Describe your sex life with a movie title. The multiple uses of social media.


Question: Is it time to admit that social media has multiple definitions and uses?

Assertion: There are two types of organizations using social media; those who simply push information out and those who depend on people interacting to survive.


“Describe your sex life with a movie title,” was a recent post on my Facebook profile from a friend. It received scads of comments. It was reposted several times and the reposts received lots of comments thus proving that social media is alive and well and that Mark Zuckenberg is a genius (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Zuckerberg).

Pew states that social sites are where friends and family interact for mostly for entertainment and social interaction. Our profound observations on life (like this article) posted in Facebook simply gets in the way of the fun (http://leonardsipes.com/why-facebook-doesn%E2%80%99t-send-traffic-to-your-website/).

My latest site post was highlighted by “Social Media Today,” “AllTop Social News” and a variety of sites devoted to social media and public relations. It got little notice on my Facebook profile or page. Same with Twitter and Google+.

So why are we doing social media?

So why do this stuff?

This was a question from a commenter on LinkedIn after I wrote an article suggesting that technological solutions may be an answer as to interacting on social sites with limited staff (http://leonardsipes.com/using-social-sites-to-accomplish-your-goals/). Most of us “do” social with very limited resources.

Every time I explore the complexity of social media I get critics who point out the wonders and effectiveness and the power of the concept and they are correct in every way.

But it’s like someone extolling the virtues of a very expensive luxury sedan; it’s both correct and silly at the same time. Yep, the vehicle accomplishes my needs for safe, reliable and prestigious transportation “but” it’s an expenditure I can’t afford. It also ignores that what I really need is a pickup truck. Social media needs multiple “vehicles” and solutions to get us to our destinations.

For many of us, social media is a feed:

The Neiman Journalism Lab (a project of the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University) states the following regarding media use of Twitter:

“As much as we tout Twitter for its conversational abilities — for its revolutionary capacity to create discursive, rather than simply distributive, relationships with news consumers — many major news organizations are still using the service as, pretty much, a vehicle for self-promotion. A new study, released today by Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, studied 13 news organizations, large and (relatively) small, from print, TV, and radio…and found that “mainstream news organizations primarily use Twitter to move information and push content to readers. For these organizations, Twitter functions as an RSS feed or headline service for news consumers, with links ideally driving traffic to the organization’s website.”

“Just 2 percent of the tweets from the main news feed analyzed were information-gathering in nature — seeking views or first-hand accounts from readers,” the report notes. In fact, “even the most active outlets rarely or never solicited information from their followers.”

Source: http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/11/twitter-the-conversation-enabler-actually-most-news-orgs-use-the-service-as-a-glorified-rss-feed/.

I’ve seen similar data from corporations; some suggesting that even when they get interactions they are mostly ignored. According to the study, there was no to little meaningful interaction.

My own experience with a company I complained about during a post resulted in immediate contact via Twitter and e-mail. But I wanted to know how sincere they were about interacting, so I left two phone message asking them to call me. Both were ignored. They acknowledged my problems but they weren’t interested in solving them.

For many of us, social media must generate feedback to survive:

But there “are” organizations that live or die based on reactions to posts ranging from companies to nonprofits and associations. If people are going to adopt pets or volunteer or offer a donation or buy something there has to be sufficient outreach and staff to interact. For organizations with limited resources, we have to think through the best and most economical ways to accomplish goals and this displeases some social media purists.

Feeds versus feedback:

Understanding social media and creating solutions comes down to feeds versus feedback coupled with the availability of resources:

Feeds: If we were honest most of us would admit that we don’t do social media principally as a discussion enabler as much as a press release; it simply gets the word out. The other reality is that few people interact even when we want them to. We can all cite examples of the internet rising up to combat issues of corporate or government wrong but that’s not the day-to-day experience for the vast majority of us.

Feedback: But others live or die on sales and people adopting pets or providing donations. If social does not get people to participate they do not accomplish well-defined goals. The discussion turns on the best ways of engagement and response within the context of resources.

When we understand that organizations use social media differently, we have a chance of mastering the essence of social. When we understand that resources dictate our ability to create and respond, we find better ways to accomplish our objectives.

Best, Len.

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