I spent the past few days in Seattle; I attended a social media conference that a few years ago was fantastic. This year, not so much. I think the ‘what’s next’ for social media is unclear, and it is ill defined how to talk about the future.
It seemed most of the discussions were around the individual contributor and how he/she is impacting the Web in some sort of ‘hyper’ format, and that impact was a wide ranging discussion from raising awareness of causes, to philanthropy, to trying to duplicate what I’ll call ‘virality’ of a the small Web site or personality. I was hoping to hear and find best practices about what’s working to grow that awareness from a business point-of-view. One of the viral discussion dived into a talk, literally, about how the numbers for a site jumped off the page when you record yourself farting naked on video.
Yea, this isn’t a strategy that we’ll be undertaking at the office.
So I think this proved a theory I’ve been swilling in my brain that we are at an inflection point that is moving beyond the emergence of social media. There really isn’t the fundamental need to listen to the self-made social media experts, regardless of genre anymore and how they are innovating – this is all now too well known and understood. What’s now needed for the business community is a best practices on using these tools and applications to move all these small niche audiences. The ‘how to’ is known but the measurement of moving the needle is less so, and can it be done holistically to improve aspects of a company’s brand or customer satisfaction? A conference like that is where I now need to go to learn. The take away is I think, still, is I was lucky to be at this show to have this epiphany. You have to be in the moment to see the shift, don’t you? Of course, the shift is pretty clear when one of the presenters is discussing growing your passion about knitting online.
She has a huge following in a very small niche, and presenting in genres of knitting makes sense, but again, can she be juxtaposed with someone from a Fortune 1000 company using her strategy on a mass scale, and can that presenter match the knitter’s success? That’s what I was hoping to hear and discuss.
Ah well. We have another show upcoming other employees are attending, maybe they’ll find a bit of what I’m seeking and report back on it.
While I was disappointed professionally, I was fulfilled personally, as I reconnected with a number of good friends from our years out in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve seen these friends on and off over the past few years (as getting to Seattle is not an easy trip to regularly make) and I’ve met their kids, but most have not met mine (not since Demetrius was literally ‘months’ old), and none have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Maya. Last night I had dinner and I watched their kids run and play, and I watched my friends’ ‘parent’. What a hoot. It was a dramatic shift for me as I have been around them a lot since their pride-and-joys have entered the world. That said, you see which child works which parent, and the tone of voice that is subtly used with the apple of one’s eye. It’s fun to see that I’m not the only one wrapped by their child.
Even though we stay in touch, it is hard for me not to fall to the frame of mind that we are all still 29 years old, taking on the world, enthused about what’s next, and drinking wine until 1am. That’s when we left, just after we turned 30 and Kim was expecting Super D. So when I see these friends, this is often where they are in my mind’s eye. And I know better, but is still a juxtaposition when the 40 year old discussions take place, talking about job security and fulfillment, time management between work and family, concerns about public versus private education, etc… These little worries do hide behind the smiles, chuckles and gentle barbs in the catching up conversations.
I wouldn’t say anyone isn’t happy or disillusioned. It is just so obvious that the definition of happy is different. Mostly, a job is a job, the literal and figurative big trips in life have been taken at some level, and the next ones for each of us, lets face it, involve the little voices and their discoveries – but right now that big discovery probably needs to get to bed or he/she’ll be really grumpy tomorrow. So we need to wrap up by 9:30 because we’ll be up at 6am. So much for discussions over claret and pinot noir at 1am, eh? Another inflection point, no?
So I laid in bed in my hotel room, feeling the red wine that I drank a sip or two too many of, lining up a week of inflection points, I’m perplexed about the maturation of social media professionally and soaking in the maturation of my life and my friends lives personally – all in the course of a week.
Heavy stuff, then I said, “What the hell Jerry, you have a 6am flight, be deep some other time.” So I turned off and thought about what a great friggin’ movie Inglorious Basterds was.