Last Friday I attended a local networking group for business-to-business consultants. In this case “networking” meant real people in a real room drinking real coffee. It’s important to clarify because as it happens, our live networking group was talking about the how’s and wherefore’s of technology-facilitated social networking. The specific discussion topic was this: How do we understand all the many social media options and optimize them for our small businesses? The session opened with an overview of things like Search Engine Optimization and moved quickly to FaceBook, LinkedIn and, of course, Twitter.
Since it was my first time to the group, I was in a position to participate but remain somewhat detached. I observed as nervous laughter erupted over terms like “re-tweet” and “squeeze pages.” Participants talked about the number of texts the average teen sends a month (1,742 according to Neilson) or how super-texting young people go as far double-bag their phones so they can text their friends while in the shower.
Before long, the discussion took on something of a fevered pitch as the participants’ eyes got bigger and rounder—overwhelmed with all they weren’t doing; where they were falling behind and what they didn’t understand.
As I listened to the discussion, I was also monitoring whether or not future attendance of this type of (live) networking session would be of real use to me. The older I get the more miserly I get with my time. I am not interested in joining groups for purely social purposes. I am not interested in groups where we spend our time trading soap-box sermons and leave convinced we get it and the non-attending and unenlightened don’t get it. I am not interested in ever more access to ever less useful information.
And this brings me to my biggest concern about social media. What’s the value? I dutifully joined FaceBook because that’s what one does these days, right? Since then, however, I’ve found myself dismayed at the time-killer it is to scroll through updates about what people have recently eaten, which movies they’ve recently seen, and how the latest round of antibiotics is working on their tough sinus infection (seriously). I wasn’t surprised to hear that 60% of new Twitter users are “Twitter-Quitters” within a month. Why? Well, as it turns out, they also don’t much care if their loved ones or celebrity idols are off to buy bananas at the grocery store.
My concern with all the pressure to hop on the social media bandwagon is not borne out of a cynicism for technology. My concern is the pressure to do it without first aligning it to a strategy. Here are my thoughts…
Toward the end of today’s networking session, our guest speaker shared a quote from Plato: “Wise men [and women] speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
I like it.
Kyndra Wilson, KW Brand Translation
People geek. Proud Colorado native.