Reflections

Previously published by The News-Press

"I decided to shift from dabbling to deliberative in my social media approach."

"It's a never-ending feel-good party where you are a member of the coolest club in the world."

"We are in danger of being more connected to devices than to people."

The 411 on social media

Published in The News-Press on 9/30/12

 

I checked my Klout social media score this week and it’s a dismal 39 out of 100.

 

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this column is for you.

 

If you’re nodding your head sagely and smirking at my numbers, this column is for you, too.

 

If you’ve got a rotary phone, go ahead and turn the page.

 

Klout is one measure of your influence on social media, judging how well you engage with others. President Barack Obama is near perfect at 99, followed by pop star Justin Bieber at 92.

 

When it comes to numbers for the biggest players--Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram—it’s mind-boggling. The dominant Facebook reports 955 million monthly active users—some 14% of the world’s population.

 

At the most basic level, social media is the ability to interact digitally—online, on mobile, on your tablet.

 

As an organization, The News-Press has been learning, adapting and gaining expertise in social media for years as part of our overall community engagement. Our Facebook has 7000 likes and our twitter feed has 5000 followers. We also offer digital marketing services to clients, from search engine marketing (SEM) to reputation management.

 

In a month or so, we’ll be refining our strategies including merging our various Facebook pages into one, having more conversations, and regularly gauging the pulse of the social media community.

 

When it comes to us as individual leaders of The News-Press, it’s been more perplexing to determine the optimal approach.

 

Is there such a thing as a private Facebook page? If we tweet regularly (meeting with community leaders, for example), what are the benefits? If we don’t, what are the risks?

 

All leaders who represent the face of their organizations have to make decisions about whether or not they’ll engage, and the consequences of that decision to their success.

 

I decided this summer I had to shift from dabbling to deliberative in my social media approach. To engage fully as the publisher, my digital presence had to be as consistent and valued as my physical engagement.

 

It’s been a challenge for three reasons: First of all, I was brought up to be polite and pay attention to what’s going on. So it feels rude to step out of the moment to take a picture or tweet.

 

Secondly, I’m pretty private, with a close circle of friends and family. What I have to share, I share person to person. And it’s hard to conceive that the general party-goer would care what I have to say. (And of course they don’t—they care about me as the publisher).

 

And third, I get some 200 emails a day—all specifically directed at me and requiring intense attention. So I’m not really interested in scanning the world at large for more content.

 

In April, I had just 22 tweets. Since then, I’ve tweeted 126 times, about events, people and leadership insights. I now have 67 followers vs. 26. These are very low numbers, leading to my low Klout score.

 

I’ve now added my other social media accounts for Klout to assess. I have 292 friends on Facebook (229 is the average); LinkedIn says my 1,164 connections links me to 8.78 million people. Righto.

 

Let me offer my top five commentary about social media:

 

  • It’s a never-ending feel-good party where you are a member of the coolest club in the world. You can rub elbows with, and sometimes even befriend, the rich, the famous, and nifty people of like-minds. Because social media is public and permanent, most are on their best behavior. You can engage at whatever level you are comfortable--socializers get to be a legend not only in your own minds but in front of millions. Those who are more reserved can tap your toes in a quiet corner, or boldly try out the dance floor. And voyeurs (you know who you are) can work the crowd anonymously, just for kicks.

 

  • A key driver for the millions of posts is that “publishing” is a thrill—something we in the media business know and love well. When you physically see your name, your “reports” and your pictures, you get a rush. And you get really excited when someone “likes” your posts. It’s an affirmation of you.

 

  • What started out as an orderly efficient information highway has been flooded over and is more like a gushing river, filled with mostly flotsam and jetsam: swirling debris hurtling haphazardly. It’s getting harder and harder to pan for the gold.

 

  • Where once we claimed we didn’t have enough time, we’ve magically carved more hours to absorb and share information. That’s good news for content producers like us, but it’s changing our behaviors. Instead of restful quiet down-times, like at stoplights or a break in conversation or at day’s end, you’re still “on” with social media. Instead of doing one thing only, you’re multi-tasking.

 

  • Which leads me to my final point: To slice time differently, our minds and attention spans have splintered. Technology is rewiring our lives, and redefining society. We are in danger of being more connected to devices than to people. Although we never want to be alone, we’re losing deep connections. And we’re becoming too comfortable speaking in quick code instead of thoughtful sentences.

 

If you have the 411 on 2moro, tweet ASAP. ttfn.

 

Note: As of Sept. 4, 2015, my Klout score was 53.

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© 2015 by Mei-Mei Chan Kirk