Monday, December 3, 2012

"Leveraging" and "Social Media" - The Most Hated Words of 2012

So I had a revelation recently.  OK so maybe it was more like a brain fart.  And unlike my usual brain farts which explode all over my husband, I decided to spare him and set it out to all y'all.  Of late, I've been trying to understand the various social media channels.  You know, like FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.  I mean, I get the gist: connect with a community of people with similar interests from your bedroom, whatever.  But, why is FB buying Instagram, a free app for $1 BILLION??? Why are companies buying "likes" with coupons and promos?  Why are people bragging about the number of Twitter followers they have on their resumes?  What's the big deal?

My exploration began a few years ago over my parent's dining room table.  We busted my 16 year old niece posting what we deemed to be inappropriate photos of herself on her FB account and we came down HARD.  So hard in fact that she blocked all of us from seeing her profile forevermore.  Now god knows, surely she continues to share "too much" on FB in a way that makes we stodgy grownups cringe, and makes us go into diatribes about the importance of privacy, etc.  But it is inherently natural to these younger generations.  What is the real value of privacy?  Does it have real value, or is it simply an archaic barrier we put up out of habit?  Are these younggins on to something, or are they just naive?

So I set out to find out. And this is what I've come up with:

The average social media user is someone who uses it to connect to their real-life social circle.  Of course there are so-called power users, but by and large, most of us just use it to exchange info with people we already exchange info with.  So why are these channels turning into BILLION dollar companies?  You wanna watch me and @akaida fawn over the cuteness of our babies?  Hardly.

The whole social media platform is fueled by the idea that centuries of traditional marketing has rendered consumers numb.  We fast forward through commercials on our PVRs.  We read our news online.  We arrive late to movies to skip the previews (OK maybe that's just me).  So where do we get our pressure to consume?

For me, and I like to think like most of us, it is the trusted network of friends and family that I have distilled down over a life time to only the very best and brightest and now proudly call my social network.  "Hey @GeorgieCreative, I just tried #Cafvino, coffee wine! My friend @MsSchif_dD just started importing it! It's da bomb!  DO IT!"  And voila, I have given my social network the best advertising money CAN'T buy!  A testimonial!  No research necessary!  After all, hopefully my network trusts me.  Our kids play together.  We debauch together.  We pick each others' brains about anything and everything.  And THIS is social media's power.

But, most of us aren't using this power (see above).  Most of us don't see the use.  But here it is people:

You and I have the power to craft an online persona of ourselves.  The more true that persona is to our real-life selves, the more trusted we will be to our online community.  And the more trusted we are, the more powerful our voices become.  And what a platform FB (or any channel for that matter) is for a powerful voice!  If I post a comment and a friend "likes" it, that friend's friends can see it too.  If one of them "likes" it, then their friends', friends can see it.  And so on and so on.  We can connect with thousands and in some cases millions of people from our phones!!!  WTF???  WHY DO I KEEP POSTING PICS OF MY BABIES????

Now some of you will say, "I don't care to get anything out of social media.  I am happy with my use of social media as is."  But, ask yourself:  "Why not?"  I mean you're already doing it anyway.  Why be passive?   Be active.  Purposeful.

So maybe my niece was onto something?  But surely there is a way to responsibly "leverage" (i threw up in my mouth a little when I wrote that word) this power. And I think my brain fart gave me the answer:  we need to RECONNECT with our truest of true friends.  Go back to the beginning.  Meet up for an online chat with EVERY person you graciously "added" as friends over the years.  Re-introduce yourself.  Your true self.  Remind them of where you left off in real life.  Tell them what you've been up to .  IN DETAIL.  Ask them to do the same.  Re-friend them.  THAT is our power.

Starting today I am working my way alphabetically through my FB friends.  This is my challenge. (Challenge was a weekend theme after we googled cinnamon challenge.  So awesome.)  If you know me, expect a message.  If you don't, try it for yourselves and report back.  I am too curious.

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