Digital Media and the Field of Dreams Myth

You don’t have to convince me of Digital Media’s power – I’m already a huge believer.

While I am happy to see more and more organizations grow in their awareness for their need to take advantage of its many benefits, I am frequently amused/frustrated by the Field of Dreams mentality that seems to be so prevalent in their current approaches.

Digital Media is not a magic baseball field. People are not going to come just because you build Social Media applications. Creating a Facebook group for your issue or organization is not going to create a torrent of enthusiasm where none previously existed.

Take the Obama campaign for example. To say that their use of Digital Media created all of the excitement we witnessed is beyond ridiculous. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Obama campaign’s amazing use of a vast array of tools that helped connect and engage supporters but at the end of the day all they did was amplify what was already there.

This isn’t a chicken or the egg situation – in fact John McCain provides the perfect example. In the 2000 election with an enormous amount of organic excitement for his candidacy, John McCain was able to break new ground in the area of online fundraising (oh how quickly we forget – he wasn’t always viewed as technologically challenged). Ironically, it was the enormous success of their online efforts in 2000 that created many of the early financial problems for McCain version 2008 as much of their lauded $100 million primary war chest was predicated on a robust online fundraising effort that never materialized.

What changed? The natural level of existing enthusiasm.

What I love most about Digital Media is that it is nothing more than the exponential enhancement of the communications dynamic that has existed throughout history. Strip away the funny sounding application names and the dizzying array of usage options and you are left with the same fundamental concepts of human nature that have always existed.

So do me a favor, if in your current capacity you advise or implement communications plans that include Digital Media please remember – in the real world people don’t just drive to baseball fields because somebody built them. They drive to baseball fields because they are excited about baseball.

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