How do people in power positions think of social media?

social media conferenceA little over a month ago, I attended two totally separate social media events: the Long Island Digital Summit on April 9th and then a Real Estate and Social Media Symposium at the Real Estate Institute at Stony Brook University on April 19th. Usually when I attend social media events, I’ve pretty much come to expect that I’ll hear a lot of the same things, sprinkled in with some cool knowledge, facts, new enterprise/business/app or something along those lines. However, these two events had ONLY ONE point of similar comparison: they both served continental breakfasts (read: carb fest) and thus I have learned my lesson that when I see continental breakfast will be served it means eat breakfast at home. Everything else I can say with great confidence was starkly different.

How so, you ask?

LI Digital Summit was full of panelists and business thriving in the online world and constantly trying to find new and different ways to adapt to a digital world and thus customer base that is probably evolving at the speed of light. While I heard some things I usually hear at social media conferences, I got the understanding that business owners know and understand that social media ISN’T new, ISN’T going anywhere and we MUST adapt to it. Social media has become a mix of PR, advertising, marketing, customer service, community building tool that we probably didn’t envision happening 10-15 years ago and websites are more important than ever as 90% of consumers research anything before buying. At LI Digital I can say there was a Country Club full of people that really understood the positive powers of social media and the web, have learned how to embrace it, and are constantly thinking of how else to take advantage of it.

Fast forward 10 days to the Symposium at the Real Estate Institute and I felt like I actually pressed rewind and landed back in 2005. I wont name names because the main point is to really grasp how far behind, in my opinion, 2/3 of the panelists were. Some people applauded themselves for having made websites that people could look at. Um, hello! WHY WOULDN’T YOU HAVE A WEBSITE?! Some people started to discuss the fear of naysayers and that being what is keeping them far away from having websites or social media accounts. Another person, with a high position in a powerful company, said his goals were to have a Facebook page in 6 months and hopefully a large community in a few years. Not to toot my own horn, but really if you want I can make ALL of that happen in 6 months. It’s 2013 THERE ARE TOOLS FOR THAT. There is no need to wait 6 months to launch a Facebook page. Unless your business is starting in 6 months, your Facebook page should be a solid thing. I honestly left the symposium a little appalled, but also laughing.

That said, this post isn’t meant to bash anyone. After having gone to two events so close together, I have been thinking for over a month about how starkly different CEO’s, CMO’s, CFO’s and others in the positions to make important business decisions see social & online media. I would have thought by now most of us know the value of social media, its great power and that if businesses don’t harness that power of online media, there is an extremely high risk of literally being left in the dust.

I keep thinking what else needs to be done to help people in powerful positions understand that while there are negative aspects, the positive ones far outweigh the negatives, and can be harnessed successfully in many ways to help businesses thrive? What will it take for power holders to realize that social and online media really aren’t going anywhere and they must stop thinking like its 2005 and start thinking like its 2015 because that year will be here before we know it and at this rate, digital only grows exponentially so we must be able to think ahead in the same way. We must think and innovate in ways that will take advantage of the technology we have and not in ways that make it seem like we’re avoiding or stalling hoping that we will be able to just not do it, because guess what? In another year or two I personally don’t think that being online will be an option. You’ll either do it or you won’t, and if you don’t you’ll be missing out on a WHOLE lot of benefits.

What do you think? Have you come across people who still doubt social media or who are still thinking like we’re in 2005? Maybe 2008?

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