As a 51 year old who has worked in communications and marketing for 23 years, I am ashamed to admit how little I know about social media. And it is cold comfort to know I am not the only communications professional to find herself in this boat.
I am one of those PR/marketing types who subscribes to the school of “everything is marketing,” from the sign outside your shop to the way you answer the phone to your YellowPages listing (snicker). So for me to lack a command of social media is embarrassing, to say the least. Career limiting, you might say. Clearly, this has to change.
So this is where I am right now.
Websites. The grand-daddy of social media. Websites I get. I developed my first big website in 1996, and my second in 1999. Many more have followed. Websites are about words. They’re about logic. They’re about content and links to other, related content. With a few great pictures tossed in. And by 2001, I had even managed to grasp the [now] obvious benefits of advertising on other organizations’ websites—organizations that were popular with and followed by my audiences/publics/segments, whatever the hell you want to call ‘em. Thanks to my ex-husband, I developed a rudimentary understanding of SEO (aka search engine optimization for my fellow Ludites) early on. Just don’t ask me about Google Panda, ‘cause I got nothing to say. Yet.
E-mail. One of my true loves. Direct mail without all those envelopes, labels, and stamps to lick. Why god created Blackberries. That and texting, which I reserve for communicating with my teenagers [insert eyeroll here]. I am relieved to hear e-mail is alive and well as a marketing and communications tool. What I need to learn is how to tie it together with everything else.
Facebook. That’s where I go to share funny pictures, good jokes (especially jokes about language, pr, and marketing), and to comment on, and share, news stories I find interesting. With my FRIENDS. You know, people with whom I am well acquainted. But use it for work. Not a clue. This . . . must . . . change.
YouTube. I really enjoy watching videos of animals doing ridiculous things. Yup. I’m one of THOSE people. Obviously, I do realize that businesses and causes exploit YouTube to great effect. Something else I need to get my head around.
LinkedIn. 64 connections and counting. Pretty good profile, if I do say so myself. Nice headshot. I do work in PR after all. Pretty soon I hope to start using it as something more than a place to park my cv.
Twitter. I know Lady Gaga (20+ million followers) and Justin Bieber (18+ million followers) are the people to beat! That’s the competitive, marketing type coming out in me. I’ve signed myself up for a twitter account. I follow a company, and I had (please notice the tense) a follower. Years ago when I decided to set up a personal e-mail account, I used my somewhat unusual maiden name email@example.com. This is the e-mail address I used for my twitter account. Based on my e-mail address (how do they do that?) I acquired my one-and-only follower @YouGotCheatedOn. Today I will start following people. Tomorrow, perhaps someone will follow me.
Pinterest. Got an account there, too. Figure I’m going to post the memes I like from www.icanhascheezburger.com on Pinterest. Duh. Thanks to my thirteen year old for explaining what a “meme” is. Suspect this will be the last tool I add to my professional kit.
And that leads me to blogs. I don’t blog. Even more embarrassing, I don’t read other people’s blogs with the exception of two great Newfoundland and Labrador blogs, “John Gushue Dot Dot Dot” (www.johngushue.typepad.com) and Ed Hollett’s “The Sir Robert Bond Papers” (www.bondpapers.blogspot.com). How old am I? I’m so old my second version of the CP Stylebook makes no reference to blogs. I read books and magazines (and not, for the most part, the serious variety that improve your mind). I watch and read and listen to news, mostly the real kind. I read all kinds of stuff about marketing and communications. I even read some websites. But I don’t understand why people blog or why people read blogs. Now it looks like I’m going to have to eat those words – and post them. So here I am. And here you are.
As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic approaches (www.receivingtitanic.com), I am determined not to go down with the ship. I figure I have at least 15 good years of work left in me, so would somebody please throw me a life buoy.
There’s the rub. Nobody’s going to throw me a life buoy. Instead, I fear I’m going to have to build myself a nice, cushy social media raft.
So this blog is about that journey, a journey to discover how to master social media as a set of tools and integrate them with all the other marketing and communications tools in my possession. I’m hoping some of the old hands – the masters of these tools—will throw me an occasional lifeline. And I hope I can be of some help to others who relate all too well to my little diatribe, those who want and need to make this trip themselves, the trip to communications in the 21st century.
So from here on in I promise a lot less personal revelation and a lot more simple, concrete suggestions for how those of us with our feet stuck in the 20th century can sink our teeth into the 21st.