I love days when there's a convergence -- or maybe I should really say collision -- of thought patterns that begins before I've even had my first cup of coffee. Here I was at my desk before 6 a.m. and I open my email to find an intriguing blog post in AdAge Daily News by Phil Johnson of PJA Advertising & Marketing: "Selling Social Media Isn't Hard; Implementing It Is." Then, I hear a most ridiculous essay on NPR's Morning Edition by John Ridley, "Keep Your Tweets to Yourself." Now Johnson is spot on in his analysis for advertising agencies: We've pretty much passed the point in which you have to convince clients that social media is a worthwhile endeavor, but unless you've been engaged in it yourself, it's going to be difficult to advise your clients on the best course of action to take and how precisely to implement it across a variety of channels.
Johnson jumped right in and made his own agency a proof of concept. He was able to understand firsthand how to work Twitter, how difficult it can be to establish a consistent brand from Facebook to YouTube and, what may be the biggest challenge for those who market brands, how to rejigger values so that you're not pushing yourself on others but engaging with them. It was refreshing to find someone go in a skeptic and come out with a true grasp of the nuts and bolts of what social media really involves.
But, then there's Mr. Ridley. He rants about Twitter, but admits, "I haven't Tweeted once in my life." And, why not? He's sick of the uber-personal ramblings of people commenting on their every move in life. And of the hypocrisy of people who claim to want privacy protection yet yammer endlessly about their "private nonsense."
Fair enough. Except that those of us in business, in journalism and in other arenas have come to embrace a collection of communications vehicles that allows us to get and share information, meet others with the same interests and promote the things that need attention. As Phil Johnson said in his AdAge piece, "You can't understand it without experiencing it firsthand."
I believe that's where a lot of businesses are right now. They're listening to John Ridley early in the morning and nodding in agreement. But, they have yet to dip a toe in the water and haven't a clue about the great potential of tools like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Linkedin. Or maybe they use it for personal stuff but haven't had that visionary moment that makes them realize what a boon it might be to their business or career.
That's why I encourage business leaders to get a little personal coaching -- from me or someone else -- to learn about these tools themselves so they can experience it firsthand and be able to glean the potential power they hold. Now will Twitter endure? Will Facebook? Who knows? As long as people are creative and technology continues to advance, there will always be new ways to engage on the horizon. It's not the specific mastery of these specific applications that is the be all and end all (although it's very important right now while we're using them), it's the understanding that standing still isn't an option.
But wait, John Ridley, surely you must have some inkling of this yourself. After all, you blogged about it on NPR. Yes, Ridley has a blog -- called Visible Man. Even Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep snickered a bit at the end when he mentioned that little nugget.