A few years ago — when comedy was king — people thought of themselves as cast members of a sitcom, “You’ll never believe what happened to me today…it’s almost like that Seinfeld episode…”
But alas, Seinfeld is as far away as my youth, and I don’t know if it’s a generational thing (or a frustrated writer thing) but I no longer find myself viewing my day-to-day activities as a comedy but, rather, in light of a blog entry. For instance, I’m sitting at the doctor’s office this morning and I’m thinking about some of the funny conversations going on around me and I imagine how I’m going to have blog content for weeks on some of these characters. (Of course, it’s after noon and I don’t remember any of them so there’s no need to worry that I was listening to your conversation.)
But in today’s world, where most of us share just a little too much, and the lines have blurred between professional and private, we’re in uncharted waters. For those of us who have a foot in the professional and a foot in the private blogging world, it can be confusing at best. What time is my time and what can I write on my own blog without it being associated with my company? The last thing you want is to make your employer look bad. The same happens with social networking. I have three profiles — two professional, one personal. Of my professional ones, one is through YourMembership.com. Corporate social networking is not only fun it’s smart. Now there’s a place I can post and blog with company in mind. No concerns over how it will make my company look if I join the social group “I like Beer (which is just an example, I haven’t actually done that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that group or the beverage.).” I’m able to connect with other like-minded professionals and not worry about what my boss will think if a well-intentioned friend posts a picture of me from 8th grade sporting my Miami Vice wanna-be look complete with Don Johnson squint (okay, so that did happen. Ouch.). In the midst of all of my professional networking, should I want to revisit that awful picture, I can click on “My Networks” and link to that other site. Professional networking software from YourMembership.com makes it easy for me to keep my worlds separate.
So what will the future bring for companies and online communities as a whole? Many believe we are moving toward social commerce — consumers creating the product and companies “bidding” on the production of such. I’m not sure about a complete role reversal but I know there are companies out there who are listening to customers and allowing them to pick product attributes (think colors of M&Ms, naming shades of lipstick contests, even choosing a Doritos flavor). YourMembership.com is one of those customer-centric places. We recognize the importance of our consumers as all of our enhancements are “crowd sourced.” Every customer suggestion is reviewed by developers and all viable ideas are placed on a development schedule. The items are then voted on by our customers. The users dictate the order in which the enhancements roll out.
I think I finally understand the opening line of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” We are seeing unprecedented opportunities and change within communication, marketing and social networking, which inevitably will lend some kind of a hand to turning around these difficult financial times. With web 2.0 and the Internet, companies can monitor what’s being said about them for very little money and shape their business needs around that of the public, regardless of their budget or size. Exciting times, these.