We are the change

Times they are a-changing: are you ready for change?

“Don’t criticise what you can’t understand….For the times they are a-changing” The words of Bob Dylan will always be relevant, and will never date, for times are always changing. It seems to some that the change in technology and communication, particularly in the last 10 years are changing so fast it’s almost impossible to imagine what will be our new normal in the next 10-15 years.

Change, we all understand then, is inevitable and is happening all around us in every way. Change of seasons, change of family situations, changes at work, changes in government, and yet the one thing that usually remains static within each one of us, is the way in which we cope with change.


I spent several years working in an office with a guy who brought in his flask each morning and put it in the same place on the same shelf. Not unusual but the company we worked for provided a kitchen and free tea, coffee and milk to make drinks at your leisure. I asked him why he therefore brought in a flask every day (effort, washing up, not so fresh or hot) and he answered “Because I always have”. This guy also handwrote so much of the payroll paperwork he worked on each month, when typing it once into an Excel spreadsheet would have saved him huge amounts of time. It was clear though that here was a person who did not feel at all comfortable with change. He would resist it wherever he could and suffer when things changed that were out of his control.


At the other end of the scale you get the people who lead change. These are the innovators who are always looking for a quicker, better, cheaper way of doing something, and who thrive on challenge, refusing to believe that something’s impossible. They spend hours figuring out new ways to travel, communicate and live. They develop tools and techniques to aid us in what we do, and they have a voracious appetite for learning and leading.

Going with the flow

There’s always a middle ground and here are the people who are not resistant to change, in fact they rather like it, but there’s no drive to lead this change. They watch and listen and see what everyone else is doing and they follow where the masses go, enjoying the fruits of labour of those who pushed ahead, and never suffering the fear of this change as they are taking an already trodden path.

Social Media

I come across all extremes of people in my work with Social Media. The innovators are the ones at the head of technology, exploring new avenues to exploit people’s growing hunger for social communication. Close behind them are those who are scouring the internet for mention of the latest network and then jumping on there to blaze a trail. Often these new networks are a flash in the pan and don’t take off but occasionally they do and the rest of the masses will gradually follow suit knowing that the initial problems will have been ironed out and they can enjoy the fruits of this labour!

But what about those who are turning their backs on it, not interested in involving themselves in Social Media and resolutely standing fast against this new wave of communication? Well let me tell you this, it’s one thing to not get involved and want to post and converse online, but quite another to turn a completely blind eye to it. I attended a networking event recently where 2 people were dismissing Social Media as trivial nonsense and a passing fad. They had no wish to get involved now or ever and were quite proud of this. Sadly though, what they didn’t know was that I’d seen several mentions of one of the businesses that week on Twitter and it wasn’t flattering. Monitoring what’s being said and being aware of what people are saying about your brand, product and service is a vital part of Social Media and the part it’s not always a good idea to ignore.

Who wouldn’t want to know what’s being said about them by existing customers to potential customers? If it’s great, how fabulous! You can thank that advocate, win them over further and take those positive comments and broadcast them. If it’s not so good then what a fabulous opportunity to listen, learn and react. How you handle criticism and deal with it in public gives you great credibility when done right, yet neglected comments can build and get out of control, and so with it goes your carefully honed reputation, and chances are you won’t even know.

Are you ready for change?

Take a few moments to have a think. Do you thrive on change or struggle with it? Personally I love change but I’m risk adverse! I like to watch carefully what’s happening and how things are developing and yet I’m in the second wave of changers as I like to make sure others don’t crash and burn before I leap on board! Which ‘change’ camp are you in? Are you striving, following or standing still? And if it’s the latter, is it time you maybe made the very hardest change of all, changing your approach to change?

About the Author: Paula White.  I’m a self-employed Social Media Mentor & Trainer.  I help businesses to make sense of the array of Social Media options, and find the right blend of networks and activity to suit their personality, business goals and time. It gives me great pleasure to share new skills and watch people put them into action to make their businesses grow and flourish. When I’m not working, I spend as much time as I can enjoying the great outdoors. There’s nothing I like better than the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.  For more info visit me at: www.whitesocialmedia.co.uk or join me on Twitter: @paulawhite_uk

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  1. Charlotte Everiss says

    Brilliant article and something that I have enjoyed reading. There has been a huge shift recently in outsourcing and gradually as businesses have adopted to this now accepted way of working they have adapted their approach to it and are now embracing it more than ever. I still think some businesses are wary of new developments particularly in social media as when the concept isn’t understood by them it can leave them with the opinion that it is more damaging to be involved (in the sense that they would be unable to manage it effectively) than to sit on the sidelines where it is safer and observe.

  2. Kevin Leighton says

    An interesting and thoughtful piece. It is nothing new that people, and companies have been considered to be ideas men and innovators, the middle of the road ‘follow the flow’, right through to those who are always resistant to change. They say that good teams are made up of a mix of people but when it comes to making decisions on how to proceed with any technology it sometimes takes the visionaries to see the way forward.

    I hadn’t previously applied this thinking to the use of social media so this piece is stretching my thinking.

    The big question with the visionaries is whether the live on the bleeding edge, and jump in to ‘the next big thing’ or sit back a little and live on the leading edge, once they have an idea as to how a technology is going to progress.

    With the advent of social media I believe has it has been difficult for large organisations to see how they can effectively harness the power of social media to compliment their existing media portfolio whereas individuals or small organisations have been much better placed take up the challenge to use social media to explore new opportunities.

  3. Paula says

    Thanks both for reading and for your vaulable comments.

    Charlotte. I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it. It’s a valuable point you make that the fear of getting involved without fully understanding the value or the consequences is not a wise step for organisations. After all, with so many people now finding a company’s social networks before they find their website, it’s important that these sites are well managed, up to date and represent your brand. Far better than just watching and wondering though, is getting educated and learning the benefits and the pitfalls and approaching it in moderation and with confidence in a controlled and managed way 🙂

    Kevin. Glad to have stretched your mind – I always like to get people thinking! It’s definitely been easier for smaller companies to reap the benefits of Social Media as they are able to be more flexible and can have more control over the message. Large organisations started approaching Social Media from one of controlling it and stopping access etc for fear of employees wasting time on it when they should be working. It can take a big shift to look at this from a different angle and let go slightly of those reins to realise the benefits. There will always be scare stories in the press about Social Media but as with anything new (or anything at all!) there will always be downsides and that’s why I believe in a careful and well thought out approach to social media activity with eyes wide open 🙂