“The term Social Media describes tools, websites and software that allows people to connect and share…. Social Media Marketing is all about gaining that Social Media exposure in a tactical way, all why carefully avoiding getting blocked or banned.” Chris Garrett
What does Social Media mean to you? It seems like only yesterday when a colleague at a marketing firm invited me to join an online business group – LinkedIn. At the time, I believe this was in 2004 or so, I didn’t know what to make of it. I wasn’t particularly interested in posting my personal business contact information online but, with some nudging and the reminder that it was for professional networking, I relented. It took me another year or two to revisit the site and start taking my involvement a tad more seriously. It was through my joining LinkedIn that I got to know about WordPress and started my very first blog here.
Slowly but surely, other friends invited me to join other sites and before I knew it, I was linkedIn, twitter’d, facebook’d, ning’d, myspace’d, flickr’d and networked all over town. I believe 2009 was my year of the network marathon; I ran or, perhaps, galloped is a better visual … to join many sites. To date, I’ve joined all the popular social network sites and probably many more that aren’t as popular. The majority of sites I joined were for creative pursuits; writing, photography, music and conversations on blogging and more. It has been both exhilarating and exhausting; as much effort is needed to create and maintain viable friendships online.
How has the journey been? I remember the day I decided to discard my assumed name on Facebook and just be me. Within 24 hours, I connected with several friends from my high school days and even found a long lost childhood friend. When I joined Twitter, even though I had reservations about my initial foray there, I met new groups of people from all walks of life who became friends; with a 140 character tweet, I/we get to chat with some pretty amazing, powerful, entertaining tweeps or tweeple.
Sure, digital stalkers on Twitter were periodically blocked for “strange behavior or activity,”however, the majority are hardworking, focused people who use the medium to share valuable, hot topic, life enriching/life saving information. Businesses continue to use it as way to connect directly to consumers. Every social network site I joined tried to offer something unique to make visiting an enjoyable event. I even took several fantastic workshops and webinars on making the social media experience productive and positive… It has been quite the journey.
While much has been said about Social Media and its deeper social-cultural implications on how we communicate, I blogged on it here, one thing I know for sure is that it opens the door for us to truly experience that six-degrees-of-separation phenomena. Social networks truly embody the idea of communicating in a global village and the village continues to grow; both organically and through innovative communities. In my 2-3 short years of becoming actively engaged in connecting and conversing in communities on the internet, I have met people from every possible country in the world. The connections have not necessarily been with people exactly like me, homogeneity has its place, but rather the door widened to bring in folk of all ilk … I like that!
At some point in my journey, I would probably say last fall, I realized that instead of joining more and more networks; believe me there are new ones created daily, I would be better off focusing my energy on maximizing my relationships on fewer sites and building friendships that were mutually beneficial. In the long run, building mutually beneficial, respectful connections help us learn and grow. I joined the Post A Day 2011 challenge on WordPress because I enjoy blogging and also because I recognize how valuable it is to connect with other bloggers in such a focused, albeit incredibly challenging, way.
Which do you keep and which to leave behind? While this is an important question, I haven’t made any decisions. Why? I don’t know yet, but I do know that the journey has been a positive one and I appreciate all the people and connections I have made to date. Recently, a friend invited me to join Quora and I’m still thinking about it… Has social media changed you? I don’t think it has changed me per se, however, it has enriched my online experience and provided many opportunities for me to share ideas and exchange information with people around the world. It has exposed me to many brilliant, funny, kind, insightful, talented, and, in some instances, truly crazy folk.
Every day, I learn something new from my interactions and get a chance to connect, even briefly, with another soul. For that, I am grateful and I have no regrets. What has your social media/network journey been like so far? Are you totally plugged in and need to pull some plugs out? Do share! This post is partly in response to a prompt from Mamakat’s Writer’s Workshop: How has social media changed you?
Positive Motivation Tip: The journey from an online connection to an offline friendship is becoming ubiquitous. Cherish your connections.
- Sorry, but Social Media is Not Like an Old Friend (bruceclay.com)
- 29 of your top social media questions answered on Quora (socialwayne.com)
- Lost in Social Media: Finding Our Way #lostinsm (blogs.cisco.com)
- Five Social Media Tips for Job-Seekers (dailyfinance.com)
- How to Use Social Media Intel to Prep for a Sales Call (hubspot.com)