1: Why Do We Want A Social Media Strategy?

The author opens with a bold claim: "Implementing a social media strategy in your organisation will dramatically change the way you do business." It does so by broadening the perspective and reach of yourself and your organization.

For a company, social media can help to connect the firm with the customers and discover what they really think of your brand, communicate directly to a broad audience to change the perception of your brand, receive communications that will help improve your produce or service, etc.

(EN: the author misses an important point, or perhaps means to address it later: companies already do all of these things, but do them very poorly. E.g., what people think of a brand is presently a semi-educated guess, at worst the uninformed and narcissistic opinion of an authoritarian executive, at best market research that is inherently inaccurate. Social media can significantly improve that.)

For an individual, social media enables a person to access a broader network of people and make connections beyond their immediate environment. You can draw upon the advice of a broad range of experts, make connections that are vital to your professional development and career.

Thus far, many companies have spent huge sums of money on software that has amassed mountains of "dead data" (few have access, fewer make use of it, and it rots over time) as well as collaboration software that is not effectively used (and often, discourages open communication rather than facilitating it).

A few firms are beginning to recognize the value of social media, and have gotten phenomenal results, but they are exceptions. As a result, many are keen on the idea but no-one seems to know where to start: blogs, wikis, tagging, bookmarking, tweets, podcasts, statuses, virtual worlds, and various other terms are used for an array of technologies, some of which are social (others are decidedly not), which makes it difficult to know where to begin.

In a word, it begins with "strategy." Once that is determined, the array of technology appear as tools, some of which are helpful and others of which are not. Without a strategy, your actions are random, unguided, and ultimately unproductive. As such, knowing what you want to accomplish is a necessary prerequisite to taking action.

The Value of Connecting

There's a long tare about the author's career history, beginning as a worker on container ships, and discovering how much easier it was to track freight with spreadsheets, then to logistics systems that connected shippers, ships, and ports to plan and track shipments. The point to all of this is that the shipping industry was significantly improved by technology, and the industry was supercharged when all participants used technology to share information with one another.

Aside of the ability to manage data pertaining to the day-to-day job of moving freight, technology enabled operators in various companies to connect to one another, share ideas and discuss solutions - if it weren't for the network of people, technology would not have progressed much further than the separate and isolated information systems of each firm.

This is likened to the situation in most industries today, whose data remains bottled up in systems aren't networked to one another and whose knowledge is bottled up in the heads of people in various organizations who don't talk to one another. There is great unexplored potential in making these connections.

Online and Face to Face Networking

One question the author has been asked is whether networking online was significantly different to networking in meatspace.

Many of the same principles apply. The author considers her own behavior and found it to be similar: gathering the handles or e-mail addresses of people you converse with online is not very different to collecting business cards at a physical meeting. The nature of communication via an e-mail or chat session is also analogous to the conversations done via mail or phone.

The goals of the two are similar: when you network, you are building a "portfolio of relationships" you can draw upon to help you professionally, whether to get input or advice on a employer's initiative or to help you personally advance in your career.

The primary difference is efficiency: in physical space, your contacts are limited to the people you meet or interact with during the normal course of your life - if you work in a small company or a remote location, you simply don't have the opportunity to interact with many people and your "social graph" (depicting connections between people) remains very small.

Networking online overcomes the limitations of distance and time, to broaden your contacts to a wider array of people, including many whom you would never encounter in a face-to-face situation.

When people share their networks online, it broadens the reach of everyone involved: not only does one person connect to another, each has access to (or at least knowledge of) the various individuals the other person knows.

Chapter Conclusion

The author speaks to a personal addiction to networking, collecting contacts and feeling a sense of satisfaction in having the digital equivalent of a filing cabinet full of business cards - it's a bit obsessive. She wonders about her own motivations - whether it is the desire to receive help of others, to give help to others, to have a sense of belonging, or any of a myriad of other motives.

More to the point, is all this obsessive behavior serving any point? It was her desire to explore that question that led her to social media, and this book is the vehicle by which she is sharing her research and theories on the topic of networking and social media.