But what does it do?

Let's say you are one of those people who have never had a
cell phone and have decided to check out what all the hoopla is about.  You go down to T-Mobile, pick out a
basic phone.  Charge it up and put
it on your desk to see what happens. 
But you don't let anyone know that you have a cell phone, you don't call
anyone, you don't set up your voicemail… you do nothing with it but put it on
your desk and wait for something to happen.



By the end of a week, would you wonder what all the big deal
was about?  Would you cancel your
service and toss the phone away? 
Probably.



That, in a nutshell, is the description of how many
marketers view social media. 
"That's stupid," you may say.  I say, however, that it's conditioning.



There have been some interesting conversations about social
media all over social media for the past few months.  One occurred on Harry Gries' blog where he posted a tweetup
regarding the new community site, Xuropa. 
One of the statements was, "Do we need YASN (yet another social
network."  Of course there
were both sides presented, but the upshot of the discussion from the
recalcitrants was, what does Xuropa do?



That brings me to another analogy.  A piece of paper doesn't do anything.  But you can use it to jot notes on,
print a flyer on, write a letter to someone, make a "No UPS"
sign.  You can even make an origami
crane out of it.  But in itself it
does nothing uunless you decide what you want to do with it.  Just like the phone is an electronic
brick unless you turn it on and start calling people.  That's why they are both considered "media."  By their nature they serve as an
interface between people and each person can use it as they see fit…or not at
all.



Same thing with social media.  It does whatever you want it to do within the parameters of
the format.



But most of the technology world isn't conditioned for
that.  To them, media has always
been automatic.  Wake up in the
morning, open the door, pick up the paper and read it.  Turn on the radio and listen to the
news.  Fire up the computer and get
the Google news feed.  It just
happens, right?



Then on the marketing side, it's no less automatic.  Hire a publicist to write a news
release and put it on the wire, and it shows up on your computer when you do a
search.  Cool.  Maybe an article appears about your
company.  No sweat.  But that's not the way it works, is it?



Most technologists don't know anything about the
communication process.  They don't
know what journalists need, much less what the customer wants to hear.  They only know what they want to
say, and because the process of
producing news and information is completely transparent to them, it seems
automatic.



But as traditional media has collapsed over the past decade,
they don't realize that the infrastructure that supported the transparent
process is no longer transparent, it has evaporated.



Social media is the replacement for the infrastructure.  It can reach very select audiences
rather than the shotgun approach of mass media.  It can be responsive to the needs and wants of those
audiences.  It can be very
informative and entertaining.  But
it doesn’t do it by itself.  You
need to learn how to communicate to make social media effective.  It doesn’t "do"
anything.  You do.  Let me give you two examples from New Tech Press.

New Tech Press goes out to the audience the sponsors what it to go to.  That's it.  We did a video report on a company.  The marketing guru at the company took the video link and sent it out to their contact list.  The video went viral and the company got 1.5 million views of the video through their website.  They took action using social media as an engine.  We also did a story on another company.  Pretty good story actually and we got a few comments from other publications about it.  But the sponsor didn't send any of the links to the story to it's contact list.  They didn't even post the story on their website.  Guess what?  No one even knew the story existed.  New Tech Press got about 700 reads (more than 5 minutes on the site) and there was some pick up at the media partner sites.  The sponsor took no action and nothing happened.



The problem is most technologists have spent their life
learning how to communicate only with college professors using an archaic form
of English in document formats only college professors appreciate.  They have never learned the difference
between a preposition and a proposition (which can cause real problems when you
meet an English teacher in Copenhagen). 
They don't know how to use a medium.  What do they do?

Stay tuned for part two