One reason for thanking Facebook

I have a lot to thank Facebook for.

Tweet. Check in. Status update. Follow. Blog.

The social media world is filled with increasingly numerous ways to connect to friends, colleagues, family and strangers.  Whether it’s nurturing contacts on LinkedIn or engaging like-minded souls on Twitter, social media networking has become more and more crucial to both the commercial and personal spheres.

Recently social media blogs such as Social Media Today have tended to highlight the positives Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Foursquare etc have for monitoring customer reactions and generating elevated levels of customer retention. Whilst I understand, and have implemented successful social media campaigns for business, last week I was reminded about just how much we rely on social media in our day-to-day non-business lives for support and guidance.

Social media has gone far beyond being an online photo album to share with acquaintances.  It has become a place of genuine emotion and opportunity – an intangible extension of offline life.

For those of you that don’t know last week I suffered a bereavement. One of my very best friends lost her long and brave battle to illness.  My world was turned upside-down, and I struggled to come to terms with the dimmer world that reality had become.

But within minutes there were friends grieving openly on Facebook, and strangers offering me support and much-needed *hugs* on Twitter – and this computerised outpouring felt completely natural.

Social media has now been embraced as a way to directly reach out to people.  The offline and the online coming increasingly closer together.  Meet-ups, Tweet-ups and Twestivals bring people with shared interests together. And it’s not just LinkedIn that’s the place to cultivate job opportunities: Bottle PR have set a challenge to social media lovers to connect with them, with a job up for grabs at the end of September.  No need to fill in endless application forms, and sit through brain-frazzling interviews trying to explain skills and past successes – here your skills are assessed, in real-time, and the applicant has to be pro-active in order to be successful.

Twitter, Facebook and their contemporaries have become deeply engrained in our social communications.  We share our successes and failures, our laughter and our tears –  just as much as our likes and dislikes.  We are used to the idea that you should be able to use social media to execute a campaign or to promote a product, but we’d all be fools to ignore how much social media has expanded organically into every facet of modern life.

My friend’s funeral was attended by several hundred people – many of whom only found out through Facebook.  Social media ensured that my best friend had the send-off she deserved.

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