Social Media Responsibility

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth 

My wife pointed me to an LA Times story today that made me cringe…The article recounted how TV personality Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) suddenly passed out while speaking at USC. While this caused a tense moment, he appears to be okay now. However what incensed me was how the crowd reacted. Witnesses noted the crowd did nothing, they did not come to his aid, and they were of no help to Bill whatsoever. But the audience was oh-so quick to grab their phones and tweet/IM/Facebook about what they were watching. Therein lies the problem – they were watching, not acting. In today’s post I’m going to explore responsibility as it relates to social media – the responsibility that comes with living in the real world vs. a perpetual state of virtual reality.

As most of you know, I’m a big fan of social media. I use it personally and my company has a social media practice area which offers social media services to our clients. But when social media addiction takes precedence over common sense, over helping another human being, it may be time to reassess the world in which we live. Social tools, platforms and networks are meant to be conduits to broader and deeper relationships. The real benefit of social media is in improving how we interact not in creating barriers to engagement. The digital world is at its best when it brings us closer together and at its worst when moves us further apart.

I probably wouldn’t even bring up this topic if what happened to Bill was an isolated event, but it’s not. I have observed other reports where people have been attacked, injured, or were otherwise in need of help but didn’t receive it because bystanders would simply rather standby than help. They would rather shoot a video, bang out a tweet, or just go on ignore rather than help a fellow human being… 

Let me be clear – I’m not attempting to dismiss the value of social media, because it would take contriving an intellectually dishonest argument to attempt to nullify something that offers so many benefits and so much potential. In fact, I hope that some in Bill Nye’s audience were attempting to contact emergency services, but I rather suspect that this was not the case for most of them.

Let me ask you a few questions: Which world do you live in – the real world or the virtual world? Are you still able to distinguish the difference between the two? The term “virtual reality” derived its name for a reason…because it’s NOT real – it’s virtual, simulated, and it can easily become fantasy if you lose touch with reality. Even scarier is when the ambiguous and ethereal become your reality. If you choose voyeurism over real relationships you have precariously positioned yourself on a very slippery slope. It’s perfectly fine to spend time in the virtual world if you recognize it as such. So, are you still in touch with reality? Do you avoid human relationships in lieu of online relationships? Are your online relationships adding value to your personal and professional life or harming them? Would you reach out to another human being in need of help or just tweet about it?

The simple message here is anything can be misused, or abused. Anything can become an addiction or an idol – even something as wonderfully powerful as social media. I have no problem with social media if it’s adding value to your world. I have no issue with social media being used to help people as has been the case on numerous occasions around the world. But I do have an issue (and so should you) if social media is cutting you off from the real world, and is keeping you from helping others. When black & white becomes permanently blurred so that everything reads as shades of grey, things can become dicey. Real life is not a spectator sport – it’s a participation sport, and in fact, I submit to you that it’s a full contact participation sport.

As always I welcome your comments below…

Twitter Updates for 2009-06-16

Direct Marketing via Twitter

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The Power of TwitterLooking for a way to enhance your direct marketing initiatives? Look no further than Twitter. Why is Twitter so hot? Why is it the fastest growing microblogging/social media platform on the planet? Because it produces real value, and it does so very quickly. Twitter is arguably the best and most powerful direct marketing tool to come along since email assuming two things: 1,) you understand how to use it, and; 2.) that you do in fact actually use it. In today’s post I’ll provide a few thoughts on how to leverage Twitter without going into the technical aspects (there is already plenty of information in circulation on that).

First off, I want to address the snobs and elitists who largely comprise the small group of Twitter naysayers still in existence…Your competition is likely already Tweeting, so why aren’t you? Each time I hear someone dismiss the use of Twitter as being a “waste of time,” or only for those that “don’t have anything better to do,” I chuckle at their naivete and/or apathetic approach. These too cool for school types are simply missing out on a tremendous opportunity, because it is easier for them to mock something they don’t understand than it is to learn how to leverage a new toolset. All I have to say is what a shame…If you fall into this camp I would suggest you do a reality check and get in the game. 

Next, I want to provide you with some validation of proof of concept. I have sold books and webcasts, have added subscribers to my blog, and have even secured new clients through the use of Twitter. Now keep in mind that I’m not an uber-user of Twitter. I don’t have a large follower base, I don’t spend all day on Twitter, I just participate in the dialogue taking place and nothing more…On a light day I probably only spend about 10 minutes on Twitter, and on a heavy day for me about 30 minutes and that’s it…

Want more validation of Twitters direct marketing capability? While Twitter is simply another channel of communication that extends my reach, and supports my other mediums, there are those who now make their entire living by leveraging the power of Twitter. Other examples of those that have monetized their Twitter followers are Dell Computer, who has traced more than $3 million in revenue directly to Twitter, United Airlines broadcasts “Twares” offering special fares on Twitter, Mariah Carey launched her new album on Twitter, in part due to his influence on Twitter Chris Brogan’s new book “Trust Agents” hit the New York Times Best Seller List,  well more than half of the Fortune 100 (and growing) are represented on Twitter, various charities and political causes raise funds on Twitter and the list could go on…While the list of what makes Twitter so special could be almost endless, I find the following 5 attributes most valuable:

  1. Twitter is fast and easy: Twitter rewards the articulate, and thrives on brevity and efficiency. Because you’re messages are limited to only 140 characters, the boring and verbose need not participate.
  2. Twitter is a real time pipeline to your followers: Twitter is instant, real-time communication. Just hit the update button and your message is instantly viewed by those who follow you on Twitter.
  3. Twitter is viral: If your message, your brand, your humor or wit, your offerings, etc., appeals to others they will spread it to their followers, and so on, and so on. I have watched a single message that was well accepted by Twitter users take someone from relative obscurity to a place of prominence overnight.   
  4. Google loves Twitter: Most people’s Twitter profile is indexed on page one of Google, and Google also indexes individual messages adding further leverage to the power of Twitter.
  5. Twitter builds your sphere of influence: You can not only find people of influence (CEOs, authors, politicians, the media, various pundits, celebrities, etc.) on Twitter, but you can easily open a dialogue with them. This is simply not possible in most other mediums, and where it is possible it is certainly not very easy.

My suggestion is this…become a Twitter user today. Don’t over analyze, and don’t wait…do it now. Once you’re live on Twitter, follow me @mikemyatt and be sure and let me know how it goes…