From the cartoonery of John Atkinson and WrongHands we give you… Vintage social networking.
This is a post where I am right but so is Brian…
So yesterday I was talking via Twitter with Brian Dresher, the manager of social media at USA Today. The discussion brought on by this tweet/thought:
Brian followed that thought up with mentioning that “following” someone pre-Twitter meant something more akin to stalking than it did to something more related to complimentary. You got that right.
There was a bit more to the conversation but here’s the point that I want to get across- and I’m fairly certain that you would agree with me. If you don’t, that’s OK, these thoughts are my own.
Like it or not, Social networking is redefining terms of “social endearment.”
It’s forever changing the etymology of commonly used words; and I would say easily within a few years it will completely alter their understanding and perception as younger generations continue to evolve as digitals’ new natives.
Here are the prime and most glaring examples.
- Friend-Means absolutely nothing anymore. All it means is that we have allowed the other into our networks, or vice-versa. Soon we will have to qualify what kind of friend you or they actually are.
- Follow-At its core, to follow would mean to come or go after; proceed behind; go in a straight or obvious course. There is nothing in the social networking world that resembles that definition. But as it stands now, if I were to tell you that I follow him or her-there still might be a pregnant pause. That too will soon change.
- Like-I don’t even know where to begin.
- Relationship-the definition of the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship would seem to closely align itself with today’s social networks. However, some now think that relationships can be built on the thinnest of determinants. Which lead to this next tweet from me:
It took Brian’s next tweet to add the proper context to all of this.
He’s right. I didn’t know Brian before all this social networking “stuff” started and now we have a casual business relationship because of it. It has become enhanced because of it. We have met and talked at a conference, and later this summer he is going to host a Social Media Tweetchat for us. Thanks to the power of social networks.
Is there a fallout to all of this? No not really. We’re just adding layers to the complexity that is online communication. In order to get to or take a relationship to the next level, They’ll still have to be consummated at some point offline. Right? Maybe not? Maybe these new layers allow for less physical/face to face interactions?
*I know there were a ton of other “social” words that don’t mean the same thing as they used to that I did not mention. I’ll leave that up to you guys. Anyone want to start a wiki?
If you’re a social media consultant like Jay Baer, or a larger organization like Accenture for instance, one of the constant constants in social media is the amount of education required to get people all on the same page, before anything can really be accomplished.
With that being said, once people are “there”, and they “get it”, they can see pretty quickly what the trans-formative nature and power of social media is like, and what it can do.
But it took a post from the The Next Great Generation to open my eyes to what we are really talking about here and what really drives participation in social networks. It’s amazing that I can be so immersed in it and not really see what is going on. Check out these quotes from the post:
There was no validation that what I did was comment-worthy, no “cute” notations on Yelps, no retweets of my witty Twitter updates
Social media validates my feelings and actions. Seeing them online makes them real and takes them out of me, much in the way that I imagine it would be to keep a diary.”
What is the common theme there? Validation. Simply put, what we do in our communities needs to be validated. No one likes to create content in a vacuum. Conversations become just that, conversations, when someone responds to you. We need that reaction. the dialogue, not the monologue. Be it positive, negative or indifferent-the social creature in us needs the juice.
As well, by simply creating and putting it “out there” validates our existence in these social networks. We become “part” of the dynamic of the group, of the community. You are a creator and you’re validating yourself for the group.
Crowds applause-that validates. Social Media flash mobs go nuts over corporate missteps-they validate each other in unison and then are further validated by Twitter, blogs and reaction from the company itself. All forms of validation.
You write a blog post or tweet something or create a video, or write a review-you do it because you want to become part of something and it all rings hollow until someone notices and says something. Blogs were and still are great because not only did it provide a forum and platform for self expression but it also provided instant feedback. It validated both readers and writers.
Social media engagement is all about validating each other and our experiences and the content that we have created and…shared
- A high number of views=validates
- A high number of blog comments= validates the topic
- Trying to creating a video=searching for validation
- Snarky comment on Twitter=need for validation
The list can go on and on but I have to thank the folks over at TNGG for validating what I had completely missed in this space. You see, it’s the little things that can sometimes go completely unnoticed, and once you notice them, they aren’t so little after all.
How can you protect your children from social media?
One might say, “Do we really need to”? and another would say “We have to”.. and still another will say, “We’re all overreacting”.. and you know what? All three opinions are in a certain way, correct.
Do some of the following questions and comments sound familiar?
“I’m on top of it, I know what this social networking thing is all about”, “My child doesn’t really use it”, “Does it really matter? It hasn’t been a problem yet”, “My kids are good, they’re responsible and know what they are doing, nothing has happened, nothing ever will”. “Facebook seems harmless”, and besides, all they do is text”.
Your children, and for the sake of this post I will keep it to those children that are under 18, are exposed to so many different forms of media and channels of communication, that one has to wonder…
How do you shield them from the dark side and at the same time allow them to explore, absorb and learn without acting or being perceived as the enemy?
Before we dig into the what to do, let’s review something real quick that may help you to understand the landscape a little bit.
Though the above graphic refers to adults, children are not too far off from this model. This graphic by Forrester Research, refers to the types of people that hang out in communities and what they do in those communities. Your children hang out in communities, both online and offline, and all of those communities have their own sets of things to do, their own sub cultures and their own cliques; and within those groups there is as well, unwritten rules and what not.
But more importantly, aside from the breakdown of percentages in that graphic above-look at the number of ways that people can consume and create content. It’s just the tip of the iceberg in ways that a child can communicate with their peers and others. We are, and they are, consumers of media and creators of it. We are, and even more importantly they are, in the digital age.
- Text with their phone
- Online Chat via AIM
- Create video on YouTube
- Comment on YouTube
- Create a blog on WordPress
- Comment on any blog anywhere
- Create a song
- Create a network via Ning
- Upload music and comment on the music
- Upload an audio podcast
- Tweet on Twitter
- Create hundreds of profiles on hundreds on networks
- Update their status on Facebook
- Share images on Flickr
- Share music
- Share audio
- Share content
- They can use a desktop computer
- They can use a laptop, ipad or itouch
- They can use a smartphone
- They can use a mobile device
- They can use someone Else’s device or phone
- They can use someone Else’s account
- They can rate someone
- They can vote for someone
- They can create a poll or survey
- They can use a Webcam
- They can build a website from scratch
All of these forms of communication are just that, forms of communicating-with context and without. And… the majority of these activities have incredible SEO ( search engine optimization) ramifications. Simply put, when this content is created and uploaded or shared, if it was not done in the ever dissolving walled in garden of Facebook- then it is essentially waiting to be found by someone. Good context and bad.
I repeat, Good context and bad. Simply put, If I create or write something about Thomas Jones being a jerk-There is a high likelihood that it will be found in search. The problem? Thomas Jones might be a great guy, but you don’t know that. You just read that TJ is a jerk and so you decide to tell someone else…and so it begins. It goes viral in a social network and people get hurt.
Your digital footprint has never been more impactful than it is now, here in 2010.
So how, as a parent, do we deal with the firehose that is electronic communication, that is social media? How can we at least protect, shield and monitor our children from this new media evolution but still allow them to enjoy all that is has to offer in a positive way?
The first determination is the degree of involvement if any. If there is none, and they say there is none, don’t assume that. If it’s not happening in your house, don’t assume that it is not occurring next door, or in the school library or on the playground.
Assuming participation in social networks is going to happen and or is happening, then you need to take an active vital role in education, in creating policies, and creating ground rules for participation.
Believe it or not, even at the small business level as well as the corporate level, two things that we implore companies and businesses to do from the outset is to: 1) Start listening and monitoring to what is being said about you, your company and your industry and 2) set up and create policies, rules and guidelines for participation in social media. If they didn’t do #1, they won’t know what is going on and, #2, just like children, adults will take advantage of the zero social media policy and the situation and zero work would get done. So the same applies to children.
So I mentioned education. Do you know who needs the most education? You the parent. That’s right. You need to educate yourself on what the social networking landscape looks like and the texting landscape looks like.
u ned 2 kno what asl is as much as idk, wtf and omg…
The more you know, the more you will be able to understand. What do you know and how much do you know will be critical; but more importantly, how much of what you think you know and is it accurate, might be crucial.
Once you have a firm footing it’s time to create policies, rules and guidelines for usage. It starts simply with no computers in the bedrooms. Having the computer in a medium traffic area can be a game changer. Next as part of your rules, policies and guidelines, you will want to know, have or have done the following:
20 point checklist for letting your child engage in social networking
- Know all social sites that your child is a part of it
- Have access to all content pages that your child has created
- Know all user names, passwords and profiles that your child has created
- Know all email accounts with user names and passwords that your child has created
- Create rules of engagement on social sites that are built on being “accountable” to you for their actions-A 3 strikes rule is not a bad idea.
- Create your own accounts in these networks
- Explain that though you will have all this information, you will only access it, should there be a need to.
- Establish Trust.
- Understand that that trust may be breached
- Review the privacy settings in your child’s social networks and map it to their profiles and then review their profiles
- See who is following of “friending” your child and vice-versa
- No adult, unless it’s a family member should be in any network that your child is part of.
- Explain the dark side of social networks to your child, there’s nothing wrong with being scared straight.
- Periodically evaluate the content they are sharing and consuming.
- Know what they are searching for
- Don’t forget or ignore texting and email. Establish usage guidelines for those as well. Never assume they are harmless or easy to manage.
- If you feel the need to establish time constraints for computer and phone usage, do it.
- You’re not trying to be a friend here- we’re trying to be parents.
- If you have to shut it down-don’t feel guilty. Do it without remorse.
- The computer is not a babysitter. Talk to them.
In closing here are some things that you need to know that I told a group last week and it’s something that I have seen first hand. For the most part young children could take or leave using social networks and in my honest opinion-the usage of them, from a learning and sharing and creating standpoint in high school can have great value. But the usage of social networks for those below the age of high school freshman and possibly sophomores, I see no need.
For parents, knowing what your child is doing on a day to day basis is normal, but adding the dynamic of social media and social networks to the mix is definitely a challenge. especially without a road map.
Understanding social media, becoming educated about it and learning how to use it and monitor it are things that companies of all sizes are currently wrestling with. Take heart parents, you’re not alone. It does get better though once we all are on the same page. Just remember that you need to be controlling the technology, not the other way around and certainly not by your children; and though we call it a fire-hose, that fire-hose can be turned off.
What are you looking for when you read the latest link bait blog title? I’m always looking for the new tool. I’m looking for what I haven’t found yet, We all are. It’s why new diet books keep popping up on book shelves. Because people keep buying them. Because what worked before just doesn’t seem to be doing it now. We’re all constantly looking for a new approach, a new way to do things. Social media is no exception. We just have a different name for it, it’s called social media obsolescence.
Here’s an example:
You see as a society we’re just not satisfied. This extends to the social networks that we use. Yes, we all are using Facebook, and they are truly the exception to the rule. They are the immovable force. But other sites just die on the vine but for no other reason than it has reached it’s point of critical mass. It’s now in decline for the simple reason that we are looking for, no craving more than what that site delivered to us flawlessly.
To that end, I often find myself pondering whether I could possibly write something that hasn’t been said already. What will satisfy this rabid audience of social media consumers looking for the brass ring or the uber answer? Well the answer is, every day there is another great batch of great posts from some really smart people that I’m pleased to know professionally. Each with a new twist, a different angle, a fresh thought. Which tells us that indeed we are in the nascent stages of this monolith that we call social media.
So what’s there left to do?
What is left is for you and even me, to take all of these thoughts and processes and put them to good use and into action. Then you, my dear readers must pay it forward. No more selfish consuming.
You need to become the next legion of social media foot soldiers. We still have so many people that are completely perplexed and yet those of you that have been playing in the sandbox now for say the last year, know so much more than 75% of the population. That’s you! Start sharing what you know and what you have read. Don’t keep it to yourself. Be a creator, as well as a conversationalist. Push the envelope in 2010, you have 11 months to get it done!
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Call it the missing link, no pun intended, but after spending 2 days at Universal Studios in Orlando, and watching the mass of humanity at play, I was able to see a cross section of society that one is not afforded in the online world no matter how deep one is into it.
But one tends to think (or rather I start to think) how this crowd source spends its time online and in social networks-if at all. Yet, there were so many similarities between what occurs in an online social network and what I saw, that I just had to share 10 of them with you.
#1 What recession? With waits ranging from 2 hours to 15 minutes, The 2 theme parks we attended were not hurting for customers. $12 dollars to park and no less than $60-$75 per person to get in. Think of Universal Studios as this massive social network, and in a sense it is. But no walls and no silos. The point being- If people want it, they will pay for it and they will wait for it, they will walk miles for it, and they will suffer in the heat for it.
#2 People of all ethnic backgrounds, shapes, sizes, ages and color can some and be welcomed without judgment. Truly a melting pot, both literally and figuratively. A social network where anyone could come in and be themselves with others…Hmmm…
#3 People like to show their individuality, their uniqueness and their affinity to products, teams, people, brands, looks and passions. Their “niche” was in attendance and the park was their platform. This included tattoos, team jerseys, devotion to designers, bands and brands from head to toe, and everything in between. I could have easily segmented everyone there into specific groups, all with healthy memberships.
#4 Everyone was in a fishbowl. I watched, they watched, we watched. From people eating like pigs, parents shouting at children, couples young and old making out, people in wheelchairs, people in scooters, people who didn’t need to be in scooters, folks trying to scam to the front of lines, people not understanding directions, rules or each other, people helping each other with pictures, others letting others in front of them in lines, extreme acts of kindness and of course mean people. What’s my point? Everything and anything was there to be seen. I didn’t have to look too hard. Sound familiar?
#5 I saw zero tie in anywhere with any type of current social network-which led me to wondering…
#6 How much of this demographic was engaged online via a social network? My initial thought was less than 30% of the total attendees. They just didn’t seem to be the types. Maybe I am way off on this. I did see the potential, just based on the number of digital cameras present, that photo sharing would seem to make the most sense in tying in the activities within the theme parks into sites like Flickr or Facebook. Kodak are you reading this?
#7 Zero tie in with SMS-This was glaring and seemed to have a huge upside as well as potential for either integrating with buying food or a Fast Pass or perhaps park, ride, wait, and show information. 95% of the people there had mobile devices. How was that leveraged?
#8 Tremendous potential to make the experience better for its most important asset, the people that shell out hundreds of dollars per day to attend. It can be even better but I think a certain aspect of smugness permeates the overall park experience for the sake of printing money. In other words, “We have a hot property, so though the experience could be better, we don’t need to really worry about it…”
#9 Some attractions had zero intuitiveness and thus getting lost even with the map was an issue. Directions were an issue. Assumptions in the capabilities of the attendees were perhaps over estimated. Hard to change? hard to upgrade? Hard to improve upon?
#10 Technology played a part in the design of each and every ride there to enhance the experience and the destination, but technology could be used even more effectively to enhance the journey all along the way.
My thoughts are this. What makes online social networks work is the individuality, yet the common thread that all people possess. This is obviously the key, or can be the key offline too. The struggle in both scenarios for marketers is trying to tap into that. The struggle for managers is how to deftly address the wants, needs and desires of every segment. The key might be right in the middle of the crowd. The crowd…It’ s in the crowd.
Note* Perhaps one way for us to reduce healthcare costs might be for Universal Studios to quit serving up the Western Diet to so many who obviously indulge in this far too often. More than 40% if not more who were at the park, were overweight..
This has been on my mind lately. It was amplified yesterday by a tweet by David Armano who tweeted the following:
Have you ever bought something from someone you felt you had a relationship? That’s the ROI of social business…
At which point I responded back with:
@Armano Value..think about your offline relationships-the ones that mean the most, are the ones that carry substance.-same with buying habits
So here’s the deal. In your offline every day world, what relationships mean the most to you? They are the ones that are not superficial. Right? The relationships that have substance, meaning, and value.
Less chit and more chat
The ROI of social business. the ROI of your relationships, as hollow as that might be, are both the same- The ROI is the value that you have built up in that relationship. Both from a business and personal standpoint. If you have cultivated a relationship, then you place a high value on it and what it might return. The less that you have put into it, or what you have received, should be consistent with your expectations and effort.
The same applies to any “online” social network or offline. Though it may seem shallow at first to only say that you only put stock in the people that bring value to you and what you do-it’s actually the truth. It has nothing to do with the technology, the platform, the hardware or the software.
Whether we care to admit or not. We all look for value, we may not say it, but it’s true. Online and offline, value in the people that we connect with, drives our relationships.