What happens when you put an Internet icon (Dave Taylor), a marketing expert at the crossroads of new media and old media (Dave Webb), and a digital immigrant who bridges top down with bottom up approaches (Kim Dority) on a panel and mix with an enthusiastic group of students, professors, and activists? I wish I could thoroughly convey the energy at Regis University last night, as we explored the nuances of social media, marketing, leadership, and social causes. A lot of wheels were turning as we learned from each other.
I started off the evening describing the three phases of A Bigger Voice–Crystallize, Build Community, and Sustain–and was followed by the knowledgeable and ever entertaining Dave Taylor. Dave talked about the "burning desire" for humans to express themselves and gave us a great perspective on how technology has helped us meet that need. His talk was similar to one he gave last November at the Thin Air Summit, which I reported on for this blog. What struck me this time around was his theme of "You have a voice. Use it." Amen!
The real juice of the evening came with our panelists providing stories and viewpoints from the field and interacting with the audience. Questions ranged from how to get digital immigrants to see the value of social media (answer: mutual respect of what digital immigrants and digital natives already know, point digital immigrants to Facebook and have them look for fellow alums), to how to publicize a local event through social media (answer: find and contact the influencers in your field and geographical area, make use of the social networks that the organizers are already on), to how to build a business using social media (answer: create trust, give away something of value, contribute to others' goals.)
Themes that emerged:
- Passion. Social media allows people who are passionate in niche areas (e.g., Kurasawa films, breeding English settler dogs) to connect with each other. Find what you are passionate about and participate in that community (or create a community of your own.)
- Ease into the conversation and become a part of the community. Contribute, build trust, develop relationships online, just like you would in the offline world. Dave Taylor gave a wonderful metaphor of being at a party and how different behaviors either alienate people or draw them to you. (You had to be there for the full effect.) Contribute to conversations where there are already like-minded thinkers and add value.
- Start with consuming before creating. Build your expertise by reading and researching online, observing the conversation and then get ready to contribute/create, either in small bits with comments and tweets or in larger chunks with blogging.
- We need both "old media" and "new media." The panel discussed the demise of the newspaper industry and the dangers of losing that "voice" in the mix of today's landscape, where citizen journalism is on the rise. In addition, old media still contains major influencers in different areas (e.g. Walt Mossberg with the Wall Street Journal on technology.) Dave Taylor gave some tips on how to create a relationship with old media (e.g., email reporters with additional thoughts on something they've written and offer to be a possible source of information when they are working under tight deadlines.)
- Move into action. Social media has the power to connect individuals more broadly, deeply, and quickly. It also can and should be a means for inspiring others to act. Passion and vision are great but without action, it doesn't mean anything. Dave Webb said after the panel that he didn't have the chance to talk about Twestival but wished he could have. Twestival was an event organized by Twitter users that took place on Feb 12, in over 200 cities around the world, to raise money for a non-profit that digs wells in places that don't have access clean water.
- Learn from Obama's election campaign. We talked about this as great case study on how to use social media to create a grassroots movement. Kim Dority gave us a specific example of Obama's campaign reaching out to her company, disaboom.com, as the voice of the disabled population, to create a win-win. An extensive analysis of the Obama campaign's use of social media was just released by Edelman, the PR firm.
- Social media is everywhere. From Club Penguin to World of Warcraft to Facebook (where the greatest growth is with women over 50 years old.) You can start using it or be left behind.
One of my big take-aways is it is easy to get wrapped into the social media bubble, thinking that individuals are knowledgeable about tools and lingo and comfortable with it all. For example, out of more than 70 people, only one or two were on Twitter and only a small percentage were bloggers. If we are to bring the power of social media to both digital immigrants and digital natives, we must meet them where they are at and help them find ways to move forward. My hope is that last night's presentation made a small contribution to that end.
My thanks all the panelists, Kim Dority, Dave Taylor and Dave Webb. Special thanks to Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, director of the leadership development program at Regis, for sponsoring this event. (That's her on the left, with the two Daves.) Judging from comments from panelists and audience members, I'm not alone when I say that the evening was inspiring and energizing and I walked out feeling smarter than when I came in. Check out the following interviews with panelists and audience members.
Interview with Dave Taylor and Dave Webb:
Interview with Kim Dority. UPDATE: Please note that Kim mentions having "Obama's adminstration on staff." Kim later listened to the interview and informed me this should have been "Obama's campaign on the site." Interestingly enough, the Obama staff has continued to reach out to disaboom.com, this time soliciting stories of people with disabilities who've gone back to work because of the stimulus plan. Yet another example of Obama's adeptness at using social media to engage, create conversation, and build community.
Interview with Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas:
Interview with Dan "The Can Man":
Interview with Janice, Social Marketing professor: