Time to be social?

I have always taken a “wait and see” approach to any type of technology while always learning everything I can about the value some new thing has. I have never liked product, company, or technology promises that don’t deliver.  Driven by curiosity, I like to understand a product completely – to take it apart, put it through its paces, and explore its features in-depth (my parents really enjoyed this when I was young).

Web sites have been around for a while now – most business people understand that there is a reason to have one, but there is still much debate about when (yes, really) to do it and what it would do for them.  Believe it or not, it seems like we are at a point where the web site will no longer be the focal point on the Internet for a business.  While some folks are still renewing their Yellow Page ad’s and supporting their local newspapers (I don’t see newspapers surviving much longer), we may already be at a point where a company’s web site has moved to the backseat – and “social media” has become the driving force for a businesses public presence.

I seek out the VALUE of any given tool.  When color monitors came out my comment was “yea, that’s really cool, but what good is it; what can it do for me?”  What I wanted to understand was – what could a color monitor allow me to do that a green or amber screen couldn’t.  At the time – not much.  It took several years before the software developers caught up with the hardware.  When they finally did, color enabled something to be done in a significantly better way.  Then having a color monitor could be justified – then it had VALUE.

So, here we are in last quarter of 2009.  People have been texting, my spacing, face booking, blogging, linking-in, and tweeting for some time now.  Is it all a bunch of hooey?  Where’s the value?  My answer to these questions may not be obvious, but if you’re reading this, you may have an idea of where I’m going.  Read on.

I always like to “eat what I cook”.  When it comes to technology, “I am my own guinea pig”.  So I’ve been watching and listening to all the clatter about these things and working to find the value.  It seems to me that we’ve finally reached critical mass.  Now is the time to get involved with what is loosely being called “social media” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media).  Here’s where I saddle up and put on my guinea pig costume.  I have bought books, read on-line, and met with marketing and social media experts to discuss these topics.  There is a whole bunch of noise out there right now.  Much is in flux.  It is unclear which or what will survive the current smattering of tools in this arena, but one thing is becoming clear – I believe that from now forward, anyone in business better start spending some time getting up to speed on social media, at least to the point they are using the current basic tools.

Stay tuned.  I’ve jumped into the deep end and I haven’t resurfaced yet.  Hopefully I’ll be able to catch my breath soon and begin the process of documenting what I’m going through.  It will probably involve some pain and some parts won’t be all fun… but I’m getting the feeling that doing this now may be timed about right.

I’m certainly not the first to discover “social media”  and I’m sure nowhere near the last.  Others have been on the bleeding edge for a long time now.  Maybe you don’t know what all this stuff is about either and feel very lost just reading this article.  I hope to tackle this subject from many angles as I try to implement them in my business.  Please join me as I try to figure out what value this latest technological craze has and how to use it to make business work better.

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