This week I had the honor of spending a couple days with Chris Barger and his team, along with several brand team members at General Motors. I was really taken with the passion and excitement many of the folks there had for what they were doing and want to do with social media marketing. From the refreshing resurgence that has the Buick team chomping at the bit to carry their momentum forward to the I-cannot-wait-to-get-people-in-this-car frenzy of the Chevy Volt team, you could just sense an energy at GM that probably hasn’t been there in a while.

In the midst of witnessing that, someone asked me what fuels my passion for social media. Odd, but I’d never really thought about it much until then. Here’s what I landed on:

Pumping gas
Image by futureatlas.com via Flickr

I grew up in a small town in Eastern Kentucky. Pikeville has about 6,050 people in the city limits and probably about 65,000 or so in the county. It’s at least a two-hour drive from any city that would really qualify as a city (i.e., one with a commercial airport). In Pikeville, Ky., when I was growing up, we didn’t keep our money in a bank. We didn’t buy insurance from AllState or Nationwide. We didn’t buy cars from Ford or Dodge or even Chevy. We didn’t buy clothes from J.C. Penney or Sears or even Kentucky-based Dawahares department stores.

In my small town, we kept our money with David and Danny. We bought our insurance from Shirley. We bought cars from Terry. And when we needed new clothes, we went to see Jerry.

In a small town, you do business with people you know and trust. Social media brings that nugget of down home goodness to a global scale. No, you won’t actually purchase a Chevy Volt from Chris Barger himself. But the fact that you can reach out to him on Twitter and get a response makes that purchase a more trusted one.

There are a lot of disadvantages to living in a rural community, tucked away from the world. But there’s a whole lot of value there, too. I’m just hoping to share that one with everyone else.

What fuels your passion?

Enhanced by Zemanta
Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, then why not:Leave Comment Below | Subscribe To This Blog | Sign Up For Our Newsletter |

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).

Other posts by

Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

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?

  • http://www.daniellieberman.org/djlblog/ Daniel Lieberman

    Good point. I live and work in the town of Shelburne Falls, MA, which has the kind of feel you describe (population about 2000). The social web will alleviate the disadvantages of rural small town life, just as Sears Roebuck mail and Rural Electrification did. On the other hand, it fosters intimacy and trust in much larger communities – good to see corporations like GM “getting it”.

  • Chris Baldwin

    Loved your post because you capture one of the aspects that makes social media great…. it might be a big world out there but we are all connected and the world through SM can actually get a little more manageable and a little less complex. Isn't that what technology is all about. Thanks.

    Couldn't help but find it ironic that we both talk about Passion in blogs today. My belief is that brands have an opportunity to engage their most passionate users and make it a personal relationship between users. Love to hear your thoughts: http://pov.liggett.com/article/engage-your-most

  • http://twitter.com/chriann chriann

    Very well stated

  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog Albert_Maruggi

    Nice apple pie piece. And parts of it are right on. Now let's take a look at some industries that have a hard time executing your laudable objective. Financial services, specifically credit card providers. Sorry JF, social media can't help the sorry state of that industry segment, why? because they don't have a relationship with customers solely. They have a relationship with credit scores and regulators, and shareholders, and, and, and. And that clouds the relationship they purport to have with me, regardless of my time honored payment record.

    I will say interestingly enough, that your point in this piece is the exact theme State Farm insurance is running against its' online, more social web competition. So when you bought your insurance from Shirley, it was Shirley you went to see. In social there is still some degrees of separation that need to be covered for the digital social Shirley to embrace your specific needs. The way I find some organizations doing that is by implementing social tactics horizontally across departments and making it become part of their culture. Those that choose to implement social tactics within an anti-social culture will likely have a disconnect when trying to achieve that level of “small town” feel through social channels.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great thoughts Albert. I guess my only response is that where you say
      the personal approach doesn't work, I want to figure out a way for it
      to.

      Can't hurt to try, right?

      • http://www.riverwoodwriter.com/ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

        As a board member of a community bank, I understand Albert's comment about the challenge of being social and developing personal relationships when you've got so many entities to juggle, but I completely agree with Jason that this is all the more reason for financial institutions to try to shed their stodgy image and figure out a way to give a face and some humanity to the tough job of pleasing customers, shareholders, and federal regulators all at the same time. In this economic environment, it is a huge challenge, but a worthy one.

  • Gloria Bell

    I love how you phrased the question as What fuels your passion? It is so easy to be passionate about social media without stopping to think about why we are passionate and what fuels that ongoing feeling. For me, it is the ability to interact, learn and share from people that I normally would never know or interact with. The ability to build relationships and communicate with those outside of our normal realm is a powerful tool. The knowledge that just by being myself, talking about the things I care about, sharing what interests me, I can build those relationships is what fuels my passion for social media.

  • http://www.hallme.com/blog/author/amanda/ amanda_pants

    So funny we just talked about this at our last Social Media Breakfast Maine! One presenter and I discussed how we really got started in social media and why we took to it so easily… we were both from really small towns. I am actually from a small island off the coast of Maine (500 year round residents when I was a kid) and had to take a boat to school. Being a small town girl has really helped me use the new tools available to us to make our brands and content something people can and want to trust. Thanks for this little post. It made me smile!

  • http://twitter.com/joey_strawn Joey Strawn

    I grew up as an only child, but was very much an extrovert in every avenue of life. My passion for social media comes from my passion for people. I love creating connections and meeting new people and learning things that I might not have had the opportunity to learn had I kept my mouth shut. I focus most of my energy throughout the day trying to foster relationships, whether those be professional, personal, or both and I love the ability that social media grants to reach out and personally touch millions of people to garner those relationships.

  • scotttownsend

    I'm kind of like you…When we were growing up in Waco, TX, Dad used to by his gas from Tommy. I can't remember the station.

    For me it's always been about the connections to people. It's amazing how social media can grease the skids to make those connections easier to make.

  • http://www.WhatDidEricSay.com Eric Miltsch

    Jason,

    Cheers to you for meeting with GM; 2 cheers for Chris & his team reaching out to you.

    The automotive segment, both retail & the OEM's, need to look beyond the borders of our industry and see what people like you are doing to bring the personal connection element into the equation.

    Their new products are very exciting. Connecting with the GM community on a personal level about those products will be more valuable than simply broadcasting to them.

    Hope to see you more involved with their new ideas…your input will surely be an influence.

  • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

    Jason – Love that about social media, your blog, and you. This post taught me something about you that I didn't know before. You provided a few more pieces to the “Jason Falls Puzzle.” That's what gets me jazzed about Social Media. People. That's my passion too: People. I love people (as well as beer and coffee and K-Dawg and Baby Waldow). I love connecting people, helping people, making people smile and laugh. That's what fuels my passion…

    DJ Waldow
    @djwaldow

  • http://twitter.com/cbarger Christopher Barger

    Jason – just wanted to say a huge thank you for coming to visit with us this week — the honor was ours. This is a great post and I agree 100% — the relationships and trust you can build through the web are the greatest opportunity any organization can realize. The best part about it is that there's nothing “new” about “new media”… as you point out, it's just a way for us to get back to how business has always been best done. Thanks again for your insights and time!

  • Loki – SocialGumbo, LLC

    I started blogging just before Hurricane Katrina struck my city (New Orleans). In the five years since I've gone pro as a social media instructor and content creator. It is always my passion for my former home that drives me, especially in light of the way that mainstream media failed us. Trying to get the truth out there and aid my city and my fellow New Orleanians gave me the stamina to keep at it every single day. It also was the school of hard knocks as far as community building goes.

    I have a passion for social media because I feel that it not only fosters closer relationships between people, but also because it makes it increasingly harder to be unethical in business. No matter what you do it will get found out and sent viral. I see it as a major force to help bring business ethics back into the marketplace in many areas where they are absent.

    (I must also note that like most native born French Creoles I am extremely hyper-social by nature which I am certain is a major factor as well…)

  • http://www.yaffetidbitsblog.com mikemcclure

    My passion for social media is fueled by my passion for creativity. As an advertising creative, I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to express creativity in what I do. In recent years, the advertising and marketing worlds have taken a hit and creativity has been hampered by lower budgets and conservative hedging of bets against the economy. Now with social and digital, combined with the need to engage consumers rather than talk at them, we seem to be entering a new golden age of creativity. The possiblities excite me and fuel my creative fires again.

    • Gmphoto

      lower budgets are a figment of your imagination and show low self esteem & lack of pride in the so called creative artist. Don't take rejection personal an stretch all people way beyond where there coming from. I f they drive a car they can afford way more.$$$$$$$$$$$

  • Toddskaggs

    I love how social media has opened channels which allow me to help and teach. My sphere of influence is magnified by a power of 10 with social media and is virtually boundless.

  • Gmphoto

    selling 30×40 stretcher canvas wall portraits and bigger fuel my passion$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ selling multiple 12×18 albums also fuels my passion$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • http://www.bizchickblogs.com Tia Peterson, BizChickBlogs

    When I think about the question, it's the “fuels” part that stands out. What fuels my passion is seeing constant change. If I were to keep plugging away at something and witness no change, I'm certain my passion would die out. But the fuel is knowing that I'm having some influence, however small, on other people's lives for the better.

  • Cajun_mama

    Jason, I love how your posts make stop and think about where I've been, where I'm at, and where I plan on going. My passion is in the experiences I've gained and the opportunity to help people. I've learned many, many lessons and every once in a while I have to go in for a checkup to keep things running smoothly so my personal engine doesn't stall ;) I started my first travel website in 2002 but have to owe so much of my growth to social media and the relationships built online. It's not only made the world a bit more accessible for me (coming from a small Louisiana city), but it's also given me some important life lessons on being true to oneself.

    I can't wait to check out the Chevy Volt next month in NYC. In my wildest dreams I never thought I'd get to experience some of the crazy-cool-insane routes during this journey through life. Social media is amazing. Simply amazing.

  • http://swrightboucher.wordpress.com SWrightBoucher

    I'm passionate about leadership development. Social media can accelerate our development by connecting people and ideas. That's my fuel.

  • http://impulsemagazine.net Impulse Magazine

    I think I am motivated by the opportunity to be able to give back to other people

  • http://www.stagweekends.co.uk/birmingham-weekend birmingham paintballing

    I actually do almost all this things, except of point 1, but I still don’t sell, besides a few cents in microstock. Maybe there is one point missing: Be patient and persistent! Everything needs time!

  • LizzHarmon

    What excites me about social media is the level playing field. There are so many stereotypes in this world – where you live, what your office looks like, what kind of car you drive, if you're overweight, how you're dressed – that aren't a factor when you connect via social media. We can establish relationships, become friends, connect, do business and socialize no matter where we fall in the hierarchy. THAT fuels my passion, and I've met a lot of cool, talented people because of it.

  • http://www.henweekends.net/budapest-hen-weekend budapest spa

    Time is the flame in which we burn because at the start of it, it is small, it doesn't hurt as much. As does our innocence as a child, we don't remember the hurt. The flame also goes very strong halfway through, and then later dies…

  • lvyuyin

    migration and situation and minorityGucci handbags ethnic policiesdirectory of
    Discount inter-ethnic conflictslouis vuitton handbagssound recordings
    and no tax human rightslouis vuitton bags inter-ethnic conflicts migration and

  • http://www.socialcubix.com/services/agency-solutions Facebook Development Agency

    Sublime post once again Jason! It was really interesting to read your thoughts!

    I think that social media has such massive potential to allow new business to market there products and ideas, people are now starting to make livings off blogging or at least finding themselves with connection in industries that they blog about. Being heavily involved with SEO and SEM myself, I believe that SMM will rise to be an important part of a e marketing campaign as well!

    Thanks!

  • http://www.socialcubix.com/services/agency-solutions Facebook Development Agency

    Sublime post once again Jason! It was really interesting to read your thoughts!

    I think that social media has such massive potential to allow new business to market there products and ideas, people are now starting to make livings off blogging or at least finding themselves with connection in industries that they blog about. Being heavily involved with SEO and SEM myself, I believe that SMM will rise to be an important part of a e marketing campaign as well!

    Thanks!