Thursday, February 28, 2008
Social Media: "Where Everybody Knows Your Name"
My New Media and PR class had the pleasure of meeting up with three social media zealots this week - author and speaker, David Meerman Scott; SHIFT principal, Todd Defren; and SHIFT employee (and BU PR grad), Amanda Gravel. Tomorrow, I also have the privilege of attending a panel discussion at BU, where I'll be soaking up panelist, PodCamp cofounder and Twitter friend, Chris Brogan's real-life tweets about new media. Needless to say, it's been a very informative week on the social media front.
This week's offline experiences with PR 2.0 have gotten me thinking a lot about the online world and the offline world, and how, for many, these two worlds converge. Amanda, for example, often describes her online and offline lives as one and the same.
So much of the feedback from my classmates after our visit to SHIFT today has been about how surprised they are that the leaders of social media (like Todd) are such fun, personable and approachable people in real life. But why should this be surprising? We social media enthusiasts love participating in conversation, both in the virtual world and the physical world. Why do you think PR people like Todd are so successful at what they do? The answer is that they know how to successfully relate to people.
I don't think people who are trying to grasp the concept of social media consider how much it relates to how people physically interact with each other. For these people, David Meerman Scott offers his analogy for the Web as a city. Blogs, he mention, are the bars and pubs of the city. In short, his point is that by frequenting these bars and contributing to the ramblings of the other patrons (online conversation), you can learn about your peers (audience) and thus become a reliable and credible source. To me, this sounds like a virtual "Cheers," "where everybody knows your name." (For more about David's analogy, check out Bloggers Take Note: The Web is a City.)
One really cool thing I've noticed about social media champions is that their passion for social interaction far exceeds the virtual realm. Staring and typing away at a computer screen all day (sounds ironically unsocial, huh?) just doesn't seem to satisfy their inner social butterfly. IRL, these people organize and attend meetings and events with their online social network of friends. Social networking sites such as Upcoming and applications like Facebook Events help them do this, which is how social media breakfasts, Tweetups (meetups of Twitter friends), PodCamps, etc. are planned. PubCrawl Tweetup, anyone?
This passion for conversation and engagement in and out of the social media realm is exciting and infectious. Personally, I have always been a very social person. When none of my friends were available to hang out, I used the Internet as a way to engage myself socially. Funny enough, now I'm using the Internet to organize ways to hang out with my friends. Like Amanda, I think my online and offline worlds are starting to converge as well!