Thursday, August 20, 2009

The (Social Media) Natives are getting restless

This is cross-posted over on Geoff Livingston's blog, The Buzz Bin. I had the distinct pleasure of providing Geoff with a guest post while he's on vacation. I hope my readers who have not already done so, will take some time and explore his blog. It's one of my favorites. Enjoy...

"____________ is dead."

Go ahead and fill in that blank with the usual suspects; blogging, Twitter, PR, marketing, FriendFeed, the press release, the media, etc.

Admit it, you've probably seen, read, or possibly wrote something that fits the above standard claim. It gets repeated, rebroadcast, refuted, and recycled. And that's ok. That's how this stuff is supposed to work. It is what happens as people keep entering the house of social web and longtime residents become bored with the decor and want to move on to more interesting things.

The barriers to entry into social media are often easy to overcome with a little planning and commitment. Basically, you have to want to know because by this point, if you are not learning, experimenting, or using social media tools, you are choosing to ignore the significance and potential of the social web.

Natives + Immigrants
In his book Don't Bother Me Mom - I'm Learning, Marc Prensky writes:

"After dealing with Digital Natives for quite a while, I've become a kind of digital anthropologist, spending a great deal of time observing the rich digital world and life that the Natives are in the process of creating for themselves. It turns out that for almost every activity in their lives, the Digital Natives are inventing new, online ways of making each activity happen, based on new technologies available to them. Some of these new approaches Digital Immigrants can -and do - use as well. But some are so foreign to the Immigrants that they are almost, or totally, unintelligible."

Sound familiar? While Prensky is explaining to parents how children are actually getting valuable skills from playing video games, I am interested in how social media natives and immigrants are not adversaries. Instead, we should operate in mentoring relationships.

To the Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, and Late Majority on the adoption bell curve, you are the Social Media Natives. You get it, you've shared it, many of you are tired of talking about it.

To the Laggards of the adoption bell curve, you are the Social Media Immigrants. You're getting it, you're sharing it and yes, in time, some of you will probably grow tired of the tools.

But we can (and should) still learn from each other.  

We have a responsibility to share
In the seminal work for the PR field, Effective Public Relations, the authors write:

"Because professions draw upon a specialized body of knowledge developed through research, practitioners are obligated to support the advancement of professional knowledge."
(Cutlip, Center, and Broom)

As professional communicators, we should devote time to topics, writings, discussions, and brainstorms that keep us sharp and informed. If that means rehashing some old(er) debates, so be it. We'll all be better for it.

(Photo credit: matildaben)

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