. The Transom .

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Social media hides hidden talent

I had the privilege to speak at an American Marketing Association student conference last week on the topic of social media and its impact on business.  Seeing as I would be presenting to 135 current college students, I anticipated some interesting questions about various social media applications and tools, perhaps several that I wasn't familiar with.  To my surprise, the majority of students were not only not currently taking advantage of social media, but were largely unaware of it.  As an example, I asked for a show of hands of who had never heard of Second Life.  At least 90% of the hands went up.  How many had their own blog?  About two.  How many read blogs actively?  About two.  How many watch videos on YouTube?  Nearly everyone.  How many post videos on YouTube?  About four.  How many utilize RSS feeds?  Hardly anyone.

And then the kicker...  how many actively use Facebook/MySpace? Everyone.    Initially I was shocked and thought that these are the very people who are best equipped to use and understand this technology.  I mean, our business uses nearly all of it and we're hardly cutting edge.  I told them before I left that I felt they were, as an age group, at a disadvantage.  Because of their age, when they enter the workforce there is a certain level of expectation that they understand this stuff or are familiar with it.  Most older people think it's nothing but stuff for the 18-30 crowd.  

After some more thought, it  occurred to me that perhaps these students don't know what they know well.  As an example, hardly any hands went up for active users of blogs, podcasts, and RSS.  But when you consider that Facebook is largely a grouping of all of these functions, these students are very adept users at technology they don't know the name for.  In Facebook, you have a blog option, or even can use the Wall function, get updates on all your friends automatically anytime they change their profile, status, add pics, etc, and can easily post and share photos and video.  This is in itself using blog, podcast and RSS technology, just under a brand-friendly name.

Maybe it would help these kids to understand they know more than they give themselves credit for.  


  • While I agree with the majority of your post, there is one portion in particular that I must take issue with.

    Stating that people who use MySpace or Facebook are inadvertently adept at using podcasts, RSS feeds and blogs is almost laughable. To me, that's like saying someone who knows a lot at basketball must be an amazing player.

    I think the easiest example of this is the RSS feed. Those people who base a fairly significant portion of their time in/on computers should hardly EVER be trolling their favorite sites, searching for updates. Instead, if they're truly looking to maximize their time and be efficient (as their future employers will no doubt expect from them), they should have a central location from which they can receive up to the second updates from all of their frequently visited sites. By doing that, they don't waste their time meandering through the internet, re-reading sites they've already seen.

    Facebook is opening up, but their feeds are still (primarily) social in nature. When these students aren't using Facebook, they're busy surfing the internet when it's absolutely unnecessary.

    It's not like these kids are even conscious of what they're doing - ask any of them what RSS feeds are even for and I guarantee you'll see some puzzled faces.

    I hope that when YOU receive this comment on your RSS feed, you'll tell future readers that you didn't have to surf the Transom to find the news.

    By Anonymous Richard, at Monday, March 03, 2008 11:28:00 AM  

  • Richard - if you take Facebook out of it, I would bet that many of these kids have customized homepages in the form of iGoogle, MyYahoo!, Pageflakes, etc. This is entirely built on the use of RSS feeds. Whether or not they understand that is up for debate.

    I completely agree that searching the same web sites over and over for content is a waste of time, and thus, why RSS was created in the first place. ANd yes, I got your comment via my own feed. Thanks!

    By Blogger Rob Amberg, at Tuesday, March 04, 2008 6:52:00 AM  

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