Our guest blog post today comes from Rachel Lane – currently a digital planner at Blonde. Rachel and I were talking about the challenges of managing Twitter, Blogging and general social media in a personal and business capacity whilst catching up last week. Comments below please!
Perhaps it has been the level of tactical detail bolted to social strategy commissions; perhaps it’s the vacuous social networking research which gets crowd-surfed around Twitter or perhaps it’s the pressure to maintain numerous social profiles, but I am so over social media.
It’s frustrating that a territory so fundamentally about people and human behaviours gets shrink-wrapped as a web technology. We haven’t changed how we communicate; we’ve just got more flexibility in communication channels. The flow of words may increase or decrease depending whether they travel by landline, mobile, call, text, instant message, tweet, Facebook message, email, letter … but the dialogue structure is pretty consistent.
I’ve met a few “old” people who regard social media as the playground of the “young”. What a sad point of view (!) given the depth of experience and language that “old” people have accumulated. Poor Digital to suffer from such prejudiced thinking. It’s actually older friends, contacts and relatives who sometimes contribute more interesting views because they own a richer database of content. The cross-pollination of cross-generational experience offers far greater opportunity for original content.
We should be moving past Digital and Social as territories: they’re a state of mind. We have to stop thinking about “having something to say” for a blog and Twitter (sadly Facebook doesn’t generate the same pressure). There are times when I just don’t have anything to contribute to the world. On such occasions, it’s far better to sign-post to a video or article from someone who is saying something interesting, than post for the sake of it; even accounting for the pressure of feeding Google (SEO, SEO, SEO). We don’t have to be “on” all the time, we just need to think about the information and tools and find a way of working that suits our lifestyles.
I’m a “digital immigrant”. I didn’t grow up with Facebook, I was 21 before I got my first email address and mobile phone and was approaching my late twenties before I caught up with social networking. Yet I have to act “digital native”. My family make friendly jokes about my digital social life; when the alarm goes off on my mobile phone each morning, the next thing I see are social network updates as they get “pushed” to my attention. News from the rest of the world comes through social and RSS feeds, hand-delivered by a variety of contacts. I even jest that my work in digital adventures, keeps me half a decade younger than offline friends. I’m generally exposed to more information, more events, more tools and technologies, which arguably forces me to be more agile and mentally flexible than people who aren’t hit with information at the same rate.
Digital immigrant values are permission-based: we’re cautious, less comfortable with self-promotion; social networks are layers of complexity added to our busy lives. Digital natives have grown up with the technologies, so they don’t need permission; it is second nature to them to sculpt their social image and to digitally document their lives in a seamless and convenient fashion. Digital natives just do it, they don’t risk-assess the situation before releasing content. They jump in there and then surf the flow of content. The advantage of just digitally doing it is that you evolve beyond the platforms. It’s no longer about Apple, Android, Facebook or Twitter; it’s about the ability to deploy the diversity of tools available to us in order to backpack around the Web. By essentially driving at speed, gauping at the blurred scenery outside, the only thing we experience is travel sickness, not to mention the danger of losing sight of where we’re going. Get over social media; Digital is a lot more exciting without it.