Saturday, September 22, 2012

The "dip in" theory of social media

After asking me "how can I unfriend someone on Facebook and will they know?", the second-most common question I hear from clients and course participants is "How do you have time to keep up with social media?"

I have a few answers, starting mostly with tapping my smartphone and suggesting they might need one too (honestly, I need all the help I can get and a smartphone makes me a tad smarter, or at least more able to do stuff when I get a spare moment), they may well need to lock themselves in the bathroom to read their Twitter stream but most importantly, you don't have to keep up with everything!

Using smartphones on the train (to keep up with social media?!) via Retinafunk
When I show people how to use their Facebook news feed or to follow people on Twitter, they often ask "How can I delete all those updates when I've read them?" People want to start again with a clean slate. They want to think they've seen everything or, perhaps more importantly, not missed anything. I always try to explain that social media just doesn't work like that. You have to "dip in" when you can, have a look around, have a few conversations, share something, find new people or pages, and then head back out again into the real world. Whether you have time to do this for five minutes a day, or thirty minutes twice a week, or whatever, that's your social media time budget and that's fine.

In an interesting piece on social media rejection, the ever-wise Valerie Khoo has some sage words:
For those of you getting overwhelmed by the number of Tweets you are viewing, just remember … you don’t have to read every single one of them. That’s just insane. I thought Twitter was best described by US technology journalist and uber-podcaster Leo Laporte. He suggests that you think of Twitter like a river. And every so often you stand on the bridge that crosses the river and watch what goes by. You don’t have to keep up with what went past a few hours (or days) ago and you can step off the bridge at any time. But while you’re on it, you may choose to interact and respond to whatever you see going past at the time.
My sentiments exactly! Never, ever feel like you need to keep up with everything on social media. That's not the point of it. I know, for example, that on Twitter feeds I manage, I schedule the same message to run a few different times simply because that's the way it works - people just pop in now and again and see what's there at the time.

So relax. Dip in, enjoy, then get out and do something else. That's social media. Easy!

7 comments:

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