deeFor some, the sole purpose of social media is ruthless self promotion, if not outright narcissism. At the very least, they consider social media an outbound marketing tool.

It is my opinion that that they are missing the point of social media: social media is all about two-way communication. For example, we all know that Twitter is populated with many vain and useless comments. Still, if you use the search option on the Twitter page, you can “data mine” some very interesting stuff. Essentially, you can use Twitter as a very specialized search engine within your own personal network.

Facebook is also beta testing a similar search function with a beta name of “Mashable.” Facebook and LinkedIn allow you the ability to ask questions of your network. Call it basic market research. Depending on the size of your network and their response rate, the results could prove to be significant from a statistical perspective.

Maybe the greatest benefit of social networking is the opportunity to help others. You could help a colleague find contacts for a job search. Or, you might be able to recommend a solution for a problem that someone is having with their email marketing campaign. When you help others, you will be remembered and rewarded some time in the future (OK, maybe only in the afterlife).

Social media allows for a dialog that might not happen in traditional communication channels. Turn down your personal volume and listen to your social network.

John Bradley Jackson

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