Preaching to the converted?

January 12, 2010

What is it about social media that has us all grasping for the pulpit? I listened to a funny, insightful and somewhat angry presentation yesterday from Jason Falls at Social Fresh Nashville. It made me wonder why we all long to be seen as doing it right and are so eager to tell others how they should be operating online.
Jason’s remarks were about the need to balance relationship building and giving back with getting tangible business results. Blending humor and hyperbole, he lampooned what he described as social media “hippies” who eschew anything that might make money on the Web and who want all of us to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” Yes, they’re out there, and they’re all of us at times.

Don’t get me wrong. I agreed with nearly all of what Jason had to say, and I think he’s right that we should all expect that there has to be a business application (and results and profit) for companies that participate online. His presentation got me thinking, though, about how quickly we all work to point out who’s doing something wrong and how we, on the other hand, have the right idea. (Trust me, I’m including myself firmly in the crosshairs here.)

I’ve noticed many knowledgeable people online (not Jason, for the record) describe themselves as evangelists for social media, especially early adopters, and suddenly that strikes me as curious. I know we’re all enthusiastic to spread the word about all the exciting things we can do online, but are we also delighting in preaching against the evils of social media snake oil a little too much?

Does it all come down to ego? Are we enjoying being able to imply (or flat-out insist) that we’re right and others are wrong?

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