Social media is becoming completely integrated in our lives. It has altered the way we communicate as human beings and changed the way we do business. It has flattened corporate hierarchies and tightened our relationships. Of course, traditional ways of networking and messaging still hold true, such as text messaging, email, phone calls and in-person “meetups” (tweetups in the social media world). The greatest part about this technological alteration is that you get to choose which social networks you want to participate in, how much time you spend per week engaging with others and what your career aspirations are (and how these tools can get you from point A to B). The decision is yours and the power is in your hands. From a business standpoint, social media tools are free advertising and allow you to target and measure the impact of marketing programs. From the individual perspective, these tools can literally regulate your day-to-day operations and routines.
What social media tools are there?
There is a social media tool to satisfy every type of person. Of course, there are the industry titans such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and YouTube. There are others that are still commonly used and well-known, such as Delicious, Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit, and Flickr. These tools can help you regulate your life if they are paired together. For instance, I use Google reader in combination with Delicious to sort through articles and save my favorite ones. From there, I can link to those saved articles on my blog or push them out through Twitter.
Our habits have changed because of the social revolution/evolution. I bet you wake up each morning and check your RSS feeds instead of navigating through the WSJ or Us Weekly. What’s the point of going to all these sites, when the information can travel right to your “doorstep.” In some ways, social media has made us lazier, yet it has made us more productive simultaneously. If you have a question you want answered, all it takes it one tweet. Twitter has become the ultimate customer service machine (ask Comcast or GoDaddy).
Need to book a flight, peruse reviews of destinations and mingle with fellow travelers, then join travbuddy.com. Do you go to Church? Yes, there’s even a social network for people who go to Church. For all you knitters and crocheters out there, there is a social network for you at ravelry.com. You can manage and live your entire life online now with all of these tools. Of course, I would recommend that you get out there and meet people because reality always trumps virtual reality.
What the experts are saying
After speaking to a diverse group of social media experts, I’ve come to a few major conclusions. The first is that social media has enabled us to connect to many people across the world, without much effort. Without that level of connectivity, it’s harder to make new friends and keep in touch with previous acquaintances.
Also, the feelings and emotions that these bloggers get from participating in social media keeps them active. When you take away these social tools, it hurts productivity and it simply makes life a lot more dull. Your life is made up of relationships that you grow like plants and when they blossom, new opportunities surface. Social media tools create an environment where you can develop more relationships, with people who have common interests. If you don’t believe me, then here’s what the experts say:
“A social media free Web would be quieter and less fun – more about finding information than it would be about gaining and nurturing relationships, forcing us to find digital connections, instead of personal connections, to achieve our goal.”
- Louis Gray, blogger, LouisGray.com
“Without the help of social media I would probably not have connected with so many people or gotten a whiff of so many exciting ideas and opportunities.”
- Henrik Edberg, blogger, Positivity Blog
“I would be 20% more productive but have 20% less friends!”
- Albert Foong, blogger, UrbanMonk.net
“Instead of fun-filled moments connecting with friends, downtime would be sadly predictable and stunningly boring.”
- David Meerman Scott, author of World Wide Rave
“Without social media tools, I would be doing one of two things: A) sitting at my desk, listening to crickets chirp, waiting for my phone to ring or B) watching my small children cry after me as I headed to the airport once again, to do face-to-face consulting.”
- Pamela Slim business coach and author of Escape from Cubicle Nation
“Without social media tools, I’d feel like the anchor on local TV news, simply broadcasting the news rather than interacting and building community around it.”
“Without social media I’d have a less geographically diverse group of friends, but also a tighter circle of really good friends locally.”
- Ryan Paugh, cofounder, BrazenCareerist.com
Now it’s your turn!
You’ve heard from me and some well-known social media experts. It’s your turn to think hard about what social media tools have done for you. How might life be different right now without them? Could you live without your Facebook profile and friends? What would you resort to? Would you be sending more emails or calling your friends more? Remember that you can always unplug…