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It’s shiny and new but the question is do you need it? October 1, 2009

Posted by andysephton in internet, new media, social networks.
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The internet is buzzing with Google’s latest invite only toy, Google Wave, an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration that, if you believe the hype, is pretty much the best thing ever to come out of the internet. The highly coveted and sort after invites to gain access to the beta version are in high demand with one apparently selling for $5,100 on eBay.

This strange fever that surrounds these new online tools got me thinking about whether new is always the way to go. One blogger I found on the web made the very valid point that: “Just because people have access to a technology doesn’t mean they will use it. We used to have real time collaboration online (they were called chat rooms), but we got over that”. When it comes to online technology the key is to find out what works for you and not what everyone is talking about.

Social media as a whole can seem a scary concept to more conservative companies who are only starting to consider if this area is right for them. What they really need to be looking at is what parts of the social media sphere are appropriate for their business. Facebook has a lot of users but for many businesses have no place in their social media strategy. Twitter is good for short, snappy updates but sometimes you have more than 140 characters to say. LinkedIn can be great for finding new business contacts and answering fellow user’s questions but is it reaching the right people for you?

Don’t get me wrong, these tools could be perfect for your business but the point I am trying to make is that you need to make sure that they are. Don’t just use them because everyone else does. If a tried and tested blog is the best way to get your message out, go for it. If you can’t dedicate the time to keep your Twitter account full of relevant Tweets there is little point in having one. Also please remember that social media is too new an area for anyone to truly be an expert on this area and we are all still learning. Also remember that just because something is not right for your business now does not mean it won’t be in the future.

Many of the new tools will be full of bugs and glitches in the early days and the one that got no hype to start with could evolve in to the communication tool of the century. Do your research, talk to as many people as you can and remember to go back and look at the tools you wrote off in the early days. They might have got their act together and become a perfect fit for your business.

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