Five Things About Social Media I’d Be Thankful to See Change

28 Nov

Mike Keliher wrote last week on things to be thankful for about social media, and tagged me on a related topic:  things I’d be thankful to see change in social media.  Appropriately, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, so let’s have at it.

For me, the issues with social media are less with the media themselves, and more with how it insinuates itself into our lives an conversations.  To whit:   

1.  Overstating Social Media’s Reach.  I work in public relations and marketing; I live in a world with mothers and fathers, housewives, sales people, real estate agents, corporate marketing communications professionals, stock brokers, designers, financial executives, housekeepers, retirees, restaurateurs, lawyers, shopkeepers … it goes on an on.  Just because you and your friends are Twittering and Uttering and blogging, snickering about the demise of newspapers and reviewing carefully compiled RSS feeds each day, doesn’t mean everyone is. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that most people are.  

Most people are checking their email every day and have a few favorite websites they follow. They barely manage to keep up with the news, but they scan the paper.  They have no time to read blogs.  They are amazed that anyone would use Twitter. 

I’d be thankful if communicators and social media evangelists would remember this. And, more importantly, respect it. 

2.  Understating Social Media’s Impact.  Flip the coin over and you find that most people have little idea how deeply social media impacts their lives.  Someone in their world is emailing them links to the hottest YouTube videos. TV takes them from the web, and then back into it again.  Every Google search delivers more data to marketers, every product review read and followed amplifies the power of one person’s opinion.  A friend of a friend of a friend shares a link or a bit of news on Twitter that makes it to your inbox in hours, if not minutes.  And have you noticed how many of your friends, family, high school and college buddies have signed up for Facebook?  How many colleagues are on LinkedIn?    

I’d be thankful if those who shake their heads and say they have no time for this would pay attention to how much more entertaining, fulfilling and downright useful social media has already become in their lives. 

3. Personally, I wish it were all easier. No matter how good you are with social media, it’s a pain.  There are too many networks, too many websites and technologies and services to follow.  Too many contacts to keep track of.  When my kids grow up, I expect that communications and the Web and gaming will all be handled by The Chip.  They’ll just stick this do-everything chip into their heads and they can call people and surf the net and play games just by thinking about it.

Okay, so I’m mostly joking, but I do know some folks who’d be first in line when The Chip hits the stores. Me, I’d be thankful if what want to know, who I want to follow and how I want to share would all just flow.  

4.  Could newspapers just figure it out already? Not directly “social media,” I know, but it’s my blog…  Here’s the deal:  We need journalism. We need professional journalists.  We need people covering news beats in our daily lives, we need people to make sense of it all.  And we need editors and fact checkers committed to the idea that they’re going to get the story right so their readers can trust what they report. We need business people and news leaders who run professional news organizations to stop fretting over classified ads that aren’t coming back and figure out a new millennium organizational and business model that will support this noble endeavor. I’d be thankful for that.

5.   It’s OK to put it down for awhile. I’ve been visiting family for the past week.  I haven’t Twittered (much) or blogged (until now), or kept up with much news (except Mumbai and the Minnesota Senate recount).  My family asked me if the Blackberry makes me feel compelled to answer emails instantly.  I said no.  There’s a comfort to knowing you’re always connected.  That if anyone needs you, they can find you.  But there’s even more comfort in sinking into the couch, Thanksgiving dinner over and the kids in bed, goofing around with your family, no cell phone, computer or Chip in sight. 

So there you go.  I’ll tag Adam Singer to try the same topic, in part because I’m almost sure he’s written on it already.

9 Responses to “Five Things About Social Media I’d Be Thankful to See Change”

  1. sylvgee November 28, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    i love this! Sums up my thoughts perfectly. I’m just 19 and obviously growing up in the boom of internet-related stuff. Sometimes I get frustrated if people don’t get what I’m doing in web 2.0 stuff but then hey, maybe they just don’t get it, yet. And yeah companies that don’t care about what web 2.0 says about them out there. Tell me bout it man.. Tell me bout it..

  2. Mike Keliher November 28, 2008 at 2:53 pm #

    On #1: Amen, brother. Ditto #2. Both are important points. It’s interesting how both of those truths coexist.

    As for #3: Right now, yes, this aspect is a pain in the ass. I think an overwhelming majority of the cause for this problem stems from the fact that these social media “service providers” — the Twitters and Facebooks and the like — don’t want to go to far down the road of solving this problem. Once you’ve built a network of connections on, say, Facebook, the last thing they want is for it to be easy for you to seamlessly replicate that at MySpace or LinkedIn or elsewhere. They want to lock you in.

    And again on #4 and #5: Amen, brother.

    Thanks for playing along with the tag. Have a good weekend.

  3. Ken Kadet November 30, 2008 at 8:27 pm #

    Thanks for the comments, Mike and Sylvgee. I agree with you on #3 … and why they do it seems pretty clear … I think part of the issue, too, is the social anxiety. The Well was cool…in those early hippie days of the Internet. Friendster was cool, till it wasn’t…suddenly all the cool kids were hanging out at MySpace (“Their Spaces”?). Then Facebook opens up and all the grown-ups meet up with their college buddies and stay there and MySpace is so, you know. Geez, how stupid would I feel if I was still on Twitter while everyone was rushing to Plurk? Oy!

  4. Adam Singer December 1, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    Alright Ken, I’ll bite…give me some time I’ll write up my 5 things 😉

  5. Keith Monaghan December 2, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    Man, I like this post. I’ve been feeling some of these things for a while now but you’ve articulated them better than I ever could.

    I especially like #1: “Overstating Social Media’s Reach”. My experience is that most of the people I come into contact with don’t know or care about social media. Ouch! That hurts, but it’s true.

    Heck, many of my seriously geeky friends don’t even get it and they’re the ones building social media web sites an tools.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Rather, this post is a great reminder that those of us who use this stuff can sometimes can get caught up in admiring the new bright shiny thing at the expense of the big picture.

    Social media is a small fish in the big marketing pond right now. That may change or it may not. Hard to say.

    I don’t more than anyone else, but I’m guessing that social media will need to become much simpler, convenient, and obviously useful before it goes mainstream.

    Maybe, like podcasting, it will never really catch on with the greater public as predicted.

    Time will tell.

    Thanks, Ken!

  6. Ken Kadet December 3, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    Podcasting’s a good example. The people who enjoy it enjoy it… To the rest of us, it’s just online audio.

    I think there’s a certain mainstreaming happening. My college cohort (class of ’89) is finally hitting Facebook in a big way…and my wife is under pressure from friends to get a page. But mainstream — most people will pick those one or two things and stick with them…

    It all comes down to respecting their choices — let’s face it, for most non-marketers, time can be better spent than on social media. What they choose is a big deal.

    Thanks for the comment, Keith!

  7. Tim B. February 18, 2009 at 2:09 am #

    Ken, I would like to point out #2 where you mentioned most people don’t realize how much social media impacts their lifes. This is so true I cannot even begin to touch on it. I was thinking of starting a seperate blog the other day just like yours dedicated to analyzing a new issue each week or maybe even each day. And to your last point: sometimes you do just have to stop and “put it down.” This is a great thought as sometimes in social media I know I can get too caught up into always being connected.


  1. 5 Reasons You Should Learn Social Media - December 4, 2008

    […] Kadet recently tagged me in a post he wrote on 5 things about social media he’d like to see change asking me to share some thoughts along those lines.  Since Ken covered that topic pretty well (I […]

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