This morning I discovered an ad for weight loss on my Facebook Timeline. A few weeks ago, a professional colleague added a post to my post promoting his services. I did not invite their participation into my social media presence. Nonetheless, there they were. These unwelcome intrusions have given me cause to reflect on our rationale for using social media effectively and more importantly, whether we are using it purposefully.
For several years I resisted creating any social media accounts, simply because I felt that the requirement to “say something” on line was yet another task to add to my already jammed to-do list. I did not want to learn how to use the applications and I initially resented the notion of doing so because I’ve never been a fan of the herd mentality. Yet, I succumbed to the idea and began blogging and posting my thoughts. Although I do enjoy reading about the latest happenings with family and friends, I admit that I still have a lot to learn about maximizing the benefits of social media for commercial purposes.
I have come to the conclusion that for personal use, social media is a fun tool to stay in touch. I do not need to have any particular objective for posting a status update. However, I am mindful about what I choose to broadcast. For business, social media is proving to be a very powerful tool, provided I have a clearly defined strategy. The instantaneous and very public nature of each post demands that I give thought to every word.
In a recent New York Times article “The Flight from Conversation”, psychologist and professor Sherry Turkle says: “We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings as we’re having them…In order to feel more, and to feel more like ourselves, we connect. But in our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves.”
What began as a means to connect on a personal level has morphed into a force that is beyond our imagination. Social media has changed the face of human interaction. We now feel the urge to broadcast our innermost thoughts. Each medium is a now a movement that has given the word “socialize”, or indeed the word “friend”, a new connotation that has transcended personal boundaries, changed political landscapes and revolutionized way we do business.
Do we value our virtual social networks; whether they are for personal or business use, as highly as our “real” connections? Are we creating and posting status updates to impress, or to leave an impression? Are we giving thought to our broadcasts, or are we indulging our egos with endless self-promotion? As the world has become a smaller place due to technology, these are important questions for both individuals and organizations to consider.