This week, September 19-23, is Social Media Week 2011! Social Media Week (SMW) is a global platform that connects people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media. This weeks events are taking place in 11 cities spanning across 10 different countries! That is pretty amazing. But what makes Social Media so special is that even those who don’t live in one of the cities where events are taking place, or can’t get away from the office to attend an event, can still get in on all the action! By following one of the designated Twitter hashtags, or watching live streaming events, you can literally stay up to date with everything taking place (maybe even more so than attending in person!). As I sit here and think about how awesome technology is, and all the great things that have happened to me as a direct result of social media, I wonder why so many people are still so hesitant to give it a try. So for those people, I decided to put a little list together of why I love social media. Hopefully it will give them a little something to think about.
Connecting: This is by far my favorite part of social media. Life is all about connections. The people we meet, and the relationships we build, are the foundations for the memories we carry with us. Social media gives us the ability to connect with like-minded people (and not so like-minded people) that we would most likely never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. And contrary to the popular belief that social media actually makes us less social in “the real world” (I hate when people say that by the way. Isn’t everything we do online still “real”?), these online relationships can easily be converted to offline relationships as well. In fact, that is when they are the most satisfying. I have a ton of relationships, both business and personal, with people who started off as online acquaintances, and grew into much more. The opportunities are endless. Conversations are taking place all the time. All you have to do is find them, be open to new people and new experiences, and join in on the fun!
Real-time Access: Social media gives you access to all kinds of wonderful information in real time! Personally, I used to always be one of the last people to know when something went down. I don’t watch the news very often, I don’t read the paper first thing in the morning, and the only way I would find most stuff out is either if someone asked me if I heard the news and then I researched it myself, or if I overheard someone talking about it. Not anymore! Now, with Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc, barely anything gets by me. And I love it!
Levels the playing field: A lot of the reasons I love social media have to do with things that affect my personal life. But I also really love social media for business. And one of the best things I can think of about social media for business is that it levels the playing field for small business owners. You don’t have to be a huge corporation with unlimited marketing funds to run a successful social media campaign. All you need is a little creativity, time, and the willingness to sincerely engage and provide value to your customers. In fact, I truly believe that social media is better suited to small businesses, because it is all about customer service and connecting and building relationships. Which is exactly what makes small businesses stand apart from the “big chains” in the first place. As a small business owner myself, I know that without social media, my company would not be where it is today. Now don’t get me wrong. Social media isn’t some magic bullet that will automatically increase your sales just by creating a Facebook page. Or sending out a few tweets. You still have to put a lot of time, effort, and hard work into it. But the point is, you have access to it. The same access that the large brands and corporations have. And that is a pretty amazing thing!
These are just a few of the things a really love about social media. How about you? What do you love about it? Or if you are hesitant to give it a try, how come?