They'll Never Know Who You Are Unless You Break Into Their Homes
After the conversational stir caused by yesterday's blog post, I'm happy to report that there was a healthy intermixing of complete strangers at last night's Pittsburgh Twestival. (Congratulations to Holly Maust and Mandy McFadden for organizing a great event, and special thanks to Derrick Brashear for manhandling the A/V duties like a man possessed [by his own techxpertise].)
And yet, at least one person mentioned that he hadn't even heard of the Twestival until yesterday morning. (In fact, he'd just heard of the worldwide event at 5 AM, and he said to himself, "There's no way Pittsburgh would be involved in this." And then he scrolled down the list of participating cities and was amazed to discover he was wrong.)
To me, the bigger question isn't "why would one automatically presume that Pittsburgh wouldn't be involved in such a thing," but, "why wouldn't someone have heard about a fairly major event until the morning of?"
I'm pretty sure the answer has to do with closed loops.
I Can't Hear You Because I Won't Stop Talking
Because Holly and Mandy travel in a slightly different social media crowd than I (and the rest of the PodCamp Pittsburgh organizers) do, each group doesn't always hear about the events that the other group is involved with. That's because all the chatter about these events tends to be confined to our existing Twitter / blog / podcast / social network loops -- which means we'll talk about them endlessly to ourselves, but the information will be lost to anyone who isn't already tracking those channels.
The long-standing knock on social media is that we're a giant fishbowl of geeks who talk endlessly about ourselves to each other. Based upon the disconnected subdivisions I'm discovering among the Pittsburgh social media crowd, I think it's likely that every city has its own disparate groups who are caught in their own feedback loops, which means we're actually all a bunch of even SMALLER fishbowls stacked inside the same dunk tank.
So how do we break out?
By breaking in.
You be Me for Awhile, and I'll Be You
Sure, we're all swimming in our own fishbowls, but SO IS EVERYONE ELSE. And for every person who knows what Twitter is, there are a thousand (at least) who don't, which means THOSE people are getting their information from other sources. And guess what: they don't think they're missing anything, because if something's important enough, they presume it's already found a way onto their radar.
So get on their radar.
To do this, you'll have to step outside your comfort zone and step into theirs. Everyone has a different information-gathering routine, and you need to figure out what everyone else is doing when they're NOT engaging you (because, right now, they aren't -- so spending more time getting the word out through your existing channels is just polishing the same fishbowl).
You may have to traffic your message in unfamiliar territory. You may have to explain things that you currently take for granted. You may even have to engage different TYPES of media, because not everyone is on Twitter, or Facebook, or even the internet. But they're all somewhere, and they're all reading something, or watching something, or listening to something else. And that something probably isn't you.
But it could be.
(Image by samatt.)