Warning: The tone of this post has a healthy degree of cynicism and sarcastic undertones. As a result of tone and content, expect a healthy degree of negative comments and sideswipes. Let the fun begin…

Over the last few weeks we have seen the casual get together of the social media coffee mornings now generate the US originating brand Social Media Club in Australia.

So what about this club?

From www.socialmediaclub.org/about I gleaned that:

Social Media Club is being organised for the purpose of sharing best practices, establishing ethics and standards, and promoting media literacy around the emerging area of Social Media. This is the beginning of a global conversation about building an organisation and a community where the many diverse groups of people who care about social media can come together to discover, connect, share, and learn.

Pity no one mentioned the users in this. On the web, the best, best practice is determined by the users not the channel or the medium or the ethical standards, or the media literacy or even the technology.

I will watch with interest, because these guys might have something interesting to say, but I wont have to join to benefit from that. However, I will also reserve a decree of cynicism. Social Media took off with kids, talking directly to each other, sharing their thoughts, pictures, hobbies, music, etc. None of them joined a club; they were drawn to it – what needs fixing about that. Commercial infiltration is whats going on here. But, commercial infiltration of the social media space is anathema to these people. Think of it like a park. Nice place to hang out with your friends and share in activities with others. As soon as the place gets filled with advertising hoardings, burger vans and park wardens telling you not to tread on the grass, you just move on because the place is no fun any more.

Social Media Club is now an organisational structure that has currently been set up in all the metro areas of Australia and seems to be run by self-designated individuals who have decided they are there to lead the rest of us minions in social media, with the best benefit being, we can get together and talk to each! We can listen to a speech by a self-appointed social guru, the guy that set the club up and next month, you can listen to one his mates, if you are very lucky. We don’t have to pay for the privilege here in Australia (at the moment) isn’t that just bloody marvelous value.

Initially I actually thought the concept could be good. I submitted ideas for speaking topics, etc. Then I started to see the manifestation of it and like Gavin Heaton who withdrew from nomination on the Social Media Club board, I ditched the idea as a bad one. I actually joined Social Media Club Canberra on Facebook as opposed to SMC Sydney, as a bit of dig, as I won’t be attending any events in Canberra as I live in Sydney!

Jye Smith stated on his blog:

I am a little uncomfortable with the idea of creating social media clubs. I smell rules and policy.

I actually smell a PR sell to clients, Oh yes Mr. Client I set up the Social Media Club and chair the board.

What we need is to leave social media to evolve through test and learn techniques and strategies with our respective clients. I don’t believe that clients and their agencies want to have open debate on their evolving social marketing practices. It is hard enough everyone getting his or her head around this channel. If there is something to share then that’s what case studies are for.

When it comes to networking with my peers, I can pop along for coffee on a Friday (although I rarely do, as I am not a morning person). But get this novel way I want to share with you, when I need help and insights from my peers in the social media space, I pick up the phone.

Why do I need a club?

Social Media Club I envisage will soon be publishing industry guidelines, then charging and telling us of all the benefits of paying to join their club and to follow their pre-determined rules to enforce us to behave in the way they want us to. Pre-program the masses to behave, there is loads of money in it, and just wait for the pay-to-attend SMC Conference, the regional Chapters of Social Media, it is like a setting up a religion and I believe there is loads of money in that too!.

Back in 2008 Laurel Papworth questioned the policy of WOMMA (The Word of Mouth Association) policy. This policy WOMMA said was only to accept membership from organisations not individuals. Totally farcical, given that the social media landscape that generates WOM (Word of Mouth) is individuals. Maybe that’s why the new leaders of Social Media Club in Sydney, slammed this entrepreneurial social media practitioner, she may dare to question the forthcoming rules that they, our self-appointed leaders, have in mind for us.

The web is very fluid. I picture it a bit like a lava lamp. Initiatives like social media emerge, take off, take shape and grow and then fade and disappear as another bubble comes along. Sir Tim Berners-Lee put the www together to be open, free and unregulated. Creating rules for any facet of it is going to be like herding bubbles. These bubbles have a short life of their own and defy regulation. Governments from America to China have tried to regulate, but ultimately they fail because the users choose not to be regulated. And so it is with social media. Everything, including the users, are too fluid. As soon as you have it all organised, documented, certified and protocoled, you will wake up to find that it has faded and the users have moved on to the next disposable web-thing and then your club is a bit pointless.

So, I guess you realise The Club is just not for me, granted it maybe for you. Now off to meet a few of my peers for some chilled unstructured sharing time!