"Crisis brings opportunity to change." Keep that quote in mind for a moment as you read this blog post.
You can't watch a cable news channel, particularly CNN, without hearing some reference to Twitter. Facebook has pretty much supplanted myspace as the dominant social networking platform, thanks in large part all of the applications, groups, social causes and the beginnings of businesses using Facebook to reach customers. It's pretty easy to find a blog post or a site about tips and common mistakes when using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and just about any other social media tool.
The activity I've seen lately seems to fall into six categories:
- Folks who have been using social networking for some time now (experienced Twitter'ers, Facebook, etc.)
- Individuals exploring the use of social media as part of an entrepreneurial, small business or "multiple streams of income" effort,
- Business networking between professionals falling into business development, sales and professional networking,
- Job seekers who have been laid off and are working to find their next position, or are proactively building up their network in case a pink slip event occurs,
- Traditional media reaching out to readers and watchers through Twitter and blogging,
- Spammers, lurkers, etc., using social media as an email replacement for lead generation.
I'm sure there are probably more classifications, but those stand out for me from my perspective. The social media topic comes up in the circles I operate in almost every day. Just as an example, I had lunch with a friend today and our discussion was all about social media, sharing experiences from blogging and social media, and how that applies to generating multiple streams of income.
The prior day's lunch was with someone I work with and our discussion was all about using social media to more effectively start up and engage small, specific interest groups interested in volunteer activities. (Sounds like I must go out to lunch a lot, lol.)
At a business executive meetup group I attend bi-weekly, many of our discussion topics have been around social media's application in business. All of this is representative of only a fraction of the conversations, projects (through my Converging Network business), email threads, and various inquiries I receive involving social media.
I have a theory about all of this activity -- it's being driven in part, possibly in large part, by the recession we're currently in. Business has slowed across the board for most everyone. Everyone is trying to figure out how social media can help them network, identify new customers, find leads and business opportunities, get a lead on a job or increase our personal income.
I heard Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank) on Bill Maher's show say, "crisis brings opportunity to change". Muhammad was specifically referring to our over emphasis on making money and reform of our banking system, but that statement also applies to the growth we're seeing in social networking.
People are reaching out. Some of it is for comfort... reaching out to old college friends, coworkers and family. Part of it is driven by the motivations I listed above. But if in the end, one of the things the recession does is expand the relationships we have with other people, using social media or otherwise, then that is certainly one of the opportunities created out of crisis.