Ten Things I Love About Social Media

As summertime is a period of reflection, in between applications of sunscreen and dips in the pool, thought I'd spend the next two columns pondering the good and the bad of social media, starting with the good part. (You're right. It is not a coincidence that I'll be on vacation during the two weeks these run, but a girl's gotta take a break every now and then, right?)

1. That when you muse online about whether you are experiencing a head cold or an allergy, a Facebook friend comes out of the woodwork and reminds you of a great remedy you had in the back closet, but had totally forgotten about in your Kleenex-filled haze.

2. That my friend Jim can pretty easily raise more than $11,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (If you want to donate, click here.)

3. That, as a blogger/journalist/columnist, now I can take some responsibility for my own distribution, and there are more and more tools with which to do it.

4. That life now is full of more serendipity than it used to be, as old friends from high school and college get in touch (and some of them even like my geeky diatribes about digital media).

5. That as a mom who works from home and can't get into the city a lot, I've still been able to make literally dozens of contacts this year -- all while wearing T-shirts and flip-flops (or, in colder months, sweatpants).

6. That David Poguecan not only bring to light the issue of all those time and money-wasting canned voicemail instructions from the cell phone companies, but orchestrate a movement that seems to be getting noticed by those very same companies.

7. That embedding a video on your blog is as easy as cutting and pasting. (I know that's an oldie, but, really, when I stop to consider that a lot of my early career was spent mailing out huge NTSC cassettes to journalists, that we can do this is still absolutely astounding to me.)

8. That without all of these different social media inputs, I'd never have stumbled across my favorite comedy bit of the last five years.

9. That social media is killing focus groups, replacing them with real dialogue and insight that doesn't consist of whatever a marketing department thinks it wants to know about a brand.

10. That, Pollyannish as it may sound, sometimes when I'm exploring all of these channels with you guys, it feels like anything is possible.

    Feel free to contribute yours below, and look out for next week's "Ten Things I Dislike About Social Media."

    6 comments about "Ten Things I Love About Social Media".
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    1. Robert Baracz, August 19, 2009 at 3:21 p.m.

      Am I glad I took the time to read this post. Absolute killer is point number 9. Yesterday I spent two hours listening to a local organization espouse the virtues of focus groups and what they meant in terms of helping to define the brand. Next time instead of rolling my eyes I will be more vocal in advocating change. In-depth brand analysis should include social media. Real time, real people, real answers, (hey I'm on to a new business model)!

    2. Jonathan Hall from American Pop, August 19, 2009 at 3:52 p.m.

      I'm glad I read past the "Top Ten Things I Like..." title. I've been seeing a lot of list lately! I like that all of your reasons tie back to human aspects of Social Media. No one is going to predict what the next big things are, but I will hedge my bet that the "humans communicating with humans" aspect of Social Media will remain the same, regardless of the platform. Real People policing Social Media has made the internet experience much more pleasant than it was even just 5 years ago. The "Consensus Culture" of social media is producing a much less naive and simultaneously less jaded web user.

    3. Ed Docnoc from Work From Home Dad, August 19, 2009 at 3:54 p.m.

      Absolutely, insightful content, keep up the great work!

    4. Susan Sweet from Hall & Partners, August 19, 2009 at 3:58 p.m.

      Wow, Catharine, you had me nodding until I got to #9. As a qualitative research consultant who conducts all kinds of research, I must argue that social media is not "killing focus groups." Instead, it is forcing clients to be smarter about designing research studies that make use of mixed-methods, that incorporate user-generated content, and that don't rely on a list of questions from a brand manager with an agenda to sell. Social media has made qualitative research that much richer, but it's not killing traditional techniques if they're done well.

      I'll step down from my soapbox now and add one more to your list:

      11. That it allows you to have real interaction with personal heroes and people you admire but never expect to meet.
      I almost spit out my coffee when both Chef @Rick_Bayless and author @paulocoelho both responded to me personally last weekend, in the span of a half hour!

    5. Reuben Segelbaum from Syncapse, August 19, 2009 at 5:28 p.m.

      Catharine, I will be honest...I am on the fence somewhat on point number nine, but if I was going to offer up a point around that and perhaps attach a point 12 to the mix....Transparency. I find with Social Media the users engage without anything other than being heard...who knows what the percentage of the populace they represent, but with that said, there is not a lot of incentive to them to bias their response/engagement. Always a bonus. All other points...bang on. Can not wait to see the downside list...I am compiling one as we speak/type.

    6. Duncan jb Horner from Qualvu, August 19, 2009 at 5:52 p.m.

      Got to agree with Reuben about point #9. Focus groups as we have known them in the past certainly have their flaws but the new asynchronous online video solution provided by Qualvu ( allows for a lot more candor and richer insights and is far easier to data-mine than sifting through tons of random comments expressed in unstructured community groups.

      Great article though! Love it.

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