Have you ever participated in an online “fandom?” It’s a very interesting experience. A few years ago, when the television show Lost was at its height of popularity, I happened upon a message board called The Fuselage. Everybody who was there liked, well, the show Lost. As the show continued, people continued talking on the message boards. A convention was started that happened in LA each year of the show (I didn’t ever go to one). Cast and crew would show up and people who had only talked to each other online finally got to meet in person.
Yesterday, I was thinking about some of the real friends I had met simply because I had happened upon that message board one night. I thought about all of the conversing that happened, and I thought about the conventions. Then I realized something really weird. Social Media is kind of like a fandom for online business geeks.
Think about it – people gather together on Twitter, in the blogosphere, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn because of common interests. They chat, they share theories, they admire the stars of the show (or badmouth them), they argue, and then they go to real live events where they meet the stars, each other, and talk all about it online as they go.
Even weirder, though, is that having just finished Richard Branson’s book, Business Stripped Bare, I think online “fandoms” can teach us Social Media types something.
Making the world a better place
One stunning thing about reading Richard Branson’s work is that his focus is perpetually locked on making the world a better place. In his last chapter, Branson talks about how you don’t need to be a Mother Theresa type to make this happen. In fact, you can be a Richard Branson type, wealthy and profiting from your good deeds. Doing business that is aimed at both making money and improving the world is not just a good idea – it’s something this world needs in spades.
Having spent some time pondering the crazy world of fandoms, I thought about some of those conventions that occurred around the Lost fan base. At the end of each one, a huge donation was given to a charity, the result of an auction that occurred at the convention. Reading how Branson was using Virgin’s mass amounts of money and people to make the world better seemed to jive with that concept.
Then it hit me. Couldn’t us Social Media business types do the same things at our shows and conferences? After all, there’s an awful lot of us floating around. Couldn’t we use our numbers online to run our businesses and also make the world a better place?
Branson talks at length about how businesses and governments are going to have to tackle problems together in order to save the world. In a brilliant analogy, he notes that in the 1950s movies about alien attacks (and in modern movies like Independence Day, for that matter), the only way the world was saved was to bring everybody around the world together. Well Social Media is bringing people from all over the world together.
Can’t we make something great happen as a result? It seems like getting everyone onto one website would be the really hard part.
What do you think?
I have no solid ideas now about what kinds of things all of us could team up to do, but it seems like the opportunities are downright endless. There are so many blogs, so many Twitter chats, so many shows and conventions, so many e-books and seminars and webinars and forums and well…doesn’t it seem like somewhere in that mix there could be some saving the world stuff?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Oh, and by the way – I can’t recommend Business Stripped Bare enough. Read it and let me know what you think about it!