Are we wasting our time and energy?

by Lee Hopkins on May 25, 2006 · 15 comments

in Uncategorized

A number of events over the last few days has led me to question whether I am wasting my time and energy.

Not wasting it out of some sudden discovery of a new time management tool, but wasting it by trying to evangelise this new social medium, ‘Web2.0′. There are days where one feels like one has been shouting from the rooftops to a city of the deaf.

If one ascribes to the school of thought that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come” then it seems to me that only one in a thousand students are currently ready.

Now, this may be because I live in Australia, which is usually three to five years behind North America and Europe when it comes to trends of any sort. But it was a closing comment by my good friend Donna P on a post about a Web2.0 conference she attended that suddenly struck me harder than it perhaps should have. Perhaps I’m just in need of a good sleep.

Donna said,

Most of them are not yet Web 2.0-savvy. But that’s OK. We can explore this new world together.

I’ve been exploring this new world for over a year now and it didn’t take me more than a few days to ‘get it’. I’ve been talking to one client for nearly a year about it, running demos of Web2.0 technology and they still don’t ‘get it’. I know that Donna has been ‘getting it’ for about as long as I have, yet her clients seemingly still don’t. I’ve seen some of Donna’s newsletters and it’s not for want of telling them.

I moved my own newsletter subscribers over to the feed of this blog and, by and large, they have all stayed; only a few have dropped out, but a couple I suspect because they already get my feed via a feed reader like GreatNews or Bloglines.

But pounding the pavement and pounding the keyboard about this new technology is having little to no effect. My one client that has ‘got it’ has ‘got it’ in a major way and we’ll be rolling out stage two of several stages just as soon as they can figure out how to cope with the substantially-increased requests for their time that stage one — a blog — has generated. I’ve got another client who is about to launch into blogging because they trust me when I tell them it is the right thing for them to do (and I believe that for them it is). Another client has started a blog, but still don’t publish anywhere near as often as they should to build up momentum. Another client has put the construction of their blog on temporary hold while they cope with ‘Business As Usual’ with two of the three partners off on maternity leave.

So slowly Australian businesses are ‘getting it’. But I wonder if I should just let well enough alone and stop trumpetting Web2.0 as a ‘business essential’ (which I believe it is — every business should be engaging in this social media, even coffee shops, because every business relies on their relationship with key customers to continue and grow, so that those key customers end up evangelising their business).

Or perhaps I just need a mini-holiday, get my other 4,000 word essay out of the way and get back to my own ‘Business As Usual’ — playing a leading role in helping businesses communicate better with their stakeholders for better business results.

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  • http://youngie.prblogs.org/ Paull Young

    Lee keep at it, it can get lonely when you’re as far ahead of the pack as you currently are.

    I’ve only been really involved in all this stuff for 6 months – yet I’ve watched a number of startups emerging around me.

    The crowd’s going to starting catching up – they just haven’t realised they’re behind yet.

  • http://youngie.prblogs.org Paull Young

    Lee keep at it, it can get lonely when you’re as far ahead of the pack as you currently are.

    I’ve only been really involved in all this stuff for 6 months – yet I’ve watched a number of startups emerging around me.

    The crowd’s going to starting catching up – they just haven’t realised they’re behind yet.

  • http://topicalhuman.com/ Stephen Hamilton

    Hey Lee. I feel your pain. However, I’m not sure that Australia is 3-5 years behind. Australia typically has a very high uptake in communication technology. I think that few people in the entire world are really leveraging what Web 2.0 can do for them (yes, I include myself in that category). As much as I like to give Adelaide a friendly jibe, I don’t think that your suffering due to your location. A good idea is a good idea, and smart people (yes, there are many in Adelaide) will recognise a good idea for what it is.

    It will just take some time. Which is fine. The whole set of tools available to us are only going to be improved with another 6-12 months.

    However, I have a couple of thoughts that may be of some immediate help. Perhaps you’re preaching to the wrong congregation? If small businesses aren’t picking up on this, try corporates (Adelaide has many larger Australian companies based there). Retailers not working? Try service industries. You get the idea. Only you can work this out.

    In general, I think many Web 2.0 people don’t explain what they do very well to regular folk. The ones who figure out how to be an interpreter will win.

    Also, one other idea is perhaps rather than trying to sell this idea to people up front, perhaps a model whereby you get compensated on measurable results would be more appealing. Of course, I don’t know how to implement that model, but it may be something worth thinking about.

    I hope these off-the-cuff musings help in some small way.

  • http://topicalhuman.com Stephen Hamilton

    Hey Lee. I feel your pain. However, I’m not sure that Australia is 3-5 years behind. Australia typically has a very high uptake in communication technology. I think that few people in the entire world are really leveraging what Web 2.0 can do for them (yes, I include myself in that category). As much as I like to give Adelaide a friendly jibe, I don’t think that your suffering due to your location. A good idea is a good idea, and smart people (yes, there are many in Adelaide) will recognise a good idea for what it is.

    It will just take some time. Which is fine. The whole set of tools available to us are only going to be improved with another 6-12 months.

    However, I have a couple of thoughts that may be of some immediate help. Perhaps you’re preaching to the wrong congregation? If small businesses aren’t picking up on this, try corporates (Adelaide has many larger Australian companies based there). Retailers not working? Try service industries. You get the idea. Only you can work this out.

    In general, I think many Web 2.0 people don’t explain what they do very well to regular folk. The ones who figure out how to be an interpreter will win.

    Also, one other idea is perhaps rather than trying to sell this idea to people up front, perhaps a model whereby you get compensated on measurable results would be more appealing. Of course, I don’t know how to implement that model, but it may be something worth thinking about.

    I hope these off-the-cuff musings help in some small way.

  • http://www.thedailyupload.blogspot.com/ Dave Traynor

    Lee — You raise a good point. But I think the effort is worth it. Like it or not, you are at the forefront of implementing these new ideas in businesses. And that is a tough job. In some ways, it’s easy to come up with great ideas — and the Web gives companies an easy way to throw them out there for widespread consumption. But businesses have a responsibility to be be, well, responsible. They can’t just try out every new idea and see how things go. So they need need to be convinced that it’s worth their while and that it will ultimately be good for shareholders, customers and employees alike.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that for an idea to gain traction, it has to be proven to be a time-saver. People are too busy to implement something that means more work – either for them or their team – no matter how appealing the results might be. So we need to come up with a way to demonstrate how implementing these Web 2.0 ideas will result in improvements across the board – time savings, costs savings, revenue generation etc. If not, they won’t fly.

  • http://www.thedailyupload.blogspot.com Dave Traynor

    Lee — You raise a good point. But I think the effort is worth it. Like it or not, you are at the forefront of implementing these new ideas in businesses. And that is a tough job. In some ways, it’s easy to come up with great ideas — and the Web gives companies an easy way to throw them out there for widespread consumption. But businesses have a responsibility to be be, well, responsible. They can’t just try out every new idea and see how things go. So they need need to be convinced that it’s worth their while and that it will ultimately be good for shareholders, customers and employees alike.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that for an idea to gain traction, it has to be proven to be a time-saver. People are too busy to implement something that means more work – either for them or their team – no matter how appealing the results might be. So we need to come up with a way to demonstrate how implementing these Web 2.0 ideas will result in improvements across the board – time savings, costs savings, revenue generation etc. If not, they won’t fly.

  • http://Www.simonwakeman.com/ Simon Wakeman

    Hi Lee,
    Spot on post. I do a lot of PR and marketing for a local authority in the UK. I regularly higlight the direction the web is going in, and what new PR channels look like in the web 2.0 world.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s right for their activities at the moment.
    It is great being an evangelist and always trying to move things forward, but it can be a lonely place to be.

    The world will catch up when it’s ready, but without people like us pushing the envelope the world would move forward a lot slower, and would be a lot more boring place to work in our business.

    cheers,
    sw

    ps have listened to every podcast so far -keep up the good work!

  • http://Www.simonwakeman.com Simon Wakeman

    Hi Lee,
    Spot on post. I do a lot of PR and marketing for a local authority in the UK. I regularly higlight the direction the web is going in, and what new PR channels look like in the web 2.0 world.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s right for their activities at the moment.
    It is great being an evangelist and always trying to move things forward, but it can be a lonely place to be.

    The world will catch up when it’s ready, but without people like us pushing the envelope the world would move forward a lot slower, and would be a lot more boring place to work in our business.

    cheers,
    sw

    ps have listened to every podcast so far -keep up the good work!

  • http://allanjenkins.typepad.com/ Allan Jenkins

    Stick with it. I have the same feeling, but I had the same feeling in 1994-1997 with Web 1.0. No one bought it at first, then a few said “yeah… ok, but…” … and then, whoosh… from 1997-2001, I didn’t bill one hour for off-line communication consulting.

    Dave Traynor makes a good point: we need to prove benefit in both improved communication and in better use of resources. Frankly, I think we all get a bit too evangelistic about the first, and spend too little on the second — I know I’m guilty of it.

  • http://allanjenkins.typepad.com Allan Jenkins

    Stick with it. I have the same feeling, but I had the same feeling in 1994-1997 with Web 1.0. No one bought it at first, then a few said “yeah… ok, but…” … and then, whoosh… from 1997-2001, I didn’t bill one hour for off-line communication consulting.

    Dave Traynor makes a good point: we need to prove benefit in both improved communication and in better use of resources. Frankly, I think we all get a bit too evangelistic about the first, and spend too little on the second — I know I’m guilty of it.

  • http://allanjenkins.typepad.com/ Allan Jenkins

    After making my last comment, I found this post over at Scoble & Israel.

    http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2006/05/i_just_love_paj.html

  • http://allanjenkins.typepad.com Allan Jenkins

    After making my last comment, I found this post over at Scoble & Israel.

    http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2006/05/i_just_love_paj.html

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    Hey everyone — sorry for the delay in commenting; technology issues (as yet still unresolved).

    Thanks to everyone for extremely clever insight and wisdom — we really DO belong to a smart bunch of folks, don’t we?! It’s my honour to be a part of the group.

    I agree that the ‘pitching’ dance has to be right — and the risk that I haven’t been pitching to the right companies, Stephen. I also agree with Dave that with *any* technology we need to demonstrate ROI over CoolFactor; it’s heartening to see at least one evangelist trying to shout from the rooftops in a language that small/medium sized businesses will (hopefully) understand; thanks for the link, Allan — I’ll blog it later today so that my small business clients who subscribe to my feed might follow it and be pleasantly surprised.

    But I save Paull’s comment for the ‘comment of the week’: “The crowd’s going to starting catching up – they just haven’t realised they’re behind yet.” Now, THAT’S optimism!! :-)

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    Hey everyone — sorry for the delay in commenting; technology issues (as yet still unresolved).

    Thanks to everyone for extremely clever insight and wisdom — we really DO belong to a smart bunch of folks, don’t we?! It’s my honour to be a part of the group.

    I agree that the ‘pitching’ dance has to be right — and the risk that I haven’t been pitching to the right companies, Stephen. I also agree with Dave that with *any* technology we need to demonstrate ROI over CoolFactor; it’s heartening to see at least one evangelist trying to shout from the rooftops in a language that small/medium sized businesses will (hopefully) understand; thanks for the link, Allan — I’ll blog it later today so that my small business clients who subscribe to my feed might follow it and be pleasantly surprised.

    But I save Paull’s comment for the ‘comment of the week’: “The crowd’s going to starting catching up – they just haven’t realised they’re behind yet.” Now, THAT’S optimism!! :-)

  • Pingback: Simon Wakeman » Keeping pace with Web 2.0

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