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Why Bother with Social Networking

February 11, 2011 by Jonathan Gilburg

This is a question that we have been asking ourselves for a long time.  I know the stock answers—especially as a small business owner: increase name/brand recognition; search engine optimization (SEO); drive traffic to your website; increase inquiries; increase sales.  There is nothing wrong with any of these answers… believe me.  But there is another, more subtle reason, that I have only recently come to appreciate—and this reason to invest in the realms of social media is more valuable to a broader audience.

In a nutshell, the big reason I see to invest in social media: it is a way of sharing/receiving small digestible “meals” of useful information that can be productively applied almost immediately.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I have read/observed something (a story, a new theory or model, a good quote, a telling vignette, a funny video) and then turned around and used it within a day or two.  I have taken those nuggets of useful information and shared it with someone ready to receive and apply it.  This rapid-fire knowledge-sharing network has the capacity to help us answer questions, make meaning and do things a little differently—all in service to improving the quality of our work and our relationships.

If you are very new to this world (as I am) then I encourage disciplined exploration: there’s a big wide, complex world out there that could quickly consume your resources (time, energy, etc.).  Dip your toe in the water for a defined amount of time each day (10-15 minutes) or week (1/2 hour to an hour) to see what’s out there and potentially valuable. So, in the spirit of knowledge sharing around this particular topic, I present the following offerings in three categories:

  1. Basic explanation of some common ways to engage in this world;
  2. Some useful places where I receive quality information;
  3. And some specific ways you can link to GLI and be privy—in real time—to our efforts to connect useful information or contacts to people who might benefit.

 

Basic explanation of ways to engage in Social Media

  • Follow blogs/news sources on topics of interest: sign up for either email or RSS feeds: here’s a video tutorial on how to do RSS feeds
  • Follow people. Organizations, etc. on either:
    • Facebook,
    • Twitter, or
    • Linkedin
    • They all offer different kinds of interactions and experiences but it is a great way to connect to people who are interested in the same things you are.  You can find people/organizations that are grappling with similar challenges or seizing opportunities that you would like to seize

Useful places to receive quality information: These are my top two places to get some good stuff

  • Pew Research email subscription: weekly updates on trends and big things happening in the US and the world: they provide big overview summaries with opportunities to dig deeper into the detail 
  • Interaction Institute for Social Change Blog: Almost daily posts that provide me with new ways of thinking about the challenges of implementing change in large systems.  There are multiple contributors and the posts are varied and interesting.  They also have a page of quick “how to” and “what is this” videos for understanding the worlds of web 2.0/social media

Specific ways to link to GLI: we are trying this out and feeling our way in this world with the intent of connecting people and ideas.  It feels a little like swimming blindfolded underwater, but if you want to be a part of our experiments and learn with us as we go, please join in

  • Receive RSS feeds of our blog posts: we are striving for weekly posts about information that is interesting to us and (hopefully) to others 
  • Follow us on Facebook: Look for a direct invitation from us in your inbox… coming soon
  • Join a Linkedin discussion group called Government Art of Hosting: catered to people who work with or for the government at any level to share ideas about systemic change and applying leverage to make our institutions healthier and more productive.  Look for a direct invitation soon in your inbox.

Thanks for staying with me till this point.  My final word on Social Networking is that it is happening.  For those of us who are trying to find compatriots, colleagues, good ideas, success stories to build a case for trying new things, etc. this is a powerful mode for learning and sharing.  I don’t fully understand or feel terribly competent in this world yet or fully understand the implications, and that’s probably part of the process.  So with that, I encourage you to dip your toe in the water.  Don’t worry if it’s a little cold or you can’t see the bottom.  That feeling of discomfort means we are learning something.

Good luck and reach out with questions.  If I can help, I will!