“Take your hands off the keyboard and step away from the computer.” It’s advice that, from time to time, I’ve found myself giving clients tantalised by the possibilities of all things web 2.0 and social media. It’s usually delivered with accompanying recommendations not to start a Facebook book page or join Twitter.
The reason for my caution is simple. Immediate enthusiasm, however well intentioned, is rarely backed by real understanding of what any of these new channels are or how how they can be deployed for an organisation’s benefit. The clarion call “it’ll go viral” is a painfully common justification for playing with these shiny new digital toys.
Of course, however misguided the ‘viral’ call may be, this is not to suggest everyone should boycott these new mediums; Far from it. For most, this is the future of communication and engagement.Yet the point many are missing is that blogs, Facebook, Twitter et al are just channels for communications, not the magical communications solution. They’re vehicles for sharing content and ways of connecting with audiences, not an end point in and of themselves.
What may seem obvious to some, but many seem not to realise, is that you have to create the content to feed these channels and engage with the feedback. You need a dialogue.
Which begs the question: why start this blog? Why should I be allowed to take to the keyboard when my advice to others has been to stay away?
Well, several reasons. The first is simply a belief that, if I’m going to advise anyone on how to use a communications technology, I should myself be engaged in it. It was this belief that led me to open a Twitter account – an action that greatly enhanced my understanding of the potential of the medium, as well as its pitfalls.
Second is a desire to crystalise my thoughts and ideas on the current state of communications. We are experiencing a period of massive changes where internet technology – and its near ubiquitous use – has forced a seismic change in the way we interact and receive and consume information. It’s an exciting time, where new norms are being formed – and a format such as this blog forces me to consider, articulate and present these ideas.
I am certainly not claiming any sort of oracle or wise man status. This is simply an exercise in self-improvement. Feedback welcome.