I think everyone would agree that communication has evolved and changed dramatically. When I came into the financial industry over 20 years ago, the phone was probably the primary means of communication. Back then phoning someone meant calling from a land line at the office or at home. If you were on the road, you stopped at a payphone because cell phones existed but were not mainstream.
Cell phones back then were used to make and receive calls which were two very simple functions. Cell phones then evolved into texting and my confession is this confused me. Being a writer I wondered why anyone would want to limit their message to only 104 characters? Now, twitter (another new way to communicate) has taught me about the importance of getting to the point in 140 characters or less.
One of the biggest paradigm shifts when it comes to communication is the movement to social media as a means to communicate. Over the past few years, I have chosen to learn it and embrace it as another way of communicating.
Those that fail to change
Recently, I got into a discussion with a group of people including a very successful financial advisor who is a father of two beautiful children and just a really great person. When the topic of social media came up, he was not shy to share his opinion, “I think social media is just plain evil. People are communicating but they are not conversing. It’s cold and it’s just not good for society, family or business.”
This is a pretty extreme view of social media but I would suggest that social media is whatever you want it to be. If you want it to be evil, bad and cold, then it can be. However, I would also suggest that if you want social media to be fun, engaging, creative and warm, you can make it that as well.
Social media is what you want it to be
One of my favorite TED talk videos comes from Robert Sirota who is the President of the Manhattan School of Music. This video really helped me to understand why social media is what you want it to be.
Social media has done great things for me. My Retire Happy Blog was voted as the BEST CANADIAN PERSONAL FINANCE BLOG by the Globe and Mail. Moneysense considers me to be one of the top 10 personal finance tweeters in Canada. And I believe that social media has played a big role in increasing my revenues and growing my business significantly in the past couple of years.
I started with blogging as a means to express my opinions, share my research and knowledge with others and continue writing once my gig with the Edmonton Journal ended.
I then started a twitter account (@jimyih) and quickly realized that you can expand your readers with twitter and only 140 characters. I then created a facebook page (RetireHappyWithJim) and reached out with Linkedin which allowed me to reach more people.
I then experimented with YouTube as another means to reach people. I added some of these videos to my blog posts to try and enhance my readers experience on the site.
I then bought a Wacom tablet and started to draw simple concepts on an electronic whiteboard, just like I do on a flip chart in my Workshop. I started to include these images into my post to try to enhance the message and allow people to learn visually.
Then Pintersest came along and it was a means to share my drawings and other cool infographics and visuals with others.
What’s my point?
My friend has created his future with his decision to fight one of the biggest turning points in communication. Others have chosen to embrace it. What’s your stance?
In the video above, Robert Sirota talks about Marshall McLuhan who was born a hundred years ago. McLuhan said: “The medium is the message.”
The medium shapes the message and colors the message in various ways. It’s not the words that matter, it’s the message and the delivery and context that makes all the difference. When you realize this, you will realize how powerful social media can be.
There was a time when the cell phone was evil, along with texting and communicating by email. There was a time when credit cards were scary until they became mainstream. There was a time when online banking was so risky and now it’s the norm. Even my 81 year old father is on Facebook, doing online banking and emailing me on a regular basis. If he can do it, I would suggest it’s time to stop fighting it and get creative about ways to use social media to your advantage.