“Hell has frozen over. Lauren is on Facebook.”

This is an actual comment on my newly minted Facebook page. Before you say anything, I KNOW. I’m a marketer. How could I not be fascinated and mesmerized by the ever-changing, make-it-all-public, super current world of social media?

My answer was simple: I don’t have time to keep LinkedIn updated properly. I can’t keep up with the friends I already WANT to interact with. And last but certainly not least, I am NOT putting a page out there with my name on it that other people can in any way alter (security features aside, the mere idea of this terrified me). It only fueled the fire that that my husband, a consummate technology professional and presenter at events around the globe, had a Facebook page that I thought looked like something from Match.com.

As a person who’s always believed that if you can’t do it well, you certainly don’t put it on display, I still find these objections defensible, or maybe now I would say ‘reasonable’ — but here’s what happened to change the game for me …

Being a late adopter of almost everything, I recently embarked on an experiment that not long ago would have seemed unimaginable to me — I stood up a web site on my own, without knowing a lick of code. I faced what was (for me) a steep learning curve and braved forums of those far more adept than I to get my questions answered … and at the end of the day, I succeeded.

As amazing as this was in my list of personal accomplishments, the more shocking piece was really that for my purposes, the site represented me and my work surprisingly well.

So the next thing I knew, I was talking to the owner of a local marketing agency about the pros and cons of WordPress and templated sites in general for the small-to-medium business owner … and then it hit me: I can contribute to this dialogue in a new and relevant way because I have skin in the game. I have real, credible things to say because I’ve done it myself.

So what does all this have to do with social media? For me, much as with the website, maybe 2012 is just the time to go beyond what I know inside and out, and dare to do some things that certainly won’t be perfect my first time out. In 2011, I opted to leave social media to those who know more about these sorts of things and stick with what I’m really gifted in professionally … but the truth is that I need to be able to counsel some of my clients about where social media marketing makes sense and where it doesn’t. I need to know in a hands-on way what the real benefits and real liabilities are — and apparently the way to do that is to just dive in — even if I don’t yet do it well enough to feel comfortable making it all public.

And in case there’s another perfectionist, control freak, late adopter out there like me who’s still unconvinced, here’s another reason to come to the party, even though you’re way, way late: I found my very best friend from middle school on Facebook earlier today, and it just felt good. I can’t explain it, but it truly made me smile. And professional arguments aside, it’s just hard to argue with that.

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