Social Media is Easy as Driving a Stick

Alright, so in the back (or the front) of my mind since I purchased a ’98 Camaro Z28* was facing my fear of the manual transmission. I instantly drew many similarities to how businesses view social media in their business. No bystanders were hurt in the making of this blog entry.

The first question anyone (including my dad) would ask is, “Why in the world would you buy a stick?” I’ll answer that briefly – it’s time to learn it, it’s time to conquer it and I’d like to graduate my driving tastes. A follow-up question would be, “Why a Camaro [for your first stick]?” Admittedly, it isn’t the best “learner” car out there, but I’ve had my eyes set on this car since I was in high school.

You have to understand this. My only prior experience to driving a stick was on a quarter mile track in high school. Driving a straight line – four gears – then clutch in, go to neutral and brake. That’s it. I was quintessentially a stick-shift newbie. Many business owners have only heard of social media, but never have actually done it. This is the angle where I’m coming from.

Many businesses view social media the same. Social media is the dark matter they can’t quite understand. Social media is that beast that takes patience, effort or money. Social media is that puzzle they’ve yet to figure out. It’s not like a merger; it’s not like a customer service operation; it’s not like a marketing team. It’s a blend. I can empathize with small business owners who would much rather travel down the road in their automatic transmission. It is easier. Let’s be honest … it’s even cheaper.

I faced failure head-on. I held disciplined optimism despite all odds. I stalled a couple times at an intersection. I burned out at another. Three intersections later, I now have smooth starts. I kept faith that I will learn the stick. And I did. For now, I kept it to city streets and a few rural ones. That’s okay; I know I will graduate onto the highway soon. Eventually, I’ll graduate to the quarter-mile track. Maybe even a circuit track for the ultimate thrill. (According to YouTube, this car can handle 150MPH…)

I asked others close to me their inside advice on driving a stick. I couldn’t count how many “what-if” scenarios played through my head. One theme in the responses – stay calm. Don’t overexert yourself, worse-case scenario is you can chill in neutral or ride the clutch for a bit. Oddly though, their advice never quite “stuck” with me. It’s not that they’re wrong, but driving a stick requires kinetic learning. In other words, you learn it by doing it. Sure enough, their advice stuck once I messed up a few times and it all came back to me. I also budgeted my learning curve by pricing out a clutch so I manage the inevitable risk that I prematurely wear out my clutch. Managing risk is key to building confidence.

Social media is the same. Many people ask me “how do I […], how should I […], tell me about […],” and my answers are usually subjective based on their audience, purpose and their motive. There are no “universal” rules that apply to social media.  I generally arrive at the same conclusion in my answers: listen to your audience, be creative and care. It’s actually pretty difficult to screw up at social media, unless you try to. After all, you don’t start your car in sixth; you don’t start out being the best either in social media.

Driving a stick is no different. You’ll see me probably jerk the car, race the engine, chirp the tires for a while. But you’ll also witness me listening to the car for feedback, adjusting accordingly, smoothing out my shifts and caring about the car. Failure isn’t an issue when you’re taking action to overcome it.

The similarities are too clear and vivid to ignore. Have patience, listen and don’t be an idiot. You will screw up — not once, not twice, but many times. It’s what you do afterward that counts. Once you get the basics down, everything is much easier, enjoyable and you’ll feel more confident about it.

I love my car, I love learning my car and soon my car will love me. Businesses can have the same feeling with social media if they have the right attitude going into it. The best part is, once you become skilled at it, the benefits reciprocate and everyone’s having a great time.

I’d love your feedback or if you liked this, comment or share it by clicking on the bar on the top.

*Pictures coming soon…

Image credit: rmgimages

  • Katie Little

    Very interesting. I didn’t learn on a stick, more an automatic car though I did have a small experience in England with an automatic. Its different experience.

    I totally understand how you can compare stick shifts with social media. I agree its something you need to try and conquer. Obviously you won’t get it right immediately but you need patience and to stay focus.

    Great article Joe! I didn’t know you owned a Camaro. Quite impressive. Maybe you should do a roadtrip just like Jeff Pulver did (look on his website) #140conf

    just sayin

    • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

      Thanks for commenting, Katie. I also learned on an automatic growing up. It’s weird having to re-learn driving all over again with the stick. It also trains you to look several more seconds ahead down the road and be more strategic in driving.

      These next couple months are fairly booked for me so I don’t foresee any long road trips. Though, sometime this year I want to go.

      Glad you liked the post!

  • Katie Little

    Very interesting. I didn't learn on a stick, more an automatic car though I did have a small experience in England with an automatic. Its different experience.

    I totally understand how you can compare stick shifts with social media. I agree its something you need to try and conquer. Obviously you won't get it right immediately but you need patience and to stay focus.

    Great article Joe! I didn't know you owned a Camaro. Quite impressive. Maybe you should do a roadtrip just like Jeff Pulver did (look on his website) #140conf

    just sayin

    • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

      Thanks for commenting, Katie. I also learned on an automatic growing up. It's weird having to re-learn driving all over again with the stick. It also trains you to look several more seconds ahead down the road and be more strategic in driving.

      These next couple months are fairly booked for me so I don't foresee any long road trips. Though, sometime this year I want to go.

      Glad you liked the post!

  • http://lowtechtimes.com S.P. Gass

    Interesting analogy… A bit challenging to learn… especially starting on hills, but it’s definitely a good skill to learn. I think they’re better to have in snow to give you more control starting out… also, in Europe most rental cars are still stick-shift. I like driving stick, although with stop-and-go DC area traffic I can see the benefit of automatic transmissions…

    • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

      Yeah, no chance of snow here in Phoenix. Though, torrential rain and floods are on my mind, I just drive slower in the rain. Last weekend, there were 71 collisions in a 30-minute period along I-10 in Phoenix. It’s best to stay off the road here when it rains.

      I have to admit, when I have a bunch of red lights to get through, a stick isn’t very desirable, but on the highway it is. I don’t plan on renting a car in Europe as I tend to dislike their cars (except the Italian variety); but if I do, I’m glad I have the skills for it.

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it. :-)

      ~joe

  • http://lowtechtimes.com S.P. Gass

    Interesting analogy… A bit challenging to learn… especially starting on hills, but it's definitely a good skill to learn. I think they're better to have in snow to give you more control starting out… also, in Europe most rental cars are still stick-shift. I like driving stick, although with stop-and-go DC area traffic I can see the benefit of automatic transmissions…

    • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

      Yeah, no chance of snow here in Phoenix. Though, torrential rain and floods are on my mind, I just drive slower in the rain. Last weekend, there were 71 collisions in a 30-minute period along I-10 in Phoenix. It's best to stay off the road here when it rains.

      I have to admit, when I have a bunch of red lights to get through, a stick isn't very desirable, but on the highway it is. I don't plan on renting a car in Europe as I tend to dislike their cars (except the Italian variety); but if I do, I'm glad I have the skills for it.

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it. :-)

      ~joe

  • Grace Carmona

    Hey Joe!!

    Of COURSE you should be driving a stick! Particularly if you have always wanted this car.

    When I got my learner’s permit at age 15 1/2, my parents had one car….a 1968 Volvo station wagon with standard transmission. (this was in 1975, so the car wasn’t very old back then)

    Eager to drive, I read every driving book I could get my hands on (what a geek!) and when I took Driver’s Ed, I learned on an automatic, cuz that’s what they use to train kids. After four hours of Driver’s Ed experience, it was time to learn the stick. It took me a couple of hours to get used to it, but I never had a problem at all.

    When I finally bought my dream car in 1987, it was a red Toyota Celica GTS 5 speed. I LOVED it! There is nothing like the feeling of “being one with your car” when it’s the car you really love. Driving a stick makes you feel much more connected to your vehicle.

    When my sister-in-law learned to drive a few years ago, I encouraged her to go with the stick, and she really loves it. (My husband still can’t drive one. Haha.)

    Photos??? Where are they?

    P.S. Don’t go over 95 in a 55 zone…..I’m just saying….

  • Grace Carmona

    Hey Joe!!

    Of COURSE you should be driving a stick! Particularly if you have always wanted this car.

    When I got my learner’s permit at age 15 1/2, my parents had one car….a 1968 Volvo station wagon with standard transmission. (this was in 1975, so the car wasn’t very old back then)

    Eager to drive, I read every driving book I could get my hands on (what a geek!) and when I took Driver’s Ed, I learned on an automatic, cuz that’s what they use to train kids. After four hours of Driver’s Ed experience, it was time to learn the stick. It took me a couple of hours to get used to it, but I never had a problem at all.

    When I finally bought my dream car in 1987, it was a red Toyota Celica GTS 5 speed. I LOVED it! There is nothing like the feeling of “being one with your car” when it’s the car you really love. Driving a stick makes you feel much more connected to your vehicle.

    When my sister-in-law learned to drive a few years ago, I encouraged her to go with the stick, and she really loves it. (My husband still can’t drive one. Haha.)

    Photos??? Where are they?

    P.S. Don’t go over 95 in a 55 zone…..I’m just saying….

  • http://www.rayskillmanautomall.com/page/parts_department/en/ Leisa Dreps

    Hello Joe! Oh you know, some folks say that you cannot be really considered a good driver when you don’t know how to drive a stick. We always have to learn the basics, anyway. They say when you drive a stick, you need to have a great sense of control; and courage is one of the major keys. It’s kinda nerve-wracking the first time you do it.

    I give you ten points for your nice analogy. :)

  • http://www.rayskillmanautomall.com/page/parts_department/en/ Leisa Dreps

    Hello Joe! Oh you know, some folks say that you cannot be really considered a good driver when you don’t know how to drive a stick. We always have to learn the basics, anyway. They say when you drive a stick, you need to have a great sense of control; and courage is one of the major keys. It’s kinda nerve-wracking the first time you do it.

    I give you ten points for your nice analogy. :)