Last night I went out for drinks with the girls. My friends work in a variety of careers, none having anything to do with social media. I often wonder if when I talk about my blogs or Twitter they think I’m some sort of loonie, or even if they really care. During our conversation last night I learned:
- One of my friends didn’t know blogs can be bought and sold.
- Many of my friends have no idea what to do with Facebook or Twitter.
- Many of my friends are afraid to use Facebook and Twitter as they’d rather not risk their privacy.
- They’re totally not feeling the whole Foursquare thing.
Does social media matter to the people who aren’t into social media?
Sometimes I read posts on the popular social media blogs and wonder if the bloggers are speaking to the converted. Certainly no one needs to tell me the top ten reasons to start a Facebook page or discuss how Twitter can help to build a brand. Are we really reaching the people who have no clue how to use this stuff or are we preaching to the choir?
I understand that there are businesses doing research on the web in regard to social media and why it’s needed for business. However, I don’t know if the average person is especially interested in seeking out this type of information.
Why social media should matter to everyone
After I returned home from last night’s debauchery, I thought long and hard about my friends. Does social media matter to them? None of them have any reason to use social media for their professions…or do they?
I thought it would be interesting to explore the ways civilians could use social media for business…and pleasure.
Look for work
Social media offers the ability to look for work beyond the usual job boards. Blogs and websites pull together comprehensive lists of available jobs, recruiters and hiring agents hang out on Twitter, and bloggers discuss tips for landing a cushy gig. Social media also offers a way to research businesses to learn more about them, which can help to land a job.
Participate in discussions
Even if you’re not looking to use social media for business, there are still ways to use it to enjoy your favorite topics. For example, use Twitter and Facebook to discuss a favorite books and movies or debate the issues in an online town hall. Talk about your kids, or your pets. I can guarantee, every channel boasts people who are into the same thing you are.
Meet people who are going through the same thing
There are social networks for people who are battling illness, and the folks who are caring for people who re battling illness. There are groups and networks for almost every problem and every milestone. Whether you’re in human resources or a soccer mom, there is a place in the space to commiserate.
Lodge a complaint
Having issues get through to a brand’s call center? Spotty cable connection? Looking to get in touch with a politician? Many of the major brands have social media professionals on staff to monitor what is being said about them on the difference networks. Though they would rather their dirty laundry isn’t aired in public, many do reach out to those who are complaining about them to see how they can make things better.
Learn about local businesses
Foursquare, Gowalla, Twitter, Facebook and other networks can help you learn about your locality. Read restaurant reviews, learn where to get your shoes mended or find out where to locate free WiFi. There’s no need to dig through an unwieldy phone directory anymore, not when everything you need is easily searched online.
Keep current with topics that interest you via RSS feeds, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts and newsletters. Read ebooks and magazines on your smartphone or ebook reading device, receive the latest headlines on your Facebook status, and keep in touch with the people you love.
What do YOU think?
I could probably toss out 100 or more uses for social media and the reasons those who aren’t managing a brand or who don’t have something to promote would want to use it. The truth is, it’s different for different people.
I sometimes feel like I have too different lives. My blogging, conference attending, hanging out on Twitter life, and my real life, non social media world. They’re vastly different, but more a like than we realize.
How would you describe the benefits of social media to a “civilian”?