Observations

So, do Twitter and Facebook really work?

OK, maybe the title of this post is a little off: of course they work. Functionally they do what they’re supposed to do, without often crashing, and in general — aside from a couple of Facebook updates that take people six hours to get accustomed to — they seem to have good rates of customer satisfaction.

Here’s what I really mean: I’ve worked in media-type jobs for most of the last six or so years now, meaning I’ve been in media/promoting media/”trying to get your piece of the pie” both well before Twitter/Facebook and well after Twitter/Facebook (and am now trying to get out, partially because of all this, I think).

I’ve sat in countless meetings where a good (or even a great) idea was proposed, and some supervisor has noted, “Good. So, we’ll put it on Twitter?”

Twitter

My question is: has the advent of Twitter and Facebook made people lazy in terms of how they market their stuff? Are they content to say, “I tweeted it,” or “I put it on Facebook,” as opposed to targeting the audience more? (You can target the audience on those services, but I’m assuming for the sake of this post that most people probably don’t.) Or, is it an age-old issue: the lazy people in an office environment will find ways to continue to be lazy, and the driven ones will find new strategies?

I thought about writing this post because I’ve heard that mentality — “I promoted it, yea; I shared it on FB” — so much recently. It’s frustrating. The point of marketing something, or even the base level of creating something, is that you want it to reach the intended audience. When you share something on Facebook or tweet out something, it might reach a lot of people — but who are those people, and what are they going to do with the new intel they’ve received?

I guess the main thing people like about Twitter and Facebook — in terms of, let’s say, companies or groups, and not journalists — is that they can use the services to interact with ‘real people’ and get instant feedback; that’s described on this thread, which starts out negatively but quickly gets to a pretty good place. “Join in on the conversation and help others” — by ReadyRick — seems to be good advice for the optimal way to use the social networking devices.

With regards to Facebook, it kinda seems like a business model/theory equivalent to going to the biggest party on Homecoming Night. Everyone’s there already, so something cool is bound to happen, right? People in business love numbers (rightfully so), and articles like this are going to convince anyone that their business needs a Facebook presence. Hell, I’ll be honest — when I get this site going with more interviews and posts, I’m going to establish social media accounts for it, no doubt.

Another good angle here: has constant crowd-sourcing made us lazy? It’s addressed in this piece, holding that good old-fashioned research may be going out the window. Here’s a June 2006 read from Wired about how crowd-sourcing replaced out-sourcing as a dominant model in American business.

Ultimately, I understand why Twitter and Facebook are popular — but I guess I don’t see how that works unless you’re a journalist or an individual who wants to interact with their friends. Most Facebook posts I see — on my personal account and the account I manage for my job — are people talking about the weather, their weekend plans, linking an article, or starting a debate off something in the news. I also kinda feel like Facebook posting and tweets are like newsletters — we’ve reached a point in our evolution where we know what to ignore, what to filter to the side, and what to pursue, especially that which is presented in a digital format. Maybe I’m wrong, however. This paper backs me up a little, though — the network you have on Twitter is actually more sparse than you think.

While looking through Google Scholar on the topic of social networking (most papers obviously written in the past five years), I came across some cool stuff that’s utterly tangential to what I’m discussing here — and since I’m already probably all over the place on this one, I’ll let those be. I was a dork in high school and I would have loved to be invited to the parties where everyone already was; in a way, that’s probably why I embrace having a lot of ‘friends’ on Facebook or gaining ‘followers’ on Twitter. But do I think those people are really listening to what I might be saying, or the messages I’m putting out professionally? I do not.

But hey — if you come across this post, feel free to ‘like’ it, ‘share’ it, and re-tweet the ever-living hell out of it.

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This is a blog and podcast series about the work we all do: the highs, the lows, the effectiveness, the intrigue, the models, the double speak, and the passion. The point is to have discussions with people in those fields about their life and experiences. And hey, sometimes the stories might be funny, too. In the spring of 2013, the new posts started to fade, but you can find them all on iTunes.

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