Home > Steve Davis > Dipping toes into the social pond

Dipping toes into the social pond

Social media breakfast
Image by the tartanpodcast via Flickr

As I venture around Australia running workshops for small business people on a marketing-based approach to the social web, I have noticed a particular mindset appearing more often over the past few months. It is a mindset of guarded observation.
I think this change is worth reflecting upon.
Back in 2007 when I first drafted my Marketing 2.0 workshops, I noticed that the overwhelming majority of participants were champing at the bit to soak up the insights and swing into action. These were ordinary, everyday small business people who had been hearing about the emergence of social networking sites, particularly MySpace, YouTube and SecondLife, back then and they wanted a piece of the action.

I am not saying that all business people were thinking this way, only that the ones that were had their eyes and ears open for courses like mine. The naysayers stayed well away.

But something is changing. In my latest round of workshops, which kicked off last week, this new trend continued. A strong core of participants had their arms folded and sported very serious demeanours. They were watchful. They were carefully assessing my take on the small business value of tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and I had never felt so at ease.
This is the second wave of small business people. They have heard about the “social craze”, waited for the silly hype cycle to move on, and now they are analysing the scene for evidence of value for their businesses with the same earnest approach as that taken by those amazingly gifted CSI investigators who solve TV crimes for us each week through sober investigation.

To me, this is the smartest time for small business to move. We have witnessed the heady hits and misses of the fast, furious few and the initial, over-budgeted and variously planned executions by MBA-drenched committees in corporate world, and now we can plot a way forward, learning from the mistakes of others and testing our own hypotheses.

This wary approach has cost some people opportunities but has helped many others survive. We have seen it most recently in the take up of email a couple of decades ago, websites about a decade ago, and mobile internet more recently.
It makes sense. Until you can see value in something new, I suppose there is little inclination to proceed and much to dissuade you from venturing forth.

This was illustrated perfectly today when one of my Facebook friends, a person who is also a listener to my monthly Online Insights segment on FIVEaa, shared an anecdote about his wife.

Peter commented on Facebook:  “My wife thinks FB is not for her.. she thinks i’m a computer geek.. just cause i want mobile broadband for my laptop… but no !!!! She gets mobile broadband for her laptop.. now she wants to take it everywhere … OMG.. what’s she going to be like if she ever starts to FB. 3 months after touching a computer for first time she’s an expert.”
And so we have it. Once this social web, these networks rich with potential for contacts and commerce have been experienced and understood, it is hard to remember what life, or business, was like before this always-connected era, which is precisely why I welcome this new wave of cautious exploration. New possibilities for communication surround us but they only bring value if they help us pursue our business objectives. If we understand that, we are in for an amazing ride. If not, I think it was Seth Godin in Lynchpins who said that this “always on” world can be like crack cocaine for procrastinators.

Which reminds me, I have a radio segment to prepare …

-Steve Davis

Marketing & Communication Consultant

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  1. Chris Foster
    August 2, 2010 at 5:54 am

    I’m waiting to check out one of your BEC workshops Steve.

    I hope you can participate in the upcoming Social Media Club Adelaide, be valuable for us to hear your insights into local business mindset with regard to social technologies

    Hopefully we can assist local business to transition into this unfolding age of engagement and transparency.

  1. August 1, 2010 at 5:29 am
  2. August 1, 2010 at 6:58 am

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