Social media...just say no?

Social media has become a part of nearly everyone's life, in one way or another, but at what point will social media over-burden us? As a business, does this mean that social media will lose it's appeal or value?

Social media has certainly come into its own over the last year. Whether you log more hours online than you do sleeping or are the type that only turns your computer on every couple of days — gasp — there is a good chance that you have some familiarity with social media, even if you didn't know that's what it was.

Maybe you get a chuckle every now and then from a video on YouTube, upload photos to Flickr for friends and family to see, ask and answer questions on Yahoo Answers, do a little networking and reconnecting with old classmates and work colleagues on LinkedIn, keep track of popular news on Reddit, jot notes on your mates' walls in Facebook, or have carved out your own little corner of the web with a MySpace page. If you have a username and login at even half of those sites, then you know all to well the impact of social media. And for many, that list is but a mere sampling of their social circle.

But what happens when social media collides with daily life? Good, bad, or otherwise, most of us live extremely busy lives. We've found that all of the great tools that have been developed to simplify our lives and allow us more time, often just allow us to do more with the time we have. Is that a bad thing? After all, it is our life and if we are doing the things we want to do and that are important to us, wasn't that the ultimate goal to begin with? If you are expecting answers to those questions, sorry, they aren't coming.

The problem, or at least the challenge, with social media for individuals is simply one of mass. There is only so much time during the day and night that any one of us can put toward the social media venues. At some point, most of us will probably gravitate to a few key sites. Will this gravitation be a slow fade, or cold turkey? Will it be individually, or a revolt of mass proportions? Only time will tell of course.

But hold that thought. The story for businesses is a little different. Social media provides a powerful channel to reach out and interact with the community. While things in business rarely come without a cost, social media can be an extremely cost effective extension of nearly everything a company does. Even as social venues shift in popularity or come and go, businesses can introduce themselves and interact with those who share the same interests. As marketing channels go, the ability to connect with highly targeted, highly interested individuals at a personal level, is pretty hard to beat.

So while the future and popularity of individual social media venues may as yet be undetermined, and individual users' levels of interaction may vary, social media is here to stay. There's so much more that could be said, but I have to go check my Facebook page.

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