Social marketing: killing time, or not?

Heaven help us, but we finally bit the bullet: HOW is now on Twitter. I say 'finally' because it seems like everyone we know has been tweeting (twittering? twitting? twit-izing? whatever.) for months. You can find us at HOWmag, if you're into that kind of thing.

Jeff Fisher practically dragged me kicking and screaming into the Social Networking Age. He chided me because HOW didn't have a Facebook page until about 6 months ago. And then he harped until we finally hooked up on Twitter exactly one week ago.

HOW's parent company has been staging workshops to train editors on how to use these social media tools as a way of connecting with our communities. I'll admit to being a bit skeptical. Still, I have seen some cool examples of how they can work in interesting ways:

• Take the CFC group on LinkedIn, for example — folks from last year's conference are communicating and helping each other solve problems a full 6 months after the event
• On Facebook, I "met" a Canadian designer and speaker, David Berman (author of the new book Do Good Design), whom I invited to speak at this year's MYOB conference
• I posted our recent webinar, 7 Killer Steps to Generating Big, Hairy Design Ideas, as a Facebook event, and about 10% of our audience for that registered after seeing the FB post
• Then yesterday, I 'tweeted' during the webinar. I've no idea who saw the tweets or if anyone cared, but I had fun doing it.

Of course, there's a huge time-wasting component to all these social media activities (who doesn't love goofing off on company time?). I'm still not sure what the real business benefit is. But it's a topic that HOW will be exploring big-time in the coming months — in the magazine, at CFC and in a webinar later this year.

I'm interested to hear about your experiences with social media. Join us in the CFC LinkedIn group to discuss!