Social Media channels are all fine and good, but they aren’t actually anything in themselves. A Facebook with no users, a Youtube with no videos or a Flickr with no pictures would not last very long at all. The internet without social bookmarking sites or Twitter links would be a very isolated place indeed.
So much of the web has been opened up with the introduction of Digg, Stumbleupon, Twitter and all those other sites that allow us to share interesting and exciting links. Before these sites existed there was very little opportunity to share websites with other internet users. Sure you could go on to a forum or write on a blog, but you’d have to visit each individual page to air your opinion or share your link.
Social bookmarking and social networking has connected the web and most importantly it has synergised it. Not so long ago, companies provided content and customers viewed it. Save a few ‘Contact Us’ sections that was about as interactive as it got. NOW people are talking about products on Twitter, sharing links and information about new sites or notable digital campaigns. Companies are listening to their customer’s opinions and feedback and making appropriate changes to their products and services.
From a user perspective, the potential to discover new web content is greatly improved with the use of social media. I can use Google Reader or any number of feed aggregators to keep up with new sites and products. I can subscribe to blogs and follow links within those blogs to even more new sites and blogs. The list is pretty much infinite.
By far the greatest content discovery tool though has to be Twitter. Users can filter their information feeds by only following certain tweeps. This feed is then constantly updated (using a Twitter client like Tweetdeck/Seesmic) with info that you have predetermined as relevant by following those people. By viewing other peoples followers you can again find yet more people with shared interests and so open up another small section of the internet that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Social Media is an enzyme
With out social media and Twitter in particular, I would not have discovered half as much of the content on the web as I have. Take in to account that Twitter alone has 30 million users and that is a lot of content sharing and a lot of the web opened up. Social media is a catalyst for the web. An enzyme that pushes you forward toward relevant content faster than you could ever have done without it.