“We think you should stop blogging and using social media.” That’s the advice I received in late April from a certain committee that holds great power over one aspect of my life. It’s a committee whose members apparently suffer from “head in sand” syndrome.
Blogging and social media are at the core of today’s media world. Today, almost everyone under the age of 50 and everyone in the business world communicates primarily through social media and mobile technologies.
Most business leaders recognize that the way we communicate has changed, even if they don’t understand this brave new world.
Even ostriches know better than to stick their heads in the sand.
Imagine hearing these gems of advice:
- “We think you should stop making phone calls.”
- “We think you should stop sending emails.”
- “We think you should stop marketing your business.”
- “We think you should stop interacting with other people.”
- “We think you should only communicate through text that has been printed on pieces of paper, vetted by your superiors, compiled by third parties, and stored in warehouses (virtual or real), preferably accessible only to those who can afford to pay the exorbitant annual subscription fee.”
- “We think you should stop using the tools your students need for careers in their chosen field.”
Those all mean the same thing as “stop blogging and using social media.”
I’m not naive. I realize that most in “the academy” live in disciplinary silos and have little to no familiarity with current trends in any field outside their own discipline. Certainly not in any professional sense. It takes a lot of work and energy to keep up with one specialty, let alone one discipline, and I respect the choices others make to become highly-focused specialists. Not everyone wants to see and understand the big-picture as much as I do.
But what shocked me is how this “advice” actually goes against what it takes to succeed in my own discipline. I can’t imagine this committee telling a nursing faculty member that he/she should not maintain professional competencies or telling a trial law professor that he/she should never use the tools that are necessary for electronic discovery in 21st century litigation.
Those who don’t understand social media, blogging, the mobile communications world, see it as a trend, a fad. This too will soon pass, they tell themselves.
Social Is Not A Fad
We are not going back.
Sure, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest will pass. But online and mobile communication isn’t going away.
Individuals now have the power through online and mobile technologies to reach an audience of one or many.
“We the people” can now engage with others. We can build tribes and communities that aren’t designed by a top-down, hierarchical authoritarian regime of command and control.
Smart businesses and nonprofits know this and are adapting.
Behind-the-curve businesses and nonprofits recognize the world is changing and they’re trying to figure out how to adapt.
Professional Success Is Built On Social
Any student who wants a “career” related to business, marketing, management, strategic communication, public relations, leadership must have a solid understanding of how to use social and online tools effectively and strategically. Actually, anyone who wants to succeed in life after 2008 fits into this category.
FYI in case you didn’t get the
memo text tweet: We are all professional entrepreneurs now. (That’s a subject for another post.)
Social media isn’t “how to send a tweet.” It isn’t about “send a tweet to promote my event.” It isn’t about updating statuses on Facebook. It isn’t even about which new social platform is currently “hot.”
The social business world is about how to build relationships, how to engage, how to measure, how to tell a story using these new tools. For businesses and brands, it’s about knowing where people are, knowing how to find “my” audience and how to engage with them in those communities of interest.
Social business and social media is about how to create something of value for a community and how to make it available online so the community can find it and share it and use it and make it better.
I can’t teach any of this to my students or anyone else if I don’t understand it myself.
No Blog, no social media. “I don’t think so.” That was my reply.
Note: The ostrich photo is used under a Creative Commons License with attribution to Sara&Joachim’s Photostream on Flickr.