The Internet is filled with tons of information, powerful tools and ways to further our personal and professional lives. But it is also the gateway to the biggest distraction in the known universe, with anything everything just a search and click away.
Resistance is futile.
I held out longer than most, only actively joining and participating in social networks a year ago. What changed? Business, the economy, everything. One reason I resisted was that social media and networks seemed like part of the blogosphere that left me a little wanting: not enough there there, blogging about blogging to other bloggers, for the sake of blogging.
While recent data suggests that may be the case, I have found so many helpful, insightful blogs that kick my blog’s butt (see Blogroll) and it seems more companies are investing in social media and social networking strategies. With sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter enjoying lots of growth and buzz, social networks are the Wave of the Now.
If you can’t beat ’em…
Joining LinkedIn was an easy choice, and a smart one as it’s increased my search visibility tenfold. If you know my name, you can find me on Google.
I have only dipped a few cautious toes into micro-blogging juggernaut Twitter, the hottest ocean of social media buzz. (Cute freshener courtesy of Graphic Leftovers.)
- Good: it is fast, short and sweet; a tiny URL, ≤ 140 characters. Now that I found the Search tool, it is easy to find anything of interest.
- Bad: it is constant, and not always on point, as some folks tweet all day about…nothing helpful. And now that I found the Search tool, it is too easy to find anything. Thanks a lot, Gary.
- Evil: it can be addictive, distracting with the never-ending stream of tweets, and the pressure to update can be unbearable, lest you let down your faithful followers. Probably why there are so many “at the dentist, DMV, lunch” posts.
Cautionary tale: learn before you leap
I have read etiquette and how-to guides (great info on Mashable) for using these networks, shared a few via Buzz and LinkedIn. There is also too much of a good thing, as I’ve followed then un-followed a few prolific tweeters that tweet off-topic for my interest level. Sure it’ll take me a while to develop my follow and unfollow policy.
It can be easy (and dangerous) to think social networking can take the place of other means of marketing or relationship building. If your business or service or product is not up to snuff, no splashy marketing campaign will help.
Social networking alone will not make or break you, but it can become a powerful instrument in reaching your audience. Even better, social networks can help build relationships, helping you engage your customers and your community, not just talk at them. Or so I’m learning. FWIW.