I'm the marketing guy at my company, which provides telecommunications infrastructure solutions to telecommunications vendors. (read: we have a dozen enormous customers and potential in the world). In addition to that, I am putting together a political party to run for the local municipal elections.
Over the last month or two, I have basically submerged myself in this online social media culture. There's a lot going on! But it's pretty self-focused. If you aren't in Silicon Valley, part of a Web 2.0 company or a startup, or involved in consumer marketing to under-30s, very few people in your circle of reference know what a blog, RSS feed, or online social network can do for them. I'm in high-tech in Israel, which is just about as close to Silicon Valley as you can get. While quite a lot of my colleagues are members of some of these social networks, an extremely small percentage of them are actually using them for anything. Case in point, I posted on the Digital Eve (women's high-tech networking, over 1000 members, many in marketing positions) listserv asking people how they manage their company's online presence, and only one person even got back to me.
So how does this pertain to me? How far ahead of the curve am I in this area? And how cool is that to the few other people who are also ahead of the curve? Is this going to allow me to be able to "friend" some high level executive at AlcaLu or Ericsson and follow his interests on his microblog? Can this supplement or substitute for going to those conferences and shaking people's hands?
What about in politics? Is it possible to leverage these social networks for my local community work? For my synagogue? For my kids' school? To run for mayor? That's going to have to happen in different networks, in a different language, with a different group of people.
I don't know. I suspect that the opportunity is now, when it is still possible to friend someone you barely know and have them accept your friend request. So bear with me, as I try, and we'll see how it goes.