In the couple of weeks since the Twitter fail I wrote about, I’ve had some very interesting conversations with people in the yarn industry about business use of social media, and specifically about the role TNNA could and/or should play in educating yarn-related businesses about it.

Yesterday I tweeted this:


And then I figured I should just blog what I’d already dumped into an email exchange with a colleague. I’ve edited it a little. Anyway, a few people replied to my tweet (I’m looking at you, Clara, and at you, Beth), and I hope they’ll comment or blog about what they think, too. It would not make me sad if a big conversation started.

So.

If I were to turn off the practical flip-side-thinking part of my brain that recognizes budget constraints, devil’s advocacy, etc., here’s what my dream would be:

The TNNA board and show planners would sit down and say, “The business landscape has changed dramatically in a very short period of time. We need to do everything we can to support our businesses. A rising tide floats all boats.” (ETA: I have no reason to believe they haven’t said this. I just want this to be the obvious starting point.) They’d acknowledge the importance of digital communications and the tremendous opportunity they present, and they’d recognize that they themselves might not grok what all is going on. They’d accept the naysayers who bitch and moan about change and competition and they’d go forward anyway. They’d recognize that sitting around talking about dwindling show attendance and class attendance doesn’t actually address the problem. Further, they’d recognize that trying the same things repeatedly and expecting a different result is a sign of madness.

The June show (or next January’s if there isn’t enough time) would be the social and digital media show. It would be like a theme. In addition to the show itself and the wall of yarn and same-old same-old yada yada, there would be a proper keynote. A BIG keynote. A very well-publicized keynote. Publicized not just on the terrible website and not just in PDFs of the registration materials I never read. The keynote would be about the reality of the digital age and the opportunities it brings even if they’re presented as challenges. It would be accessible to the significant proportion of the audience that feels threatened by change and to the significant proportion of the audience that recognizes the need to adapt but doesn’t know how and is terrified to do it. It would make people like me weep in glee. It would be delivered by someone with inspiring vision, meaty information and empowering words. It would most definitely NOT be delivered by someone who is a self-described guru and who most certainly does NOT have a website that follows some sort of marketing formula or cult-like bullshit.

We’d have Yelp community leaders at the show, not just to promote Yelp in that cheesy way they do, but to talk to store owners about what Yelp is, how people use it and how they can use it.

We’d have computers set up on the show floor or outside it, they’d work, they’d have Firefox running, and there would be more than two of them. We’d hold ongoing drop-in workshops on how to use Twitter, Facebook, email newsletters, about what effective web design looks like, and about how to find professionals that can help businesses use this stuff after the glow of the show fades.

There would be a full-day workshop before or after the show so people wouldn’t have to miss out on anything else to attend it. It would be all about social/digital media and business. It would be free and other steps would be taken to convince people that spending an additional day at the show is worthwhile. Hell, maybe the show itself needs only to be Saturday and Sunday. People are used to a three-day trip. Maybe that Monday (though better if it were the Friday), which is often a slow day for many, just isn’t a show day. It’s a workshop day. Or half a day. 9am-2pm.

Oh, there will be free, working, easy-to-use wireless on the show floor and in every classroom.

This will cost money. A lot of money. Speakers, broadband, tech support, teachers, computers, multimedia la la la. Possible speakers or teachers: Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Natalie Drieu from Craft, Kathy Elkins from Webs, Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark of Kitchen Sink Dyeworks, Tara Swiger of Blonde Chicken Boutique, Diane Gilleland of Craftypod.

Lots of people pay to attend business conferences. This wouldn’t really be that. This would be a trade organization providing a tremendous service to empower its membership to adapt and thrive in response to breathtaking changes in the marketplace.

I bet some businesses would sponsor it, even.

Ok. End of dream.

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