I used to work at a huge PR firm. This was before I decided to try and venture into videography. I got fired due to me not “living up to their expectations”. I found that statement by their vice-president (who was a total bitch, excuse my French) to be rather ironic considering I was coming up with ideas that ended up landing accounts (among other things), but that’s neither here nor there at this point. Anyway, one of their main strategies to bring in new business were their pitches to new clients involving how to understand and utilize social media and social networking.
Personally, I felt half the time what they were pitching to these clients was bullshit. It was just a pretty and colorful way of telling them “be smart about social media, use it to you advantage, understand it before you utilize it, but don’t set your expectations too high.” Simple as that. Client after client fell for the pitch, which honestly, any media savvy person, or kid in college could’ve told them over a nice lunch. But apparently businesses like to be told stuff like this in colorful Powerpoint presentations or else they won’t believe it, and like to spend thousands of dollars on it, or else it doesn’t make sense to them.
After I got fired, I came to realize that as much importance as the PR-firm-that-shall-not-be-named put on social media and networking (along with most of the media world), at the end of the day, it’s overrated. Sure, it provides new ways and different ways of marketing and connecting with the consumer, but it’s not some revolution or phenomenon that is worth spending a gazillion dollars on to understand. And really…can it make that much of a change at the end of the day? Well, I thought not…until Debra Walker (twitter.com/VoteDebraWalker) followed me yesterday on Twitter.
Earlier that day I’d posted a picture about the Tenderloin district in San Francisco (an area I happen to live in), and it looks like she found my Twitter handle in her search for people talking about her district, and decided to follow me. I’m a pretty active voter, including taking part in mid-year elections, but Debra wouldn’t have had a clue about that. The fact that she used social media and networking to find someone who she thought could possibly be an active voter impressed me beyond belief, and made me reconsider just how important social media is in the world today. After all, I didn’t know much about Debra until she decided to follow me on Twitter. And now, hell, she may just get my vote.
So, what’s the point of this long and drawn out story? Well, I still feel social media and networking is highly overrated in the world of today, where the media tends to exaggerate the importance and influence of practically everything. However, as Debra Walker pointed out to me yesterday, it can be an incredibly powerful tool when used just right and can leave an impact on the media savvy little guy (such as myself) that is incredibly unique and advantageous.