I’m sitting at the #140Conf Detroit conference at the Filmore in downtown Detroit. I’m a geek who lives in the burbs amongst subdivisions so coming to busy Detroit always pushes me outside my comfort zone. I was just in Detroit just last month for TEDxDetroit, so Woodward Avenue should not freak me out. Yet no matter how cool my GPS lady is, driving around unknown streets in rush hour traffic does make me uneasy. But then I arrive and as soon as I’m at the venue and I sit, I am at ease. I am once again in my zone of like-minded geeks and creative people who love social media and the Internet. At that moment I wonder – are we unique? Are we just a bunch of nerds who hide behind our Macs? No. No we are not and I’m reminded of that today and I am thankful.
Before leaving the house today I posted a status update on Facebook that stated I was headed to #140Conf Detroit. I added a brief explanation for my sister in Atlanta so she would know what I was talking about in my update. She is a bartender by trade and my world is foreign to her. I am foreign to her, but that is okay. We are united by blood and by birth. My Facebook mingling continues as older sister in South Carolina chimes in and makes a comment that she doesn’t get Twitter and some day I’ll have to teach her. I can’t teach her. Twitter isn’t about teaching you how to communicate or how to have a conversation. It is about connecting, just like the rest of social media.
Social Media Creates a Community
Communities like Twitter and Facebook are truly about connecting, having a conversation, and communicating with others. They represent a conscious effort to engage. They are not a lesson. For me, Facebook ends up being where I communicate most with my sisters. Not because I’m a social misfit, but because I am a multi-tasking mom of two, who owns her own business, and who has to run a household in addition to taking care of her family. I am today’s generation of mommies. Many of us don’t have time for coffee dates and long discussions. My close friends understand this and my sisters accept it. My use of Facebook and Twitter is partly who I am and partly because social media allows me to connect with others in an efficient manner. It also allows me to learn from others and embrace the idea of knowledge transfer. A significant amount of information can be processed in a short period of time and this is my favorite thing about Twitter. I can digest massive amounts of data, news, and industry updates over a cup of coffee. I absolutely love it.
Many of my website design and SEO clients ask the same questions my sister does. Why should they use Twitter? They say they don’t “get it”. They ask why I think their business needs to be on Twitter? Well, I’ll answer that by personal experience. I have prospects and tangible revenue come to me via Twitter. I also communicate back via Twitter. I connected with my boat manufacturer to thank them for their excellent customer service and I yell at GoDaddy when their technical support refuses to help me. It is a method of communication that transcends generations, economic status, and geography. It connects the president of a large corporation with the stay at home mom in Idaho. It unites us and it creates a community.
Social Media Connects Us
Because of Facebook I feel more connected with my sisters than I have in years past because I can see images from their lives and I can read impromptu comments they would not otherwise share. I cried as I found and reconnected with family I lost some twenty years ago. I cried when my Facebook connections informed me my younger cousin passed away. And I was thankful for the information and the internet’s ability to deliver information quickly and in time to round up my sisters to head home for the funeral.
I also feel more connected as a consumer. I have used my electronic voice to give a last ditch effort to service providers like GoDaddy. I beg them to fix my issue before I move my business elsewhere. It worked multiple times and as a consumer I feel empowered. GoDaddy called my home – yes my home – and resolved my problem. I stayed and calmed down and gave GoDaddy not just one chance but about ten thousand more it seems.
Social Media Empowers Us to Drives Change
I also see it reshaping the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. I have local Detroit hip hop clients and when it comes to Twitter and social media, they are some of the most miraculous examples of all. The Detroit hip hop community has absolutely embraced Twitter and I love the fact that an inner city Detroit musician can grow his fan base and sell music via the internet. I applaud the hip hop community for using their creativity and adopting the newest technology available. You are a tribute to American ingenuity and an example for all those who doubt the power of Twitter, Facebook, or other social media platforms.
I also applaud all of those wonderful people I’ve discovered through the TEDxDetroit and #140Conf events. There is a huge movement within Detroit to energize the city and the state. There is a growing movement of change and of rebirth. Detroit is filled with ordinary people doing extraordinary things and using Facebook and Twitter to share their message and their work. There is hope within Detroit. Part of this is because there is an electronic community that helps empower those who may not have had earlier opportunities to be empowered. This electronic community is now merging into physical communities via events like TEDxDetroit and #140Conf.
Find Your Electronic Voice and Join the Movement
Tomorrow is increasingly shaping itself into a digital world and those who believe they can ignore it are sadly mistaken. Follow the likes of Detroit and make small efforts for change. You will see that some of the most remarkable people are sitting on Facebook or Twitter, just waiting for you to find them and join their movement.
Take a moment to sign up for a Twitter account and fight the urge to leave it unloved when you don’t immediately get it. I didn’t get it at first either and I hated the 140 character limit. Now I love it and I start my day with coffee and Twitter and Facebook. Give it a chance and you might just love it too. You might even generate some business from it like I have done over the last year.
- @WebSavvyMrkting on Twitter
- #140Conf Detroit
- Lemonade Detroit or Help Produce Lemonade Detroit
- Loveland Micro Real Estate (Buy a Piece of Detroit)
Author’s Note: I’ve bought a piece of Detroit real estate and I’ve bought frames in Lemonade Detroit.