In case you don’t know what I do for a living I’m a kind of champion for use of digital stuff by businesses in Birmingham. And the easiest, no-cost, digital stuff to get your head round is Social Media. I’m always hunting down examples. I love the fact that Herefordshire-based Wiggly Wigglers have blogged, podcasted and Youtubed their way out of tough economic times. I love that they dumped their expensive bought-in customer lists and built a customer base around their facebook group and twitter followers. Those are loyal, repeating customers, helping each other get the best from this company’s products. No expensive helpline needed – they help each other.
I work in partnership in my job. Trying to slip my thinking into other people’s strategies. That £17m support package for businesses announced yesterday? In amongst those big fat projects to be delivered through Business Link and the Universities is some of my thinking – there’s a sprinkling of digital stuff. I sit on the sub-group of the Birmingham Economic Development Partnership that helped draft them. I can play an influencing role there, those people in the group know me as that guy who thinks social media is useful. None of them are great users of social media themselves but they aren’t dismissive, they understand there’s a change happening, a change that might be useful for all businesses to understand and take note of.
So it’s kind of crushing to see a representative of the partner who most connects to businesses castigate social media out of hand. John Lamb’s piece in the Post is atrocious. At the end of the piece it says: “John Lamb’s views are not necessarily those of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.” As I say on my own About page, I use the same head for work as I do everywhere else. My personal views are wrapped up in my work views. If I’m expressing a disappointment here on my personal blog then that’s how I’ll be feeling next time I go to a meeting with Birmingham Chamber.
Actually, I know the Chamber is taking an active interest in new digital tools, which is great but having a key representative take such umbrage to their use just makes my job that much more difficult and that much more disheartening.