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Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

How I Met Two Interesting People Using Social Media

at 8:00 am

In a previous post about social media (Social Media Tools and Synthetic Communities) I stated my ambivalence toward social networks that attempt to create communities using online technology and connectivity. However, I did note that, through Facebook, I had "reconnected" with several people I haven't heard from in years- some even a decade, and thought it was really neat to see how they had changed and grown and been caught up on all the interesting things they'd been doing.

Since then, I've reflected more upon how social networks have managed to grow so rapidly and become fixtures of our culture. I think my initial distiction, which identified the difference between social media that utilizes existing communities and social momentum for the purpose of gathering and organizing information (think wikis and such) and those that attempt to create communities using online technology and connectivity (think MySpace or Facebook), is not really correct, or at least not all that interesting. But, I have realized the obvious: Facebook and MySpace aren't trying to create a community around a technology, they assume that communities already exist and offer a technology as a bonding agent, a bridge or a stimulator of growth. For example, given their current number, Facebook users aren't really a label-able community any more than humans in general are. There are just too many of them with too many things in common to pick one overall label (aside from the fact that they all have Facebook accounts). However, Facebook does allow for the creation of groups, fan pages, events, etc. that individual users can join. In any case, this particular tool is too organic at this point to be controlled in the way I originally thought. This is probably a good thing. The reason for it has to be that human beings naturally want to connect with one another, in any way possible, not that they truly desire to spend more time in front of a screen.

How I Met Two Interesting People
I've met many new people in the past six months, something largely made possible by social networks. I'll give two brief examples of how this happened:

(1) At some point or another, I saw a "tweet" from Jeremiah Owyang mentioning that he liked the new design of the Cadence Systems website. I clicked the link and browsed the site, then bookmarked it under my "contentstrategy" del.icio.us tag because I thought it was a great example of a business-to-business-technology-services website content strategy. Afterward, I wrote a blog post reviewing the site as an "echo" of my recent WebSmart newsletter on developing an effective content strategy. Shortly after publishing the post, I received a comment from Tom Diederich, Cadence's social media/Web community manager. He, like any good social manager, was likely monitoring blogs for mentions of Cadence. I responded to Tom's comment and quickly tracked him down on LinkedIn, sending him an invitation to connect and asking if he'd be willing to answer some questions for one of my blog interviews. He agreed, we did the interview, and the rest is history.

(2) Last month, I wrote a blog post on QA. Then, last week, Able answered a question posted on LinkedIn by Kari Ziegler, QA Manager at Web Associates, which was Quality Assurance in a Web Design Firm - Where do you see it fit in? In his answer, he posted a link to my blog post. Shortly after, Kari posted to her blog noting that she had received Able's answer and her interest in my thoughts on QA. I posted a comment to her post, then found her profile on LinkedIn, sending her an invitation to connect and asking if she'd be willing to answer some questions for one of my blog interviews. She agreed, and I'll be posting the interview soon.

So What?
Both cases had several key things in common. First, blogging: Had it not been for the act of blogging, neither of these connections would have been made. Second, online reputation monitoring: Had Tom Diederich not been monitoring the Cadence reputation online, he probably would not have seen my post reviewing the new site. Third, LinkedIn: In both cases, I used LinkedIn to find and connect with people I had never met before in person. Additionally, with Kari Ziegler, our connection would never have occurred without LinkedIn's Q&A feature, which I've written about before. Finally, and most importantly, these connections would never have been made without content that was interesting and relevant to me and the people I've connected to. Neither connection was made because I was online trolling for friends. They were made because Tom led a team that created valuable content and Kari was looking for a real, content-laden answer to her question. Content is really at the center of an online, technology-supported, connection worth making. Unfortunately, this means that someone likeJulia Allison will have to scrape together some real content soon or risk losing her 'net fame in the near future.

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