4 Great Things About Social Media

Lets have a social media party!

Let's have a social media party!

Social media isn’t a trend.  Or a fad.

Despite some in the mainstream media exploring if Twitter is a flash in the pan (it isn’t).  But it really doesn’t matter.  Even if Twitter vanished overnight, it wouldn’t matter for the overall movement to social media.

One brand – or platform – is hardly important in the grand scheme of communicating via the web.  Companies and platforms are going come and go – just like during the dot-com boom.  The specific brands didn’t matter then and don’t really matter now.

No one would argue anymore that shopping on the web is a fad (although many did at the dawn of the dot-com era).  So why would we think that communicating on the web was a trend?

There’s simply too many platforms – blogs, micro-blogging, social networking, social aggregators, forums, etc. – for social media to go away.  And there are too many real, tangible benefits.

Last week I wrote “4 Bad Things About Social Media,” so I thought I’d balance it out.  Here is a list of four great things about social media for individuals – not companies or organizations.

Building a powerful personal network

If you are in business – of any kind – building a professional network on LinkedIn , Plaxo, Ziggs, and Ryze (and others) is crucial these days.  It allows you to connect with co-workers, former colleagues, competitors, partners, clients, and customers in much more powerful platform than the old-fashioned rolodex.  Professional networking keeps you up-to-date on the movements within your network, alerts you to new job opportunities or to the possibliity of new business and partnerships.  It also allows you to keep tabs on trends and what topics are bubbling to the surface in your industry.  For example, I keep close tabs on the subjects being asked about LinkedIn’s question section.  What better way for me to know what’s on the minds of PR and social media professionals?

Being introduced to new ideas

One of the best things about blogging is having to articulate your opinion or view point on different issues.  It forces you to explore why you have come to the conclusions you have.  And even better?  Once you write a blog post on a topic, you can be sure to be challenged by someone about your view.  And reading contrary opinons and being introduced to new ways of looking at ideas can shift your thinking.  Some people mistakenly call this “flip-flopping.”  I call it learning.  I have learned so much blogging – and now I’m learning a lot from Twitter.  These are amazing tools for expanding your frame of reference.

Tracking trends and news

When news happens in my industry – I get it from so many sources: RSS, Twitter, Google Alerts, Facebook updates, etc.  Not only can I read the latest news – but I can see what kind of impact the news is having by how many people in my network are talking about it.  Important trends tend to bubble to the top.  And even better?  I can participate in the discussions  with people from all over my industry – and from all over the world.

Being connected with friends and family

I have friends and family from all across the United States and the world.  It’s difficult to keep in touch with all of them as often as I’d like.  But personal networking sites like Facebook and MySpace make it easy to keep up-to-date with what they are doing.  I can see pictures of their children or snapshots of their recent vacation.  I can leave behind a quick hello or IM them using the Facebook application when I see they are on the network.  We can share jokes and ancedotes about our lives.  Lots of people feel uncomfortable about this access, but I find it valuable.  And you are in control of the information you leave behind. I have found that social networking sites like Facebook have helped me strengthen friendships in the real world.  And that, after all, is the real benefit of being connected with others.

3 Responses to “4 Great Things About Social Media”

  1. I’d agree social media is a critical weapon in your arsenal. However, I would also advocate it being of huge benefit to a corporation. Mainly because it lets consumers see behind the curtain.

    Social media is all about reducing the barriers for communication between different groups of people. Technically you can turn a large corporation into a start up type environment by providing social tools. Or you can show the personalities behind your brand. Being human is cool again. Embrace it :).

  2. Hi Stuart:
    Oh, there is no doubt that social media is a boon to corporations. I’ve written extensively about that. This list, however, was for individuals.


  1. How Social Media Has Made Me A Smarter Person « Courtney Leann Smith - April 22, 2009

    […] stumbled into the blog Hightalk by George Snell. His post 4 Great Things About Social Media explains the exact reasons why I’m spending so much time in front of my […]

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