Social media, its magic, and how I use it

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It often strikes me how different the business environment is today than it was when I graduated from college. The summer after I received my degree, the first personal computers were sold. They changed everything, of course, and continue to do so. With every change, there come growing pains. While the computers made it easier to handle routine administration, they also had an isolating effect on people. Where we used to find out what was going on in the neighborhood by talking to the neighbors, we got used to not knowing what was going on at all, because we were spending more and more time on the computer. We were becoming slaves to our tools.

Humans, however, have a basic need to connect with each other, and there has been a steady progression in cyberspace toward achieving that. In the last couple of years, there has been a virtual explosion in the growth of websites designed to keep us in touch with each other. That, of course, presents its own challenges. Where should I “be” out there so that I can find my friends and be found? As in any industry, players come and go. Some dominate and others struggle to hold on. After a few years, each seems to develop its own niche, however large or small it might be. As these “social media” sites take hold, the traditional website gets pushed more and more to the sidelines. It is no longer enough to simply have an online calling card and document repository; we need to be able to connect with our friends and clients in real time, and across multiple platforms.

Lately, I have been in several discussions about how, when, and why to use the various sites out there. It’s going to be different for everyone out there, but I’m finding facebook, twitter, this blog and my website to be the most helpful. I’m also establishing a presence on linked-in, but that is coming a little more slowly. Through the magic that is the internet, all of these are linked together.

My website was my first entry into the internet experience. I’ve had it for years. It is a good place to store information that clients or potential clients can help themselves to. I was always looking for a way to make the website more interactive, so I added an instant-messaging feature long before real-time interaction became the norm on the internet. As it stands right now, the site needs some revamping; it has been mostly ignored while my license was inactive. Keep checking back and see the improvements as they are made. As in the past, it will be mostly used for storing documents and reports and providing a way for users to search the active listings in the Denver area.

Facebook, because it is “right now” is where I will be maintaining on-going interaction with friends and clients. I maintain a profile, which is mostly used for the “personal” side of my life, and also a business page. By doing this, I don’t have to intrude on personal relationships by constantly dropping business information into the conversation. You can see what is happening on my business page by checking out the status box in the right hand column of this blog. Feel free to “like” the page and get updates right into your own facebook newsfeed. If you’d like, you can also send a friend request to my profile.

There seems to be a lot of resistance to twitter. Many people don’t feel comfortable using it, feeling that they are required to share every little mundane fact about their existence, which they are loathe to do. Others consider it to be an arena for the self-absorbed. I have found that the value of twitter is in people, both those I follow, and those who follow me. The folks I follow are sometimes sources of insight or inspiration, and are sometimes like unpaid research assistants scurrying about the internet and popping in now and again with interesting tidbits that I would never have time to find myself. When something really interesting or appropriate turns up, I can retweet it to those who follow me. Similar to facebook, I have a “personal” twitter account and a “business” account. (Right now, just about everything is in the personal account, and I am just starting to build up the business account, but that is the direction I am going. There’s never enough time.) If I retweet to my business account, my facebook business page and my linked-in profile are automatically updated. See? Magic!

If you go check out the status updates on my facebook business page, you can see that I am having some difficulty getting these blog posts to show up automatically. Sometimes the magic is a bit spotty. There is always something to be made better and more efficient, or to just plain figure out, and it unfortunately takes time to get everything right and going in the proper direction. As in any worthwhile endeavor, though, there is no time to lose.

The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, “In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!” — John F. Kennedy

The key is starting
No surprises

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