I woke up this morning feeling like I wanted to write (as I do most mornings). But, the past few days, I’ve been struggling. It’s not that I am blocked – no, I have plenty of things I could write about.
It’s just that I don’t want to write about any of them.
I’ve been hanging out online, exploring social media, new communication, Web 2.0 – whatever buzzword you want to attach to it – for almost 4 years now. You could call me an old timer, an early adopter, an aficionado. You could just say I’m a geek. All of those descriptions would be accurate.
As cliche as it sounds, social media has changed my life. It’s helped me to meet people who are now very important parts of my life. It’s improved my business, my writing skills, and my confidence in both of those things. I’m passionate about communicating online. I love to share what I’ve learned with others, and watch as their eyes open to this new way of sharing, telling stories, and doing business.
So why is it that I’m feeling so tired of it all?
As I sit here, sipping coffee, I’m combing through ideas for my blog – things I’ve decided would be interesting to write about. But I can’t help but feeling that the world doesn’t need another productivity post, another “Web 2.0 and the future” post, another top ten list, or another “get the most out of social media” post. I’ve lost interest in reading other peoples’ posts like that, so why the heck would I add to the noise?
I think I’m starting to see more clearly what the problem is.
There are a lot of people out here trying to make a go of social media as a business model. There are social media coaches, people to teach you how to tweet, social media strategists, coordinators, community managers…the list goes on. I now see companies publishing request for proposal templates with requirements for hiring social media “companies”.
But here’s the problem. Social media isn’t a business model.
Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for social strategy, or teaching, or community building. I’ve done, and currently do, all of those things. But here’s where I think the difference is – social media is not the centre of everything. I don’t teach social media. I teach communication. I don’t build social media strategies. I build communication strategies.
The principles of communication and marketing are the same as they were 15 years ago – heck, 40 years ago. Fundamental human behaviour – the way people react to the information being presented to them – has not changed that much. The tools have changed. The culture has shifted to different methods of engaging with each other through technology. But that’s pretty much it.
There’s no great mystery to any of this, and I think part of my frustration is that we’re spending so much time out here, trying to teach each other the wonders of social media, when all we really need to be doing is teaching people to communicate better.
Now, I’m not one to complain without coming up with some sort of solution, so here’s the action I’m prepared to take. I’m going to cut out the social media blather. That means unsubscribing from a bunch of stuff. It means filtering my content streams better. It means focusing my work efforts on what I do best – helping people to tell better stories, and helping them to find the best tools to do so.
Social media is out for me. It’s yesterday’s news. It’s done. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not quitting it – of course I’m not – I get far too much out of it. It’s too important to the way I live, and work, and play now. I’m just getting rid of the concept that social media is some type of mysterious, elusive Holy Grail of the Internet that we’re all striving and struggling and fighting to be “the best” at.
Social media isn’t a big deal. People are a big deal.
[photo credit:rick harris on Flickr]