Social Media - coming ready or notI have been doing a number of talks / presentations recently to business groups and networking groups entitled “Social Media – coming ready or not!” and I just wanted to apologise publicly for this.

I’m really very sorry!

It’s not that I feel that they weren’t full of good information or that they weren’t well received or even that they only scraped that surface of the subject at hand – although the latter is certainly true (but hopefully not the others!).

No, I wanted to apologise because I fear that the title is misleading. I worry that it gives the impression that social media, with blogging sitting at its centre, is something which has still to fully arrive and that we can watch its approach with a type of detached intellectual curiosity. I feel that perhaps people might think that if we all collectively close our eyes, then it might disappear and be replaced with something more friendly to the business marketing status quo.

Or perhaps, in the tried and tested disaster movie formula, we feel confident that the “social media asteroid” hurtling on a collision course with Earth will somehow be diverted from its course and we will all be saved … probably by Bruce Willis, if cinematic history is anything to go by.

This is all untrue. Social media is here … now.

It is already profoundly affecting what we do and how we interact. From a business perspective, it is impacting how we find, evaluate, promote, recommend and share information, products and services, as well as how we rate the companies and individuals which supply them. And of course, conversely it is changing the ways in which companies need to listen to us, their customers, and engage with us if they wish to succeed.

There are still companies which seem to believe that they can ignore or avoid it – well, they can certainly elect not to actively participate but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be involved. If people are talking about them then they are involved, albeit implicitely. Their reluctance to actively join the conversation simply means that they have no say in the discussion and so no control over what is being said or its future direction.

So, I say to those companies and individuals defiantly sitting there like King Canute hoping to stem the tide, don’t fight it but rather embrace it. At the very least, make sure that you have the tools in place to listen to what is being said, but ideally also make sure that you have the tools and knowledge to participate and, preferably, initiate conversations. It will certainly be beneficial and you never know, you might even enjoy it!

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