But seriously. I felt like such an old fogey after installing Snapchat. None of it came naturally to me.
(Why bother, you ask? Well, the high school student I’m mentoring, like everyone else her age, is all over it. Plus from a digital marketing POV, I figured I should probably get to grips with it as it seems set to stay.)
What I like about Snapchat is how it centralises a few different functions.
Chat/messaging – as in, private, 1-1 communication. I think I originally thought it was photos and videos only, but plain old text chat works too. Who needs texts?
Stories – your own feed for public viewing by others (and vice versa). And there’s even analytics! Who needs Instagram?
Live – if you’re bored, kill a bit of time browsing stories of current events and such. I really like the featured city stories. I signed up to Snapchat shortly before Auckland was featured as a Life city last month (as an individual you can contribute your own snaps to these too) and since then, featured cities have included Bogota (a place I know nothing about but feel a little more familiar with now!) and Tokyo (where I’m going in a couple of months!). It is freaking cool. Something about these city life Snapchat stories just feels so immediate and real, even though they’re usually not particularly exciting as such. Another highlight was the ComicCon live story. Okay, I still need Twitter and Facebook, but this is another entertaining distraction.
Plus, it’s easy to add people on Snapchat. No faffing around with a string of numbers. Just get their username, or scan your phone over theirs. DONE.
I don’t like talking about myself very much IRL, but in the name of research? Sure.
The other day I took part in a study about Facebook usage by young women (for a Master’s project) – here’s what I came away thinking.
I don’t post very often
At least half of the posts on my page are by other people (mostly one of my best friends who is a power user, posting links multiple times a day). There’s a surprising proportion of posts and pictures from outings with people from work. I’m definitely closer to my workmates here than places I’ve worked before, plus there’ve been a few different work trips away.
Personally, I’ve only posted a few photos/photo albums, interesting links, asked a couple of questions and fed through a couple of Goodreads reviews. The past year in particular has been pretty quiet. I didn’t have much to share and just generally stepped back from socialising IRL and Facebook browsing. Avoiding other people across channels was a coping mechanism – their happy and successful lives only made me feel worse about mine.
And yet … it’s difficult to imagine life without Facebook
One question posed to me was: how do you think we would communicate today if Facebook wasn’t around? I couldn’t come up with a good answer – I really struggled to imagine.
It’s so pervasive – I take private messages, photos, events and more for granted. It’s the easiest way to share news enmasse, make announcements, communicate with people overseas (so glad my friends who once deleted their accounts are back on, especially now they live abroad). It’s how we organised our recent Tongariro Crossing trip. Cutting Facebook out and relying on phone and email (because none of my closest IRL/local friends use Twitter) would be nothing short of crippling.
What about life before Facebook?
Facebook for me basically coincided with university – that’s when I graduated from Bebo to Facebook. Life pre-uni isn’t really reflected at all.
Two of my very first friends ever (as in from the Kuala Lumpur days) found and added me, sure. But so many of my friends from my school years, I’m not connected to. Friends from my first primary school and friends from my intermediate school. My one-time best friend and technically first boyfriend. The random guy I once befriended at my call centre job who I think would have been a really awesome mate (that said, he had a crush on me so not sure we could have actually been friends). Various penpals and email pals from the early 2000s, even. All people I think about from time to time.
It’s been a little while (too long?) since I last got my rant on.
Here are a few things that are getting up my nose (I’ve been saving these up):
People sending me random LinkedIn connection requests. I’ve been getting quite a few from people I share connections with but don’t directly know and have never met or dealt with. If you think connecting could be mutually useful, then let me know why you think it would be beneficial! Otherwise your generic message is going into LinkedIn purgatory.
People who, when tweeting their own posts out, include “via @[ownusernamehere]” at the end of the tweet. I get why you do it – in case people RT it, you want your handle included. But this is just WEIRD. Sorry.
People who clog up my timeline with their frequent tweets namedropping all their new followers, ostensibly to thank them. ANNOYING. I may end up unfollowing them. Personally, if I start following someone, seeing a tweet like this would annoy me far more than it would make me feel, I dunno, special. Maybe that’s just me.
People whose Twitter streams are basically just a flood of headlines, links and Twitter usernames. It’s nice that you’re showing love to other bloggers’ posts, but Twitter is Twitter, and RSS feeds are RSS feeds. Show some personality! (If that’s what yours looks like, that’s quite possibly why I didn’t follow you back.)
People who laboriously thank everyone in a post who linked to one of their blog posts that week. Again, I get that it’s all in the name of reciprocation. But it’s tiresome.
Phew! That feels better. Now, onto the weekend! Feel free to vent away yourselves in the comments.
The topic cropped up at work the other day – how some people successfully build a profile without coming across as total asshats. Figures who seem to do it naturally and almost effortlessly. Who are almost universally liked and seem genuinely lovely.
I have a few thoughts on this:
Twitter is where it’s at
Seriously. You cannot deny the power of Twitter in the age of brand-building. Funnily enough, many of the earlier adopters and self-style social media gurus (at least from an NZ perspective) have now more or less disappeared from Twitter entirely.
More shallowly, that TV confers legitimacy
TV is still sort of the lowest common denominator. And there’s the glamour factor. Everybody I know who has appeared on telly can tell you that everyone comments on it. TV, so freely and widely accessible, reaches people you wouldn’t expect.
Very rarely does anyone ever say they saw something I wrote online. On the other hand, dear biddies such as my mother’s friends have seen my byline in the newspaper and taken notice. And when a news camera once panned over a media scrum, a crowd of which I was part of, amazingly, an acquaintance of mine noticed my split second of fame and immediately sent me a message about it.
Selflessness, humility and humour goes a long way
Being good at self-promotion, without being a douchebag, inherently involves conversing with others and generally being a good bugger about it. Having a personality that shines through, consistently. Doing it the right way means building high awareness without hitting oversaturation. Being in relevant media, yet not quoted everywhere you look.
Being articulate, and ideally, quick off the mark
Twitter is great for those who can come up with witty quips. There’s a lot to be said for being concise and quick of tongue (and typing fingers). But being able to write well in longer form is invaluable. There’s a lot of money (and profile building) to be had in speaking/MCing at events, but cultivating your own content today is so easy to do, you’d be foolish not to, be it regular columns, reviews, or your own blogs or books.
On that note, I’m constantly dismayed at how many businesses in New Zealand fail at content marketing. Intellectually, I get it. They’re corporates. They don’t understand editorial.
Ask yourself: Would I want to read this? Are we only ever talking about ourselves on [insert any social network of your choice] ? Does every blog post end with a sales pitch?
If the answer to any of the above is no, then pass Go, do not collect $200, and start again.
On another, slightly related tangent, the new Advertising Standard Authority rules here are interesting, particularly the guideline that people who are paid to tweet should mark their tweets with the hashtag #ad.
I’ve done some sponsored tweets through Mylikes in the past on my blog Twitter account – tweets where you are paid per click, sometimes based on location.
When that first began, those tweets (sent directly from their site using their Twitter interface system) used to be unmarked, but today I think they are automatically appended with (spon) at the end, and you don’t have the option to remove it.
But what about tweets that are not strictly paid for? As part of my job I go to my fair share of PR events. At a recent lunch I instagrammed and tweeted pics of the lunch, and used their designated hashtag. I wasn’t compensated for that. I did it because the food was amazing and I wanted to share it of my own accord, and as they were sufficiently up with the play to have organised a hashtag, it was no trouble to use it. I would do the same if I was eating out on my own dime (I’m one of THOSE annoying instagram users), and I’d usually make the effort to @ the restaurant if they’re on Twitter.
Or for example at TedX Auckland recently, I queued up for my free drink at the coffee stall, which was sponsored by Kordia. I tweeted a pic of my cup (complete with logo), because I was genuinely impressed with the freebie hot chocolate. Plus, events live and die by sponsorship and I figured I’d do my bit by helping plug one of the supporting companies.
What’s your take on the commercialising of social media? Who do you admire for building a public profile from the ground up, and why?
I remember many years ago (possibly the 2008 Oscars?) explaining to my boss at the time what a URL shortener was and how we could use one in our Twitter coverage of the ceremony.
Today, my current bosses are on Twitter and, I believe, actually have more followers than I do.
But for all the awesomeness that is spending part of the workday on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and G+, it also has downsides.
Social media is an insatiable beast
Unlike my personal accounts, I can’t simply take a break if I’m overwhelmed with other tasks or just don’t feel like being social. You still need to be putting content out there and responding to feedback.
All about the numbers
(Photo credit: The Next Web)
Social media is hard to quantify. So follower and likes numbers are easy to latch on to as something concrete, and the higherups tend to look at those numbers as a measure of success. It’s certainly something that should be factored in, and we shouldn’t be living or dying by that alone, but the more old-school types may take some convincing.
Being social opens you up to, well, everyone. And they can say anything they want. Learning to deal with criticism in such an open forum is something all brands have to struggle with at some point.
No feedback at all
Posting something that garners no reaction or interaction at all sucks. Doing that multiple times in a row is an even bigger bummer. But this is reality for many of us at some point; we’re not all huge media organisations or consumer brands that can push out anything and instantly see clicks, comments and shares (been there; it’s quite gratifying).
One of my pet peeves is strictly professional contacts adding me on Facebook. This is not appropriate! Subscribe to my page updates if you must, but there’s no need to befriend me. We are not friends. Connect with me on LinkedIn – and if we already have, let’s leave it there (that’s happened too).
I have a policy of accepting most LinkedIn requests – often they’re not people I’ve actually dealt with before, but by virtue of the industry, could well do in the future (and usually I’ll be familiar with their name or at least the company). Potentially useful contacts are always good to have on hand. Lately I’ve had a couple – one from a total stranger with no personal message included, though we both went to the same university – and one who indicates she’s had dealings with me at her company (she hasn’t). I’ve left these sitting untended in my inbox for weeks and probably need to deal to them.
People who do not exist online freak me the hell out. (As Lorna Borenstein said at a conference I recently attended, for many Gen Yers, if we’re not pushing out updates on our social profiles, it’s as if we don’t exist.) You NEED to be Google-able. You’re doing yourself a disservice otherwise. I want to be found by people who might have story ideas for me or want to collaborate. You might want to be found by headhunters or potential business clients, and the social web gives you access to them. Maybe you don’t need to be constantly cultivating your social identities, but at least set up a LinkedIn profile or an about.me page.
Oh, I know posts on social media sins are so overdone. But today I just felt like tackling my top three pet peeves on Twitter.
Incorrect use of @usernames. Example: Niche sports site runs a post on Jeremy Lin’s top five moments. It might tweet: @JLin7 is basketball’s new wonderboy. Check out his best scores: bit.ly/whatever. If you’re starting off a tweet with an @name, it will only be visible to you, the person @named and anyone who happens to follow BOTH of you. The fix: place a full stop, quote mark, RT or something else ahead of the @name so it’s public. (I see this all the time at work, particularly by smaller businesses RTing our content, and I just don’t have time to point it out to every single one – but I think I may have to find the time!).
Asking for retweets. Common among newbs and people who don’t get that social media is not just for pushing marketing messages. I’ve seen it too many times. “Check out my latest post on how to make money online. Please RT!” Don’t beg. It’s not pretty. Yeah, I’m calling you out.
Overuse of hashtags. “Why @Pinterest is the hottest thing ever! #tech #socialmedia #marketing #digital #pinterest” It’s ugly. It looks amateur. It makes many of us a lot less likely to even look at your tweet. One or two appropriate hashtags at a time will suffice.