What our fear of the stock market can teach us about resistance to social media integration
Sounds crazy, I know. But, many of the same things that prevent businesses from getting social are the same things that prevent people from investing in the stock market.
Maybe I’m oversimplifying things a bit, but I think if those of us who are so smitten with social media can begin to understand our own hangups then maybe we can better empathize with the businesses we’re ultimately trying to help.
For most of us, the idea of investing in the stock market seems very abstract and completely removed from our day-to-day activities even though the economy impacts almost every aspect of our lives. The same can be said of businesses and social media.
The last statistic I heard was roughly 100 million Americans have never owned a single share of stock. 100 million Americans equals about one third of the entire U.S. population or the number of viewers who visit YouTube each month.
Why is everyone so nervous?
1. Lack of a B.S. Meter
When it comes to the stock market and social media, I feel comfortable saying there’s definitely a lot of bullshit out there.
Too many of us in social media rely on buzz words that ultimately mean nothing or do little to truly communicate. Detecting B.S. of any kind really comes down to one’s ability to trust his/her own judgment.
We feel vulnerable when we don’t have a clear idea of who we should trust to guide us into unknown territory. For most people, the stock market and social media both still qualify as relatively unknown territory.
2. The Rules Change
There is no clear-cut, step-by-step formula for turning a profit in either the stock market or with social media. A lack of understanding makes the stock market and social media investment seem like gambling.
The patterns are there, but it takes some dedicated observation and hands-on effort to see them emerge in a meaningful way for any particular circumstance.
3. Long-term Commitments are Best
Although a lot of people seem to benefit from risky short-term endeavors, real gains in the stock market, just like social media, are made in the long term.
Add to this factor the above statements and realize how unsure it feels to make a long-term commitment without an adequate B.S. meter in an environment where the rules seem to change.
The problem with evangelism and enthusiasm is that they often burn too hot to coexist with the soothing presence of the other e-word: empathy.
I’m only a few weeks into my new position working with PEAK6 Online, but I’ve been learning a lot about attitudes people have toward investing in the stock market through one of our websites, WeSeed, and applying that to what I do professionally with social media. (This is my disclosure — yes, I work for WeSeed).
WeSeed is an interactive site that lets people learn about the stock market by investing in virtual stock portfolios with fake money. It even lets members browse for stocks based on things they’re already passionate about, like sports, fashion or technology.
The mission of the site is to help people get over their fears of the stock market. This really resonates with me since most of what I do here is to try to help professional communicators and other business types get over their fear of social media.
Just like those of us who readily engage in different types of social networks, savvy investors often feel enthusiastic about sharing their market knowledge with others. Think about the last time you ran into one of those people the next time you get frustrated with a business’ lack of excitement over the idea of social media integration.
If it’s our job to help others wade their way into social media communication with confidence, isn’t it also our job to empathize first and frame these foreign concepts in ways that make them seem more familiar and relevant before we climb up on our soap box?
When was the last time you felt afraid?
Note: Since I totally ripped off David Griner‘s title for one of his presentations, inspired by Hunter S. Thompson’s brilliant work of Gonzo Journalism, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, please check out David’s slide deck on SlideShare. Also, follow David on Twitter – @griner. I wish I could do more for HST, but if you can just pause for a moment of silence the next time you drink Wild Turkey, that will probably suffice.
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