You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea. ~ John Nuveen ~
What a great quotation! And one with special meaning that I kept in mind as I grappled with this, my first attempt at blogging. This experience has reminded me of the need to constantly face your fears so you can overcome them. To not resist change but to approach it and learn to embrace it…before it gets away from you. Change itself is not what scares us. It’s the unfamiliarity that accompanies change that we resist. Yet, we must force ourselves to come to some kind of accommodation with just, if not an outright understanding, in order to stay in touch with the trends that define a society that is ever-changing. In order to be part of the world outside my self.
In its present state, my blog will not perpetuate any further dialogue within the greater blogosphere. I feel confident in predicting it will have zero impact on any current event, social movement, world issue, or public debate whatsoever. Yet, it has had a significant impact on me! I have learned that this digital platform, with its vast array of connection and communication capacity, can help a user be quite significant if they set their mind to it. I’ve discovered what millions have already come to realize and experience for themselves: A blog is digital outlet that offers a new and unique capacity for anyone to find their voice and reach a larger audience, through the Internet and beyond, that is interested in what they have to say. The tools that a blog provides, from video, to links, to feeds, to downloads, and much more, make the reach and potential impact of a single voice powerfully significant for general society, as well as the business world. If I’ve come to that conclusion somewhat grudgingly, so be it. But I am now properly aware and acquainted with the fact that blogs have opened-up an amazing new communication channel that has significant implications for society as a whole, and commerce in particular. I am now acutely aware that to ignore blogs further could be at my own peril in the business world.
It startling clear that there is an absolute necessity for marketing professionals (especially this one!) to take heed and understand the power and potential blogs now have on products, services, and companies. In fact, the balance of power has dramatically shifted in favor of the consuming public. Any marketer worth their salt must recognize this fact and respond accordingly. This impact can be both positive and negative. Starting only with a blank computer screen, young and old citizens alike have at their fingertips the ability to craft a blog that can have a significant impact on a brand’s health or very survival. All is certainly not lost, however. The potential blogs offer to influence a brand’s image also cuts both ways. Companies can utilize them to build a relationship by showing their interest in their customers and a real desire to respond to their needs. Yet, it also requires companies to avoid a defensive posture towards blogs, and for them to welcome the insight they provide from the consuming public. Good and bad. Moreover, companies need to embrace their own blogging efforts and integrate them in to their larger marketing and communication efforts so they can move closer to their target customers and prospects.
Marketers must be ready to track blogs that are both favorable and unfavorable and be ready to respond. But not just with competing words that attempt to offset a bloggers musings, and only clog cyberspace and impede a helpful dialogue. They must foster and develop the dialogue between the company and its constituents—even the ones who use their blogs to bash the company. In fact, I’ll argue that these are the ones they should reach first since they reflect some sort of problem that has the potential to dominate the dialogue between the company and their publics. Perception is reality so it must be managed!
What a great experience diving in (or was I pushed?) to the blogosphere! It has shown this experienced marketer that there is still much to learn and many great communication channels available, if you just open up your mind to new ways. The near instantaneous influencing ability the Internet provides the general public is one that marketers need to recognize and adapt to or they will be facing a digital tide they cannot hold back. In fact, I think that is the most important point of all: don’t try to hold it back at all! Embrace the opportunity and use it to get closer to your critics and fans alike. Learn what they have to say. Show them you’re listening. And encourage them to share more. Facebook? My Space? Twitter? Bring ‘em on! The marketing world has never before had this opportunity to develop such strong, beneficial, and lasting relationships with consumers. Or to piss them off. The choice is ours. And it sure is exciting.
I now know I will be more receptive to the new concepts in digital communication that will continue to percolate into society. I also know that as quickly as I “master” them, the younger set will bail, searching for a social networking or communication refuge from fogies like me and my peers. That’s ok, they’ll be in our shoes some day and it will be fun to watch. And I’ll continue to grow but try to never age! Francis Bacon said it well: “(People) of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.”
Here are a few more to thoughts I’ll keep close as I travel along the digital path and try not get ossified:
The surest sign of age is loneliness. ~ Amos Bronson Alcott
To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent that is to triumph over old age. ~ Thomas B. Aldrich
The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits. ~ Hervey Allen ~
I‘m not interested in age. People who tell me their age are silly. You’re as old as you feel. ~ Elizabeth Arden ~
Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life. ~ Daniel Francois Esprit Auber ~
To resist the frigidity of old age, one must combine the body, the mind, and the heart. And to keep these in parallel vigor one must exercise, study, and love. ~ Bonstettin ~
The tendency of old age to the body, say the physiologists, is to form bone. It is as rare as it is pleasant to meet with an old (person) whose opinions are not ossified. ~ J. F. Boyse ~