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Navigating the New Era of Social Media


Here are five ways to adapt to the Information Age.

Today's global economy is as tough to pinpoint as it is to navigate -- from QE and stimulus to austerity and sovereign debt to housing bottoms and jobs growth. Some say slow growth, some say no growth. And some see giant green bean stocks.

Let's face it, reading and consuming the latest economic numbers and analysis is a difficult task nowadays. We are coming off a volatile decade and many people are looking to turn a new leaf. Furthermore, we are trying to reconcile emotions and feelings about a major financial crisis during the Information Age. Layer in the liftoff of social media, and everything of any importance is now magnified and immediate. From political posturing and spin control to the collective reaction to the latest economic reports… and the numbers and analysis are coming at us from all angles.

Literally, folks are reacting on social media within seconds of publication, and articles/blogs usually follow within minutes. It's a frenzied atmosphere that makes for very difficult terrain to navigate, especially if you are an active investor. And buyers beware, as the information can be wide-ranging and often motivated by hindsight.

But get used to it: We're just now beginning to embrace the Information Age, an age that will empower the individual. There's no need to run and hide. Rather, I would offer that now is your time. It's time to adapt. And the speed with which individuals adapt will have wide-ranging financial and economic implications for the individual, as well as the community and nation. But more importantly, for the first time in long time, it is the individual that is front and center. So, although I'd love to wax on about the economics of the next decade, I'll spare you the digression.

This is about the individual and adapting to the Information Age. Back in February, I was interviewed by SmartMoney about job sectors to watch, and without blinking I offered up social media. It's here, so best to accept and embrace it. With that said, here are five simple ways in which individuals can adapt to the Information Age, while positioning themselves for personal and financial success.

1. Get on social media. Look into setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (LNKD), Google+ (GOOG), etc. If you are an investor, you should set up an account on StockTwits as well. Make friends and business contacts on Facebook and LinkedIn. And follow people you like and make conversation on Twitter and StockTwits. This may feel outside your comfort zone, but you'll get the hang of it, and you'll feel more connected to what's happening and why it's happening.

2. Be open-minded when filtering through information. Find news outlets and individuals that you enjoy and trust, but be willing to listen in on new people and news outlets (at least initially). Follow as many as you like, but realize that there is so much information out there that eventually it will be important to narrow your scope.

3. Advocate for yourself. It's amazing how freeing it is to put your thoughts out there. It's also very cool to have access to recognizable people on Twitter. Many industries, including media, used to feel so far removed from the everyday individual. Not now. Social media has given us all a mouthpiece to communicate our thoughts. One bit of caution, though: Think before sharing your thoughts. Social media is an "immediate" platform so it's a lot harder to get your words back.

4. Get your business on social media. And do it today. If you own a business and have yet to leverage social media to get your message out, then you are losing out. And if you are thinking of starting a business, be sure to build social media into your messaging and marketing model. It's a great platform to develop a personality and communicate with your customers. And it's cost effective.

5. Read about it / educate yourself. My recommendation: Pick up a copy of The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg. Written in 1997, the book explores one of the greatest political and economic transitions in our history and speaks to the rise of the individual and social network as juxtaposed to the continued effort of nation states to cling to their declining power.

Embrace this new era. Social media platforms are emerging, developing, and upgrading every day. And they are waiting to hear from unique individuals like you. Join in, it's our Age.

Editor's Note: Andrew Nyquist is an independent investor based in the Minneapolis area. This article originally appeared on his investing and economics site, See It Market.

Twitter: @andrewnyquist
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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