The Social Web Ties Us Together
An internet stranger told me what was happening to my next door neighbor at the Beaumont CVB even though I was 1,800 miles away from home – thanks to the social web. Interestingly, I was not specifically looking for info on my neighbor.
This is a three part’er – What Happened, How this Illustrates Web 2.0 and Why this Matters to You.
What Happened – How the dots were connected:
Yesterday, I was in Portland Oregon at the airport waiting for my flight to Houston. I logged into my twitter account and saw a
retweet of a Chris Brogan blog post about a book review. As a Brogan fan and lover of books, I followed the link to his book review. From there I looked at Brogan’s earlier post talking about alltop.com and the importance of knowing how you “stack up” on Alltop.
“This is good info”, I thought to myself. (even more info on personal branding with Alltop and why Chris Brogan thinks Alltop is great for bloggers ). So, my interest piqued, I followed the link to the Alltop.com homepage. I spent about 3.4 seconds scanning the homepage and realized I had read several of those articles already.
I wasn’t finished though, I wanted to see something I didn’t know so I scanned across the top row of navigation links and saw “New Topics” and clicked. Again, more quick scanning (my emotional investment in all this is really low at his point) then I see “Tourism Industry” and immediately think of my friends Stephanie and Ashley who handle all the marketing and communication for the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau back home in Texas (remember, I’m in Oregon).
Stephanie is a long-time friend and recently gave me a reason to speak on social media so this was a pretty quick connection. Stephanie = Tourism. In a fraction of a second, I decided that maybe I would learn about or find something interesting in the tourism industry and share it with my friends (neighbors) at the Beaumont CVB. (side note, my book publishing company does tourist related books all around the country so there was a work connection to this Alltop category as well).
Anyway, off I went into the “Tourism Industry” page and started scanning. This was all new information and I saw one line of text that stuck out: “A new twist on destination marketing with radio” from Sheila’s Guide To The Good Stuff. I later discovered that Sheila is a talented freelance writer from Austin TX.
“A new twist on destination marketing with radio” looks good to me. I mouse over it for preview information on the article.
My mind must have been read. I was amazed to see how a seemingly random series of clicks led me to see an article directly connected too me. That’s the power of the social web. It’s also a very telling demonstration of how we are looking at the “world wide web” but seek to make relevant connections to us, our area, and our personal lives.
For the record, it does not surprise me when I come across posts for Seth Godin or Chris Brogan and countless other people because it is expected, it’s normal to see these names dotting the digital map of the internet. However, it is not ‘normal’ to see your local convention and visitors bureau via Alltop by way of Chris Brogan. At least, not normal yet…
How this Illustrates Web 2.0 – from both the creator of content and the web surfer.
I’m creating right now – this blog post. Right now, you are the web surfer. In the story above, I went to great length to paint a picture of my thoughts and actions as a web surfer. Why? Because too many people are still unsure how they fit into the fabric of the social web and I wanted to tell a “normal” story – not one that makes me look like some special web user or social media person.
It is safe to say that the story I just told is a basic experience. Go to a common place, see something interesting, follow the link, read and follow another link (or quit). I did what you would do. I shared my thought process, because you are thinking and deciding on what to do next as well. Nothing new here. This is normal stuff.
Here’s were Web 2.0 kicks in.
Stephanie, was either invited or created an opportunity to be on KSET AM radio to talk about Beaumont Tourism. She (or someone else tweeted it on twitter) from which Sheila saw the tweet and, as explained in her blog post, made a personal connection with Beaumont (even though she is in Austin) and followed the link to the online radio show. According to Sheila, she was already thinking about radio based on something happening in San Antonio and this Beaumont CVB tweet was building on that event in her mind. She was compelled to sit down and write a blog post sharing her perspective on radio, the internet, and my good friend Stephanie.
Does Sheila (Freelance Writer in Austin TX) know Stephanie (Marketing Director in Beaumont TX)? She may, but I don’t think so. Do I know Sheila? Not at all. Was I tracking or searching for Stephanie or Sheila? Nope, I was following interesting links which originated from my enjoyment of Chris Brogan.
As this story reveals, we are all disconnected (or independent) and yet connected through the social web.
Why This Matters to You – online and offline
Now that virtually everyone is online and almost everyone is in some social place (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc) that means the work you do, the things you say and the people you impact could end up online – either by you or by someone else. This is great for brand development, personal branding, exposure, SEO, business building, marketing, creating friends etc. But it also means that we have to be mindful of our actions, both online and offline, because “somebody” is watch, listening, or somehow involved and they now have a platform to share their experience – the social web. If you do good things, the social web will feed you. If you do bad things, the social web will squeeze you.
So, regardless of whether or not you have embraced the social web, know that the social web has already included you. And as this story shows, one small informative tweet can go a long way (through Austin TX and into Alltop.com) or if you’re like me, one misstep on the social web can get a lot of unexpected attention.
Bottom line: Since it’s here with or without you, you may as well embrace (and feed) the social web.
Keep doing good!