By Ingrid Sapona
The other day I got an e-mail summarizing the discussion
going on in one of the LinkedIn groups I’m a member of. One topic of discussion
that caught my eye was the question of what makes a good corporate video. I
thought the timing was interesting because I’ve been thinking about doing video
interviews of winemakers for my app. So, I decided to see what folks in the
group were saying.
As I scrolled through the responses, one of the head shots
accompanying a comment showed a gentleman who was dressed in distinctly Saudi garb.
Intrigued, I clicked on his name and profile and sure enough, he’s a
communications executive in Jeddah. My first thought was “imagine that”.
The fact that there’s someone in Saudi Arabia whom I have
never met – and surely never will meet – but who’s in the same on-line of work
and is commenting on things I’m thinking about blew me away. I couldn’t help
but think of all those news stories about the Arab Spring being fuelled, in
part, by people sharing ideas through social media. I realize that using social
media to discuss corporate videos is a far cry from using it to offer moral
support to people protesting injustices. But still, I suddenly felt I had a
better understanding of how people from very different places come together in a
global virtual community.
A few days later my sister told me she had been interviewed
by someone who asked her how she thinks social media might help her do her job.
Her initial response was humorous and telling: she asked him to explain what
social media is. When the interviewer told her it’s things like Facebook and
Twitter, she politely explained that she doesn’t use them and she can’t see how
they’d help her do her job. At that point, my LinkedIn story from a few days
before popped into my head, but I didn’t tell her about it because before we
knew it, we were on to a different topic.
Then I saw a news story about Obama hosting a Google Hangout,
which the reporter described as a relatively new social media platform. When I
heard that, I remembered an e-mail I recently got inviting me to join in an upcoming
hour-long Google Hangout. When I got the invitation I ignored it because I didn’t
know what a Google Hangout was. But, the Obama story made me curious about them.
So, I dug out the e-mail and, when I found it was scheduled for that evening, I
scrambled to sign up and install and test the software.
A Hangout is basically an on-line video conference for up to
10 participants. Turns out three of the four of us who were in on it had never participated
in one – and it was the first time the woman who organized it was hosting one. The
four of us were in cities in three different time zones in North America. I had
never met the other participants and I had only chatted once or twice before on
the phone with the organizer.
As we got started, all of us commented that one of the main
reasons we were participating was to learn about how Google Hangouts work. Getting
going was straightforward and the technology worked really well. So, five
minutes or so into it I thought, “Well, I got out of this what I came for”.
But, there were 55 minutes to go and the invitation had mentioned that we’d be asked
us talk about our respective businesses, so I couldn’t exactly hang up.
Well, the discussion was great. Everyone was tremendously
open. Though we are in different businesses, we quickly honed in on commonalities.
We talked about things we’ve tried and things we still feel we need to work on.
And, we offered each other support and suggestions. I think we all left with
some new ideas and insights. After we finished, I was thinking about how
remarkable the technology is that allows total strangers to meet, talk and
learn from each other without ever leaving the comfort of our home offices.
Another conclusion I reached after we hung up was that I don’t
think it was pure coincidence that the theme of social media kept coming up this
week. Given my long-time general aversion to using social media, I suppose I
could think is that it’s a concrete example of the old saying that what you
fear, you attract. While it could be that, I think that this week’s events were
meant to open me up to the idea of spending time hanging out in some virtual
communities. After all – it’s a small, big world and it’s right at our finger
© 2013 Ingrid Sapona