Social media has exploded across the country and around the world because it provides an easy way for people to connect based on their shared interests — like motorcycles and riding.

In fact, motorcycle enthusiasts have embraced social networking as a great tool for meeting fellow riders, sharing photos and favorite routes, finding motorcycle organizations and events, buying and selling bikes, and more.

Facebook

Of course, no discussion about social networking would be complete without mentioning the most well-known and talked-about social site, Facebook. Most motorcycle manufacturers maintain a public group presence on Facebook, and finding a group for your specific ride can be as simple as logging on to Facebook and running a search on your bike's make and model.

You may also want to spend some time searching for pages created by your favorite accessory manufacturers, retailers, local bike garage, motorcycle clubs, charity rides and more. Once you're connected, you can see what others are saying about various bikes, share maintenance tips, get the latest news and event updates, discover new routes and sometimes even score exclusive discounts on products and services.

Even Allstate Rider News columnists Dave Perewitz, Vicki Sanfelipo and Fred Rau are on Facebook. You can join their public pages simply by visiting the appropriate page and clicking the "Like" button. Check them out now: Perewitz, Road Guardians and Diamond Posse (Vicki), Fred Rau Adventure Tours.

Some social networking sites are entirely dedicated to motorcycling. While not as robust as Facebook, they definitely have their place in a rider's social circle, and there's no saying you can't belong to as many networks as you want. Examples include Friends That Ride and Bikerspost.com. Plus, a quick Google search will bring up dozens — if not hundreds — more.

In March, Allstate will debut its very own Facebook page dedicated to riders. By joining, you'll share in the collective experience of the riding community. The page, under the banner of "The Allstate Rider Protection Project," will help galvanize rider safety and serve as a platform for connection, advocacy and tons of resources for riders.

Like us to get the latest updates on safety, product reviews, top national events and important issues for the rider community.

Twitter

If you prefer to stay in touch with your passion for riding 140 characters or less at a time, then Twitter may be right for you. Simply visit twitter.com to set up an account and follow the people, brands and organizations you find interesting. To help you get started, a site called wefollow.com offers these lists of the most-influential and most-followed motorcycle Twitter feeds. You'd be surprised at how much you can learn or share in a short, simple "tweet." And as time passes, you'll find that lots of different people from all over will begin following your tweets, too — perhaps one or more will even become a new, real-life friend or riding partner.

No matter how you choose to connect with fellow riders, one thing is certain: social networking is here to stay. If you're already connected, you know how valuable a tool this can be for increasing your motorcycle knowledge, growing your circle of friends and improving your rides. And if you've been waiting for the right time to "go social," don't delay, because if you're not connected, chances are you're missing out on a great source of knowledge, friendship and fun.

Allstate Insurance Company does not own and is not affiliated with Facebook or Twitter, Road Guardians, Diamond Posse, Fred Rau Adventure Tours, Friends That Ride, Bikerspost.com, Google or Wefollow.com. Allstate makes no warranties or representations and is not liable for any goods or services provided by these individuals or organizations.