In the Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions retained First Amendment speech rights on behalf of their shareholders and members. Many people disagree with the Court’s reasoning, arguing that these groups have the money and focus to drown out individual voices.

More recently, Facebook found itself drawn into a controversy when an Associated Press story reported that a prospective employer had asked a candidate for his Facebook password during the interview process.  It seemed that merely viewing the information the candidate made publicly available was not adequate. It seemed another case where power and money combined to reduce individual freedom.

On the flip side, individuals have used the social media megaphones to torment dictators and tyrants around the world, clearly striking a blow for freedom.

Clearly society needs to firm up its social media mores.

I got to thinking about this issue after attending a webinar on making social media work. I think I learned that software programs have developed many ways to track the effectiveness and reach of a social media post, but that there won’t be much to track if the Tweet or blog post isn’t both interesting and credible.

Now, I am a big social media fan. I started Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for Mission Critical long before it was fashionable at BNP Media. I have learned from the people I follow and interacted with many others as a result of being widely available. (I hope you take the hint and follow us at Twitter or join our LinkedIn discussion group.)

I think social media is just at the cusp of changing how we do business. For instance, Mission Critical’s social media accounts generally experience a bump in membership right after a tradeshow. It seems that more and more people find exchanging LinkedIn access more effective than business cards. And, they are right, I think.

I have used LinkedIn and Twitter very effectively to track what seems to be a never-ending run of personnel moves and new startups, and I no longer worry as much about winnowing old, useless business cards.

Others find Facebook or YouTube to be the most effective tools, and they can be, depending on the media type. Have you seen all the strong video content on YouTube?

Still, information overload is a serious issue. Opening these accounts invites a flood of information that is hard to imagine, and a demand to provide content. So like everything else, users must learn to prioritize.

So what makes an effective social media presence? As always, strong and credible content carries the day, and quality wins the match against quantity. Now we all know that marketing departments has captured many social media accounts, but the monotonous promotion produced by these accounts is easy for users to ignore or filter. I know I do.

What’s the future of social media? I can’t say for sure, but on a professional level I certainly see more sharing of information and files between individuals and a steep competition among companies for whatever is left of our attention spans.

And if you do find yourself joining the social media craze, consider raising the quality of conversation on Mission Critical’s pages.