It has been over three years since I first touched on the topic of social networking. Since December 2008, much has changed in the United States and the world. More and more people are using social media personally to stay connected and the business community around the globe continues to adopt social media tools as a means of getting and staying closer to their customers. Facebook will become a publicly traded company this year while MySpace continues to fade into the memory of history.
My own thinking on the use of social media continues to develop as time passes. I no longer use MySpace but have enthusiastically embraced Facebook and Twitter. In both networks I have met some amazing people with a wide array of interesting views on any topic you can imagine. Without a doubt there are many views with which I simply do not agree but I believe it is important for opinions from a Christian worldview to be expressed. For the most part, the people I interact with are respectful of one another even when we disagree.
Individuals and businesses have varying approaches to their use of social media that differ significantly from my own approach. Some people are very open to connect with others (like me) while others only connect with a small group of close friends. Some use many different services while others stick to one or two. Different services target segments of the population and fill differing needs. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, I use LinkedIn for professional contacts. As expected, there is some overlap among the various platforms.
Business users have different reasons for engaging social media. They have marketing reasons for doing so though I submit to the business community that social media fundamentally alters the marketing equation in ways that have yet to become apparent. In this space the advantage will go to the early adopters! Some businesses allow comments on their various sites while others are very controlling of all content. Both approaches have pros and cons. I favor the open approach personally as it allows others to see how the business interacts with less than glowing remarks about their products, services, or the experiences of those with whom they have done business.