Social Meh dia

I was tagged into a discussion of social media recently and I realised that while there are many self proclaimed experts a lot of population is swimming in social without much insight.

For a couple of years I hosted a course on digital marketing at a local educational provider. We had to cover a huge range of scenarios but actual social media tools thinking kept us busy for weeks.

Because I work online and have done for 20 years now I have a different relationship with many of the tools and background issues.

When Facebook launched I registered my address but kept a very minimal profile because of privacy and security concerns. I’m still of the opinion that identity theft is a big reason to keep some things private and I have kept my Facebook footprint as contained as I can. There are some friends overseas that I keep in touch with via Facebook and that is useful.

On the other hand I see that it is becoming much harder to have a meaningful discussion on Facebook. It seems people are into hardline positions either way. I look at some of those message trees and despair.

I’ve even noticed people who were quite moderate getting onto political debates that have spiralled out of control. I think a moderated discussion is good but Facebook is not a moderated space.

Partly because I have been online so long I understand blogs and comments and commenting guidelines. A soft answer turns away wrath and all that. Sometimes it is best to opt out altogether.

As a professional user what I find Facebook is good for is to get traffic from there to a branded space that is more controlled and less distracting.

When readers are surrounded by an endless stream of content you need a compelling reason to connect. But if you can connect then link out to a less “hot” space if you can.

I have been on twitter since it began although as I was so early it was like having the first fax machine (kids – look it up) There was no network effect in the early days and so I quit convinced it was dead but I was back up again a year later.

I still like twitter as I follow many subject specialists and so that is how I keep up to date on many topics. The usefulness of twitter has declined markedly in the last 3 years though. Volumes of signal are down and there are many, many bot controlled accounts which get stamped out sometimes only to re-appear.

See also earlier posts Twitter for Business, Creating Value on Twitter and Serendipity and Twitter

I think that the 280 character limit is not something I liked at first but I do now. I like how we can use the 280 characters to provide more content in the tweet itself.

I also like how my stream is made up of the 3000 accounts I follow and only those accounts for the most part. The timeline is out of order and if I use tweetdeck I can see that chronological record again but it still works most of the time and the 280 characters will help.

I use instagram for music and quick phone snaps. When Facebook bought Instagram a few years ago I quit because they were threatening to co-opt personal images as part of a copyright takeover. But I can see if you are a visual person the image flow is a good way to go although I think the hashtag element is out of control.

Pinterest seems active still and that is a puzzle to me. I haven’t looked at my account for years. It does appeal to collectors and could be useful to designers and makers especially.

What puzzles me is all the band wagon jumping when a new tool becomes available. It seems like brands, businesses and all kinds of snake oil salespeople are trying to hype every new product that comes along.

Social media should be part of your marketing mix and the tools that you use should be linked to your marketing objectives. Yes go where your customers are but leverage the tools to get them out of there into a branded space where you can present more directly.

In many ways the old ’90’s web of geocities with its flashing gifs doesn’t seem to have gone away completely. There is always some show boater WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS – shouting is what we call that.

Slowly, slowly catchee monkey is a smart option. Add value with your social media and give people a reason to engage and maybe even become customers.

In the news this wee
 

“Former Facebook vice president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya said that social media is “eroding the core foundations of how people behave” and that he feels “tremendous guilt” about creating tools that are “ripping apart the social fabric.”
 
Former Facebook executive has sworn off social media because he doesn’t want to be “programmed” to read the full post.
 
He goes on to say (about Facebook especially:

“You don’t realize it, but you are being programmed … but now you got to decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence,” he warned the audience.
 
His fear is that bad actors can manipulate large groups of people, and that as users, we compound the problem in our quest to create an idealized version of ourselves:
 
“We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals—hearts, likes, thumbs up—and we conflate that with value, and we conflate it with truth. And instead what it really is is fake, brittle popularity that’s short-term and that leaves you even more—admit it—vacant and empty before you did it, because then it forces you into this vicious cycle where you’re like “What’s the next thing I need to do now because I need it back?”

 
I was curious about this opinion piece because it showed up on Al Jazeera as a news item. Facebook themselves have responded which shows they know they have a problem.

Me I’m old enough to remember reading Marshal McLuhan and George Orwell. I think Amazon Echo and Facebook make a fairly horrible pair and we should all be careful what we wish for.

P.S: Besides Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest I think WeChat is looking for a space at the top table. I have been using WeChat for a project and it is a kind of super application. Also Linked In is something we can all tolerate but really it is quite dull and far too corporate for me.