I spent last week in the Bay Area, attending networking events and speaking at the Cool Twitter Conference. I always love going to San Francisco because there is something inherently networking-friendly to the place and its people. I always tell friends how different cities seem to have their own unique “networking culture,” and San Francisco is truly a networker’s paradise with multiple events happening on a nightly business and a social networking-savvy populace. A very different scene than my native Los Angeles, where the networking seems to be more industry-specific. In fact, it’s almost comparable to the difference that I sense between the networking culture of China (networking-savvy) and Japan (insular).
I also was able to attend some social marketing seminars where I was truly impressed with the level of the speakers and their content. The Cool Twitter Conference itself also had a list of excellent speakers that seemed to be ahead of the game compared to their counterparts nationwide. In fact, a conversation I had with one person in the Bay Area remarked how smaller cities are still at the “beginning stages” of social media while San Francisco is quite savvy.
Which led me to ponder: We talk about the Digital Divide, but what about the Social Media Divide? Are certain regions of the country or the world, because of their networking-savvy culture or proximity to where the social media industry is booming, gaining a head start in utilizing social media to get ahead in the business world? If those companies and professionals in those regions that embrace social media early on have the most to gain, is there a growing social media divide in our country or in other countries?
I believe the Social Media Divide can be defined on two different levels:
- Businesses that are embracing social media and getting actual ROI versus those companies that are still confused by or outright reject the value of participating in social media.
- Professionals that, similar to my Windmill Networking concept, are embracing social media to help better their professional careers as well as career management in transition versus those that are only using social networking sites to connect with and communicate with their friends.
In each case, there are now more than enough case studies to prove both the ROI on social media marketing as well as the success stories of those finding new jobs on LinkedIn or Twitter.
The interesting thing is that a Google search yielded very view results for this topic. And the results that it did yield provided a very different definition of the term “Social Media Divide” than I have laid out above:
- The American Express OPEN Forum is hoping to bridge the Social Media Divide for small businesses, defined as the gap between building relationships and connecting through social media.
- Social media strategist Jason Baer wrote of companies creating a Social Media Divide by treating customers in the social media sphere different than through traditional media.
I did find one press release from a company that did describe the Social Media Divide in the same way I did, with a focus on mentoring executives. They define the Social Media Divide in simple terms: “There’s a massive divide between the people who understand social media and the people who don’t.”
Do you sense within your own network there is a social media divide of those that “get it” and those that don’t? Is there a geographical influence? I would love to hear your comments and start a dialogue to further define this phenomenon!