Harnessing the Power of Your Community through Social Media

A friend of mine told me not too long ago that she was “leaving Facebook and joining Twitter”, I asked her why and she replied “Twitter is where it’s at, Facebook is over!”  “But your community is on Facebook” I said, “your friends and family, all of your photos that you share with them are on your Facebook profile, you are just going to leave Facebook?” She responded “Twitter is supposed to be better”.

There are currently 400 million active users on Facebook, and the average user has about 130 friends.  According to Facebook, people spend over 500 billion minutes per month on their social network.  By comparison, Twitter has 75 million users and users post an average of 600 Tweets per second and there are 50 million Tweets churning through the “Twitterverse” on any given day.  The professional network LinkedIn reports 70 million members in over 200 countries and the site boasts a new member every second!  

As I am one of those contributing to Facebook’s massive monthly minute usage, I am permanently logged in keeping in the know on what my 270+ “friends” are up to.   I enjoy the nuggets of information posted about restaurants dined at, exotic destinations visited, camping trip adventures,  marathon time achievements; photos of babies, Bar Mitzvah’s and weddings; videos on NASA Space Shuttle launches, first goals scored at Little League soccer games, and of course re-posted Youtube videos!  The banter of comments, “likes” and shared moments make me feel as though I am part of a conversation.   And of course I enjoy filling my social calendar up with birthday party and house warming invites, fashion shows and community festivals.

My Twitter feeds keep me connected to current events – social, political, cultural and industry related.  In 140 characters or less, I am drawn to compelling articles, videos, photos of real-time, real world experiences across the globe.  I am a networker, a connector, so a collection of business cards generally translates into “following” interesting and inspiring individuals.  The “#”and “@” symbols have transcended the keyboard to optimizing the searchability of whatever and whomever you determine to be relevant. Businesses are building communities using Twitter as it has become a valuable tool for marketing products, ideas, as well as creating loyal fans and customers.

On LinkedIn, connecting with a professional network has redefined the rolodex; it will eventually make the “business card” a relic of the past.  I have recently branched out in search of new career opportunities and the value of a LinkedIn profile, along with references from colleagues, co-workers and business partners, has made my curriculum vittae a living document. I participate in discussion groups; learn about industry conferences, association activities and I enjoy finding like-minded people with similar backgrounds and professional interests.

The phenomenon of online interactions has reached epic proportions.  It is the human experience that we need to belong; we have always been community creatures.  Our need to be connected to others empowers us in our everyday lives. Social media has become a vehicle to more heterogeneous community relations. We can mobilize virtually to share experiences or create new opportunities.  We can engage our friends, family, colleagues and co-workers any day, anytime regardless of where we are located.  My virtual community connections span the globe, there is definitely cross-over from one social network community to the next.  I think I would feel isolated if I only belonged to one type of community.

For those of you reading this article on Techvibes, I hope I become part of your community!