I’m at Ad:Tech today and I just learned a valuable lesson. Not, in fact, from any of the speakers, though a few have had interesting things to say.
Last night I went to the AdTech sponsored Social Media Club, and this morning I presented at a session called “next generation social media strategy.”
Thinking about what that might really mean, I settled on what seemed to me a fairly conceptual, challenging (but ultimately rooted in common sense) combination of things I’ve learned over the past year or two. I thought about what the audience might already know, and tried to build upon that.
Admittedly in a 45 minutes session comprising six speakers, there was limited scope, but I thought I might have have shared some ideas that might spark debate and other ideas in turn. I had a solid case study with some excellent results to talk about, and I was feeling alright.
Then I wandered about the expo with the post-presentation adrenalin crash blues and realised I was utterly, utterly sick to the back teeth of the words “social media” and conversations about what might be done with it. And then I confess, dear reader, I fell into a bit of a funk.
Luckily I’m such a Zen-like hepcat these days it didn’t last too long.
I had the revelation -and this comes, Sheen-like – directly from the power of my mind, that I had committed the cardinal sin of believing things about my users (the Adtech audience) based on pure assumption, not data.
I sat in a couple of sessions and listened to the questions from the audience and came to the understanding that actually very few people here seem to have any real world professional experience of using social media. Even now, even after several years, and successive presentations and millions of blog posts, there seem to be a small cabal of practitioners, a still smaller cabal of decent practitioners, a massive gulf and then – everybody else*.
And I think it’s our fault. At a session this afternoon, an audience member asked what kind of agency social media belonged in. There was dissent. We’re still talking about one platform versus another and how to measure stuff, and whether engagement is more important than the number of people on your social database (does anyone recognise this exact scenario from, say, email marketing?) and all the kinds of conversations that nobody has about other disciplines or channels…. and all this simply makes it seems like a difficult and arcane business and somehow exempt from the rules that apply to every other aspect of marketing activity.
Let’s stop fucking talking about it and just build it, from the outset, into the way we communicate. Let’s do it well, let’s do it creatively and effectively and in a way that seizes the immense opportunity the social web offers us all, but let’s, please, stop talking about it and just fucking do it.
Think of the children. If for no other reason than that they’ll be massively contemptuous of all this dithering.
*everyone who works in media, advertising, publishing etc. Not normal people. They don’t care; they’d just like you to delight or inspire them, or at least not to waste their time.
Thanks Erdogan for the photo.