Smartest person in social media room


By ADAM EARNHEARDT

acearnheardt@ysu.edu

One of my favorite movies is James L. Brooks’ “Broadcast News.” It’s a treasure trove of wonderful quotes.

Some of best dialogue comes from a scene involving Jane Craig, the producer, and Paul Moore, the news director.

Moore says, “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.”

Craig confidently replies, “No. It’s awful.”

I was reminded of this quote as we wrapped our final social media essentials brown-bag session last week.

As I walked away from the room, I was surprised by the amount of “stuff” I don’t really know about social media.

There. I said it. There’s a lot I don’t know about social media. That’s probably a lot for our (wonderful, amazing) editors at The Vindicator to take in.

I can hear it now: Wait, we’ve been letting this guy write a social media column for five years?

Of course, there’s no reason for me to be even the slightest bit concerned by this revelation. Here’s why.

If I’m the smartest person in the room, then I’m in the wrong room.

Now, I realize that’s a quote that’s been attributed to everyone from Confucius to Steve Jobs. It really doesn’t matter who said it, or how or why they said it, so much as why it’s important when we’re learning or at least open to learning.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat – all platforms we covered in our first series – there’s just too much for us to know to think we’ll have more answers than anyone else in the room.

A good case study for this is Snapchat – the topic of our final session.

It was also the least attended of all sessions.

I found this last part surprising: the least attended.

Snapchat is the one social media platform about which I hear the most hesitation.

Granted, most of those who attended our last session were not in Snapchat’s “heavy user” demographic of 13- to 18-year-olds. Most admitted they’ve never even used Snapchat.

They were there because they wanted to learn more.

Snapchat instructors, Ryan McNicholas and Matt O’Dell, skillfully guided us through the basics of Snapchat, how it works, what to expect from it in terms of a marketing advantage. But they fully admitted at the beginning, “We don’t have all the answers.”

A room full of 18-year-olds would have had just as tough of a time defining all the advantages and strategies for marketing on the social messaging platform.

Most of us who attended these sessions left with answers to help us feel a little smarter and a little more confident when using social media. We also left with a lot of questions.

Of course, the smartest people who were in the room with us are those out looking for those answers today.

Dr. Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at YSU. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and on his blog at www.adamearn.com.

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