This past month, I did something I haven’t done in a long time: I did not travel. Being home also opened up the opportunity to hang out in some of the famous beergardens in Munich. In case you haven’t been to a beergarden – it’s kind of like a social network: You connect with friends and strangers, you share, you chat, you collect and you sometimes get spammed (mostly by drunk people). One of those evenings I met a few people from a former job. The entire group basically consisted of pretty successful guys in their mid 30s and 40s. One of them raised the topic of social networking.
NOT FOR ME
Several people at the table voiced a strong concern about social media. As a matter of fact, I was amongst the very few who are actually on Twitter and Facebook. Few are active on LinkedIn or XING users. Having heard this more often recently, I decided to drill down a bit and to find out why people are against social media. Here is what I heard:
- Why would I?
- It’s too dangerous
- I will lose my privacy
- It’s bad for my family
- This is just for young kids
- Google & Facebook would know too much about me
- I will lose my credit card information
WAKE UP CALL
Change is always difficult. But I do have to say that it’s time to wake up for some people. It’s probably safe to assume that social media is here to stay. They change the way we communicate with each other. Email sort of did that over 15 years ago (I do remember some people that fought against it). And here are a few reasons why I would argue that all of us need to get active to a certain degree:
- It does not matter if you like social media. It’s here and millions of people use it. There is no point in arguing about it. Do you really want to be that person who has no clue about it? Even worse: things change so quickly, it’s really hard to keep up-to-date. The further behind you fall, the more difficult it will be to catch up.
- Your kids are on there or will need to be on there to stay competitive in this economy. How do you feel about them doing something that you have no clue about? Doesn’t feel too comfortable to me.
- Social media is actually a lot of fun. I have met many awesome people, obtained great input and have connected with old friends. I wouldn’t want to miss it! It’s just too valuable for me.
- Marketing, communication and branding is changing through social media. There is a lot of opportunity and why waste it?
- People might talk about you and your company through social media. I’d rather know what’s happening. IBM for example released Cognos Consumer Insight to help understand what people are saying about you and your products. It’s important to know, right?
- Take ownership of how your brand is being perceived through social media. If you don’t do it, some other people or the competition might.
- “Your brand is not what you say it is…it’s what Google says it is“, Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine). Nothing to add, your honor. Social media can significantly help you shape your Google profile.
Oh well, I am probably preaching to the choir here. But it is startling to see how many people are still keeping their eyes wide shut. To get some inspiration and to get an idea of how IBM is using social media, take a look at this this well written and very interesting article by Mark Fidelman (Why IBM Represents the Future of Social Business).
Let me finish with a classic quote that I found in an older edition of the Economist:
Back in 1917 the manager of a Connecticut manufacturing firm complained about the effects of the telephone: “Time is lost, confusion results and money is spent.”