The true value of social media

With yesterday’s Twitter and Facebook interruptions, we’re faced with asking ourselves some difficult questions. There’s the “What do I do all day?” question that you’ll have to answer on your own. There’s also the “What is the true value of these social media tools we use all the time?” question. What do we miss most when it all goes away?

Timely news on current events

Situation: John Hughes died and I didn’t know about for at least six hours after the fact.

Impact: Arguably negligible – 6 hours?  Does this effect daily life in any way? No. In fact, when news hits me in a steady as-it-happens stream the importance of it gets lost. I can tell you every detail about where I was when I heard of Princess Diana’s death years ago. I can’t really remember any details about where I was for Michael Jackson’s death last month.

Making evening plans

Situation: There’s a cool band in town and I didn’t hear about it.

Impact: Light – most restaurants, bars and clubs have their own promotions machines. While Facebook events make it really easy to distribute the message, without it I just need to stop in and grab a local events listing to be comparably informed.

Increasing your network

Situation: One of the great things about social media is you don’t have to be physically present to know what the conversation is. A quick search on any topic yields hundreds of qualified leads.

Impact: Moderate – Every company has a website and searching the Internet is a breeze. However, static websites and no indication of presence makes this situation less than ideal.  It is difficult to judge the quality of a lead.

Chasing Tail

Situation: Offensive? Hardly. Social media is all about making human interaction easier. Including the difficult stuff like asking for digits, then worrying about making sure your voice doesn’t crack while you’re cracking jokes.

Impact: High – First contact, a phone call? Socially awkward teenagers everywhere cringe at the thought.

So there you have it. What gets hit the hardest when our beloved social media sites go down? The chances of lining up a date for Friday night. Long live Twitter.