Five Things I Learned About Social Media in 2009

Recently I asked myself what I learned about social media in 2009. It’s an important question because the media is grown a lot in the last few years. Many have adopted the tools and some have left it behind while others continue to stay away. Still others have made millions.So, here are the top five things I learned about social media in 2009:

1. Social media is not rocket science – With the widespread adoption of social media tools and technologies, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are no longer confusing to people. Everyone from company CEO and  HR managers to vendors and suppliers are using one of these social media tools. Additionally, once you get on these tools you realize it’s really not that hard to figure out. If you can hold a half way decent conversation with a stranger in an elevator you can pretty much use Twitter. There is nothing to it.

Consolidation ot technology is another factor that has taken away the mystique associated with social media. As an example, there used to be a number of competing microblogging websites but now Twitter is the king of the hill.  Plus most people understand that sites now occupy distinct spaces. For instance, MySpace is the domain of artists and musicians, LinkedIn is for business connection and Facebook is the general purpose platform for social networking.

So, combine the ease of use factor with the consolidation factor and you pretty much have a situation where anyone can use social media. It’s not rocket science and anyone that tries to make it look like it is complicated and hard to use is not telling you the full story.

2. Big difference between social media “experts” and social media “practitioners” – Kind of piggy backing on my first point, in 2009 I learned that the people you really need to listen to are not so much “experts”, but “practitioners”. Social media is so darn simple, I really don’t think there is a need for experts. I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for saying this but what expertise do you need to use Twitter? Create account, find followers, start connection. Seriously, what does an expert do to help you make Twitter more effective?

That is why I learned that the people you should pay attention to are not the experts that churn out blog post after blog post on using social media, but those that are using social media to sell a product or service. These are the folks in the trenches that are having an impact. They’re obviously using the tool effectively and making things happen. So, listen to them. In fact I’m going to be running an interview series on this blog talking to social media practitioners.

3. Focus on overall marketing goals not social media tools – Going back to my example above about Twitter. In 2009 I leanred that what makes your Twitter or Facebook experience relevant and effective is the goals you have set for these tools. You need to clearly define the goal you wish to achieve as you consider social tools. This will help you know exactly how you’re going to use these social media tools and you can set your creativity loose. For instance, if you’re going to use Twitter to drive traffic to your blog, then, you’ll have to figure out how to use Twitter to achieve this goal. If you’re going to sell products from your blog post, then, you’ll need to create blog content in such a manner as to achieve this goal.

Goals driving your tools is actually the most important concept I learned in 2009. Clarify your goals and then use the tools to achieve these goals. The tools in and of themselves should not be the focus. This is where listening to "practitioners" vs. "experts" comes in.

4. The connections made via social media are real – When it comes to social media its easy to think that because you’re spending so much time in front of the computer connections are not being made. At the end of the day, you do business with people not computers. That is why connection with people is so important. For me one of the most satisfying aspects of using Twitter has been the connections I’ve made with professionals in the local community. It has opened doors for me on more than one occasion. From connecting with a video expert to the director of a non-profit helping refugees, my world has expanded exponentially through the connections made via social media.

So in 2009 I finally understood that the connections are real. The people are real. Business is real. Social media is not the domain of computer geeks and nerds talking php and html.

5. Social media can give you the confidence to take on giants – From a personal perspective my experience on social media this past year has given me the confidence to start my new venture. I have finally come to appreciate the power of this new media to make thing happen. As my world expanded and my contacts grew, I realized that I had the ability via social media to make my new venture extremely successful.  If a business selling worms in the UK can use social media to develop a sustainable global business, I too can use social media to deliver a product to a niche market.  It is with this confidence that I have launched, an online video teaching business geared to the Nepali community.

What’s ahead in 2010?

The learning and growing process never ends and 2010 will be no different in this regard. As I move forward with this blog, I will be interviewing social media practitioners. The objective is to share our experience, and learn from one another.  I will also be posting about my use of social media as Sabdamala grows and expands. The possibilities are endless and the field is wide open. Onwards and upwards my friends.

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