It seems that it’s almost impossible to go to any social media conference or event without someone stating that “social media isn’t just a fad, it’s here to stay”. What I don’t understand is, why are we still talking about that? Haven’t we moved on at all in the last three years? It’s perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of being involved in social media public speaking, however in a way, it’s also what keeps many social media speakers employed.
I’m often asked to talk at social media events and in many cases, when I’m not asked to speak about social media use in local government, I’m asked to talk about the benefits of social media in business. It often feels like we haven’t moved on much in the last few years, as I distinctly remember speaking about social media and the benefits of using it, to clients years ago, who were scared, confused, worried and so on. Unfortunately, many social media gatherings still contain these people, concerned about the risk and resourcing around social media. When I attend these events, or talk at them, I’m often thrust out of my little bubble of awareness, where social media is just part of life. It’s an essential aspect of communicating, whether that’s for business or pleasure and so it’s surprising when people still ask me to justify why it isn’t just a fad.
When I first started looking for jobs in social media a few years ago, there were very few around at that time that weren’t intern positions or part-time. In Australia, there seemed to be a relatively slow uptake of social media professional positions, and certainly there were few outside of Melbourne or Sydney. To see positions that were regarded as integral and fundamental to companies, the best place to look was the US, who were starting to embrace social media marketing as a real, bona fide occupation. The notion that social media was a fad, was still extremely prevalent in big business and therefore, the idea of employing someone to manage it full time, was almost ridiculed. Sadly, in some places, it still is.
Let me put it to you as clearly as I can; social media is not a fad. Let’s move past that and just focus on doing it, and doing it well. Social media is an essential part of your business, of your life and of your relationships. I say it often and I know it’s a cliche, but social media is about relationships, not about tools. Take a look around you at some of the organisations using social media and before you ask “is it a fad”, or get me to justify why it isn’t, simply ask yourself whether so many large companies would be investing in good social media managers and strategists if it were a fad? They wouldn’t. End of.
So, now that we’ve established that social media isn’t a fad, but is definitely an integral part of communicating, where to from here? Well, firstly, start learning. Start thinking about how you or your business can use social media and what you hope to get from it. Social media isn’t the be all and end all. It’s part of a bigger communications plan and should be used as such. So think about your objectives, think about your company and think about doing social media well. Trust me, it’s really not a fad. It isn’t going anywhere. People have always connected, this is no different, we just have easier access to the tools to do it. So go out there, watch, learn and do.