In May of 1996, unsuspecting Vermont resident Jim Griffith was online, looking to upgrade memory in his old IBM PS/2 computer, when he ran across, and fell in love with a website he had never used beforeeBay. In no time at all, Jim, or “Griff” as he likes to be known, found himself spending upwards of 90 hours a week fielding eBay customer questions on a gratis basis. In a sense Griff was breaking the ruleshe was spending extensive amounts of his own time working for free, in a marketplace that wasn’t very well known. But working hard at something you love has its ways of paying off. By mid summer of 1996, eBay’s founder, Pierre Omidyar, and his business partner, Jeff Skoll, invited Griff to join eBay as their first Customer Support Representative. Today, Griff is the official “Dean of eBay Education” and serves as a spokesperson, ambassador, and weekly radio show host with “eBay Radio” and “Ask Griff.” So, while some say it’s important to play by the rules and do things by the book, in many ways, life is all about following what you love and breaking the rules.
While it may seem counter intuitive to start a “rule book” with a rule about breaking rules, remember that it is the rule breakers who make history. These are the people who push the envelope, who ask “why,” who listen to their own curiosities, and make their own observations.
There is a fascinating BBC series called Connections. Started in the seventies, the series explained how a rubber band is connected to digital computing and how the concept of the vacuum is connected to the atom bomb. James Burke, the science historian who hosted the show, poses the fundamental problem with the nature of his profession: “By the time you have learned something, it is already obsolete.” I believe it is not too far of a stretch to say that by the time you have learned all you can about social media, and by the time you fully understand how to put it into practice, what you have learned will be obsolete.
This is the fundamental problem of the dog chasing its tail. The tail is always in front of the dog, and always behind the dog. So what is the secret to social media success with business? How do you learn all you can about your child, before she becomes an adult? How do you try to look younger, while every year, growing undeniably older? This question is one that is at the heart of existence.
Perhaps the question itself is flawed. For social networking I offer an elegant, simple solution that transcends the question, and in bypassing the initial question, I too am breaking a rule. It is not about learning everything there is to know about social media. Social media is like any other social situation. It’s all about exposing yourself, getting into new situations, learning new things, and adapting to new circumstances.
Social media is meant to be used and explored. Explore the world of social media as it appears to you. Visit new sites, take notes, learn about your virtual surroundings, and remember, there is no one right way to do it. You don’t need to know everything there is to know about social media to make it work for you. You just need to know enough and if you can learn a little extra you’ll be better off for it.
So while you learn about how to apply the rules in this book to your social media for business efforts, I encourage you to learn to think for yourself. Remember that you are a member of the human species that is constantly learning and discovering. Apply your new learning while you stay very much in tune with who you are and confident in what your business does for the world.
© 2012 Jennifer L. Jacobson.