If you’re still looking for the best ways to explain to senior management or your team or your coworkers or your spouse what it is that social media does, why it’s different than the old way people used to use computers and the web, why people are giving two hoots about it, here are some thoughts to start out the conversation. I look at this mostly from a business perspective, but I suspect you’ll find these apply to nonprofits and other organizations as well. Further, as I’m fond of saying, social media isn’t relegated to the marketing and PR teams. It’s a bunch of tools that can be used throughout businesses, in different forms. Think on this.
What Social Media Does Best
- Blogs allow chronological organization of thoughts, status, ideas. This means more permanence than emails.
- Podcasts (video and audio) encourage different types of learning, and in portable formats.
- Social networks encourage collaboration, can replace intranets and corporate directories, and can promote non-email conversation channels.
- Social networks can amass like-minded people around shared interests with little external force, no organizational center, and a group sense of what is important and what comes next.
- Social bookmarking means that entire groups can learn of new articles, tools, and other Web properties, instead of leaving them all on one machine, one browser, for one human.
- Blogs and wikis encourage conversations, sharing, creation.
- Social software, like Flickr and Last.fm and even Amazon.com, promote human-mediated information sharing. Similar mechanisms inside of larger organizations would be just as effective.
- Social news sites show the popularity of certain information, at least within certain demographics. Would roll-your-own voting within the company be useful?
- Social networks are full of prospecting and lead generation information for sales and marketing.
- Social networks make for great ways to understand the mindset of the online consumer, should that be of value to you.
- Online versions of your materials and media, especially in formats that let you share, mean that you’re equipping others to run with your message, should that be important (like if you’re a marketer).
- Online versions of your materials and media are searchable, and help Google help you find new visitors / customers / employees.
- Social networks contain lots of information about your prospective new hires, your customers, your competitors.
- Blogs allow you to speak your mind, and let the rest of the world know your thought processes and mindsets.
- Podcasts are a way to build intimacy with information.
- Podcasts reach people who are trying out new gadgets, like iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Zunes, and more.
- Tagging and sharing and all the other activities common on the social Web mean that information gets passed around much faster.
- Human aggregation and mediation improves the quality of data you find, and gives you more “exactly what I was looking for” help. (See also, Mahalo).
- Innovation works much faster in a social software environment, open source or otherwise.
- Conversations spread around, adding metadata and further potential business value.
- People feel heard.
And that’s a great place to ask you what I’ve missed. What else does social media do best, in your estimation?
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.
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Photo credit, Boston Public Library
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