Detroit Still Has A Long Way To Go

Recently Men’s Health posted the Top 100 Socially Networked Cities in the U.S. There were a few surprises, especially with some cities that I expected to see in the top 10 (Chicago #39, New York #53).  There was also a little disappointment to see Detroit ranked #94 in the study and listed under “least socially networked.”  Yes, I know it’s ridiculous to put any weight in a study like this however, it did make me realize that the place I call home has a long way to go.  I sometimes forget that not everyone uses Foursquare or Gowalla to check in.  People I know still don’t get Twitter.  What is Instagram?  Tumblr…huh?  I think you get the idea.

This ranking goes further than being socially networked.  It goes further than the many entrepreneurs I know that are determined to open up shop in the city and look for their opportunities to make a difference Detroit’s rebirth.  What is going to actually make a difference?  I think it has to be the adoption of not just the social tools I mentioned earlier, but also the adoption of the technologies that are available today by the large corporations in the area.

Look at what Ford has done in the social space.  They are leveraging the tools.  They have created a personality behind the blue oval.  They are developing vehicles that leverage the new connected customer and making the car more than just a car.  Don’t blink.  Now they are looking to the cloud.

The biggest thing that we can do as “socially connected” people is educate.  We have a network that we should leverage and begin to find ways to teach others.  The biggest asset we have is not a particular product or service.  It’s actually our intellectual property and what we know about technology and the web that we must share.

I still see companies trying things they’ve always done before.  Marketing has changed.  PR has changed.  Sales has changed.  Customer service has changed.  All because of the web and the social tools at our disposal.  I’m not suggesting the web is the cure for everything (but it’s close!).  What I am suggesting is that the web has now become more of an integral part of how people and companies do business in the world today.  The “traditional” methods of doing business are now historical methods.  The “future” technologies are now current technologies.

It’s time to educate so Detroit can move up from least socially networked to one of the top socially networked cities.  What are you doing to teach others?  Start by inviting them to 2 upcoming events this April…Ignite Detroit on April 14th and Future Midwest on April 28-29.  After that, do something with the knowledge you’ll gain and the connections you’ll make.  #makeithappen

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15 thoughts on “Detroit Still Has A Long Way To Go

  1. That is a bummer! When i was in minneapolis, I caught the #140conf roadtrip there and the showing was a bit weak and felt nothing like the Detroit crowd! we will turn the corner and strive ahead!

  2. Well said, Patrick. For all of the new entrepreneurial growth, social connections and positive energy now flowing out of Detroit, apathy still remains our biggest challenge. It’s easier to fix building than to fix people. We need to grab people’s attention, shine a light on what working and get more people involved.

    If we can bring more people into the fold, Detroit’s best days surely lay ahead.

    Here’s my talk on the topic from #140conf Detroit:
    http://blip.tv/file/4287660

    • Charlie, thanks for stopping by! Definitely feel like we’re beyond the talking stage. It’s time to get our hands dirty!

      Great talk from #140conf last year. Definitely one of my favorites.

  3. I’m thinking this study really doesn’t ‘get it’ just as Mr. Reyes friends dont ‘get it’ with twitter. The black community rules twitter. One only need look to trending topics particularly in Detroit to see that there is far more twitter use in the Detroit black community than anyone else in Detroit. I don’t know that they way they ‘qualify’ what/who is socially networked is really comprehensive, or perhaps more likely it is over-comprehensive…

    • It definitely isn’t scientific but it does make a compelling point that Detroit (city and region) are still behind other cities. That’s the point I was trying to make is that those of us (all races and ethnicities) that do understand the value of Twitter, Facebook, and other social tools should educate those we come into contact with (both big and small companies) so that we can continue to redefine this region to more than just automotive.

    • Toka –

      The study looked at the Detroit media market. Not just the city. Not sure how race is an issue here. We have plenty of socially connected users from all races – the study didn’t comment about who is ON. Our problem is there are still millions of people in Michigan who AREN’T getting connected.

      – Charlie

  4. I’m doing my part my friend…gave over 100 social media presentations in the state last year…didn’t charge for one. It’s my give back. And I agree with Charlie…there is a propensity for those of us who are connected to forget about those who don’t use the tools. We need to keep pushing. Keep creating awareness of events like SXSW here. Keep inviting those out of our networks into them.

    • Absolutely, John. As many connections we create online that can turn into opportunities to educate, I’m all for. I have much respect for people like you and Charlie that present and create awareness and educate. That’s my next goal!

  5. Pingback: Detroit Still Has A Long Way To Go « « Big Engine Media Big Engine Media

  6. Patrick,
    I, too, was suprised at our low ranking – thought we’d do much better than that. But, like you said, sometimes it’s easy when you’re in the social media bubble to not see all the people outside it.

    Everybody has to do their part, we’re bringing not just the people at Yaffe who do get it to Future Midwest, but some of our collegues who aren’t in the space. And we’ve invited our clients to attend as well. We all need to do things like that.

    Also, we need to find pockets of people who could be helped by connecting in the social sphere – then help them connect. I’d like to see Social Media Club Detroit do more of that this year – and will work to #makeithappen

    • That’s a great plan, Mike and I’ll support in any way I can. To your point about bringing clients to events like Future Midwest, Ignite Detroit and Tedx Detroit, I hope that when we invite clients to events like that, they do take advantage of connecting with people in other industries to see how technology and the social tools can make businesses successful. When I was at SxSW this year, I was a little disappointed to see our clients talking to themselves rather than making new connections. I think it’s important for all of us that do understand, reinforce that idea at each of these conferences or networking opportunities.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Part of the issue we have in getting people to adopt social media in the region is our focus on how to use it from a marketing perspective. Future Midwest is mostly about using the social web for marketing purposes. Social Media Club Detroit focuses on how companies large and small use the tools for marketing purposes.

    This is not a bad focus, especially considering that the implications the social web has on marketing. And Detroit has interesting expertise in that arena that deserves attention. I am also not criticizing my examples, again, they are necessary for moving conversations.

    However, that focus is limiting. There are many other uses for social web tools, such as supporting corporate learning environments that do not get much attention. Until we expand our focus to include more subjects outside of marketing, the social community will have trouble attracting the attention of non-marketers.

    • Thanks for the comment, David. I understand your point and agree with you. Even for me, I’d love to learn more about different uses of social beyond marketing. I’d enjoy talking to you about your example and what your thoughts are really soon!

      One area that I think many companies locally haven’t grasped yet is how to use the technology in customer service. That is a golden opportunity for companies and I was really energized again when I saw Joseph Jaffe at SXSW because of his passion for “flipping the funnel.”

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