I had lunch this week with John Haydon (@johnhaydon) whom I follow on Twitter. We’ve chatted back and forth over the months about music social media and other things and we realized sometime this spring that we live fairly close to one another. We set up our meeting completely via Twitter, never sending a single email nor calling on the phone. I think that neither of us had any real notion of what to expect from the meeting, though, as I mentioned to John during the lunch, I approach all such opportunities with the attitude “who knows what happens when you put two intelligent folks together to talk.” We swapped stories about our social media adventures, shared tips and tricks and generally just talked about things relating to starting a business, fatherhood and the like.
I think that we both learned something from talking and laid a solid foundation from which to explore possibilities down the road. Also, importantly the meeting drove home the very real, and very awesome fact that behind the avatars and handles are people — actual, identifiable, physical people — not just demographic and psychographic distillations of types. Technically, I may not use twitter correctly (I’ve blogged about the “rules” of usage in the past) but I use it in a way that suits me. I’m not just an entrepreneur. I’m not just a family man. I’m not just an art history guy. I’m a lot of things and I follow many people. Some may help my business. Some I may help. Some I follow just because I want to see different perspectives from people of different nationalities, genders, politics, interests, ethnicities and regions. I frequently start chatting if something that someone says piques my interest. Often, I listen. I view Twitter as a line directly into the universal brain to which I hopefully contribute and from which I learn a tremendous amount. Back in December 2008 as I was pulling myself together and starting this company Twitter helped me feel a part of something bigger by looping me into the idle chatter, the keen insights, the silliness, the mundane-ness and beauty of many people talking to one another.
It is this concentration of people that make social media the “It” channel in the minds of marketers, right now, but I think that too often the reality of the people who make up these communities gets lost. Marketers of all stripes count people as “eyeballs,” “traffic,” visitors,” “followers,” “leads,” “acquisitions,” “conversions,” “potential revenue/income/sales” and “friends.”Perhaps, CMOs and social media directors and CSMOs need to come off of their perches and interact with folks. Perhaps, a bigger part of their job should be real-world interactions with people who are passionate enough about their company and product to follow and interact with them in various channels. Social media is a start, but there’s no replacement for siting down to a pizza and a Greek salad and some good old fashioned conversation. It bears repeating: it’s amazing what happens when people get together and talk.
Please read John Haydon’s take on our meeting: The most effective social media tool in the universe