As media planners, we really need to understand the entire Internet ecosystem to develop the best media strategy and plan. To keep up my continuing education, I frequently attend (and sometimes speak at) industry conferences.
Personally, I like going to conferences even if they’re outside the online media space. I listen, learn, ask questions, process, and try to share what I learn back at the office or in this column. I try to expose myself to a broad range of subject matter, in part because you never know which might lead to a media play and in part because you never know who you might meet.
That being said, not all of us can regularly attend conferences to glean the latest information. To stay informed, we can read newsletters, blogs, and magazines. But as we all know, nothing beats word-of-mouth, particularly among peers.
There is where social communities come in. What may be strictly social interactions to some, to professionals is called good old-fashioned networking. Networking is definitely one of the best ways to get answers to the questions we’re looking for, which in turn, makes us better at our jobs. We’re just lucky these days that technology makes this even easier than ever to do.
What’s out there for us media professionals? Let’s list a few structured and non-structured social networking solutions for professionals:
E-mail Discussion Lists
The oldest of the old-fashioned online networking groups, e-mail discussion lists are still around with active participants. Many discussion lists are now by invitation-only to keep useless chatter and solicitations down and the content quality high. Morino Institute’s Netpreneur Exchange AdMarketing discussion list is one that’s still active as well as open to the public.
Message Boards and Communities
Message boards (also known as forums) are also old school, but still around. There are a few like IZEA‘s that operate within the online advertising space.
Communities are often hosted on a resource site like MarketingProfs’s Know-How Exchange for Advertising/PR, which allows members to post and respond to questions.
Blog Commenters, Reviews, and Tagged Content
If you think of a blog not only as content but as community, you can start to look for who’s posting comments to blog entries as people to network with. Blogs related to online advertising subject matter, such as AdRants are particularly relevant. Looking for more blogs? Try using SlideShare or those individuals you find through tags on social bookmarking site Delicious might also make good contacts.
These days, professionals are more likely to be more familiar with groups, particularly because of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. On Facebook, there are many groups related to “online media,” though few seem active. On LinkedIn, however, there are 360 related groups, some of which are very active. Poke around to see if any are right for you.
Twitter has been described as a lot of things — microblogging, instant messaging for the masses, the new search — but one thing Twitter is great for is quickly networking to other like-minded people. Because Twitter is so public, it can be very easy to find people you might want or need to connect with. You can review who someone follows to find other people like them. You can use Twitter Search (or Advanced Search) to research by topic and timeliness, or you can monitor the phenomenon called #followfriday by which users recommend other users they feel their followers should also follow.
The bottom line: in the quest for knowledge, you don’t need to go it alone. Get online and network!
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