Picture the scene: it was a cold December evening. Alone and about to embark on a voyage of discovery from the City of Many Discoveries, a global adventure into the unknown was about to begin…

I was young, naïve, un-trained and keen – but willing to explore. To be fair, I really didn’t know what I was doing, what I was about to let myself in for, even for that matter where I was going; if I had, would I have changed my mind? No. No way. I was a risk-taker that night and only a power cut was going to stop me. Je regrette rien.

As I set off on my brave journey, where only several million people had been before, the first hurdle came pretty quick and pretty fast: what’s my handle? I mean, I knew that opening my Twitter account for the first time would come with challenges, but this laddie certainly hadn’t anticipated actually having to be creative quite so quickly.

That was my first lesson: social media is about creativity too.

It was at that moment then that @kennytankerous was born (@kentankerous was taken and besides I wouldn’t have wanted it anyway. Honest. Plus, I loathe being called Ken). Actually, very soon after @kennytankerous was then dropped, and while I look back with fondness on the memories, and although just a twinkle in my eye then, @MarCommsKenny has offered me far, far more since.

Kennytankerous was in truth a little shy, a bit timid and quite frankly looking back, needed to get a grip. Skulking in the shadows and ‘monitoring and observing’ he needed an injection of bravado and personality. And then he found it, in the form of a tweet.

A transformation took place that day and the caterpillar that was kennytankerous blossomed into an ugly duckling, MarComsKenny (and then after a while MarCommsKenny turned into something a little bit better, but that took some time).

That was my second lesson: planning is essential to social media success – and you need to understand what it is you are trying to achieve, what it is you are saying, who you are targeting and why.

Rod Stewart sings the blues

Rod Stewart telling his story his way


Back in the day…

So here I am, over 3,700 tweets later. I’ve actually no idea what that first tweet said but you’ll have to trust me that it was something pretty profound. Probably.

Over that first year, as my ability and understanding grew, so too did my confidence and ability to connect and socially network.

With MarCommsKenny also came a LinkedIn profile, then a blog with an occasional guest blog spot, then some online imagery, and other platforms and learning followed, all of which continues today. That, you see, is how my continuous professional development was reignited and new approach to learning about digital and especially social media began in earnest. All those years ago, hmmm, just a little over one year ago.

That was my third lesson: social media needs sustained cultivation and crafting, unless of course your name is Psy.


We’ve come this far together (so don’t stop now)

This drive to evolve and learn started because, as a public health marcomms pro, I knew I needed to get ahead of the game if I was to be seen to be the person people turned to for advice. Some people in marcomms are specialists, others generalists. It’s what works for you.

I’ve always considered myself to be a special generalist. Throughout my career in local authority and central government and, for the last few years, health I’ve always sought opportunities that expand my skills across a range of disciplines so that I can be a rounded marcomms professional; flexible, experienced, adaptable, proficient and ready for anything that is thrown at me.

That was my fourth lesson: social media can throw a lot of unexpected results and comments your way – you need to be aware of that, of the professional boundaries that exist and mindful of the impact your personal digital behaviour can have on your professional standing. Sometimes, just sometimes, there is a fine line.

So this first year of my social media journey has been one worthy of celebration; the people, the opportunities, the learning, the chat – it’s all been incredible. I’ve probably got you to thank, and if I haven’t then I do now, simply for getting this far.

It is those people who offered me my most important social media lesson yet: that really listening and engaging people and then acting on that can have some wonderful results – and when you share it shows you care.

I’ve reached all over the world – as a Tweeter, a blogger, and a #socialmediasanta no less and my learning has grown exponentially as a consequence. I continue to engage new people daily and new places of virtual interest and intrigue. In the real world getting socially networked has added dimensions to my skills and ability that I never anticipated. I’ve even learnt some techy stuff too.

As my Google+ account tagline proclaims, I’m old enough to know better, but not young enough not to know it all (ok, so it maybe doesn’t quite work on inspection, but superficially it makes sense so for now let’s just roll with that line). In other words, life is about learning. As Rod Stewart sings, I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger… when social media was first on the scene.

If I had known then, there is no way I would have waited for as long as I did to get socially connected and networked. Now, I’m virtually living proof of that. He goes on, ‘You’ll have to learn, just like me; And that’s the hardest way’.

The difference is, social media doesn’t need to be hard, it’s what you make it. It’s creative inspiration at your finger tips and to my mind, that is something to be explored.

Care to join me?

Take it easy

Image courtesy of sergio_leenen