Thinking about my earliest Social Media memories, I remember one warm summer night in 1994 in Sweden. My good friend Zeljko ran the networks for the publishing house we both worked for, but then I’ve always liked geeks. He was a really clever guy from Croatia who I totally fancied. We used and developed the company-owned BBS which had existed since 1986 (cleverly called Com) for e-mails, groups, discussions. It had very early Instant Messaging facility, so if you were online simultaneously as another user, you could say hi without the need to send a mail.
It was all DOS based, and it did it’s job. We had users around the world and we could see early the many of the advantages and also pitfalls in using technology for communication.
But back to that summer night… I was reading in my room and got bored, so went to the computer and logged on… and there was Zeljko, logged on one minute after me. I was shy… do I say hi and risk a late-night IM chat that could have led to something else? I didn’t, I logged off… we remained friends, I married somebody else. A “hi” right then might have changed my life.
Silly story isn’t it? But it goes to show how an interest in using technology to socialise and communicate has always impacted on things happening in my life, and increasingly so with every year that passed. I learned to be less shy about being myself online as well as offline. I’ve learned that it’s ok to use any bit of technology to communicate, there’s nothing to worry about, as long as you use common sense – but that’s valid for anything you do in life.
Of course, online communication wasn’t called Social Media then. It wasn’t even called Instant Messaging yet – even ICQ, the first hugely successful IM tool, was a couple of years away. Being in a community of people who all used it helped, having community leaders who pushed it helped as well. I’m not really all that technical – I can get my head around basic programming but don’t ask me about the juicy details of the networks.
Anke’s BlogFrom looking at the history of online communication it’s obvious that a new development, simply using twitter and blogging, is taking the advantages of all the previous innovations – we can use direct and instant messaging, but if our conversation might be interesting to others, we can now also make it public, accessible and searchable to thers, and new tools to pick up the conversations which are of interest for every area of life are being developed all the time.
Individuals and organizations, even though they haven’t taken social media seriously so far, are now more than ever pushed by all the mainstream media coverage to use these new technologies. Larger companies are hiring PR firms, and right now that’s a gamble. While many PR firms are making promises about their capability to deal creatively with social media strategies, the reality doesn’t always hold up. Even in a specialised niche venture called Twitter Partners, which you’d think would have this side sorted, we can detect a certain lack of credentials.
So how can we contribute in this situation?
We are offering some crucial bits and pieces which might come in handy. The fact that there are many bad eggs and fake “Social Media Consultants” out there doesn’t mean that there isn’t a huge demand for sound advice and guidance – especially in the Third Sector, where we have many organisations working hard to create real value for the community, and who can increase their impact enormously by creatively using Social Media.
Here is what we can offer:
- Web-based tools to vet the credibility of your (prospective) Social Media consultant – to help you ask the right questions, and pick the best possible match.
- Social Media webinars in cooperation with the Salesforce.com Foundation.
- Simple training modules on questions around Social Media tools for individuals and organisations.
- Consulting and one-to-one training services, including setting up of customised wordpress blogs and accounts.
- Meet the Hive Mind that is Tuttle – a group of professionals within Social Media who meet in Central London every Friday morning.