Commentary: Examining Social Media Breakfast Menu

Are Social Tools Opening The Highways To All Mankind?

Published On: Jan 23 2012 12:26:44 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 23 2012 02:37:17 AM CST

By Ellen Foley Special To Channel 3000

Social media finally arrived in Madison this week (Jan. 18), and it was thrilling to see who showed up.

More than 300 of us packed into a hall at Monona Terrace to hear Scott Monty, global digital and multimedia communication manager at Ford Motor Co. His presentation, complete with video, PowerPoint and flashing tweets, carried the impressive title, "Opening the Highways to All Mankind."

It would have been laughable just a few years ago to think of a big industrial giant as a social media pioneer. But there he was showing us videos featuring talking puppets, and web pages on which you can build cars to your specs. Awesome.

Sitting next to me were the expected young media trailblazers, but at least a quarter of the crowd was middle aged as were some of the sponsors. Social media is not just for kids anymore.

Lands? End, Engaging Social, Google Places were sponsors as well as Suttle Straus, a company previously known as a printing firm. You only had to listen to the firm?s representative talk about its offerings of PURLs (Personalized URLs) to know that Gutenberg has been replaced by Google.

Our eyes got big when Ford?s social media guru talked about hiring actors to make web video mini-sit-coms about new car launches, and flying in bloggers for plant tours. Most of us are having trouble paying for our smart phone aps.

But it was fascinating to hear the questions.

?I?m Nancy Hansis from St. Vincent de Paul?," one questioner began.

St. Vincent de Paul has a social media program? I happen to know Nancy. If she?s tuning up this non-profit, your social media program better be as good at St. Vincent de Paul?s.

Most interesting was Monty?s advice that successful marketing involves old and new media. It?s how you mix it up that makes the difference, he said.

Those of us who still write in sentences were happy to hear that books, newspapers, magazines, local television and other legacy media still mattered to a 111-year-old car company.

We are lucky to have such an active group of social media volunteers in Madison. Wendy Soucie, an area social media consultant, and her co-managers at the Social Media Breakfast Madison have led those of us who clung a little too long to our typewriters into the smart phone world.

All that?s left to say is: TTYL. And remember, be awesome, dude.