I am not sure if I am an early or late adopter of social media, but one thing that I am certain of is the POWER of social media. I joined Facebook in 2006, mostly to keep track of what my two sons were doing in that space. I have been in the IT industry for over 28 years and I wanted them to embrace technology, not be afraid of it.
It wasn’t until I joined Twitter in early 2009 that I understood the power of the human network. I have this basic theory that for the most part people want to be involved in a community. People live in cities with other like-minded people, they join clubs, have friends, go to work and have families. When I joined Twitter, I discovered a whole new world, a whole new global community filled with like-minded people.
I have to admit, at first Twitter was difficult, a friend and colleague from Johannesburg, South Africa, @RoyBlumenthal gave me some great early advice, IMMERSE yourself. Decide that there are ten or so people that you will follow, read their every tweet, understand who they are and what they are thinking, do that for a month and you will get Twitter. I took Roy’s advice and I have never looked back. In the grand scheme of things I don’t have many followers, however in my mind it is not the number of followers that matters, it is the quality of the people. The people I follow and the people that follow me are a choice. That is the great thing about Twitter, and other social media tools, it is an opt-in or opt-out world.
Since immersing myself in social media I have ventured far beyond the worlds of Facebook and Twitter. I also use LinkedIn, Foursquare, Empire Avenue, Google+, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, Paperli and Tripit. I use these platforms for many different purposes and with some automation. When I update my Twitter, that also sends updates to my LinkedIn and Facebook. When I use Foursquare which is a location based social media, it updates my Twitter, which then also updates LinkedIn and Facebook. To see all of my social media platforms you can link to them on my webpage.
So many people I talk to feel that they don’t have time to spend on all these social media platforms, I encourage them to consider that it is not about time, it is about priorities. People who choose to make social media a priority are people who are building and growing relationships, often around the world. Social media has no boundary and does not recognize time zones or social economic classes. The power of social media removes barriers and creates new connections. All one has to do is look at the results of social media on the Arab Spring of 2011 or the OCCUPY movement, all powered by people with social media.
For an individual, social media is an incredible tool. For organizations, it it’s even more powerful. Organizations that have matured in their use of social media have moved beyond seeing it as just another channel, or a way to reach they youth, they are engaging with customers, citizens, employees and partners. I recently blogged about the Fairmont Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia who in my mind are masters at leveraging social media for customer service. Check out the blog post here.
I have had the honour of speaking to audiences around the world on the power of social media in a presentation I call “Ten Social Media Imperatives”.
One thing I encourage everyone to do is to join a social media network. In doing so, you are choosing to be part of the conversation and part of a community. Social media enters you into a power world-wide, barrier-free conversation.