Growing up, if you wanted to know how far the sun was from the Earth you were told to either “Go ask your father” or maybe your family was fortunate enough to own that beautiful Encyclopedia Britannica set with the gold pages (Did your parents fall victim to the traveling encyclopedia salesmen?), and you were then told to “Go look it up.”
When my kids came asking “How do heavy airplanes actually fly?” I replied, “Let's Google it.” But today when I have questions that need answers FAST, like “What is the best wireless printer?” “Who is using a great budgeting app?” or “What is the best Italian restaurant in Wichita, Kansas?” I ask my Twitter network. It is more reliable and easier to sift through than pages of EHOW or ANSWERS.YAHOO responses that are more like technical forums at times than simple answers. Sometimes the answers that come up are paid advertisements based on the keywords I have typed in and I don't trust them.
I've seen questions from my social network asking serious parenting questions that used to be answered by calling Mom, but today we put more trust in our Facebook friends and Twitter followers than even our parents. Perhaps it's kind of like “Polling the Audience” on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where we can ask a question to thousands and see which answer we like the best or how many people say the same thing.
I read a recent statistic that said only 14% of people trust advertisements versus 78% trusting peer recommendations! So if we are connecting to the right people, people we consider to be our peers, this is not only a powerful resource for us, but for organizations doing a great job building social relationships, it is a powerful marketing tool. Brands and organizations must be IN the communities, building relationships, sharing expertise and answering questions…not just selling!
So the question is, “How do you get in these social circles?” Well you can Google it, but I would bet you'd get a better response if you ask your Twitter and Facebook friends!