Monday, January 5, 2009
Time Enough for Social Media (Subtitled, "When Real Life Crashes Into Social Media Life")
What happened? Work at Fullhouse picked up as clients and prospects made their 2009 plans. Time and energy was required for the busy retail season by the stores owned by my wife and me (Metropawlis Pet Boutique and JustPetStrollers.com). But more than anything, life happened--my inner musician urged me to spend more time with my keyboard, good times were shared with family and friends, games were played, and media was consumed (movies, television, and online series such as the terrifically entertaining "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long.")
This experience provided me a fresh perspective on Social Media. No, I have not had my confidence shaken; I still firmly believe Social Media will continue to change the way humans communicate, share information, and form relationships (with each other and with brands). Rather, my break from blogging has caused me to appreciate the diversity and richness of Social Media because in that eight-week period, I didn't give up Social Media; I just gave up blogging.
While I was silent on ExperienceTheBlog.com, I was still eagerly making noise on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. I didn't stop sharing information, links, music, movie and book reviews, news, opinions, and observations; I just didn't find three- to five-hour chunks of time to research, compose, proofread, and post to my blog.
Because blogging has been around for so long (and because companies love the control of blogs), it is often the first thing that comes to mind when conversation turns to Social Media, but blogs and Social Media are clearly not one and the same. Blogs are a part of social media but increasingly are a smaller part of the Social Media pie.
Back in the late 90s when the term "blog" was first coined, Social Media consisted of a few product ratings, some personal Web site tools, and a couple infant Web log services such as LiveJournal and Blogger. Today, the concept of Social Media includes documents (Scribd), video (YouTube and Break), music (Blip.fm and imeem), Social Networks (Facebook and MySpace), livecasting (qik), and most notably in the past two years, microblogging (Twitter). (For an easy visualization of the breadth of Social Media, I highly recommend Brian Solis's terrific "Conversation Prism".)
The point is that I stopped blogging, but I didn't stop sharing, communicating, and networking. Blogging satisfies a set of needs for me, and I found these needs were ones I could set aside when other priorities and demands required attention. But there were other needs that could not be put on hold, and I found no matter how busy I got, I always had time enough to participate in other aspects of Social Media.
What I learned firsthand is something I've been writing about on this blog for some time: Social Media isn't a single cohesive thing--it doesn't satisfy an individual or even small set of needs for people (or brands)--and woe be to the strategist or marketer who oversimplifies the complexities, nuances, and diversity of Social Media.
With the launch of a new year, I hope to continue to find time to explore the way consumers experience brands in a new social world. As always, your input is appreciated--after all, this blog isn't "social" if it's just me doing the talking!