Back in 1979, I was a broke and lonely high school drop-out living in an apartment behind the Agora Ballroom in Atlanta, Georgia. I was much too naïve to understand that in needing to move on to the next experience, I could have walked over to the exit ramp on the throughway, and put out a thumb. Instead, I got the notion to enlist in the United States Air Force. It certainly succeeded in getting me out of town! The unfortunate aspect of this folly was that unlike the army, the Air Force had you for four whole years. By year three, I was itching to do anything BUT graphic design for the Northern Air Command – which is how I volunteered for funeral detail.
Other than bearing witness to the grief associated with such events, it was a fairly peachy job. Mine was simply to holster a .45 and accompany the rifles used for the 21 gun salute, ostensibly to prevent rogue terrorists from swiping those rifles and starting world war three.
One particular funeral in Utica was for that of a man who had gone on to become a respected and loved deacon at a local church. The building burst at the seams with deacons, parsons, ministers, choirs, and others from other local churches. The evangelism flowed from the pulpit, it flowed from the choir, and with one preacher, it even came forth right from the organ bench. The paper and stick fans created an underlying rhythm throughout the crowd. In short, it was one of the most moving experiences I’d had, or have had since.
When I pick up a new book on social media, I’m reminded of those deacons and preachers. After all, it’s part of my own job to evangelize for social media – and I suppose that those professionals at the funeral probably enjoyed hearing their fellows preach, even if they were, so to speak, preaching to the choir.
Social Media needs evangelists. In the world of marketing, it represents such a significant change in underlying attitudes and approaches. Even amongst those who are including it in their quiver of arrows, many still are having trouble NOT using it simply as another marketing channel.
One of the most compelling social media evangelists on the scene today is Brian Solis, author of a new book, Engage! Brian sits on a virtual Hammond B3 with all the stops pulled out. He also packs his book chock full of practical/tactical material. I’m starting to believe that social media books start to fall into the categories of the evangelical versus the tactical – but Engage! does both.
But by the end of the book, I still haven’t felt the compelling urge to underline anything. Which doesn’t mean it’s not a good book. Brian just touches on some issues that fleshed out just a bit more would have me grabbing the highlighters. In particular, two sections stand out – one on creating a social media plan, and the other on creating an insider program. Perhaps organizations vary too much for a book like Engage! to have detailed suggestions, but I, for one, would welcome that level of information. Meanwhile, I would not be surprised to find my own evangelizing just a bit stronger for the book’s reinforcing messages.