Call me "Captain Obvious" for this one, but at a recent social media event it became clear to me that all of these social media platforms enhance real world connections. I have made personal and professional connections that are stronger and more valuable to me as a result of interaction with social networks. I will still continue to scrutinize who I connect to on each platform, but some recent examples of this:
- Last week I set my Facebook status to indicate I'd be in New York City for a couple of days. A few minutes later I received an invite from a couple of old friends I hadn't seen in more than ten years to join them for a reunion already planned that Wednesday night. It was a blast, I have Facebook to thank - both for the reconnection to old friends and the facilitation of the interaction. My college-aged cousins will laugh at this since they use Facebook like this all the time, many to actually coordinate most of their social lives.
- Also last week at the Social Media Camp Boston event, Zach, Kate, Dmitri and I all marveled at how social media tools like Twitter helped make it easier to network, meet and share ideas - especially at social media events. Connecting online seems to reduce the barrier to entry and networking at events like that. Social media also helps afterwards - my usual routine is to connect via Facebook or Linkedin to folks I meet at events, look to keep in touch, and perhaps down the road look for how we can be helpful to each other. There is even a social media fundraiser in the works.
- I've posted about the Twitter-to-real-life phenomenon before, but it seems to be happening more often. I'm now connected to clients, business partners, co-workers and other industry folks on Twitter. Months ago I struggled to find people I actually knew in person on Twitter, these days I have a network of professional contacts who I now now in person and can connect with in another way. Last week I had lunch with Warren Sukernek (@warrenss on Twitter), who I had previously only met on Twitter - he was in the Boston area on vacation and agreed to meet. Turns out we have a similar background in interactive marketing and roots in Metrowest Boston.
If it doesn't enhance a real world relationship in some way, isn't it just spam? Okay, many folks build businesses exclusively through their online networks but for the majority of the folks using social media tools, would the tools be as popular if some sense of value wasn't being realized? Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the value these tools are providing and get caught up in the buzz. How has social media benefited you recently, and what advice would you recommend to others?
For reference on the growth of social media, Len Devanna recently shared this presentation from Universal Mccann on how popular things are getting.