"Get out of your nice comfortable office and meet with your potential customers. Use what you learn to create valuable stuff online." -- @dmscott
I can't exactly remember when David Meerman Scott tweeted that but it was definitely within the last week. And, the reason why I held onto it is that I've come across so many good examples of this brought to life. I'm convinced it's because that I'm to learn what social actually means.
Since January, I've been blogging, building a business and banding together to launch ProductCamp Chicago. I've also immersed myself into a self fashioned social media education: what it means, how it can be a tool for good (and bad), its vocabulary, its etiquette, its ability to make connections that but for the channel(s) would never happen, etc. I've met many people, had many wonderful opportunities but, ultimately, I'm learning that I still have so much to learn. Daunting yet dazzling all at the same time.
One of the things I've come to believe is that while these social media channels are powerful, they mean nothing without a multisensory human experience accompanying them - either as the driver or the passenger. We can't always be parked behind a laptop or an iPad... At some point, we have to engage with others. It may be solely due to new technologies but we have to engage with others. It's why food trucks are all the rage now if you think about it... They may tweet their location but we run with joy to get our favorite bite and sit outside to enjoy the weather -- both of which are intensely human experiences.
So, there are other intensely human experiences I've come across lately that I'd like to share with you... And I think they underscore my point. Even before that @dmscott tweet, I saw an interesting tweet from Chris Brogan directing me to FIJI Water Urban Hunt (here) and taking place on August 14. It's a scavenger hunt social media style. Nope, it's not an online scavenger hunt where you steal someone's Farmville cow on Facebook. It is real, honest to goodness scavenger hunt that scours all of Chicago but uses social media tools in the process.
How? Teams race around town to find the required items. As soon as they find each item, they have to check in on Foursquare, shout it from Twitter rooftops (#FIJIhunt) and upload video on YouTube to earn points from the judges. Like any fun scavenger hunt, there is the "thrill of the chase" adrenalin high and competition. The other fun thing is that because of the checkins, friends/family members can track progress, cheer friends on and maybe also clue them in on what the competition is doing.
In other words, you can have an intensely human experience like a scavenger hunt enhanced by social media tools. The nature of a scavenger hunt requires team playing, exchange of ideas, creativity, rapid fire thoughts... hard to do online but most excellent in person. The extra element of the social checkins allow this human experience to go out in concentric circles. Yes, I know that this is about FIJI and the sponsors but it wouldn't be nearly as fun if this were executed behind a laptop at a WiFi cafe. This only works because there is a swarm of people competing for bragging rights and some prizes.
There's another intensely human experience that I just learned of this morning thanks to Mashable. It has to do with a marriage proposal that, at its core was romantic and traditional but engineered with social media savvy. He used Twitter, Foursquare and Qik (a video stream) to engineer the right location so he could rendezvous with his intended but also to let family know the proposal was taking place so that they could watch the live video... It's insanely charming (but a bit long).
If you made it through the bulk of it, you see the joy and surprise but you also see greetings to family that are watching via the video stream. Imagine the rejoicing of the happy parents that they could witness the traditionally proposal on bended knee and the acceptance. You can't propose over the internet... It's got to be done in person... but you can share an intensely human experience with those you love using social media tools.
So, to me, @dmscott is right... There is benefit in getting out and being social with people so that you can be more effectively social onine. What's your take?