How I Planned My Summer Vacation (or Social Networking ROI)

Blogging about social networking as always seemed so dreadfully meta to me that I’ve avoided doing it until now. Sure, I’ve written articles and given webinars about social networking, but if you’re already reading my blog, shouldn’t you already “get it” to some extent? My perceived redundancy aside, I recently experienced a very powerful positive effect of social networking that I wanted to share with (inflict on?) all of you.

In an article that will appear in an upcoming issue of ILTA’s Peer to Peer magazine, I make the argument that social networking saves me time and makes me more efficient. While I experience that daily at work, my recent trip to Seattle for (gasp) vacation brought that home in a much more tangible way.

It all started with a single Tweet:
@jennsteele: I’m heading to Seattle soon; what are things I “can’t miss” in the city, on the San Juan islands, and in any of the surrounding area?

Suggestions started arriving immediately to go to this or that restaurant, see various attractions and neighborhoods, and I received two very long emails full of restaurant recommendations and sightseeing tips. These tweets and emails were my guide during my trip, and saved me countless hours of research that I would have done otherwise. For example, I found an amazing Japanese restaurant (Nishino, on the recommendation of @Donna_Payne from Payne Consulting), a great steak house (the Metropolitan Grill, on the recommendation of Beau Mersereau (@beaum) from Fish & Richardson), and the most amazing beer selection I’ve ever seen (the Taphouse Grill, thanks to Faith Drewry from EIM).

I have another nine or ten examples, but I think I’ve proven my point. Instead of spending my time researching, I spent it with my husband sightseeing, relaxing, and watching the Roddick/Federer match. (Side note: I found out about the craziness of that match from Twitter, prompting me to turn it on.) Twitter and Facebook saved me more time in this single week than I spend on the two tools in two months combined. ROI, indeed.