If it had not happened to me recently, I might not believe it. Despite David Cohn’s exhortations earlier this year, experienced, smart journalists, all atwitter, saying they could never Tweet or blog. Experienced journalists interviewing me on my blog, without reading the blog. Executives acting condescendingly toward social media. We can’t create the Complete Community Connection if we don’t have direct experience. By trying to “possess” the stories of our communities, we might lose them.
Virginia Heffernan provides insight in today’s New York Times Magazine that the world of content has changed fundamentally. Much more “with and by” than “for and to” audiences:
People who work in traditional media and entertainment ought either to concentrate on the antiquarian quality of their work, cultivating the exclusive audience of TV viewers or magazine readers that might pay for craftsmanship. Or they should imagine that they are 19 again: spending a day on Twitter or following a recipe from a Mark Bittman video played on a refrigerator that automatically senses what ingredients are missing and texts an order to the grocery store (it will soon exist!). Then they should think about what content suits these new modes of distribution and could evolve in tandem with them. For old-media types, mental flexibility could be the No. 1 happiness secret we have been missing.
Several people have made this point, but John Bell made it well, and recently:
You cannot be great with social media through simple observation. Applying it to your life and committing the time to actually “do” it will help your business. It will help you understand first-hand and give you ideas. It will suck up time. But two things happen: it doesn’t suck up as much as you fear and you end up with greater rewards than you imagined.
So, how to start? First of all, join Twitter. Follow Steve Buttry, Amy Gahran, John McGlothlen, and Steve Outing to start, along with anyone else you know on Twitter. A great introduction to Twitter is provided by TwiTip, including some informative Twitters to follow. If you really want to explore Twitter, Guy Kawasaki has some detailed ideas. Once you are up and running, try Twhirl to start, and once on your feet, perhaps Tweetdeck to sort things out.
Then, sign up for Facebook, have your Twitter feeds automatically update your Facebook account, and search Facebook for local friends, or long lost high school classmates. Be amazed at what you can discover.
For a more professional view, start with LinkedIn. You should find many people from your company already there.
If you would like more motivation, check out Xark and Twitter:
Journalists are in the communications business. Shouldn’t they at least have a professional interest in the evolving state of modern communications technology? Shouldn’t journalists at least be curious about the way other people communicate?
Only they aren’t curious: They’re hostile.
I said this back in September, and it’s as true now as it was then: Newspaper companies (and many of their employees) hate modern journalism. They resent change they don’t control. They’re angry that “the people formerly known as the audience” have developed alternatives to their mass-media monopolies.
So, let’s just do it, and see what we learn!
Are you willing?