Q&A with a Story Guru: Mike Wittenstein, Part 2

See a photo of Mike, a link to his bio, and Part 1 of this Q&A.

Q&A with Mike Wittenstein (Question 2):

Q: The culture is abuzz about Web 2.0 and social media. To what extent do you participate in social media (such as through LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Second Life, blogs, etc.)? To what extent and in what ways do you feel these venues are storytelling media?

A: Like many others, I’m experimenting with various kinds of social media. The hardest part for me is determining the right formula for time spent and value received by others — and for my business. For people who market by their names, such as authors, doctors, speakers, trainers, accountants, and many other professionals, I have found a name-promotion service by QAlias to be extremely effective. They have a deal with the major search engines to put your name at the very top of the left hand side of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other search engines. Try it. Google “Mike Wittenstein” and see what happens. Sign up and you can get the same results.

Someone recently told me about the notion of “ambient awareness”. It’s an academic term that describes our interest in the small and continuous goings-on of others. Much like a soap opera, where we sit glued to the TV screen to find out what happens next to one of the doctors in “General Hospital,” Twitter, micro-blogging, LinkedIn, many of the social media sites give us the opportunity to read a diary-like synopsis of our friends’ lives. The disadvantage may be the clutter of intermittent interruptive communications. The advantage may be a sense of connectedness it seems to generate. I remember mentioning to someone I hadn’t seen for a while something about the details of their life I learned on-line. They smiled. So did I.

What will become of all this social media, innovation, and energy? It’s too early to say, but, if this “stuff” goes the same way as software, sites that are popular today may become features of larger programs tomorrow. It’s been that way with traditional software, with automobile brands, and in financial services for many years. I don’t see that pattern changing very much with regard to social media.

I also believe that the staccato nature of this kind of storytelling makes it more important for each of us to become better communicators. In order to be understood by others, especially over long spans of time, we have to learn how to say what we mean and mean what we say.