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Here in the United States, we are preparing to celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday in the coming week and I thought it might be fun to talk about why I am thankful for social media. I love social media because….

  • The speed of breaking news always beats traditional TV or radio news,
  • The ability to connect, answer and chat with my local news media has changed all of my media-based relationships,
  • Writing in 100 characters or less forces concise thinking,
  • I hate press releases….they are often too long, too boring and even I don’t read them all the way through,
  • The accessibility of peers in other states and countries is rather incredible. Before I entered the world of social media, all of the emergency managers I knew lived within 20 miles of me,
  • People will quickly answer questions and share best practices. I have saved hours of time, over the past 3 years, NOT creating wheels, but replicating what is already working in other areas,
  • The tools are intuitive and easy to learn within just a couple of hours (compare this with most classroom training adventures in government that generally always last longer than a day….remember, section-specific Incident Command Courses for Incident Management Teams are all 5 days long, right?)
  • The people you meet on social media represent all of the same segments of society that exist off social media.  I won’t be crazy enough to say “all of the people are there” but certainly networks of folks that can help me share messages, answer questions and give me thoughtful ideas in a timely fashion are always nearby in just a few minutes,

But beyond all of these reasons, it’s about the people for me. I have now met over 200 “friends” and “followers” in real life and my life is richer for it.  Social media served as the introduction, sharing of interests and provided the initial clue that the folks I’d meet would have lots of common overlap.

Social media is the living business card for you and your agency, but it’s far more powerful than the 3.5 inch by 2 inch paper cards that we once exchanged.  The only difference in today’s world is that your business card is exchanged before you see your follower offline.

This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, know that I am thankful for each of you that I have met face-to-face, exchanged emails or Tweets with, chatted with over the phone and Skype, followed, liked, and even connected with on LinkedIn.  You have taught me so much, given of yourselves to share in the online #SMEM community and become folks I call friends.

Thank you!

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