Twitteropolis Might Save the World

People who think that the social media world is full of nerds…are in some ways absolutely right.  But these are the most stylish, progressive and confident nerds in today’s world.

They are addicted to some very noble things:  innovation, collaboration and communication.  And, of course, gadgets.  They are unapologetic about what they do.

If this is the 2011 definition of a nerd, count me in.

I spent the last 3 days in Orlando with some of the most impressive leaders in the digital world at Mashable Connect.  The conversations ranged from the latest iPads apps to ways to encourage people to use technology to do something as groundbreaking as…having an in-person meeting.  Throughout the meetings, a MashCon Twitter microcosm was born, bringing together conference participants, interest-driven groups, and people’s networks back home and around the world.  These are people who like to share (more on that in a future post).

I am returning home from the meetings energized by what stood out as some of the most important themes:

1)      Social media is at its very best when people understand and use it as an approach, not simply as a tactic or tool.  Unfortunately, some people still think that social media is a “channel” through which to talk, when in reality it is closer to a language, a culture, a community.  The brands and organizations that are benefitting from social media have embraced the aspects of conversation and community that are at its very foundation.

2)      Social media isn’t about shortening, dumbing-down, or trivializing information.  On the contrary, the social media revolution has made it more important than ever to build influence through expertise, demonstrate intellectual authority, and engage audiences with respect (thanks to new friends Steve Rubel from Edelman and Rohit Bhargava from Ogilvy for the inspiring presentations and ideas!).  Because people are communicating in 140-character clips the content remains king, and will determine success or failure.

3)      You can’t fake authenticity or honesty on the social web. I have never heard such earnest discussion about how missions and messages need to be authentic in order to be successful.  I counted more than 15 impassioned pleas or reminders that social media will help a consumer or a group of citizens bring down something that it knows has strayed from the path.  Whether in Tahrir Square or at the check-out stand, a dishonest move will be punished by the social media community.

4)      “Doing good” isn’t something that happens after a company or brand starts turning a profit.  Working for positive change and contributing to the community is something that is part of the organizational batter, not sprinkled on the top once a company is fully baked, especially in the eyes of today’s digital leaders.  From start-ups of 3 to firms of 300, I loved learning about the commitment to social good that is helping improve the health and welfare of the employees and their hometowns, as well as the global communities that the social media world rightly views as its world – a world where it can and should make a positive contribution.

What I learned in Orlando confirmed much of what I already knew about the digital media crowd.  The so-called Twitterati or technorati or social media scene isn’t making money or building egos from the superficial, but are forcing to the forefront some of the tough questions about what makes a brand, a company or an organization truly great.  In this respect, the mayors and leaders of Twitteropolis just might save the world.

And if that’s a bit nerdy for some…well, wow, I sure hope I am a nerd.

(P.S. – will post soon some highlights my presentation and Q&A from Mashable Connect on social good and social media – and why we need to start “crowdpushing” each other in the right direction!)

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