Saturday, 19 March 2011

Social Media - Give it a job to do and you might just get the point.

I'll be the first to admit that it took me a while to "get" Twitter. I'm afraid I was in the camp that couldn't see any value in short, 140 character status updates and I still speak to a lot of otherwise internet minded people who don't get it either. As far as I am concerned Twitter and other forms of social media only really come into there own when you link them into a definite purpose. It's true no one is really interested in what you are having for dinner or what supermarket you happen to be shopping in, so updating for the sake of updating is pretty pointless, (although I have been guilty of it myself). 

The true value of Twitter comes once you understand that it is simply another form of extremely rapid communication. Give yourself a purpose whilst using it and you will begin to understand the power you have at your fingertips. Let me give you an example. I am planning to write my dissertation next year on the employment law issues raised by the rapidly increasing use of social media in the workplace. To this end I recently tweeted a request for Twegals (legals who tweet), to point me in the direction of useful articles on the subject. The volume of material that I was able to find in an extremely short space of time was startling. As was the willingness of people to help. Within a day I had over 20 useful articles written by law firms and HR professionals from the UK, Europe and the US. I also repeated my request through LinkedIn and received a similar response. In fact I posted my request over 2 weeks ago and the articles are still flowing into my inbox. This instant connection with professionals in your chosen field is both unprecedented and incredibly empowering. So the next time someone says to you that they don't understand the point of social media ask them to try carrying out a specific task using it, they might just "get it" if they do.

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