There are many things I love about social media and social networking. Simply being connected to people I know, admire, or can learn from is a good thing. But it’s also more than that. Through online networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning, Facebook, and others, I am continually developing strong relationships and allegiances with people, personally and professionally. My days are filled with sharing information and partaking in conversations with my ever growing network. These quality connections and exchanges allow me to take in new knowledge and enrich my life every day.
While these online conversations can be short and sometimes indirect, they can still produce powerful effects. The constant trading of information can sometimes feel overwhelming, but with smart filtering, the input from others through these channels can be educational and actually increase productivity. Not only that, but the encouragement and support from even mere acquaintances can be inspirational, rewarding, and promising.
Here are just a few prime examples of how I use social media to partake in conversation:
Twitter: I am following various industry professionals and enthusiasts. On a daily basis, I get quick alerts and links to blog posts or other resources of interest. I can respond (by typing “@person”) to start a discussion with the person OR I can share the link instantly with others by re posting. The sharing of information and ability to converse in this fashion is quick, deliberate, and productive.
Facebook: Most Facebook users have a comment “Wall”. I often use it to engage new friends in conversation. Additionally, Facebook also offers an application for topical groups, each of which has a discussion forum. If a group does not exist for a topic you are interested in, you can easily create one and invite people to join. Engaging in conversation with others about the topics that interest me on these groups is often enlightening and I learn valuable information. They can also be used for subtle promotional purposes as well. FYI: LinkedIn and Plaxo also offers topical groups with discussion capabilities.
Ning: Sometimes I think Ning trumps all of the social networking tools. Not only can users join and/or create social networks based on common interests, activities, or even geographic locations, they can also connect to other users across the Ning platform. I belong to approximately twenty (20) Ning-built social networks on a variety of topics. I also have created four (4) Ning communities on interests that I’m passionate about. As a result of these communities, I have met, connected, and conversed with quality individuals I might not otherwise have.
Sure, for the social media savvy person, these are all no brainers. But for the business person who is still asking themselves “What is the value of social media and social networking?” I felt a need to relay my personal experiences and results of using these social web tools. It is becoming increasingly evident that businesses and companies need to not only join these social networking sites for the exposure, but be active participants in conversations and build real relationships with their target market on the major social networking sites.