A Year in Social Media
The internet is awash with competing forms of social media, all offering a platform for you to interact with your peers. Although I feel that there are a lot of positive aspects to all these mediums, there is also a downside. Need I really catalogue all the iniquities of Twitter or Facebook? Let it suffice to say that the internet giveth and it also taketh away. Social media is like any other tool and therefore has to be used appropriately. If used correctly then it can be informative, entertaining and a great way to broaden your horizons. The alternative is a portal into a world of anger, stupidity and shit. 2015 was the year that I feel I finally got my personal relationship with social media right.
I have never really seen any practical benefits to me or my writing in using Facebook or Google +. Until recently all posts that were made on Contains Moderate Peril were automatically posted to both platforms. However this failed to bring readers to the primary website and resulted in a separate audience growing on both alternate outlets. Effectively this increased the work load as there were now three platforms to be marketed to and engaged with. This struck me a counterproductive, so this autumn I ceased to use both these mediums and focused upon generating traffic solely for Contains Moderate Peril. Abandoning these two social media platforms proved quite easy. Facebook has become increasingly obtrusive in recent years and I didn’t care for the way it continued to harvest my phone for information for its own benefit.
For the present twitter continues to be my primary social media of choice. The rule of thumb with this particular platform seems to be you get back what you put in. Your personal twitter experience comes down to who you follow and how you engage with them. Some high profile twitter users do interact with their followers. Others simply use it as an impersonal means of marketing and promoting. Other unofficial “rules” to consider is it’s not mandatory to follow someone back just because they follow you. It’s also worth remembering that if you don’t like what someone is saying then stop following them. Despite what some folk would have you believe, twitter is not a microcosm of popular sentiment and is not a definitive litmus test on any weighty issue. Twitter amplifies extremes and it’s worth remembering that “empty vessels make the most noise”.
I genuinely enjoy the banter I share on twitter and like interacting with a broad and diverse group of people from around the world. However an incident this year raised the question as to whether I was spending too much time in an online echo chamber. Should I include news feeds and political commentary in my twitter timeline? Was it incongruous to flit from the ephemeral to weightier issues? Should I segregate such content or integrate it further into my twitter feeds? I eventually decided to move some of the more challenging material to a different twitter account. As I use TweetDeck I can display separate timelines in multiple columns; when required content can be temporarily muted.
Finally late in the year I discovered Slack. The Gaming and Entertainment Network set up a group and I was invited to join. Although I was aware of this team collaboration tool and had heard many positive things about it, it wasn’t until I used it did I fully realise how flexible a platform it is. It’s ideal for sharing all manner of material within a group and project planning. Or if you prefer it’s also a great way to talk shit with your friends. I can see this particular platform featuring heavily in all future undertakings both by Contains Moderate Peril and the Burton & Scrooge podcast. If you haven’t used it I would urge you to check it out.
Social media like any other communication product seems to have a distinct pattern to its lifecycle. There are earlier adopters that enjoy the benefits of using a product that is not yet mainstream. However sooner or later the world and the wife will discover the new platform and it will inevitably start to become more commercial and burdened by the lowest common denominator. Sponsored tweets are a prime example of this this process. I shall continue to use twitter in 2016 although I do think that may be it has peaked within this framework. Therefore I shall be keeping my eye out for the next emerging social media platform and may well break my own habit of not becoming an early adopter.