Social media trend sweeping Washington?

Social media trend sweeping Washington?

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Hey, now that I'm spending time in Washington, I'm hearing from pretty much everyone how important all this social media is, sites including Twitter, FaceBook, and so on. The events of November fourth demonstrate how effective this stuff can be.

Also, there's a little pushback from people who don't understand how much it's already part of our lives, and who might worry about loss of control. (It's a pure win, see below.)

The deal is that social media is pretty much what goes on around the water cooler, a cafe, bar, or even one's living room. Those are face-to-face forms of social media, perhaps more effective at communication than electronic media, but limited to maybe hundreds of people.

However, online social media has advantages including:

  • immediacy
  • irrelevance of geography: everyone's "near" you
  • can scale to millions and beyond

One major disadvantage of social media: some forms, like Twitter, can be way too much. The youngsters seem to accomodate that; as "digital natives" they're good at multitasking. Older folks, including myself, have to practice some discipline to avoid being overwhelmed. (By the way, kids, stay off my lawn, okay?)

Also, in any organization, social media tends to get people together to solve problems, crossing boundaries within those organizations. That tends toward effective grassroots collaboration, which in turn can offer a really good balance to traditional command and control hierarchies, like most corporations and countries. It also means that the workers in such an organization may be much more productive, making their bosses jobs easier.

That's gotta be scary for managers and organizations used to command and control, but it's not really a threat. Your workers will get a better and bigger job done, with less effort on your part.

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3 Comments

Erica Chappuis

I'm still not fond of my Facebook activities, regardless of the way it has hooked me back up to a few old school chums from way back when. For my son, it is very important that he share news with all of his Facebook friends (he won't let ME on there – what does he want, privacy or something?) On the other hand, he seems to have forgotten that one can actually CALL one's friends instead of spending big bucks texting them. I have my website and blogs and I guess I feel that should be enough. Like, if you want to keep up with me, add my blog to your Reader list… But Facebook, if not Twitter (where I'm supposed to keep a minute-by minute update on myself?) seems to be mandatory these days.
In sum, I'm participating, but only half-heartedly.

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