I've been to plenty of conferences with panels on social media and I find they always run into the same glitch. The speakers are super-talented and the audience wants to hear what they have to say. The trouble is, the panelists and audience are speaking in different languages.
I didn't do an empirical study, but here are a few things I observed during the session:
- Very few young whipper-snappers in the audience, tweeting the panel from their iPhones. (OK, I guess I'm a whipper-snapper but I didn't tweet from my phone because I'm morally opposed to phones that do more than work like phones.)
- Hardly any people clicking on their laptops (fewer than what I noticed at other panels, in fact). A lot of people taking notes by hand.
- When the moderator asked how many people in the audience had a twitter account, only a few people raised their hands.
- When the moderator asked how many used social media to interact with industry professionals who would be at this conference, no one raised their hands. (I almost raised my hand, but then I was embarrassed because no one else did. Remember, I'm shy.)
- Based on a lot of the questions that came up in Q&A, most of the people at the session were just starting to get their feet wet in the world of social media.
- As the discussion and Q&A progressed, I noticed more and more writers around me looking like they were about to have a nervous breakdown.
How do we solve this problem? Personally I'm a believer in baby steps. When people get overwhelmed with too much information, they end up shutting down altogether. The idea is to help them take one tiny step outside their comfort zones. Once they've grown comfortable with that, they take another step. And so on.
This is where you come in. Think back to when you were new at all this social media stuff. For some of you, it could have been last week; for others, it was back in 1989. The point is, somehow or other, you learned to get comfortable with it and to make it work for you. All sans meltdown.
I want to know: If you had one piece of advice or one small step you'd recommend to a newbie, what would it be?
|From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy|