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  • Chris Gibbs

Technology and Social Media: Business Marmite or essential tools?


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As you look back over the last decade, what changes have crept up on you and surprised you by becoming an indispensible part of your daily routine in a way you wouldn’t have thought possible? and do you think that they are for the better?

I stopped to ask myself these very questions as I prepared to attend International Confex for the tenth consecutive year. The most obvious changes to my own working and personal life have come from an unstoppable tide of technology and social media.

I joined Facebook in 2007 and to this day, I continue to enjoy connecting with old friends on a daily basis and feeling part of their lives again, rather than relying on the annual Christmas and birthday card swap, random phone calls, answer-phone messages or carefully planned visits.

I recall having dinner with a friend who told me there was a new website called ‘Twitter’ that he knew I'd love, but he also warned me that I would have to cut down on how much say because there was a 140 character limit! I’d never have believed the thrill when, a few years later, my hero re-tweeted and favourited one of my tweets!

A keynote speaker at an MIA event at the Natural History Museum spoke about ‘LinkedIn’ and recommended we take the time to have a look at it because it was ‘going to be big’. As a natural ‘early-adopter’ I went straight home, created a profile and started connecting! Connecting with industry and business colleagues on LinkedIn has so many great benefits (I feel a future blog coming on) but one of the best features for me is being able to keep names associated to faces with the opportunity of building long lasting relationships.

In preparation for my visit to the Confex show I downloaded the Confex App – this made me realise how much apps have also become an integral part of my daily routine, where were they ten years ago? Each day I walk my dog and use ‘MapMyWalk’ to track the distance we cover before it synchronises with ‘MyFitnessPal’. This helps me maintain a healthy life style and keep me on the right path - I am always far too easily tempted by the pastries and cakes at all the hotels and events! Not forgetting of course that all of the above mentioned social media platforms have apps too, for ease of use on mobile devices.

Ten years ago I could only use my mobile phone to make calls and send text messages but in 2015 it’s a daily companion and tool - or ‘life support machine’ as my technophobe husband refers to it. Though I’d never have dreamt of any of it, I’m pleased there were people out there with the vision and the ability to be forward thinking and lead us in a new direction.

Much like Marmite, one can love or hate social media but there’s no escaping its importance when running a business. Personally, I think this technology can be a force for the good but we have to take control of it and decide how and when it’ll be part of our daily routine. I’ve been guilty of losing hours while looking at posts that won’t really benefit my day. I have ranted when people have ‘dissed’ a certain musical hero of mine, that won't altered their option or affect their lives one iota – all I’ve achieved is raised blood pressure! So lessons have been learnt and I now engage with what I want, when I want to in order to benefit my day and boost productivity.

As a result of new technology and social media the already word-rich English language now has a whole host of neologisms and new meanings to old words: ‘synch’ was something that contained water and a dialog box was a speech bubble in a cartoon strip. With my vocabulary duly extended I’m looking forward to posting, sharing, tweeting, liking, favouriting, pinning, connecting and logging. I’ll also merrily continue to friend and un-friend using the apps on my smart-phone and tablet. I also wonder what new technology will come along in the next decade to turn my personal and business routine upside down once more.


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