If you don’t live it, you don’t love it.

Some months back I wrote a blog post for a different blog about how the use of Social Media influences the life of those who are in the midst of it all.  As Social Media Week comes to an end, I thought it would be fitting to share it again with a few updates.

According to Wikipedia, “the term social media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” There is an emphasis in the field of social media in building and maintaining relationships by creating content that will engage people and entice them to be part of a “community.”

The role of a social media professional (from strategist to community manager), is to help businesses reach consumers on a personal level in a variety of ways, and then through relationship building change their behavior.

The other day, I was watching the movie Fight Club, based on the book by the same name written by Mr. Chuck Palahniuk. While watching the following scene, I couldn’t help but think about the role of a Social Media professional:

Emmanuel Vivier, cofounder and former Director of Strategy of Vanksen, says that “People cannot really understand the power of social media before they experience it on a personal level.”

I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who makes a living in social media and actually likes what they do, not actually “be” their job. They exist with a little blinking light or the variety of little icons on their phones or their computer dictating what the next course of action is.  And yes, this degree of dedication may seem a little pathological, but I think that our own social media participation affects the decisions we make for our clients and to be able to affect behavioral change, our behavior must have been changed as well.

I have thought of my own experience with social media and how it has affected me, and I believe that it has affected every piece of content I have ever created and/or posted on behalf of someone else and even myself.   By harnessing the power of social media I have been able to create a wonderful and powerful professional network, but have also seen it converge with my personal life.

Hugh told me once about how during his time in rural Texas social media kept him connected to the world.  All I kept thinking during that conversation was that I would have never met him had it not been for social media.

So I asked some of social media’s most esteemed minds if there has ever been an experience of personal value to them that couldn’t have happened without social media:

“ Social Media has given me an audience I can reach through my blog. Social Networks allow me to reach out to people and join/start conversations or even activities around topics I am passionate about. Doing this has had a massive impact on my life, as it has added a richness and inspiration which before was not there. Or at least at a lower level of intensity.

Social media has been a means to connect with great people also in real life…with some I am even collaborating on creative projects.”

–    Thomas Marzano Global Creative Director Online Brand Communications. Phillips Design.

“Absolutely! For me it happens every day. Connecting  with you, Annush, was an amazing result of my presence on social networks. I would have never met you if not for Twitter. I am a connector and for me to have this opportunity to connect and talk with people I don’t know but who I have similar interests with is truly invaluable. I have a number of friends who I met on social networks and who added so much to my professional and personal life!

Keeping up with my friends and family on Facebook is a huge personal value add for me. It feels like you are in their lives all the time following every single milestone, seeing every picture and video… I have friends all over the world and Facebook allows me the privilege of being a part of their lives every day…

–   Ekaterina Walter. Social Media Strategist. Intel.

“… Engaging everyday on social media will create deep connections with people you would never have connected with because they don’t belong to the same city or the same social environment. My bloggers friends are ranging from CEOs to artists, from student to mothers, from marketing experts to scientists. Some of them I know better than some of my nearest friends, even if I never met them In Real Life. By reading and exchanging thoughts and opinions every day, social media has allowed me to develop a string network of very diverse contacts all over the planet. Being able to read people with different cultural backgrounds has helped me broaden my mind and my understanding of the world.

You really need to practice social media, blogging or twittering to understand the social power of it. You cannot experience swimming by reading books or looking at the water.”

–   Emmanuel Vivier.  Cofounder and former Director of Strategy of Vanksen.

Seems to me that the reason why they are so good at what they do is because they acknowledge the enrichment that embracing social media has brought to their lives. Like I have said before, it takes an immense amount of devotion and openness to be an active player in social media.  These interactions have to be organic because at the end of the day, social media is not a job but a way of life.

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