Saturday, May 25, 2013

We Don't Need No Social Media Education, We Don't Need No Thought Control

I had a brief little Twitter interaction with Ryan Deschamps the other day about teaching people how to use social media. He was running a course for a small fee and I was curious exactly what was being taught. Social media is such a vast spectrum, how can you choose what to hone in on?

IMHO, we all have to start somewhere. I remember the day when the lightbulb went off for me. It was back in May 2008 and I'd just heard Marcel LeBrun (then CEO of Radian6) talk at a Third Tuesday Toronto event about monitoring brands in social media.

I rushed home and put Marcel to the test. He came through. That was extremely exciting to me (yeah, I know how geeky that sounds) that whenever you mention someone or a brand on the Internet, it was possible to track it, read it and reply to it -- almost in real time. I was hooked.

From then on I dived headfirst into social media. I joined (and subsequently left) any new social media tool or platform that came along. Plurk, anyone? I tested them, played with them, loved them, hated them ... and so on.

In short, I educated myself. I like to think that today I have a good handle on what to expect, how to use social media for various gains, and how to spot cowboys.

As a disagreement with Ryan, I don't believe you can "teach" social media as much as "introduce" social media. Let the student play around with it and see what happens.

One of the great things is to show someone Twitter or get them blogging, and see where they take it. The jaded, old social media hands among us can learn from that too and see the platforms through a fresh set of eyes again.

Remember how good that felt?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks John. I don't think we are that much in disagreement, actually. The course was mostly for people in their 60s, and I think "introduce" is the right way to look at it. However, many who are paying for a social media course want more than you can actually give them.

    That said, the "introduce" does involve some teaching, in the socratic sense. The main concerns relate to privacy, security, spam prevention, secure passwords, personal reputation (not just "branding," although that's a part of it). If I use an entirely ridiculous metaphor, to some just saying "here's social media, now you try it" is similar to saying "here's a gun, the only way to use it is to shoot something." It's true, but there are a whole whack of confidence/motivation/values concerns that you need to get over first.

    In practical terms, I also encountered the challenge of "do I just show my Facebook account to them?" I mean it was fine for most of the people I engage with, but what if I family member announced that he/she had a disease or something? So, while introducing and trying social media is the best approach, there is some teaching involved. Even better if you can walk people through sign-up, following and so on.