Last week on the train from DC to BWI, I overheard a conversation about social media.  It made me realize that the general public truly is adopting technology that techs and geeks and librarians have been using for years.

With this mass adoption there is potential for greatness:  both good and bad.  Guttenberg was the first self-publisher and today the trend continues.  This blog is self-publishing.  Further applications like Facebook and Twitter offer status updates… what a person is doing and/or feeling.  The sharing of information through these sites can offer up to much minutia.  Used strategically these tools can allow individuals and businesses to publish powerful data that attracts clients and solves problems.

Solving a business problem in 140 characters is really good bait.  Fishing for the prize catch takes perseverance.  The self-published data, the connections and the shared links that are posted offer a sea of rich data.

Self-published status updates mixed with connections and links that are shared and you start to get a full 180 profile of an individual.  You know what causes they are interested in, what they like to do for fun and what networking groups they are using to benefit themselves and their business.

The investigative potential within these tools is tremendous.  Learning about product recommendations and company complaints through Twitter can provide businesses with a method of pre-empting problems and gathering primary market research.  Investigating the people connections provide through the networks can be used in litigation to unseat a key witness.

There are as many ways to use this information as there are to gather it.  If you are not thinking about this in your due diligence and business practices, why not?  Do you think this is a fad that will pass while you sleep?  It may, but chances are that there’s something even more data rich pushing social networks out of the way.  As fast as technology changes, information will fill the bits and bytes.  Are you ready?