I recently had the pleasure of attending LaunchCamp in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The event, organized by Todd Van Hoosear and Chuck Tanowitz of Fresh Ground Communications (and both former colleagues), was a new one but took place in partnership with the long-running Social Media Breakfast and the Social Media Club. The partnership implied that a number of the veteran, active members of the thriving Boston social media scene would be there, and they were. However, I was hoping for a lot of new faces to get social media talk outside that fishbowl we all keep talking about, and I was not disappointed there either.
While the focus of LaunchCamp was entrepreneurs- I spoke to the them on “Conversation” in the morning session- my thoughts wandered more to how the lessons learned applied more universally, to large companies as well as small.
The final thought came courtesy of co-organizer Todd Van Hoosear; many companies are not ready to move beyond the basics. Todd received a lot of feedback that the morning sessions were too “basic,” though they were advertised as “social media 101” sessions.
This is a conundrum for many of us who have been working in social media for many years: we want to move on to the next thing before the “old” stuff has taken root in the corporate world, let alone the public at large. Todd, in his post, acquiesced a bit. I don’t think he should have. There is plenty of room for advanced social media conversation, and it takes place every day.
If we aren’t prepared to repeat the “101” teachings- over and over and over- then we don’t really want social media to grow, and I don’t think that’s true.
Those of us immersed in social media for a living need to live dual lives: the first is that of the person who “gets it,” who needs to know what the shiny objects are so we can tell others if they are going to be useful– and how. The second, more important, life is that of the patient teacher. If our dream is that social media is understood and used effectively by all types of companies, then we need to be extending our hands downward to pull people up, not spend all our time with our noses up in the stars, looking for the next big thing rather than putting the stuff we already know to good use.
One example is Twitter- an obvious one, but I suppose that’s the point. I have spent the last two years modifying my own version of a “getting started with Twitter” document for any client that would benefit from a presence there. I updated it at least a half-dozen times, and shared with colleagues who re-purposed it several times more. Others have had a “Facebook Fan Page 101″ guidebook, in some form or another, sent their way- again and again. Even now, many people in many companies are still grappling with proper blogging practices, whether or not to podcast, and other “2005″ questions. At the same time, we look ahead at what new tools will get the “twitter tutorial treatment.” Prime candidates are Posterous (a great gateway for directing content to established platforms), geo-tagging (what, if anything, can we do with FourSquare or Gowalla?), and augmented reality.
At LaunchCamp it was refreshing to see a new set of faces, not the same old Boston social media crowd (many of whom are dear friends, so simmer down). While the LaunchCamp attendee group was entrepreneurs- hopefully a few faces that will figure in the future of their industries- I think the same principle applies to established companies: new people need to be brought in to the base conversation, not shut out because the social media “elite” (or whatever you want to call them) got bored with the basics that got them where they are.