Monday, October 05, 2009

The Social Media Value Web

Other industries may have a value stream but I'm convinced that we create a value web in social media. Social media is about relationships layered in with the ease of information exchange. That is a powerful combination and now I have anecdotal evidence as to just how much more value is generated by this social media value web.

Ten years ago or so, I had an amazing experience with Hertz. I wrote a letter immediately afterward and have told my story countless times since then. The letter was perhaps framed upon some wall for a while but I'm sure ultimately was replaced by other letters earning a place on that wall. And because it was such a lengthy story in its entirety, I only entertained a few people at a time every once in a while with my saga of the vacation that almost wasn't. As impassioned as I was, I didn't want to intentionally bore anyone.

Not surprisingly, while my experience was itself quite powerful, my sharing that experience has had minimal impact over the years.

Fast forward a few more years and along comes LinkedIn and after a while, LinkedIn starts allowing people to tap into one another's expertise via the Questions and Answers function. Because customer service matters to me, I started paying attention to questions about Customer Service and ultimately ran into two different questions back-to-back for which my Hertz story was an appropriate response. I realized I hadn't written about it on my blog, so I decided it was past time to tell that story for anyone to find who wanted to hear about it.

My Hertz story has attracted a few people here and there so sharing it on the internet does indeed seem to be having more impact, but the increase in value is still pretty minor compared to what has happened since then.

Along the way, LinkedIn got even smarter. They themselves started tapping into the passion of people who really believe what they're doing to help get the word out about what's possible via LinkedIn. As part of the Friends of LinkedIn group, I get to hear when they're looking for people who have had successes with LinkedIn that they can share. When 1to1Media wanted stories about fabulous customer service that they could share on their Everyday Customer Champion website, I quickly pointed them to my Hertz story. Now Hertz has an even bigger audience - and perhaps I do as well.

It doesn't end there. Hertz has apparently gotten smart about social media too. They have a Hertz Fan page on Facebook and apparently picked up on the Everyday Customer Champion post, which they then shared on their FB page. Then "Mike" from Hertz even went so far as to post a comment via Intense Debate which opens up the conversation even further.

And of course, being fascinated as I am by the inner workings of social media and the internet, I'm now writing about the inter-dependencies - which will end up in my own Twitter stream, FriendFeed, and Facebook pages and hopefully benefit everyone else further still in one big positive feedback loop. Sometimes the tangled web we weave works to everyone's advantage.

Inevitably, the internet with the added capabilities of various flavors of social media makes a small world that much smaller. Let's keep using that superpower for good.

What do you have to say to the world that benefits you and others?