Why I am now learning more about social media from my family, friends and colleagues

When I started finding out about social media, I read the blogs  and followed the Tweets of leading practitioners. Their practicalities swiftly got me going.

Eighteen months later, I’ve got  a new circle of teachers and influencers. And this time they are a lot closer than Silicon Valley. They are my family, friends and colleagues who are influencing me because they do what they want with this social media kit without having read the blogs and followed Tweets like me.

So ask yourself? Are you so absorbed by the people in your Google Reader that you are neglecting to learn the lessons from those closer to home? Or, literally, at home.

Why I now learn from my family, friends and colleagues

  • They’re pragmatic: We people in social media spend most of our time blogging and Tweeting about….social media. But many of my family, friends and colleagues use it for their jobs or hobbies. They just aren’t interested in endless stuff about Google Wave or Apple’s Tablet. What they do want to know is how best to get what they want from this stuff. So they are experimenting and finding out new ways of doing things.
  • They reveal harsh truths: Assemble a hundred people in one room for a conference from most business sectors that have nothing to do with social media and do not be surprised if they are not Tweeting. Attend an industry event where people have Blackberries and do not be shocked when no one takes a photo. My family, friends and colleagues have taught me that, however easy the technology or the software, there just is not going to be mass adoption of this stuff. People want to listen at conferences and they want to chat at social events. We are going to have to get our heads around that unpalatable truth.
  • They self-promote: I have always been influenced by the sharing and caring philosophy of the early internet. I always believe that you get back only what you put into the web. But such great ideals do not wash with some of my family, friends and colleagues. To them, the internet is not some ideal but rather a means to an end. If they want to use social media for self-promotion, to push their message out, they will do so. And they don’t put their followers off since they are networking with people like themselves.
  • They interest me: My use if social networks changes over time. I’m going through a deep and intense renewal of my vows to this blog at the moment after months of philandering with Facebook. I’ve discovered that just as our loyalty to a social media channel is fickle, so our prefered teachers and influencers change over time. So I guess I’ll be getting bored of my family, friends and colleagues soon and will be returning to my first and former teachers any day soon.
  • They know me: When I headed out into the world of social media two years, there were some great new acquaintances but no one I knew. Sometimes it got lonely – just as you do if you are abroad on business. So one thing I really loved about my family, friends and colleagues getting online was to network with people I genuinely know. It makes it much more intense.
  • They owe me: God forbid that I sound bitter or anything but…I’ve put so much time and energy into encouraging and explaining social media to my family, friends and colleagues that it’s payback time. I deserve a little lesson-love.
  • Photo: Dan Taylor

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