“All of you are experts,” was my starting message Wednesday night at the first-ever social media gathering in New Brunswick. My argument was two-fold. First, there were 30 people or so there, which is less than one 20th of one percent of the population of Fredericton. By walking in the door and expressing the interest, they were the social media leaders in their community. Second? Social media and the understanding of it as a practice or specialty is so young there really aren’t any true “experts” so why not?
The beautiful thing about the event, organized by David Alston of Radian6 and Lisa Rousseau from MeshEast and WalkingSpree, both pictured with some ugly guy, is that people were there. Seth Godin’s thoughts on what he did to improve his blog in 2007 were simply that he showed up. These folks came, some knowing a lot about social media, others a little and probably a few none (perhaps the speaker was in that last group). But there we were, asking questions, learning and exploring together.
To help illustrate the point that we’re all experts and thinking about social media and/or implementing strategies that qualify as social media programs, I walked them through the Beam Baja Twitter Tracker and how it came about. To simplify it, we wanted to provide a community of consumers with something of value. Instead of looking at social media as the strategy, we looked at social media as the set of tools we’d use to accomplish that strategy.
You want to drive a nail, use a hammer. You want to twist a screw, use a screwdriver. You want to cut the board in half, use a saw.
Being a social media thinker doesn’t mean you have to have a deep-seeded understanding of computer programming or software. You don’t need to have spent years moderating chat rooms or be an early adopter of MySpace. I’m not a carpenter yet I own a circular saw and a power sander. Being a social media thinker means you have to be able to see the tools available and know which ones might be best suited to meet your end goal.
The last comment of the evening was made by Susan Nind, who runs an e-learning program development company. It couldn’t have been a better summary of what I was hoping to get across. To paraphrase, she said it sounds like you either make the waves or get swept away by them and we are at a point with social media that we can still be the creators of the wave.
Check out the Flickr photos from David here.
See the roster of folks and what some of them are saying at the MeetUp page here.
[tags]social media, exploring, New Brunswick, Radian6, Jason Falls, Fredericton[/tags]