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November 8, 2012   Executive Team Blog

On community...

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D.

I'm one of those people who have been in, then out, then back in, then back out (and sometimes back in) to various forms of social networking over the past several years. I have two Facebook accounts, two Google+ accounts, three or four Twitter accounts, and I've dabbled with Digg, Tumblr, Flickr, and other social network services from time to time. I've even been involved in a bunch of different old fashioned message boards for various things I'm interested in.

The reason I've had a hard time settling in to social media is that I honestly have a hard time knowing what to do where and when. I have written personal blogs from time to time mostly to share thoughts with friends and family on personal matters (vacations, philosophical ramblings and the like). But because I haven't really known how to use it effectively I haven't focused much on creating a true life-governing strategy for social networking. Should I link my personal blog and Facebook page to my Twitter feed and allow my personal and professional lives merge, or is there value in insulating one from the other? How much of Facebook friending and Twitter tweeting is an act of techno-narcisissm, and how much of it is valuable to others? 

I don't know if there are clear answers to questions like this but I'd sure like to know if there are. Part of what drives this curiosity is the interesting role social media has played in significant cultural events that have shaped the past few years. The series of mideast revolutions that came to be the Arab Spring and the Iranian Green Revolution were both heavily fueled by social networking outlets. And both Presidential candidates relied heavily on social networking strategies to communicate with and mobilize their supporters in this season's election. As I write this, the Twittersphere is discussing who is going to be appointed to China's Politburo. Social networking has the power to assemble and mobilize communities to powerful ends, but are those really communities? Perhaps more pertinent, has social networking redefined what community means?

In many respects the answer has to be yes. Thirteen years ago when I came into the WealthCounsel world the members' listserv was a vibrant embodiment of community. I considered the WCMLS to be a steady infusion of continuing education by lots of really bright people who helped me learn and better serve my clients. The listserv became my practice development community. By the time I met many of the people from the listserv, they were already my friends. But I'm also convinced that there is a profound difference between Twitter trends of funny moustaches and meaningful discussion of substantive legal and planning issues among professionals. 

I'd really like input on how the community of WealthCounsel members and our likeminded friends can effectively leverage social media technologies to enhance and invigorate our community. While we "have a team working on it" I really covet what members think and how you use Facebook, Twitter, and other media to learn and connect. Together we have a lot of ability to teach and learn from each other in new and powerful ways - more so now than ever before. In the meantime, maybe it's time to reawaken my Facebook page and start fumbling through again. If you're already there, please come and friend me (...and feel free to post comments here to help the conversation).

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