Social Media, Are You In, or Out?

For the past 10 years I spent time defining, developing and deploying collaboration and community of practice strategies and technologies (known as knowledge management) that would allow large groups of people with similiar ‘likings’ to come together and share information, knowledge, best practices and lessons learned. The value was to establish communities that would be willing to share information that someone can reuse and replicate; or simply consume.

As a result, I was on top of the tools and technology trends that were supporting those requiremnets. Or so I thought.

In the last 12 months alone (more like only 9), mostly due to the historical presidential election, there has been such an explosion of tools and technology for what is now broadly called ’social media’ that even I am overwhelmed by the technologies available for everything from socializing, networking, collaboration, generating business, public relations, marketing, and more.

So what is ’social media’? Well, you most likely have been using it, but here are the definitions of Social media available on the Web:

  • Social media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words …
  • A category of sites that is based on user participation and user-generated content. They include social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, social bookmarking sites like, social news sites like Digg or Reddit, and other sites that are centered on user interaction.
  • The term social media describes media that is posed by the user and can take many different forms. Some types of social media are forums, message boards, blogs, wikis and podcasts.
  • Social media applications include Google, Facebook and YouTube.
  • Software tools that allow groups to generate content and engage in peer-to-peer conversations and exchange of content (examples are YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, MySpace etc)

I am not here to debate the right or wrong definition of social media, there was plenty of that done at the Atlanta SoCon 09 conference that went on last night and today. If there was one thing that I did take away from the conference is that businesses of all sizes need to be aware and get on board with this ’social media’ frenzy, as it is not going away. Though it will transform from what it is today. At least I hope so, as even the brightest of folks attending the conference found it difficult to grasp how to manage and leverage it for their own needs.

So what can you do? If you are using facebook, linked in, myspace, etc., know that you are already engaging in social media.

Know that in most cases the full potential of how it can be used for your business; generating leads, marketing, public relations, community development, research and development, and many other functions, is relatively untapped.

Begin to create your own business social media map that would lay out how you want to communicate, engage, and gather information from your network and what tools and technologies (when, where, and how) the can be leveraged.

Then finally, start slow and evolve. Remember social media is here to stay, so it will be here tomorrow when you are organized, planned, and ready to use it effectively.

Good luck….

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