If you are reading this blog it probably means that you are relatively well versed in the world of social media. You may have a Facebook account that you use to keep in touch with friends, a Twitter account that you use to follow your favorite celebrities, and a LinkedIn account for connecting to colleagues. Even if it does not play a key role in your profession, you still use it for personal reasons.
Because of your use of social media, you have most likely heard people complain each time Facebook or Twitter changes the appearance of the site. You have heard comments about how stupid, pointless, and time-consuming social media is. You’ve probably even thought of those things yourself once or twice. Well, unfortunately for everybody who complains about social media (but fortunately for me, somebody who makes a living partially from knowing the ins and outs of social media), it isn’t going anywhere.
The two jobs that I have now are both centered around social media. For one of them I am a Media Specialist and helped develop the entire social media campaign for the brand. For the other, Sustainable Danville Area*, I was hired, with grant money designated specifically for social media development for local businesses, in order to help develop the social media platform for SDA, and its participating businesses. More accurately, actually, the grant was for the Danville Area Sustainable Business program, but that’s neither here nor there.
The reason I am telling you all this is because, up until last night, I never realized how difficult it is to describe the importance, rather, the imperativeness of social media.
Last night, as I stood in front of 20 sustainable local business owners and explained how I was going to help them increase their use and effectiveness of social media, I was greeted by two types of looks:
- Half of them looked at me as though they had never heard terms “Facebook,” “Twitter,” and “Hashtag” in their lives
- The other half looked at me with recognition of the terms, but no idea how to put a “hashtag” into effect
Oy vey. I had my work cut out for me.
Without assistance from an overhead projector to show what I was talking about so everybody could see, my words just seemed empty. They had no idea what a Twitter handle was. They didn’t understand that every time you put “#” and then a word, it turns into a link to a page that shows you everybody else who is talking about that same topic. They didn’t get why that was even important.
I know it’s kinda ridiculous for me to get frustrated with them, after all, the fact that not everybody knows the ins and outs of social media is what keeps me in business, but it was very hard for me to fight the urge to take the parent-child question stance and answer every “Why does it do that?” and “Why is that important?” and “How will that help me with my brand?” question with “Because it just does.” “Because it just is.” and “Because it just will.” It was exhausting to explain everything so many times without having a computer in front of me. Try explaining the internet to your aunt or uncle who still sends you Pokemon cards for your birthday, still hasn’t switched over to MP3s from cassette tapes, and still uses a typewriter instead of a computer. It’s extremely difficult.
I’m kind of kidding about that. But in all honesty, I will never try to explain anything having to do with the internet unless myself or the person I am talking to or both of us are in front of a computer.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy teaching people what I know about social media. It means that my skills are relevant and despite the widespread knowledge about how to use the internet (especially with people my own age), not everybody knows how to use it.
After the presentations were over I had the opportunity to speak to a few local business owners one-on-one. This gave me an opportunity to use my laptop and show them my personal twitter account. Once I showed them what I meant by hashtags, followers, and user names, they perked up a bit. Once I told them that there are applications they can use to schedule posts so they didn’t have to be online all day every day, they were ecstatic. They got so excited that they all wanted to schedule one-on-one social media tutoring sessions with me. It was so nice to see their enthusiasm once they could see what I was talking about.
Although I am so happy to help them with their small businesses, I’m not going to lie and say that it wasn’t a relief to wake up this morning and connect to the social media world full of people who actually understand the platforms they are using (that means you!). I’m thrilled that so many local businesses want to receive help with their social media, but I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to explain the purpose and importance of social media in layman’s terms.
Okay, now that I’ve vented a bit I am feeling a little bit better about my presentation last night (I got emails from a few of the businesses who were in attendance – yay!)
Have you ever tried to explain the uses of social media to somebody who didn’t quite understand the purpose? How did you handle it? What have you found to be the best tactics for explaining platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest?
*Don’t judge our website. I haven’t had time yet, but I am planning on taking a good hard look at the functionality of the website and make changes so that it is more organized.