Happy Social Media Week! Yes, boys and girls, it's that time of year when you drop what you're doing and go to any of hundreds of amazing events around the world that explore the infinite facets of social media. Why, for people like me, it's like Christmas and Diwali and National Fried Chicken Day rolled into one.
In honor of this sacred week, I'll offer ten reasons why Social Media Week should be every week. This is a sneak preview of a talk I'll be giving this week during Social Media Camp in New York; you can soon find the presentation itself via my blog or Twitter feed. You can also find a convenient one-page summary of this list on SlideShare.
On to the top ten:
1. It's where we live.
I'm not rolling out the stat brigade this time, but social media properties have come to dominate metrics for time spent online and on mobile devices. More importantly, sharing, commenting, rating, and other social actions are seamlessly embedded into just about every other kind of digital activity, from browsing recipes to reading the news.
2. Some people care about what you ate for breakfast.
Social media is often mocked for being the playground of egomaniacs to share meaningless minutiae of their lives. Yet how many posts have you seen from your friends about some food they ate, a TV show they watched, or a complaint about the weather, with a slew of responses following suit? We should embrace such minutiae, as they collectively make up who we are, and our friends are precisely the ones who will care.
3. Crowd-sourcing empowers us to come together.
Communities keep coming together to achieve goals that individuals often can't, or wouldn't, or would do in some different way. From Wikipedia to the product design and retail site Quirky, we're just starting to embrace the possibilities.
4. We trust total strangers.
I've written in this series how powerful it can be to get advice from total strangers via social properties. While I fear being accused of hyperbole here, there's something magical about it when your life is positively influenced by someone you may never meet.
5. Meet your most important social network: your family.
Genealogy has become a hobby of mine, and it's thanks in large part to social channels. On Facebook, for instance, I recently connected with a fourth cousin; our great-great grandparents were siblings. He even shares my name, and we're named after the same ancestors. The value of social media can hardly get more personal than that.
6. It's the ultimate defense against bullshit.
Kenneth Cole just entered the social media fiasco hall of fame, joining the Tropicana and, Gap rebranding, "United Breaks Guitars" and the Comcast technician asleep on a customer's couch. Sure, word of mouth about such blunders spread before social media was around, but now there's an added layer of protection for consumers.
7. It's how we get support.
Customer service is one part of the picture. For instance, GetSatisfaction powers customer support forums for a number of different marketers and sites. Part of the benefit is making it easier for customers to help each other. Then there are moments where support is even more critical, such as for issues around health and parenting. I touched on this before when writing about CarePages (an aside: my cousin featured there has healed perfectly and has never felt better).
8. It brings us face to face.
Social media helps us get away from our gadgets. One of the reasons I'm most loyal to Facebook is for the events; if you're not there, you won't get invited. Then there are sites like Meetup, which is all about bringing people together, and Plancast, which helps you figure out what your friends are doing.
9. It's changing the world.
It will be a while before we really know how much social media has had an impact on Tunisia and Egypt, or if large-scale protests will resurface in Iran. Even if Frank Rich and others are skeptical about whether the brave demonstrations against despotism were fueled by social media, social tools have given us direct access to some of the participants. During Operation Desert Storm, I remember the access CNN provided, night-vision smart bombs and all. That's nothing compared to hearing from Tunisian blogger Slim Amamou, who is now a minister in his nation's new government.
10. We love it because it's fun.
I have two words for you: Cat Paint. Or take three words: Barbie Video Girl. Try one word: Kinect. And then there are the more day-to-day examples of fun, like the thrill of bringing people together to connect around shared interests. Whatever your definition of fun is, social media can play a role in it, so let's enjoy every minute of it.