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SOCIAL MEDIA: You've Got A Friend: NDC trains on social networking at the 2009 Leadership Summit

MattHarringtonThis past week New Directions Consulting had a great opportunity to partner with Hemmings Motor News to present the 2nd Annual Collector Car Leadership Summit. How to capture the interest of the next generation of collector car enthusiasts was the burning question on many of the attendees’ minds. Most of the attendees were CEOs or owners of today’s top collector car businesses; they were concerned about the decreasing interest and knowledge about the hobby among people in their 20’s (Generation Y). In preliminary meetings around the leadership summit, New Directions suggested that introducing the CEOs to social media was the best possible way to push the hobby into uncharted waters and capture the new demographic.

Social media (yes, those Facebookers and Tweeters) is a great way to connect and constructively communicate with people of like interests. This concept becomes especially useful when discussing a business or a hobby. The issue, however, with this specific group was that they all had little or no working knowledge of social media (we ended up doing research on all the businesses and our assumptions were true except for a few). How do you bring someone – or a group – from a place they don’t know, to a place they do know? Here’s where it gets fun.

img_2562We began the presentation by providing background information on the major social medias (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogs) that are driving this new paradigm shift. After a little background discussion and some general business tips, we broke the more than 40 attendees into groups of 6. For each group there was a table with a laptop and a placard that read which social media they would be using for the next 10 minutes! At the end of 10 minutes, the group switched to a new table, becoming a ‘round-robin’ type of event. Each participant experienced a crash course in each social medium in about 60 minutes. Our aim was to eliminate the initial fear of using these new technologies and to let them have some fun – seeing both the practical application and ease of use.

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At each table we assigned a social media expert in that medium (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vision, Blogs) from our summit staff and had that person briefly explain the particular medium and then give each group a different task (friend someone, post a picture, make a tweet, upload a video, etc.). By the end of the hour we had workable collector car hobby pages in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and WordPress (blog). Take a look for yourself at some of the fun we had: YouTube: HMN Leadership Summit

Our task was two-fold: get the leaders comfortable with the touch and feel of these new social mediums (possibly applying them to their own businesses) and create a workable network so that the leadership from the summit would continue to stay connected through the coming year, even to the point of working on next year’s summit and the hobby in general.

It came full circle when I received an email from one of the participants this Monday morning:

“I did not feel comfortable doing this before the Hemmings Summit….We now plan on incorporating a few of the other social networks into our marketing plans… Thanks for the tremendous job your family did at the Hemmings Summit. Again, I don’t think I would have tried any of these without your encouragement.”

This was a great ‘aha’ email for the NDC team to receive after many, many hours of digging into social media platforms, attending preparatory meetings, building the team together and working on the presentations. I am reminded of the quote by Eric Hoffer which I think rings more true today than ever before, “In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” I think we all have to ask ourselves, especially these days: are we in the position of the learner or learned?

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