For anyone that missed it, check out the October 4th podcast of “Talk of the Nation” on NPR: “Online Social Networks No Longer Just for Teens.”

Andy Carvin, NPR’s senior strategist for online communities, talks about the various networks, how popular they are and what you can do with them.

My favorite point in the conversation:

Twitter as collective intelligence
My recent series of social media presentations focused on explaining the benefits of social media when used with transparency. For most, Twitter is used to talk about what they ate for lunch, what song they’re currently listening to and how annoying it is to have endless days of rain in Jacksonville, FL (not that I’m speaking from experience!). However, there are golden moments each day that make the tool invaluable. I can almost instantly gauge the reactions of my SEO industry peers to various articles, technology and important news. The best example I have is when the new version of Digg was released, in a matter of hours Twitter messages and notification of new articles started popping up. Tamar took those comments from Twitter, IM, Pownce and Sphinn and created a post: 23 Community Reactions to the New Digg. The reaction was fast and furious, but provided a telling look at top users, the Digg community and general trends in social media. From that post and hearing everyone’s reactions, we flocked like a spooked herd of water buffalo to other networks! Sure, we still use Digg, but I guarantee Reddit saw some nice increases after Digg’s fumble and I, as a marketer, found another network worth targeting.

Hopefully, we as social media marketers and search engine optimizers use these networks to our advantage rather than just reducing our daily productivity. I know I spend a fair amount of time on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Sphinn, StumbleUpon, Digg… (insert more), but if you look past the daily banter, I’m learning what makes various industries tick, how to generate honest business and networking like a champ. So, when the CEO of a local company asked me, “Why?” I can say with certainty, because it’s my job and I love it. I’m making it easier for companies and non-profits to connect with their target audience and build lasting relationships. I don’t get paid to play on Facebook, I get paid to know why people play on Facebook and how we (as marketers) get a to play WITH them.