I’ve often been asked which is the “safer” route to take: keeping up with competitors or trying to break free from the norm by trying something new and risking failure. In my case, I’ve chosen the latter. I’ve grown tired of the “what ifs,” and questioning my abilities. Thankfully, I have the encouragement of my peers and family when the need to try something different strikes.

When editors were asked to start using Social Media (SoMe) here at BNP Media, we were audibly skeptical. Our workloads were heavy between print and online issues, so what more could we possibly add to our daily routines? Who would want to follow us on Twitter? More importantly, we felt if our content didn’t contain value, then we risked the fate of becoming background noise – static, if you will.

Initially, finding and following fellow tweeters took a good amount of my morning. But the more I dove into it, the more I realized the value of the information I had found. I won’t lie to you, it’s overwhelming at first, but once you sift through, filter and list the people/organizations you follow, staying up-to-date takes a matter of minutes. However, initiating and maintaining the relationships you’ve now developed will need time and nurturing. Plan to set about 30-45 minutes per day (all at once or broken up throughout the day) to continue culling new information from those you follow, and to provide new information to those who follow you.

Conversely, don’t bombard your followers unless you’re tweeting live from an event. Later this month, I will be traveling to Cersaie in Bologna, Italy. Surprisingly, it will be my first time attending the show. I’m very excited to see what new products I’ll be seeing up-close, and of course, I will be reporting live from the show via Twitter and Facebook (www.facebook.com/TileMagazine). You can see my live tweets by following both @TileMagazineand@TileEditor. The first time I tweeted live from a show, I was truly taken aback by the positive response I received. People, some who I had met and many that I hadn’t, were retweeting (RT) the material I was posting, but most importantly, were commenting on what I was providing. It’s both humbling and gratifying when someone from across the globe is reading your content and finds it useful enough to share with their friends. Therein lies the value and inarguable Return on Investment (ROI).

Aside from the business value of SoMe is the human value. Tweets are generated by people, and behind those people are ideas, visions and possible partnerships. An example of friendship leading to partnership can be found by looking at our stable of bloggers atwww.tilemagonline.com. I credit Twitter for being the vehicle that helped me establish a friendship with these dedicated and knowledgeable people: Paul Anater (@Paul_Anater) of “Kitchen and Residential Design”; JoAnn Locktov (@JoLocktov) with her “Tileista” posts; Bill Buyok (@AventeTile) with “Avente Tile Talk”; and Ryan Fasan (@Tile_Trends) with “Professional Attention to Tile Installation” (p.a.t.t.i.).

Is there something you would like to try, but haven’t? What has stopped you? Share your experience with us, and perhaps we can all learn from each other! You can address your note tonalbandiana@bnpmedia.com.