I saw a post from a marketing and public relations expert shaking his proverbial fist at social media. I’ve played around with a lot of social media sites in the past few years and view social media much more favorably. Experimenting with the most popular platforms including Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat have shown me that each fills a specific niche with occasional overlap. Here’s why I invest time on some and have completely quit others.
Blogs: Basically long-form publishing (like this post.) It’s good for putting down big ideas, but like web sites, it requires that people actively visit your site or follow you with a RSS reader. (It’s tough to generate quality content so consistently and then get people to look at it.)
LinkedIn: THE professional network, that helps people nurture their network. Just like your network in real life, it requires work and attention if you want to maximize value for yourself and your network. Advertising is less prevalent because users can pay for a premium subscription although click-bait has been increasing lately. (I use it religiously and hope that my network finds my contributions valuable too.)
Twitter: it’s terrific for stream of consciousness posting and keeping up to the minute with news. The “blink and you’ll miss it” nature of the stream can be overwhelming. But there is a community for ANYTHING on Twitter. Engagement is very high, but it caters to our short attention span. (Its great for pushing out content because people expect to drink from the fire hose when they use it.)
Facebook: *sigh* I was an early adopter. So early that I needed my college email with an .edu extension just to open the account even though I had graduated years prior. Because it’s free, Facebook looks for ways to monetize, including ads, click-bait, and selling data. I’m okay with all of that. The fact that it curates content based on popularity is troubling though. Feeds become forums for partisan rants and it’s difficult to see anything but popular hot takes. (I want to choose what I see, not have it delivered to me based on who else has clicked “Like” so I’ve dialed back my usage.)
Instagram: A Place for people show off curated pictures of their life. Nostalgic filters on top of a pictures of my children or some millionaire kid’s outlandish lifestyle are de rigueur. If you want to consciously or unconsciously compare yourself against somebody else’s life, and feel badly for not measuring up, this is the spot to do it. (No thanks.)
Tumblr: Sort of like Instagram, but with the opportunity to post long-form pieces in addition to images. It seemed like there is huge potential for visual artists , but hasn’t really caught on. I’m afraid that the association with Yahoo will continue to drag it down.
Snapchat: My latest obsession (just ask my very patient wife.) By its nature it’s fun, light-hearted and impermanent. Almost 90% of snapchat users are 34 or younger which adds to it’s overall immature vibe. It’s not searchable so there is no incriminating evidence for someone to find on google if you do something goofy. (Snapchat’s impermanence is part of the charm but building a community is incredibly difficult.)
So, the question is, what are you looking for from social media? Business connections, fun, community, or validation? Figure it out and then find the platform that works for you.