The Dangers of Social Media Ignorance

A few days ago, I was listening to an all-sports radio show when Twitter jumped into the discussion. From the get-go, one of the three in-studio personalities started to dismiss Twitter as irrelevant and having no value. While not everyone needs to be on the social media bandwagon, what surprised me was the complete lack of knowledge of Twitter and the benefits it offers.

The person, who will go unnamed, works for the sports section of a large newspaper in Toronto, which is focused on embracing social media – like most other newspapers trying to taken viable and vibrant. There is no doubt Twitter has a key role in giving the sports section new ways to deliver content and, as the same time, drive traffic to the Web site.

Yet this sports journalist has little interest in Twitter. Given the frivolity of the discussion, his comments may have been made to offer entertainment value. Or they could have reflected his lack of knowledge and/or use of social media.

Even so, it was striking to hear someone be so dismissive of one of social media’s most popular services, particularly at a time when Twitter is being touted as a powerful real-time news source. You would think that a high-profile journalist would look to leverage Twitter in some way, shape or form rather than not give it the time of day.

If anything, it illustrates that despite the enthusiasm for social media and the large number of people using it, we’re a long from social media being as ubiquitous as the Web. Not everyone gets social media or wants to get it.

It could social media has little use or value for social media in their personal or professional lives. It could be a demographic or generational thing, otherwise known as you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Many people are so used to what they know, it’s difficult to get them to consider or try something new and potentially interesting.

You could describe this as failing to see the big picture, a lack of curiosity or interest, or lack of knowledge. However you want to slice it, it’s also a troubling and puzzling approach given how social media is affecting many of our professional lives.

To not see the impact and use of social media means not recognizing the new competitive reality. It’s easy and perhaps cheeky to poo-poo social media but  the danger is some of your competitors are taking the exact opposite stance.

8 Comments on “The Dangers of Social Media Ignorance”

  1. Social media still seems to carry a stigma that it is for young people who use it for entertainment. It may be a generational concept but there are many ‘older’ people who do not recognise the business value (indeed, necessity) of social media. I’m not being ageist – I’ll be 50 this year.

    Christine Fernand

  2. You point out an interesting problem – how to convert the unconverted. How does Twitter break through its reputation barrier? Twitter and Twitter promoters might benefit by studying the development of Facebook to uncover some interesting clues of how to convert web ‘unsociables’ to ‘web sociables’.

    1. Dawn,

      I think it’s a matter of making sure that education stays front and centre with a focus on real benefits as opposed to features. Thanks for the comment.
      cheers, Mark

  3. We all tend to shy away from things that make us uncomfortable. My luddite husband’s reaction to the social media icons on my site was one of fear… he was unsure what would happen if he clicked. The reason my kids are so much more web savvy is they aren’t afraid to click and explore.

    A number of my web design clients are artists, who realize that in order to promote their art online they need to embrace social media they just need help learning how to. For this reason I post beginner lessons on my blog to help them – How to Tweet.

  4. ….it is strange how quickly the lights come on once you show the conversations happening today in relation to their brand/product/company/people – enjoy using Sysomos MAP to investigate the same.

  5. It’s not surprising though, is it? i work in the social business strategy space and have come to terms with the ignorance or skepticism. I think it’s natural considering the rate of adoption and the public openness of all our data. Not everyone had the first TV on their block in the 1960’s. Those with a betamax player and tapes doubted that the VHS format would catch on permanently. The adoption curve (Geoffrey Moore ) has just become more like a rocket path than a gentle slope.

    Keep in mind that the user experience is bound to morph further – into mobile, your car and your living room, where the device is more integrated. after all, the lesson in twitter is that we can garner data in real time that is immediately relevant to our pressing question or need. And, we can provide value to those that want to learn more about our area of expertise. It also gives a personal connection that is no longer to be separated from our business lives.

    Give a doubtful user a glimpse into how microblogging is starting to be leveraged within large companies and they’ll get it for sure. Discussions and action items become a part of the archived knowledge-base. Twitter is answers in real-time without borders or geography.

    I recommend reading Ellen McGirt’s article in Fast Company Magazine about Twitter TV – how twitter has finally made TV interactive.

  6. Interesting in that we interviewed a former SEO at the NY Times and the current SEO for CNN. Both said that integrating new concepts like SEO and Social Media into large media companies is a challenge.

  7. Pingback: Groundswell: Social Media is a Business Tool | Dawn Comber

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