Two years ago I went to an IABC conference in New Orleans and attended several workshops on social media, none of which I understood. While it was a worthwhile conference in all other respects – especially that meal at Nola and the drinks on Bourbon Street – with regards to the social media sessions, I returned to my office relieved that our Corporate Communications team at Sprint Nextel had a really bright team to head that up.
Then last year, I went to the IABC conference in New York. Something clicked for me there that simply didn’t in New Orleans. With every social media /Web 2.0 workshop I attended, I realized that I was desperately falling behind my peers. To be honest, I panicked that if I didn’t get it together, in the next few years I would be out of a job, or worse, working for some 22 year old who’s never known of a world without Facebook.
After much thought, I also came to terms with the fact that our customers increasingly were getting their news not from the print and broadcast outlets I’d worked with for most of my career, but from bloggers, social networks and other online sources which I really didn’t understand. What stunned me were the pace of these changes.
After the New York conference, when I got back to Reston, I decided to stick my toes in the social media waters to test the temperature. I tried out Twitter and fell in love. Then I tested Yammer and left unimpressed. I embraced Facebook, but only for my personal life. Most importantly, as a media relations person, I started commenting regularly on Sprint’s behalf on several tech blogs. Oh, and I started this conversation with you.
Basically, I’ve come to believe that the same skills which make me a good media relations person would be the ones which would make me a good person in social media. My sense is that there’s no big secret to figure out other than to realize that whatever you do in social media is amplified and reverberates much more quickly.
I like what I see so far.
I like the immediacy that social media brings and I especially enjoy the relationships I’ve built by participating in these communities. Through Twitter, my blog, LinkedIn and Facebook, I’ve connected and reconnected with hundreds of friends and colleagues who have enriched my work and personal life the last year or so. I have a much better understanding of our customers, the journalists I work with, and my co-workers. And on a personal note, I’ve never been so plugged into the lives of my friends and family. (Thank you Facebook team, but can we talk about the “25 random things” notes which are popping up on my FB page? That’s starting to annoy me.)
For me, it’s the social in social media that works. If you’re where I was earlier in 2008, I say it’s past time to stick your toes in the water. In fact, you should just jump in.
The water’s fine.