the required time to setup or clean up your online presence and then train you how to use it in the most efficient way. As I continue to narrow the focus of my business, I have learned that I don't specialize in any industry outside of the meetings/hospitality industry. This is the language that I speak, the language of conference organizer. Therefore, I am marketing myself to these people specifically. I am not qualified to speak for your organization on a day-to-day basis. However, when it comes time for your annual conference, I can help you with the strategy, monitoring and moderation of any of the social media platforms your attendees are using.