What’s in a Name?

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With this week’s theme landing squarely in my social media wheelhouse, I found it strangely awkward to figure out what angle to take. After all, with all the great writers on dot429 tackling this theme, they’ll be addressing the ways social media touches their worlds.

This leaves the perfect opening for a digitally saturated social media sort to tackle the topic from 30,000 feet. So that’s what I did while winging my way towards New York to deliver a talk at the 140 Conference. Watching the landscape of the USA whoosh by, I tried to find a delicate way to say this; but I’m a straight shooter. So here it goes: the phrase “social media” … is just silly.

By its very nature, media always has been social. In the ancient days of the Internet, back before the Web gained widespread use, the arbiters of media’s social experience were seasoned Journalists and organizations whose purpose was to discover, gather and disseminate information widely. Now that power lies in the hands of anyone with an Internet connection – be that via computer or any number of mobile devices – “old school” smart phones, to the lauded iPad or even this new gizmo coming soon from Sony.

The networks, platforms and services enabling this evolution of media already have changed the nature of this old social structure, and as each of these tools becomes more integrated and accepted, a separate category of social media will no longer exist. All media will be, truly, social.

This brings us full frontal with the most critical ingredient for social media’s success as a mainstream reality – personal stories. Amidst the maelstrom of information on-line, think about the content and people who stand out. Sure there are those who catch attention due sensationalistic effort or by connection to a timely topic. I’m not talking about one-hit wonders. I’m talking about people, businesses and brands with staying power. If you look closely at the way in which these people and businesses comport themselves online you’ll see a commonality – whether explicit or implicit, the content and its delivery are connected to the teller’s personal motivation. They’ve made that critical connection between “who” and “what”.

It’s already proving powerful, and over time will prove more and more critical. I’d lay good odds that it will be the differentiator between those that succeed and those that fail.

For anyone interested in hearing some real world scenarios of socializing business through technology, the 140 Conference will broadcast a live stream of all proceedings from the 92nd Street Y in New York.

About The Author

What began for me as a career telling other people’s stories has evolved into a journey of helping others tell their stories for themselves. I'm a “classically trained” Journalist whose passion for communications began with my first job ripping wire copy in 1982 and has evolved to encompass nearly every platform and aspect of media – from reporting and editing to broadcast management, talent casting and guest booking. I've also curated content for several of the tech industry’s leading conferences. It was after finding myself engaged as an activist for LGBT equal rights that I began to explore the way in which personal stories inform and influence people’s everyday lives and I began using my tech background to teach people to make these connections of personal stories, using new technologies as the medium. Presently I run my own consulting firm in San Francisco, working with companies and individuals helping them navigate the crowded waterways of new technologies with the express purpose of leveraging these rapidly evolving platforms to tell their stories. Through workshops, seminars and strategic consulting services, I walk clients through the story-telling process and towards the kind of deep engagement that comes from truly authentic communication.

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