There has been a fundamental change in the way we connect with people for personal and business reasons. Have you noticed? It’s nothing we can control, and I’d wager we’re just seeing the beginning of the changes. Your best bet is to educate yourself, get started in social media (if you haven’t already) and start wading in. Eventually you’ll hit the deep end of the pool.
The question is: will you merely tread water, swim like a champion, or drown?
The new normal isn’t the old normal. Not only are the changes happening now, the pace of those changes is increasing. Does that make you upset, anxious and ready to crawl into a fetal position? I know it does for some people! When we don’t understand something, we as humans will often run from it. We’ll resist with all of our strength. We spend time thinking of what life must have been like in the Fifties, when business relationships were largely personal. When you went to the corner hardware store to solve a problem, you talked with the owner or manager, who was an old friend.
Maybe we fondly recall the technology of the 70s and 80s when fax machines, mass advertising and large-scale marketing were used by almost everyone. It may have been impersonal, but at least the changes were slow enough to assimilate.
Often we find ourselves wishing that the pace of technological acceleration was the same now as it was then.
But no. You’d be wrong. Those days are gone. Long gone. And they ain’t comin’ back.
Soooooo…what to do?
There is a small sign that hangs on my studio wall that reads “Start Now. Begin Anywhere.” It is a reminder that no matter where you start, it is better than not starting. So if it means setting up your first Twitter account, or posting a few tentative photos to Flickr, or seeing what it takes to start a YouTube channel, get going. You don’t have much time. Your competitors are saying the same thing: where do we start and what do we do?
I talked with a marketing person from a large multi-national company recently, whose corporate leaders still insist on ‘no social media’ in their world. As if it didn’t exist. As if by ignoring social media, it will go away.
Trust me, it won’t. They will lose ground, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but believe me; they will lose ground against their competitors who are moving into the world of social media. Ignoring the sea change will get you swamped.
As someone who swims in the social media sea on a daily basis, I have to occasional step back and realize that not everybody is doing the same I am. Companies still struggle with the changes. Even companies who appear to be happily involved in social media with Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube Channels and LinkedIn pages find themselves puzzled by what they’re doing – and what they SHOULD be doing.
It’s a challenge – and it should be. Significant changes to the status quo are often hard to take. But if you realize that everyone else is going through the same thing, that makes it easier.
To begin – if that’s where you’re at – take a few steps, measure the results and your ability to interact with those tools, and do it again. And again. And again. It’s just a matter to getting used to it.
At your next tradeshow, for instance, plan on tweeting out or posting on Facebook whenever the opportunity arises. Take photos of clients and post them (ask permission first). Tweet out any special deals you have. Ask for feedback on new products or services. Check the response, make any adjustments you feel should be made – and do it again.
Give yourself permission to screw up – nobody really gets this stuff 100% right, anyway, so don’t feel you have to do this perfectly. Just get in the social media water and start splashing.