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An Explanation Of "Social Networking" For Those That Don't Get It

I came up with the following analogy the other week that I'd like to share - by all means cut-n-paste it, pass it on and link to it to those that ask the following question:
I just don't get it,  why would I use Twitter??

Substitute Twitter for any other "social networking" platform (Facebook, blogging, LinkedIn, RSS, Flickr ...) and you'll find many MANY people that just don't get it.

So, the analogy.

Flickr: At The Sign Of The Queens Head
Imagine you're talking to a friend about a new local pub that's just opened up and you think that this coming Friday you and he should give it a whirl.

He looks at you blankly ... "I just don't get it,  why would I want to go into a pub??"
Cripes, you think, he's onto it, "Oh, have you heard bad things about that pub?"

Your new friend explains it's not about that one pub but all pubs, why would anyone want to go into any pub? He's read the horror stories in the newspapers and heard the dire consequences that result from just entering them.

And yes, dur, they're not stoopid and of course they understand the basic makeup of a pub - it's a room, people get drunk in them, in fact people get so drunk that other bigger people are hired as "bouncers" to kick the drunks out once they start fighting. The pub is usually loud, full of "certain types" and"Well, to be honest, they're just not for me - I'm not into that"

And you can understand that, why would you want to go into a place that's full of drunk people shouting at each other and eventually end up in a fight to be thrown out. You know it would also be a lie to deny that there are pubs that are like that. 

However most pubs are not and most people do not go to those sorts of pubs.

So what do you do, you ask your friend to come along to the new pub on Friday and because he trust you he agrees. Friday comes and in you walk - it is quiet, it is warm, it is welcoming and it is full of people "like you". People are talking, people are working and people have having fun. Your friend looks around for the bouncers but can't see them ... 

At 8pm a quiz starts up in one corner of the pub, some people finish their drinks and leave for a different pub, their tables are taken by others. Your friend is notices a work colleague and pops over for a chat where he is introduced to others at the table ... conversation ensues.

At the end of the night your friend turns to you and thanks you, "I'd never have thought that a pub could be like this, thank you!"

A few weeks pass and you catch up with your friend, he tells a story full of woe about how he and his girlfriend plucked up the courage to go to their local pub. It was a very different type of pub and, unfortunately, the night ended with his girlfriend having her handbag snatched. But he hasn't been put of pubs as a concept but they certainly won't be going back to that pub.


Unless you're gonna talk about pubs then the key is:
  • you = enthusiastic early adopter
  • friend = anyone that's not using Twitter
  • new pub = Twitter
  • pubs = social networking tools
  • drunk people = trolls = annoying spamming posters
  • getting drunk = talking crap, wasting my time, tell me they've just had a coffee ...
  • bouncers = moderators
  • quiz = event / subject or any other reason to get together (eg a Twitter #tag)
  • table = Flickr group, community of interest and many other "grouping" of people
  • bag snatched = anything nasty at a social networking platform

The moral of the story:
You cannot tell people what it's like, they need to experience it

This is the same of "social network" sites ... you need to experience them and find the zen space of the 'social networking' tool(s) you use


  1. In your pub analogy you're fighting against people's negative preconceptions. With twitter and social networking, you're generally fighting to instill a concept to begin with. People literally have no idea what social networking entails and don't see a point in it.

  2. Hmm, good point.

    I s'pose my analogy holds true only for those that have heard of it ("they understand the basic makeup of a pub") and know it's a website, people write stuff and you can connect (in some weird way), ie they know what a pub is. What they don't get is the WHY

    If people have no concept of "social networking" then I'd say the ... In Plain English vids would probably help more ...

    I think, is that true?

  3. A bit lame as far as analogies go. Mainly because people don't go to pubs anymore as they are too busy watching MYSKY


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