August 06, 2009

Won't Be Long Before These Future Marketers Major In New Media

Sometimes, it doesn't seem all that long ago that I myself was in college. On other days, it seems like I am talking about somebody else, when looking back on my time at UC Berkeley. With my 10 year graduation anniversary having passed a few months ago, I found myself back on a college campus this afternoon, with the opportunity to speak to a roomful of students at San Francisco State University, focused on a rapidly changing world of Marketing. And what I encountered was a class of future-thinking young adults trying to grok a fast-changing world where social networks are potentially more impactful than traditional media outlets.

Invited to speak by the class' professor, Shari Weiss, I hoped to illustrate my dual role - both in terms of being a technology blogger, but also my real world decade of experience working in public relations and corporate marketing, and how, finally, these two worlds are colliding, as I help companies get a bigger voice in the social media space.

I Don't Go Too Long Without Mentioning Google Reader

The gulf between what was considered "new media" when I was at Cal and what is "new media" today for these students is tremendous.

As I recalled this afternoon, in 1998 I was excited to see my Journalism professor approach how the Internet was affecting reporting and publishing, only to see my excitement dashed when she rolled in a projector and showed us a feel-good documentary on the founding of Yahoo!, featuring Jerry Yang and David Filo. My disappointment in the lack of forethought in this course was so great that I did not attend lecture the remainder of the year, dropping in only on discussion sections and for the final, which I somehow passed.

Initial Feedback on the Discussion Looks Pretty Good

In contrast, the array of topics challenging the students at San Francisco State brought a smile to my face. In quick presentations, teams tried to tackle the future of advertising, the world of Facebook applications, how to utilize Twitter for business, and I saw future topics spanning such sites as YouTube and LinkedIn.

I Swear I Could Have Talked For Hours On This Stuff

Some part of me was jealous, but I also felt a bit like an unofficial teacher's assistant, sitting in on the presentations, and trying not to correct small mistakes or provide answers. It was clear, that for the most part, the students see real potential from these new networks, where others of us are just coming up to speed. As I showed them, you don't have to be a traditional cool company selling to consumers to get new media. But it's becoming a requirement, to act and engage with your customers as peers. That the future marketers and message-shapers of the world are already getting the message bodes well.

I was glad to get the opportunity to drive up to The City and share my position on the changes I have seen, and hope I was able to make an impact. Thanks to Shari for inviting me.