There was a curmudgeon in the audience at yesterday's Custom Media Day in New York, one question he asked I liked was "all of this technology and social media is great, but should we be using it?"
My answer was yes because content marketing and social media is personal media. You, me and everyone one else who are connected via a desktop, laptop, smartphone and more can easily produce media to be shared with our friends, colleagues and family.
Rather than disconnecting us from society social media and content marketing connects us in ways most of us probably have not been connected for a generation. In this fast paced world of private homes, cars, and movement for a better job, its easy to lose connection with your hometown and family. Social media and social networks like Facebook make it easier to remain in touch.
My family moved from Boston to Greensboro, NC six months ago, both my wife, Karin, and I believe that the transition to moving to another town has been easier because of our connections to friends and family via social media.
I've made a number of moves in my life, UK to Fresno, CA, Fresno to Bay area, Bay area to Seattle, Seattle to Boston, MA, and Boston to Greensboro, NC. One of the easier moves for me was the move from Seattle to Boston, I returned to Seattle several times within the first six months and as a result I did not have the same sense of homesickness or loss I usually get when I make a big move. Loss of culture, connections with friends is always tough, and anything that makes that transition is to be celebrated.
For this latest move to Greensboro, Karin and I both agree having social media, and Facebook especially for Karin has enabled us to keep in touch with friends.
The curmudgeon asked another question at the conference, "Isn't all of this technology going away, why bother?" I believe he was questioning the value of the new technology, and so I didn't like this question as much as I did his first.
To me to ask that question is like asking, "isn't letter writing going away, or why use the telephone, isn't it just a fad?" The latest technology has always seemed strange and alien to contemporary citizens when living in the time of early adoption, but new technologies for communication are just that methods for communicating. Asking if social media is valuable is like asking is communicating with people valuable?
Social media doesn't replace the personal connection or the in-person meeting, but it does make it easier to keep in touch, and share my life and the lives of my friends, family and even colleagues much more easily, and I think that's a good thing.
Social media and personal publishing is a new way of communicating. I was reflecting that social media actually takes us back in time to when we all lived closer together, we may have less stuff, fewer distractions and more reasons to rely on one another.
Starting in the 1950's the modern world gave us more prosperity, and wealth at least in the developed world, but that modern life also cost us connection and closeness with family. TV connected us because we had a shared experience, but that shared experience was not of our own making, rather the Madmen of New York and Movie and TV producers of Hollywood made experiences for us that they observed to be what we wanted.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying everything about that process was bad, I think we did and do want some of those experiences, but I think people in such a culture have less chance to submit what is important to us personally, where in the past we only shaped media through our buying habits and focus groups. Today, the method for making media is much more real, more personal because we get to decide what's right for us, and even make our own media (as well as influence by buying).