Getting Back to Where We Came From

The Gate by mx2-fotoIt wasn’t so long ago, not quite a decade yet, when I first discovered what a blog was. The idea of sharing ideas and publishing them to the world was new to me. That was what journalists did, and story tellers. Not some computer guy from Minnesota.

Yet I was wrong. I read blogs from all sorts of folks, from all walks of life. The blogs with topics furthest from my own experiences were the most interesting, of course. Through the months and years, the people I knew grew from a couple dozen to hundreds, then a few years later, thousands.

The impact personally, was tremendous, allowing me to start publishing my own ideas on how to approach a problem. Allowing me to present my ideas, which I shared with hundreds of others, on communications and social communication in business. I found my voice in creating my own personal brand, and launching forth a new, second, career in sharing these ideas.

Eventually, these things lead us all back to where we came. I started branching out from Information Technology, and find myself bringing new ideas back to IT in the last couple years. The last four years I’ve worked on multiple solutions with three different fortune 500 companies. All in different ways. All for different reasons.

Today, I find myself looking back on the experiences from the past decade. Not only the technical ones that have dominated my career, but also the social, marketing, and communications ones that I’ve had the pleasure of learning from. I find myself doing what I said back in 2008, bringing social media oriented ideas back to my core skills and incorporating the important and relevant bits.

I think this is the key to social media as we move forward. Instead of the next network, or the next viral video to learn how far – how fast something can travel, it is how much more that we’ve communicated. It’s how we’ve articulated our ideas. It’s how much we’ve listened and learned.

Photo credit: mx2-foto

The More You Share

'Trees In Scotland' by Andrew CrummyOne of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in the past decade of social media is the aspect of sharing. From the first time I read Cluetrain to the current place it takes in the multiple buzz word lexicon of social media – sharing is a central pillar of social engagement.

For many of us today, sharing is an easy exercise. Cut & paste a link, click a share button for a photo or embed a video in a post. We take it for granted… it’s easy!

For those getting started, or for businesses both large and small, sharing is not as clear as one would think it is. Businesses may worry about ownership of content (copyright) issues, or the context of the content they’re sharing and how it reflects or impacts their brand and reputation.

Individuals may have similar concerns, and might have trouble understanding the technical “how to’s” of proper attribution or embedding of HTML code. But that’s what the seasoned folks should be, and are, helping with – that’s a lot of what we share.

Back to sharing itself though.

As online social engagement grows with mainstream participation, people and businesses gain more from sharing than we initially realize. Giving back to the community has always been a cornerstone of corporate responsibility, and participating in online communities is easier and more cost effective than in the physical community.

Offering up tips, tricks, ideas, solutions, trials, samples, free product, services and more helps build community and reflects on individuals and brands in a positive light. Who doesn’t enjoy or respect those who are helpful? That’s not the same as giving things away simply for favors, that has it’s place in brand building, but not for community building.

Many will call it the “pay it forward” method, and indeed giving back to your community is crucial to the health of that community. It motivates others to do the same and thereby provides a basic, common knowledge to the community that benefits the whole. In the end, ideas are shared back to you or your business that you might otherwise not have thought of.  And that’s always a good thing.

Photo credit: Andrew Crummy

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