My wife probably thinks social media is something you need penicillin for. She only signed up for Facebook because I found out about her high school friend Erin’s second pregnancy two weeks before she did. She’s on Twitter because I wanted to reserve her name and be funny one night. Otherwise, my dear Nancy thinks social media keeps her husband from doing work around the house, makes her watch the kids by herself for 6-10 days a month and is nearing “intervention” status.

But this week she found Craig’s List.

I left on Wednesday to attend the Optimization Summit in Dallas. I came back Friday afternoon and two-thirds of my house was gone. She tried to sell our utility room but realized it might get drafty with that 12X15 hole between the den and the garage.

Free beer fridge
Image by Simon Lieschke via Flickr

“I put the green chair’s ottoman on Craig’s List and sold it in 43 minutes!” she told me, proudly. “And Jeff is coming by before dinner to haul off the garage refrigerator … FOR FREE!”

I thought for a minute.

“Who’s Jeff and why are we getting rid of the garage refrigerator?”

“Some guy from Craig’s List and it’s missing a couple shelves and the freezer doesn’t get cold enough.”

After a short discussion about how Jeff wasn’t from Craig’s List and hearing her explanation of which device will now keep our cookout beer cold, I learned she still had seven outstanding items left on the website. I was relieved neither of my children were among them, but what that meant was Nancy’s cell phone didn’t stop ringing the rest of the day.

In a strange way, I reveled in the fact that my wife was finally finding something useful in the world of social media. Her coupon-clipping and quest-for-a-deal shopping mentality only needed to find a social channel that would feed her beast. Now, she’s discovering usefulness in social media.

My wife is much like mainstream consumers. They may or may not be on a social channel, but certainly don’t use them or think of them the way we in the echo chamber do. Social media to them is just a website they found that produces a practical outcome. It’s keeping up with their friends, scrap booking their child’s life or selling their husband’s beer fridge without his knowledge.

Much of what I’ve been up to recently has been focused on bridging the gap between us and them. I want to evangelize and make social media more accessible, meaningful and comfortable for the masses. The more of them that dig the world we live in, the more work and play there is to go around for us all.

I turned to my wife after the fourth cell phone call Friday afternoon and said, “I find it hysterical that the one person I know who abhors social media has now subjected herself to random strangers calling her cell phone all weekend.”

“But this is cool to me,” she responded. “I enjoy meeting new people, talking to them and having a real interaction, not a fake one on some website.”

I thought for a moment and said, “I get to meet new people, talk to them and have real interactions, too. But the way I do it is better than the way you do it.”

“Why?” she asked.

I smiled and said, “Because I don’t have to smell them.”

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • bethharte

    I can totally relate. I get Craig's List listings emailed to me all the time… I gave up trying to explaining the social media connection. From now on I am using your line “I don't have to smell them.” HA! Love it. ;-)

    On a more serious note, agreed…most people don't know that they are using social media. They just know they are tools that help them buy, sell, communicate, share, complain, etc. Heck, I have been on forums for over six years. We didn't say “Hey look at us, we're using social media!” (A term that didn't exist back then). We just communicated and talked about brands we were addicted to. Crap, did I just say that out loud?!

  • Eric D. Brown

    “Because I don’t have to smell them.”

    I'd like to nominate that line as best line from a blog for 2010. :)

  • Palak Gandhi

    You have presented the concept of social media in a very realistic and fun way.
    People use social media platforms for their own unique reasons:some want to stay connected,some want to promote their product/services,some want solutions to their queries,and some to advertise their apartment to give away for rent,sell textbooks,etc.
    This new technology has removed the distance barriers and has made the task easier with a few clicks.

  • Mark Dykeman

    I used to use eBay a lot but I never, ever, ever have used a free service like Craigslist.

    • Ari Herzog

      Never ever ever? Wowzers.

      I guess you'd never use something like Freecycle either, eh? Same concept, but no money is changing hands.

      • Mark Dykeman

        You know Ari, that isn't entirely true, now that I think about it. I have bought and sold stuff on Usenet newsgroups. Just not on Craigslist. So I have used free services, just not Craigslist.

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  • Ridho Putradi S'Gara

    It's like a De Ja Vu for me ..
    My wife was preety much doing the same thing when she found an advertising site here in Indonesia .. I can't even get a quite evening with her answering all the incoming phone ..

    ==love your article ..

  • joel

    Great write up. Till now i thought that there is no much difference between the both.

  • Maria Ogneva

    You don’t have to smell them… That’s true.. until they figure out how to transfer smell through computers. Then we are all screwed :)

    In all seriousness, I think bridging the gap between mainstream and the echo chamber (i.e. crossing Jeffrey Moore’s chasm) – this is where we’ll know which platforms of today will be around for a long time. Do you think Twitter will really truly become mainstream? The stats show that it has, but I still think that it’s difficult for an average user to unlock the true utility of it.

    – Maria Ogneva @themaria

  • OfficeCavalry

    I think everyone can find s social media site that will benefit them in some way. This is a prime example and it is great for bringing people from all walks of life together.

  • lisamariemary

    ….or selling their husband’s beer fridge without his knowledge.

    Classic, Jason!! Bwahahaha! And I totally get you with the non-social media friendly spouse. That is, until, he found … dun dun dun …. “The Watch Forum”. And now it's his little virtual home away from home! Just like Twitter is for me! Ha!

    I love the way you always remind us to realize we are IN the echo chamber. I constantly forget that! So thank you for that!

  • themaria

    You don't have to smell them… That's true.. until they figure out how to transfer smell through computers. Then we are all screwed :)

    In all seriousness, I think bridging the gap between mainstream and the echo chamber (i.e. crossing Jeffrey Moore's chasm) – this is where we'll know which platforms of today will be around for a long time. Do you think Twitter will really truly become mainstream? The stats show that it has, but I still think that it's difficult for an average user to unlock the true utility of it.

    - Maria Ogneva @themaria

  • Amy

    Clever ending Jason! You are correct that there is a difference, but as your wife pointed out, she enjoyed a real interaction. Depending on how and why you're using social outlets there is a chance at some point you will meet the person that's on the other side of the screen. Your wife found craigslist useful just as others depend on twitter or facebook for their news and online pulse of society. It's a riot how we use and rely on social outlets and don't even realize it!

  • Annie Sells

    I laughed all the way through this article. My husband tried the intervention thing, because I wouldn't delete my social media accounts and “do” regular advertising. Now that I have a “job” he doesn't understand why I still “do” the sm thing. But he buys and sells things for people and himself on craig's list and is just as addictied to online gaming as me! Thanks for the great article.

  • DigitalAdAgency

    This is great Jason. Even the largest brands are wrestling with how to define social media.

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