Sunday, 26 January 2014

Social media – why be involved?

Musings prompted by a conference I attended last Thursday. No matter if you embrace or reject the presence of social media in the life, you should not disregard them and if you have ambitions to be an all-rounder, you should understand how the function.

Quite often in business, if your company refuses to participate in a social media fad, its web-present competitors get the edge over it, by dint of being more recognisable. As a few years ago you could hear if you do not have a facebook profile, you do not exist. I would still argue this is untrue, as life goes on mostly beyond facebook, but with time, as social media evolve, it seems to be useful to leave one’s mark there.

With time more folks realise it might be beneficial to be involved in the social media, but as the speaker at the conference I attended pointed out, one should eschew two major pitfalls. Firstly, do not get involved because others do. Secondly, do not get involved because everyone else claims it is appropriate to do so, etc. Making use of social media must be natural to bear fruits. If you do not feel the need to twit or run your company’s facebook page, better hold back, as inept doings might do more harm than good. In order not to spoil the effect, many businesses hire experts in social media and give them a free hand to do the job.

Once you are present in the social media, others begin to follow you and expect you to show up there more or less frequently. Living up to your followers’ expectations is a measure of your content’s quality. Expectations vary, depending on kind of social media utility you use.

On LinkedIn which helps you build a professional network, very infrequent appearances are acceptable. For professional and practical reasons, you hardly ever need to constantly share any stuff, so even if profile upgrades appear with delay and when you are just about to look for a new job, there is nothing to worry about.

Twitter requires more attention. On account of the utility’s nature a single involvement should be short (as much as it takes an idea to spring to your mind and then for you to squeeze it into no more than 140 characters to twit it to the world), but frequent. Messages should be concise, up-to-date and posted frequently. If you do not follow these rules, do not expect your twits to be followed by many.

Facebook, according to the speaker, requires even more attention than a twitter account. I do not know whether he referred to a private facebook profile, or a company’s / organisation’s facebook page. The latter, in order to gain and later not to lose exposure, does involve frequent updates and new postings. As for the former, judging by my friends’ and mine facebook profile, frequent sings of life are not a must. Many people choose facebook to be one of oddly used life-enhancers, not a utility which tells their friends they are just visiting coffee shop, sunbathing on a beach or struggling boredom at work.

Blogs are said to be the most “resource-intensive”. As a blogger with almost five-years’ experience behind the keyboard I could not agree more. Out of all social media blogs are the biggest timesucks – not only should they be update frequently, but also each involvement is time-consuming. Amount of time spent blogging does not automatically qualify a blog as attractive. Unlike social networking or twitting, blogging requires skill. Only a skilful and passionate blogger can grow the blog outstanding and establish a long-lasting rapport with their readership.

Out of all the stuff described above I only do not have a twitter account. As I still use my old, always reliable Nokia 3110 Classic, I am not capable of twitting whenever and wherever I am. LinkedIn account is what I use for practical reasons, two or three times in a month. Facebook is visited everyday, but there is not really much trace of my activity there, and if I happen to do something on facebook, it is about liking something, someone else’s content, or sharing links to noteworthy stuff. As a matter of principle I hardly every share details of my private life on facebook. It is rather the blog, where, with the narrower audience I seldom wash my dirty linen in public.

One topic which has not been brought up during the conference was the savoir-vivre in using the social media, in particular if the existence of pecking order among its users. If somebody joins a social network utility, it is customary they connect to incumbent users. But what if two settled users get to know each other in real world and are about to connect via LinkedIn, facebook or any other social media page? Should the younger invite the older? Should a man add a woman to his circle? Should a subordinate connect to their superior? Or the other way round? Or given the equanimity social media offer, it does not matter at all?

If you are to fully embrace the social media and make the most of the opportunities they offer, it is crucial to stay online all the time. If so, a portable device, such as smartphone, tablet, or another contraption is what you need. I do not possess any of them and, oddly enough, I am not attracted by them. I somehow prefer to be offline, in the real world only and dose out my visits to the Internet. I realise I am not keeping up with the rest of the civilisation and one day I will have to give in and catch up.

1 comment:

Michael Dembinski said...

very good overview of the pros and cons of the new media. I'm with you on the blogging - it takes more time, but is worth it. I'm saddened by bloggers who blog less because they've just discovered the joys of Twitter or Facebook.