Why do you “do” social media?

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What does social media mean to you? What does your use of social media say about you? If a tweet falls in a forest and no-one hears it, does it make a sound?

Summertime and the tweeting is easy. For many of us in 2016, high summer brings not just thoughts of getting away from it all to some faraway beach*, but perhaps also dreams of “digital detox.” Stepping away from the rectangles. Contemplating the unthinkable idea of just maybe switching off the ‘phone.

Mobile devices are our windows into social media. Social media in turn is a  window into our minds. Even if you’re contemplating digital detox right now, you know you will be back.

Gentle reader: What draws you to social media? Why do you “do” social media? What does your use of social media say about you?

A play in an empty theatre?

Our views are sometimes brought into sharpest focus by their opposite.

Last night I saw a tweet that seemed (at first) to set out a take on social media that was as far from mine as it is possible to get. Said tweet came from Greg Savage (Australian recruitment expert, sharer of thought-provoking tweets and author of the really rather good Savage Truth blog):

“Being active on Twitter without a targeted following is like putting on a play in an empty theatre. Might be great, but who knows?”

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Greg has subsequently been so kind as to go into detail on what he was driving at here, clarifying for me that his “tweet was aimed at recruiters mainly.. about building brand with your target audience.” Greg’s words were specifcally about
building a brand for business on Twitter,” rather than a general rule for all who would tweet. He has also blogged on this topic here.

But my initial reaction to Greg’s tweet has got me thinking about what social media means to me.

Social media moves at the speed of thought

I love social media. I love social media for its openness, for its accessibility, for how it enables serendipity. I love social media for the randomness and rightness of connection and conversation. I love how social media puts in place a complex and constantly-evolving structure for instant communication with people across the globe, moving at the speed of thought. I love how there is an equal possibility that anything I tweet might disappear into the ether, or spark the most delightful exchange of views.

I also love that social media is a blank page. It is a medium for you to express yourself. It is a virtual place with no boundaries.
There is room on social media for all views.

There are no rules to social media. There is no way to “do” social media right or wrong. I love that Greg’s views on one way that recruiters might use social media are every bit as valid as mine.

Clusters of mutual congratulation

Tolerance is in increasingly short supply in the world in 2016. As communities evolve on social media, there is always the risk that they will become echo chambers. Giles Wilkes recently provided the best possible description of the social media echo chamber effect in a superb FT article:

“Sympathetic opinions coalesce in clusters of mutual congratulation
(“must read: fellow blogger agreeing with my point of view!”).”

There are no rules to social media, but we all develop our own personal approach to social media, which can turn into perceived rules. There’s room for us all.

I’d love to know what social media means to you. Why do you “do” social media?

Foonotes

* If you’ve never heard Brian Eno’s quite gorgeous song On Some Faraway Beach, please do give it a listen:

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