Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social Medium

I did a fun thing yesterday.  Perhaps not everybody's cup of tea, but fun for me.  It was a fun day for Lynn too, as she spent the day being the stay at home Mom again... and she loved it.

I went to a seminar on Social Media run by CBS radio and I had a ball.  It wasn't the best event ever, but it was informative and at points there were even a few laughs.  I loved it because it was like dipping my toe back into the world of work and business and communicating with adults and management and jargon and buzz words and.... and it just made me happy.

One of the best bits was the understanding.  I understood what all of the speakers were talking about, indeed I'd wished they'd gone in a bit deeper.  As with most business seminars, there were too many lists of important cliches, like "it's important to be authentic." I'm not sure why there seems to be an assumption that it used to be a successful strategy in business to lie.  The saying, "you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time" is as old as time itself.  Though I suppose it's more relevant when you're broadcasting over twitter to everyone, and that just one person can expose a lie with crushing effectiveness.

My favorite part of the experience was when I followed our host's instructions and asked a question of the panel by tweeting with the hash tag #cbssoc.  The panel were somewhat lost in a love-in about the beautiful effect that an influential blogger can have when they mention your product favorably.  I'd recently read an article about how bloggers reviewing movies seem to be pretty much in line with the reviews that the traditional media are publishing.  Further, universal critical acclaim by bloggers and the traditional media wasn't having much effect on audience figures.  It's thought that we are actually persuaded more by our facebook friends' status on which movies to see and that the reviews have little sway whatsoever.

So I tweeted, "Do bloggers really matter, most seem to review similarly to traditional media journalists? #cbssoc."  Mine was the first question of the panel and the host introduced it with the statement, "I don't think he was intending to be insulting..."

Hmm.  I was a little nervous.  I hadn't meant to insult and so it appeared I'd just demonstrated what I'd call, "the law of unintended consequences" and others what called something different and added to their lists of important things to always consider...  I so hate those lists, almost as much as I hate the phrase "it's just common sense."  Common sense isn't common, experience is individual and so common experience is as rare as common conclusions.  It's often said that if 10 people witness an accident they'll give 10 different views, so where's this common sense then?  Sorry, I'm ranting and off topic.  I was lucky and had not insulted the panel.  In fact their response was wonderful, as they gave real life examples as to how blogs had directly helped their brands, businesses and clients.

And later when I got home, I started to get some responses to my tweet.  The first was from @tdhurst saying, "I'm a writer who blogs. I matter."  So back to that list of important things to consider... your digital footprint doesn't go away, even and especially if, you try to ignore it.

Over time I've become convinced that I learn far more by doing, than by reading books - especially if those books are full of lists of important things you should always consider.  So this one day seminar has taught me quite a lot really.

I think the day could have been better though.  It would have been nice if they had tried to create an online community of the audience or just used social media more innovatively throughout the day.  However it's all too easy to give advice in hindsight and I didn't stay till the end, so my review loses some credibility as I missed the last speaker.  My excuse is that I finally left because the thermostat was set to ABERDEEN-SCOTLAND and although I tweeted about that too, I think they only reset it to FALKIRK-SCOTLAND.  As I remember it, on many of the lists of important things to consider, were strategies to respond to negative criticism or comments.
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