I just came back from a local Meetup and felt like I needed to take a shower afterward.
The topic was Social Media Marketing in Georgia. Up my alley, right?
I’m not trying to be a snob here, but the presenter vaguely broached the subject of whom to “friend” on Facebook and why, then opened the floor up to audience members who ranged in age from 25 – 75, and there was a lot of “who the heck cares if I’m eating a turkey sandwich?” and “why would my prospects want to see pictures of me in third grade?” There was no comparison of different Social Networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace) or what level of intimacy was appropriate on any. There is clearly resistance in adopting this (and most) technology and skepticism of this new way of interacting.
I suddenly felt I was not in a seminar, or even a networking group but in a large group therapy session which ended with the therapist (presenter) saying, “you’ve been great today everybody, I think we’ve made real progress… buy my book and you’ll really be on your way.”
But, that’s not even the part that made me feel dirty. Many of the people I met there’s sole purpose for being there was to use social media to make money. I don’t have any problem with people wanting to make money. I don’t have any problem with people leveraging social media tools to propel their businesses. That’s what I do. That’s what I help others do. But the majority (ok, most vocal) of participants seemed to be adopting a technology against their instincts which inevitably leads to abuse.
The difference: I help small businesses take their products, their ideas and their passions online so they can genuinely connect with the people that want them.
The internet (and the recession) has opened new doors for individuals to connect with people who share their interests and even make a business around it.
It has also created a slew of people that see dollar signs when they look at the potential of the internet and exploit every aspect of it in order to make easy money.
It reminds me of the old “Make Money While Working from Home” scams. You send $15 to them and they tell you how to mail out thousands of “Make Money while Working at Home” letters. No substance. No Authenticity. Just cluttering it up for the rest of us while we attempt to sincerely bridge societies through common interests, they are forging false pathways for personal gain. I met someone who dynamically creates blogs, aggregates content from other blogs and then automatically pushes and auto-promotes them. He thought it was genius, I thought it was a little… auto-erotic for lack of a better term. I guess this is just another lesson in learning to separate the players from the good guys.
So I may be an idealist. OK, I am an idealist. But please understand the difference between an internet opportunity and an internet opportunist and know into which camp you or your mentors fall.
This presentation may help drive my point home.
One of the key phrases: Social Media is NOT just a New Messaging Channel.
So – headed off to SoCon this weekend where I hope/expect to find the more enlightened and curious Social Networkers rather than the “I smell money” crowd. This is my third year attending and my, how things (me mostly) have changed. After SoCon08 I joined Facebook. After SoCon09 I started using Twitter. I can’t wait to see what new social technology will change my life next.