Anti Social

The secret is out.

The bloom is off the social media rose.

Whether you’re a newbie or an old salt (okay, a veteran…) the truth is now becoming apparent: social media has morphed into selling, or advertising, with very little social left. Now, I am not a social media guru – in fact, I don’t follow people who call themselves gurus but I do pray for them because they’re obviously delusional – but as Dylan once said, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Consider how you interact with the platforms you use today. Many FB users keep it primarily for updates from existing friends and family blocking or ignoring others. Pinterest is overrun with ads. Twitter is not about conversation anymore, its about shouting your name from the rooftop. Instagram, et al, have become one way passages broadcasting messages about services to an unwary and uncaring populace.

Social media is akin to the television commercial now: ignored by many except for a brief spot of creativity.

What to do?

For starters perhaps consider what you use social media for and what it delivers to you. I know everyone in the world is on FB, but does it work for you? No? Delete it. In fact, delete any platform that doesn’t add value to your life. Even LinkedIn could be sidelined without harm: I know successful business people who have no use for it – despite what LI would have you believe, you could create a career without it.

Once you’ve winnowed your portfolio to the few platforms you really care about, ask yourself what you want to get out of them. If you’re fine with the relentless self-promotion of some, don’t worry about filtering your friends/followers/etc. If that concerns you (as it does me) simply unfriend/follow/etc whoever is abusing your sense of how you want to use your platform. The beauty of social media – and there is some! – is that many of the platforms are fairly agnostic: you can use them in many different ways.

Now that you’ve reduced your platforms and winnowed your friends there’s one more thing. Set your expectations. If you’re fine with a tweet a day, or a post a week, then do it. If you need to reach out 24/7 that’s okay too, as long as you recognize this will probably annoy most of your readers and they will ultimately drop you.

And that perhaps is the real lesson for social media: we are forgetting the social part.

If you went to a cocktail party or a weekend barbecue and you talked relentlessly about yourself, surprise, you would soon be alone. The same is true on line. If you want to enjoy social media you have to engage – show some interest in others, retweet others, +1 somebody else for a change. Despite what you may have heard, its not all about you.

If, on the other hand #SoMe is nothing but another advertising outlet for you, please do continue to spew your patter about and please don’t be surprised when people stop following/liking/caring.

Social Media is a tool for connecting and sharing, but its one tool of many. If you’re not getting what you want out of it, consider how you’re using it, and – gasp – maybe try another tool. You can’t do social media if you’re anti-social.

8 thoughts on “Anti Social

  1. Excellently put Mr D.

    I have found my salvation in the “social space” through creating and belonging to communities. Google+ ones for example. People knock G+ but it’s discerning people sharing very useful insight as far as I am concerned. And chats occur too. And work is created and shared. It’s a true social construct and way of being.

    I know there’s selling spam, crap marketing and the likes but I still get a huge buzz from my Twitter feed. I am now rediscovering Facebook through some superb friends I’ve made overseas and I’m using socialised / cloud productivity and work tools which are bringing social into my work. I’m loving Medium as a smart and elegant blog site.

    So I lament the once spam free world of social media but I’ve found my groove; made my space and will continue to experiment with the technology that is helping me feel connected to fabulous people and accessing amazing content.

    • I love this Perry. Finding our groove in #SoMe – and in life – is what it’s all about. Social media can be likened to a grocery store in some ways: it used to be a little shop with limited offerings, but now it’s a warehouse full of lost of items. The thing is, they’re not all going to appeal to everyone. You gotta find your groove.

      Excellent thoughts sir.

  2. Elegantly put Christopher, and I think Perry describes the happy place of Social Media for me – community. Your analogy of a party also makes sense and helps me understand what irritates me.

    Twitter is the one for me as I feel quite invested in the small but close and respectful community there; and I don’t know how much time I could have for other places, but – it does require managing. The good news is – unlike a party, you can mute people who interrupt your flow, and unlike physical communities, you can unfollow people with whom you have less in common.

    It’s bought me in the main joy, learning, community, connection and friendship, and I’m going to try google + again.

    • Yes, I see your point Meg. I think of #SoMe the way we talk about information systems – garbage in, garbage out. If you’re not willing to put a little effort into managing your content and connections it will not work very well.

      Thank you for sharing Meg! I appreciate that!

  3. You’ve got me thinking about how I use the various social spaces. On reflecting on the thread above, what I realize is that, yes, I maintain FB as primarily a personal/family social space (although not exclusively, I let my metaphorical hair down there more). Twitter is indeed more signposting, connecting, promotional but if I want a conversation? I take that off line, if at all possible. Twitter is ‘ersatz’ conversation and relationship, too often descending into hit & run exchanges of soundbites with a lack of humility or acknowledgement of difference.

    To kind of prove my point (to me at least) I met Perry simultaneously on Twitter and in a physical space at a conference on the same day. Guess what? The latter means I have an enduring sense of the person. And Perry’s great taste in shoes.

    And as I reflect further, I notice that I make a point of shifting the light-touch connections i make in social media as quickly as i can to other containers, whether that be a call, coffee or meeting. Can’t do that for everyone, but then would I want to? Clearly not.

    • A good illustration of how to effectively use different platforms. I too have moved on-line relationships to IRL ones when possible, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I don’t see Twitter as an in-depth tool for anything – it’s an introduction device to me.

      I enjoyed your comments Steve: thanks for taking the time to write.

    • I think you have made a key point here Nitin. Far better to have a positive presence than a negative one. My point is that you may also be able to skip some #SoMe outlets if you like, although I personally would not do that.

      Thanks for taking the time to write!

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