Or more eloquently; why it’s done all wrong.
I like learning, and I like teaching. I like open conversation with others and I like problem solving. And I like the fact that social media is conducive to holding discussion on a wider medium. But I can’t stand the so-called “experts” who dole out social media training like it’s a secret sauce only available to the privileged few.
The knowledge gap between those not knowing anything about social media and those purporting to be in the know definitely exists, but it’s not as wide as it’s perceived. There’s a tendency amongst humans to put on a pedestal whatever new medium exists during their lifespan. We saw it with radio and with television. Both are now accepted norms, and so it should be with social media. Why are we letting people get away with paying hundreds of pounds for poorly structured, patronising and corny sounding seminars?
Let me be clear; I am not against teaching. Everyone has to start somewhere. But the way we teach social media (if such a formal tag is to be applied to the methodology) has to shift from the perspective of a top-down system.
An expert standing at the front of a room packed with baffled faces, doling out “gems” of information as if they and only they hold the key to unlocking the so-called secrets of social media. This is fundamentally overcomplicating and building up the concept of social media in order to exploit it financially.
Being social is instinctive; all social media has done is allow us to share that instinct with a wider audience. There’s no magic code, no correct way to go about doing these things. Most of us got here by experimenting, messing up, and seeing what worked for us. And that’s the key point; to each his own. The way that I use social media in journalism is different to how a behavioural analyst or a small business uses it.
I’ve written previously about how I think universities should shift their purpose in the context of enabling and supporting entrepreneurialism. Encouraging the use of social media should also seek to accept that we are all constant learners, and that we can all benefit from each others viewpoints. Blog Preston recently won the Talk about Local prize for “Best overall hyperlocal website” and one of the reasons cited was our use of social media. The way in which we interact has to be playful but informative, accurate but talkative, authoritative but friendly.
Ideally I’d like 2011 to be the year when the “social” tag is dropped altogether, and it just becomes the accepted way that we participate in media. This will help debunk some of the mystery behind social media as well as hopefully outing some of these so-called gurus wanting to make a fast buck.
As someone who’s often called a social media geek I hope I’ve never fallen into the trap of preaching from a parapet. Over the summer I’ll be making some forays into training young people in storytelling techniques and media. But at the heart of it I’ll always remember that they can potentially all know more than me. And that we can learn learn together.