the Web Czar

Get Answers to Your Burning Questions

This entry is part 2 of 10 in the seriesIs Social Media a Time-Suck?

It used to be that all the answers to your questions could be found in online article directories. Then, when they became overrun with junk and advertisements, Wikipedia became the guru of choice. But even Wikipedia won’t give you the answer to every question you have. Sometimes the information is too arcane, or sometimes you don’t want the facts; you want an opinion. So what better place to turn to than social media?

Social media is great for the following types of questions:

  1. Opinions. Heading to San Antonio and want to know where to find authentic Tex-Mex? Wikipedia won’t help you and Google is full of sponsored ads. So instead of doing a fruitless search, post a query on your Facebook page, and within hours your friends will have chimed in with a variety of suggestions, depending on your appetite, allergies, and budget.
  2. When you want an opinion or suggestion, ask your social media network. They tend to enjoy giving help and assistance, and the resulting information may be more appropriate to your circumstance than a review written by a nameless, faceless entity.
  3. New technology questions. Your brand-new video camera won’t boot up after the last charge. You could spend an hour or two on the manufacturer’s website, searching the FAQ pages for an answer. You could Google the problem, but all the answers you get are for the previous model. So you send out a plea for help from the “Twitter-verse”, and within minutes you have a handful of suggestions, as well as a site to go to for expert help.
  4. Search engines may not help much with tech questions because there either aren’t enough answers out there to make it to the first page of the search results, or there are too many conflicting answers – and you’re not sure who to trust.  Sometimes, the resulting pages are all scams, junk sites, or sponsored posts for services that will fix your camera for a small fee. That’s why you can often save time by asking your network first.
  5. References and Referrals. Looking for a great handyman in Nashville can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can go through the Yellow Pages or check online, but are any of these guys any good? To know for sure you need a personal reference or referral, and that’s where your social media network can really help out. Post a Facebook query or tweet it out there, and you’ll get answers that will steer you in the right direction.

We often think of social media as a way to just hang out with our friends and colleagues, but it is actually one of the greatest examples of the wisdom of crowds. Take advantage of it, and save time, too.

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