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35 Ways Social Media Can Make Your Life Easier

Twitter is about more than telling people what kind of sandwich you had for lunch and Facebook is about more than posting party pictures from your days in college. The next time people tell you that social media is worthless, point them to this post. These are very real ways new media sites have made my life easier:

  1. When I was in Las Vegas, a city I don’t know well, for BlogWorld 2010 I asked for directions to a bar I was trying to find by tweeting at a friend who had just checked in there on Foursquare.
  2. I commonly ask for recommendations for movies, music, and other forms of entertainment on Twitter.
  3. As a writer, if I meet someone who might have freelance work for me, I can connect with them on LinkedIn when I get home or even with my smart phone before I even leave the party rather than relying on them to remember my website or having to keep track of a business card.
  4. Speaking of work, if you need a job, you can mention it to your friends/followers to see if anyone knows of any job openings where you might be a good fit.
  5. I tweeted at a hotel where I was planning to book a trip once, and they sent me to a hidden page on their website with awesome travel deals for upcoming weekends.
  6. Once, I was trying on shoes and trying to decide whether or not to buy. I posted a picture on Facebook and got my friends’ opinions before I made the purchase.
  7. Need to know an obscure fact? Someone on Twitter can probably help you remember who sang that song stuck in your head or what movie that quote you like comes from. If you ask, people will gladly offer up trivia tidbits and it’s often easier than using a search engine to find the fact.
  8. I once saw an a-lister tweet that he forgot his power cord at home and was already at the airport getting ready to board a long flight to another country. One of his friends brought him a back-up. Even if your network isn’t as robust, often they can help you identify where you can get replacement items in a hurry.
  9. Forget the lyrics to a song? Twitter knows. Twitter always knows.
  10. And even better, if you can’t find what you need on YouTube, most bands have their most popular songs posted on MySpace. Yes, MySpace really does still come in handy from time to time!
  11. Also handy when it comes to music – I was wondering when a favorite band of mine would be going on tour again, since there was nothing listed on their website. I asked them on Twitter and they pinged me when the page was updated. It isn’t just bands – ask questions about products to any small business on Twitter or Facebook and most will reply.
  12. When I was apartment hunting, I made sure to mention it often using social media. Some people responded with apartment listings they had found that might work for me.
  13. Once of my Facebook friends was recently selling her changing table. She posted a picture on Facebook and within a few hours, someone had replied, as one of their friends was pregnant and interesting in buying. It’s much easier than selling items on eBay or Craigslist.
  14. Last month, at about midnight, I needed some web design help with my website. I asked on Twitter and even with my relatively small network of about 1300 people at the time, over ten people replied. At midnight.
  15. When my sister’s computer died a few weeks ago, I mentioned it on Twitter and a number of people offered computer advice both for fixing the problem and for purchasing a new laptop.
  16. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about a conference he was attending. Within 24 hours, he found people to carpool with him to the event.
  17. He also found a hotel roommate.
  18. Twitter usually explodes with news of something important happening, even before major news sites have stories online. If you aren’t near a TV or radio, it’s often the best way to stay up-to-date.
  19. Want to pass the time while waiting at the doctor’s office? There are always links to some interesting reads on Facebook or Twitter.
  20. If I don’t have an acquaintance’s phone number or address, I can still wish them a happy birthday on Facebook. In fact, Facebook even has birthday alerts so I don’t forget (or let me know for people who I don’t know very well). Phone calls are always better, in my opinion, but a Facebook note is still nice, especially for new friends.
  21. If you need to know what time something starts, just ask your social media friends. They’ll even translate it to your time zone if you’re too lazy to figure it out (like me…I hate dealing with time differences).
  22. Many stores offer coupons just for checking in with a location-based app. I’m always down for saving money.
  23. Posting pictures to Flickr or Facebook makes it easy to exchange photos lots of people took at a single event. Do you remember the days of getting double and triple prints, or worse, scanning pictures and emailing them to everyone?
  24. If you’re a member of the media in some way (blogger or otherwise), social media makes it really easy to connect with people to get a quote for whatever story you’re working on.
  25. Similarly, if you want to link to a source for your article, just ask via social media. People will send you relevant links. Who doesn’t love promotion. It works the other way too – you can get promotion simply by paying attention and sending links to people who need them.
  26. Twitter DMs are great to contact someone if you just have a short message. It’s faster than email.
  27. With a Twitter DM or Facebook message, you can also exchange email addresses if you don’t have that information. It’s easy enough to search and find someone’s social media profiles, even if they don’t have a blog or contact information listed elsewhere online.
  28. It’s pretty easy to meet new people on social media sites, especially on Twitter. If you’re dating, online dating sites (which are, in essence, social media sites) are a great alternative for people who don’t like bars or clubs.
  29. Just now on Twitter, I saw someone tweet that his plane had just landed and he was wondering if anyone had the sports score for a baseball game that was going on. It’s much quicker than trying to find an up-to-date score online.
  30. Conference hashtags (like #BWENY) and Facebook event pages make it super easy to find other people attending an event.
  31. Occasionally, I read a post I like but forget to bookmark it. They aren’t always easy to find by searching on the site or with Google, but if you send a message to the blogger on Twitter, they’re usually happy to help you find an old post.
  32. Want to travel? If you are active on Twitter or Facebook, you can couchsurf with the best of ‘em – travel planning is a breeze, even on a budget. At the very least, people will recommend hotel and tourist destinations, and you might even be able to find someone to pick you up at the airport.
  33. Companies often tweet out discount codes and post coupons on Facebook. For example, if you aren’t already, you might want to follow Rick and Dave – they’ve been tweeting out 20% off codes for BlogWorld tickets.
  34. If an appliance in your home breaks and you can’t find a manual online, ask your fans/followers. Often, you can find someone who has had the same problem in the past and can help you find a fix.
  35. Stuck on what to make for dinner? Ask your friends online. People will offer up quick recipes you can make.

Okay those are my 35 contributions…but I’m sure there are more. For all the naysayers, add your experiences too – how as social media made your life easier?

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4 Myths About Social Media and Business

25% of small business owners said they plan to spend more on social networking in 2010, according to the Ad-ology Small Business Marketing Forecast.

Facebook ranked as the most beneficial social network for small businesses, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter, according to the November 2009 report. The 1,100 small business owners surveyed said the biggest benefits of social networking were the abilities to generate leads, keep up with their industry, and monitor the online conversation about their business.

But despite the enormous growth of business presences on social networking sites, there are still many misconceptions about how best to use social media. To help cut through the hype, here are a few social media myths dispelled.


Myth #1: Small Businesses Must be on Social Media 


Ad-ology’s study found that 31% of small business owners said they don’t use social media because their customers don’t use it. If that’s the case, find where your customers are and the best way to reach them there.

Warren Sukernek, partner and vice president of strategies atLift9, said there’s a rush to get on Twitter and launch a blog without a plan. He stressed that spending time up front doing analysis, research, and goal setting will make a social media plan easy to execute.

He recommended first getting active as a lurker on different social media networks to see what’s happening and what people are saying. For example, check out what other companies are doing on Twitter and then assess what you like and don’t like.

Sukernek also pointed out that social media fits more naturally for certain types of businesses, but that doesn’t mean other businesses shouldn’t be on there. It may just take more time to build an audience.

“I wouldn’t dissuade that B2B company from dipping a toe in. It might make sense to dip a toe in a different pool of water,” he said. He suggested that being on an industry-specific forum or LinkedIn might work better in some cases than being on Twitter.

Depending on what the goals are, gathering competitive intelligence might turn out to be what’s most valuable to a business, according to Sukernek.

“It’s hard to put a price tag on that,” he said.


Myth #2: Set It and Forget It 


Don’t expect a case of build it and they will come. Sukernek compared it to building a brick-and-mortar store and not putting a sign on the outside.

“You’ve got to promote it,” he said.

Cross promote your web site with the pages you set up on social media sites. Sukernek advised integrating these social media sites into your business’ offline activities. For example, a retailer should list their fan page URL and Twitter name along with its company’s web site.

Time spent on social media efforts depends on the type of business and the goals involved, according to Sukernek. Goals should be distilled down to revenue and key performance metrics.

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Set some reasonable, manageable objectives,” he said.


Myth #3: Word of Mouth Presence Isn’t There 


Sukernek said small businesses think that if no one is talking specifically about their company on social networks, they don’t need to be there. He disagrees.

“They’re talking about subjects that are germane to the brand,” he said.

On the other hand, what if your small business is being talked about on social media in a bad way? Sukernek said people are probably already doing that, and suggests it’s better for small businesses to be aware of it and address it directly on those platforms.


Myth #4: Social Media is Only for Broadcasting Messages 


megaphone imageTreating social media as a one-way communication channel is an approach that’s doomed to fail. Check in with your fans and followers by asking for feedback, responding to questions and comments, and being personable to build relationships with customers.

“It’s conversational. It’s dialogue,” Sukernek said.

Concerns of small businesses on social media aren’t much different than those of large companies. For those businesses that aren’t careful, subscribing to these social media myths can result in some big mistakes.

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