There were ten of us in the room.
I gave the other nine people pieces of paper. Each got one 12″ by 12″ piece of fancy paper, the kind that you see in scrapbooks. Each got several pieces of smaller plain yellow or slightly fancy blue paper, the kind that will stick to other paper.
I asked them to take one of the small pieces of paper and write a few words. I said, “In a few words, write what you think social media is.”
I waited. This is a group that has heard the phrase, most of them. It is also a group that doesn’t understand the phrase. They’ve never, most of them, really talked about it. That’s why I’m here.
Then I said, “Put that on your scrapbook page. Now, give me a few examples of social media.”
Then I said, “Answer this question: Have you ever created a web page?”
Each person had three small pieces of paper on a larger one.
I walked over to the head of the group. “Read your first note.”
I looked across the circle to the junior member of the group. “What do you think about his definition?”
“Great!”, she said.
“Write that on a little piece of paper and sign it.” She did. I carried it across the room and stuck it on the bottom of his definition.
I looked for a person who I knew understood social media. “What do you think of that definition?”, I said.
“I’d add this,” he said.
“Write it down,” I said. He did. I carried it back and attached it to the first two notes.
While he was writing, however, the junior staff member said, “Can I add to mine?”
“Write on another one,” I said. She did. I stuck it on the end of the list.
I looked at the person next to the guy who got it. “What do you think of his addition?” “It’s good,” she said. “Write it down.” She did.
Then I told them a story. It is a good story.
To help me explain the story, I handed them a color copy of a scrapbook page I had created. It looked sharp, bright, almost professional.
After the story, I picked up the color copy of a page I handed out.
“This is a traditional webpage. It looks great.” I picked up the page with sloppy list of notes stuck on it. “This looks awful compared to mine. But it is yours. You created it. You created the conversation. You can add to the conversation.”
I pointed to a picture on my page.
“If my friend wanted to look at this picture and tell me he likes it, there is no way for him to add to the page. He would just have to use a Sharpie on his computer screen. On the other hand, on your page, you could have a picture and someone could talk about it and someone else could and someone else could.”
A copy of a scrapbook page or a scrapbook page that can involve lots of people. Underneath the technology, creating a conversation makes sense.
The technology isn’t the why, it’s the how.
I think they got it, by the way.