Posted by: Jamie Hahn | June 22, 2010

Social media…the old-fashioned way

I would never describe myself as old-fashioned. The term itself is almost an insult and conjures images of people performing tasks that have long been automated, like churning butter or using a slide rule. “What a waste of time,” we exclaim, as tubs of artificial margarine spin off the conveyor belts by the thousands. “Who counts these days, anyway,” we scoff, as our smart phones calculate the distance to the sun in less than one second. Old-fashioned is slow. Old-fashioned is boring. So, why bring it up?

I thought you’d never ask.

Look around. Old-fashioned is in. More and more, we’re coming out of our technology-induced stupor of mass production and consumerism. We’re placing more emphasis on craftsmanship and authenticity. We want to know who grew our carrots and where they traveled from. We’re starting to hold corporations accountable for their actions, just like our grandparents would have. We’ve begun to understand that easy is rarely right and right is rarely easy, and we’re good with that.

Those of us on this path are gathering. Many of us are gathering around social media, and using it to further this shift. What a wonderful set of tools to use to connect, engage, and share. But not everyone gets this, and they’re threatening this space. Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder) mentioned this in his recent blog post, and he’s actively taking these people on. The spammers of Twitter. The get rich quick, find 30,000 followers in one day dudes. C’mon guys, no one wants to hear it.

Just yesterday, I was inundated with tweets from one guy trying to push a software called TweetAttacks (disclaimer: haven’t used it, don’t know too much about it, am sure that automation services can be helpful, can’t stand the name). This software automates just about everything associated with Twitter. Auto-follow, auto-respond, auto-tweet…it might even get you a beer from the fridge. It makes lots of promises, just like the spammer dude. But it seems like a poor choice for building an engaged and real community on Twitter.

The key word for me is “build.” Everything in marketing and sales is about building relationships. Just like growing a garden or churning cream into butter, it takes time. Real, authentic work takes time. And there’s a secret: that work, even though it’s hard, is going to be so very rewarding.  Not because I want to make a sale, but because connecting with people is truly a gift. I’d rather have a 200 person following that consisted of people I truly connect with on a regular basis than a 10,000 person following of people I don’t know at all.

But, as Chris Brogran (@chrisbrogan) says in his recent post listing 50 Power Twitter Tips, we’re all doing it wrong (from someone’s perspective), and I truly believe that. So, believe me when I say that I’m not passing judgment on anyone’s methods. I, however, am making a pledge to myself. It might be challenging, but I’m going to build my social media community one person at a time — the old-fashioned way.

Got an opinion on this topic? Love automation tools? Would love to hear about it!

PS — Is there anyone out there that actually knows how to use a slide rule? I’d love a lesson.



  1. no slide rule lessons from me.

    one (of many) thing i love about digital storytelling – someone once described it as the “folk art of the 21st century.” old-fashioned person-to-person storytelling expressed in a high tech way.

    • That’s a perfect definition of digital storytelling. The stories and their purpose haven’t changed, just the medium! It’s comforting to remember that, I think. Please keep ’em coming — they’re awesome (

  2. I wrote a blog post today on my work blog about location-based services like Foursquare, and I predicted the arc: it’ll be something new and cool that the geeks adopt, then more and more people will crash the party and the early adopters will get huffy, then businesses will start using it in cool ways, then other businesses will start using it in stupid ways. Then the spammers come.

    I hope it doesn’t turn out that way. Maybe, as the spammers get more automated, so will the tools that help us avoid them, and we’ll be able to continue communicating only with people who share our sense of community.

    PS: Michael Brinkley grew my carrots in Creedmoor.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Dave. I really appreciate your comment, and I’m putting money on your prediction. I’m an optimist at heart, so I’m also betting on the fact that a strong community of like-minded individuals will always find ways to fend off the interlopers. It’s sad that we have to work so hard, but I suppose it keeps us on our toes!

      You don’t happen to know how to work a slide rule, do you? 🙂

  3. there are some good examples of digital stories on the 2020 project page on facebook.

    james – search for slide rule on youtube, sweetie. come on now.

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