Happy 7th Birthday Twitter! Sorry, We Still Don’t Get You…

It’s time for us to expect more from our campaigns, re-examine how we produce our conferences and rethink our approach to social media, marketing and communications.

by Dave Weinberg and Ely Rosenstock

Right now in Austin, Texas over twenty-five thousand people have descended upon this beautiful capital city to participate in this year’s South by Southwest Festival (SXSW). The annual event for technologists, marketers, communicators, investors, artists and thousands more alike is the place where Twitter was born seven years ago.

Twitter is a simple sharing application that has grown into a 500 million strong network that has transformed media communications, government policy, customer service and human interaction.

Facebook, born nine years ago in the Harvard dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg has since changed the way the world is connected. With over one billion people, Facebook would be the third largest country in the world if it were a recognized nation.

Social networks have just as much impact today as the advances of the steam engine, printing press and telegraph had in their time.

The penetration of these social networks into modern society is both a marketer’s dream and nightmare. The opportunities for engagement with a consumer is far beyond anything a previous generation could have imagined. Along with this power of engagement comes the responsibility and challenge to become experts in social media; a fast moving industry where day-to-day events change everything and high schoolers know more than most seasoned executives.

Being communications and marketing professionals, the two of us use as many tools as we can to keep up with the times. We read blogs for industry opinions, listen to podcasts for expert roundtables, search for relevant case studies that help us learn what is working, etc. All this information gathering should play out in our major communal conferences where the leaders of the field extoll their knowledge and provide insight into the current and future state of the industry. As a community, our conferences should highlight the high bar of which we all aim to achieve in our social media marketing.

Sadly, that is not the case. Our conferences still showcase Intro to Social Media sessions that would have been outdated if they were presented five years ago let alone now. We attend industry conferences to learn from the best, not listen to tutorials that any college student could give based on their Marketing 101 class. Furthermore, with a topic such as social media, which is still ill defined and growing in use and value, it’s important to discuss critical issues, debate the value of particular metrics, and admit to mistakes so to learn from them.

It’s time to assume that everyone walking in the door understands the basics. It’s time to push the limits of our understanding by critiquing and talking. Push-back, discussion and debate, when done in the spirit of mutual respect, learning and the true desire for all around growth would do our community as a whole a greater good.

There are very few good examples of truly successful communications campaigns (which include social media – email, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, etc) in the Jewish community that we can point to.

In December 2012, Freedom 25 celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Soviet Jewry Movement with an engagement campaign that reached over 3 million people through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube as well as major national and Jewish press coverage. Freedom 25’s multiple interview-style videos alone garnered over 250,000 views. This would not have happened without the combination of social media strategy, expertise, mass-collaboration and excellent execution.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is another great example of high-level social strategy. At a moment’s notice, they have the ability to instantly mobilize and syndicate graphics, video, memes and a proper sense of humor to a massive audience. These are examples of case studies we should be hearing about at conferences.

Failure is something we also don’t hear enough about. In the social media space, we are all entrepreneurs. Just like startups, we will fail many times before we succeed. It’s time for us to embrace that failure.

The posuk in Mishlei (24:16) states: “For the righteous will fall seven times and get up, but the wicked will stumble in evil.” What makes a righteous person is their ability to overcome and learn from failure.

It’s time for us to expect more from our campaigns, re-examine how we produce our conferences and rethink our approach to social media, marketing and communications. We must push the boundaries of what is possible and share the highs and lows with everyone else. We must stop catering to the lowest common denominator and celebrate those who try and fail. The true failures are the ones who never try. If we stick to our basic Social Media 101 sessions we’ll be educating those who have already given up on achieving greatness. We have no time for those that want to stay asleep at the wheel. There is great work to be done.

Let’s learn, fail, re-learn and succeed together!

Dave Weinberg is the Director of Freedom 25, the national coalition to celebrate and commemorate the Soviet Jewry movement and former Producer of the Future of Jewish Nonprofit Summits (FOJNP). You can follow Dave on Twitter @weinberg81.

Ely Rosenstock is the Director of Social Media at Addiction Worldwide. You can follow Ely on Twitter @elyrosenstock.