[image by oliver widder, creator of geek and poke](http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/cnews/article.php/3717971)
image by oliver widder, creator of geek and poke

people don’t fully understand social media, and part of it is our own fault — the social media mavens. i don’t think we do a well enough job of explaining it to everyone.

most people aren’t very fond of change, because change is unpredictable. am i going to be better, or worse off? will i be able to adapt? can i make the necessary changes in me to succeed in this new environment?

the problem with social media, though, is that it’s really not a change from one thing to this other. in the end, we’re all still communicating. how we communicate — the tools we use — do (as everything) evolve over time, however. but it’s certainly not anything to be frightened over.

we need to find better ways to communicate the benefits of social media to yesterday’s enterprise 1.0 stalwarts. how do you get someone who is so loyal to the old way of doing things to change?

i think it’s in the metaphors.

drawing connections between perfectly understood and generally accepted metaphors with social media may be the key to forming a level of trust that will enable the “old dinosaurs” (who may very well be

young guns who just refuse to change) to ease into a social media transition. the very simple fact remains: many people don’t use it because they don’t understand it. but what do people understand?

the news.

the news used to be, very long ago, a newspaper that you bought at a newsstand or had delivered to your house. you’d keep it and read it the whole week until the next week’s edition when you bought the newest paper with the newest news. but then, the radio came along. radio and television changed the way that you got your news. it wasn’t weekly anymore, it became nightly… and then twice daily. with weather and traffic reports! it didn’t take a whole week before you learned about what was going on in the world anymore. but then, the internet came along. the web again changed the way you got your news. it’s not twice daily anymore — it’s any time you want. news is reported as fast as it happens.

in the end it’s all news! you find out what’s going on in the world around you; the only thing that’s changed is how you get the news. flash forward from the days of big weekend newspapers and radio programs and into the world of the 1980s. let’s talk portable music now..

years ago, if you wanted to listen to music, you would have to put a record on the record player in the living room or drop a cassette into the stereo system in your bedroom and enjoy while you sat there (or danced when no one was looking). but then sony introduced its walkman player in ‘79 and you could bring the tunes with you wherever you were. out for a jog? riding on the subway? van halen was never too far out of your reach. but then the CD player came along with a larger capacity, gave you the ability to skip tracks instead of fast forwarding, and allowed you to easily fit multiple albums in your backpack with the CD’s slimmer profile. but then, the ipod was born. now, we can not only skip songs but actively search for a specific song, and with large capacity memories can even store entire music libraries in your pocket. you get the music you want, when you want it, at any time.

in the end it’s all music! you play the air guitar, you tap your toes, and you sing along.

social media is the same as the news. it’s the same as portable music. we’re finding newer ways of communicating, collaborating, and building virtual relationships that translate into real world benefits. when we talk about blogs, twitter, youtube, and wikis — what we’re really talking about is just an evolution in communication. the same way the radio didn’t reinvent the news, and the cd player didn’t reinvent what music is — social media isn’t reinventing collaboration, it’s enhancing it.