Thursday, July 16, 2009

Social Media: It's All About the Tools

I got really irritated in the early hours of the bridge collapse on I-75 near Detroit on Wednesday evening. Twitter has proved useful during breaking news in trying to zero in on the sources with the best info. I have a few friends in the area and I was concerned. Going to Twitter, for me, is like wading into a stream and seeing if anything useful floats by. This was the first breaking news story where I got more crap than real information.

I found links to all sorts of sites for watching current movies online and people just trying to get people to follow them by using a trending hashtag. Here are some examples of the stupidity out there:

Later, the Tweets I saw did provide helpful info, including the fact that no one died. And the pics sent to Twitpic were awesome. This was submitted by Frank Carline and picked up by the Detroit Free Press.

What concerns me as someone who encourages businesses to engage their audiences by using social media is that this will be a big turn off for some of them. The way business works, they may not have the patience to wade through the flotsam in order to see the true value of social media engagement. Especially in a crisis. I know there are probably work-arounds for this. I haven't found them yet, but I have faith in the social media community. If a fix isn't already available, someone will develop one.

That's the nature of social media. It is self-correcting just as it is self-corrupting.

Many of the people I follow who know way more about social media than I say that social media is just one tool people and companies can employ to reach their goals. I agree with them. And not just because it's easy just to agree with everything Peter Shankman says.

What bugs me the most is that some of the biggest tools using social media sit behind the keyboard.

Bill Salvin

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