Explaining Social Media

    Social Media, Huh?Despite videos, seminars, tutorials, and a couple of years under my belt, I still don’t get this whole Social Medial thing. (I take comfort in telling myself the “not getting it” is more a matter of needing an anchor for the concept versus my intelligence [or apparent lack thereof].)

    FOOD, SHMOOZING, AND GET-TOGETHERS

    A clarifying question FINALLY came to me. “What if I related social media to food, shmoozing, and get-togethers?” With that in mind, I came up with the following.

    TWITTER ~ Appetizer. Finger food. Little nibbles, noshes, and snacks. While often not the healthiest things you eat during the day, the amounts are generally small. (It helps to rationalize the snacks keep your energy up.)

    When attending a cocktail party or hanging around the water cooler you expect lighthearted conversation. “Small talk.” A place for telling jokes or a quick, “Hey I’m going to be here doing this & that later, why don’t’cha swing by?”

    With Twitter’s 140-character limit, it’s best you avoid “meaningful and profound” conversations, since you’ll quickly burn out. (While you’d think this would be obvious with Twitter’s 140-character-limit, some — *ahem who shall remain nameless* — miss the obvious.)

    BLOGS ~ Suppertime. You gather your friends, kinsfolk, guests (“tribe” in the cyber vernacular) to your table. You feed them. Real food. You supply fuel, energy and substance. In preparing the meals, you may find yourself experimenting with different recipes and types of cuisine. Still, you will probably become known for something in particular: Desserts. Salads. Main courses. Appetizers. Table settings.

    The most successful cooks, restaurants, and blogs are those which specialize. The best thing you can do is find your strength — your niche — and develop it. Get strong in it. Get known for it. Ultimately you want to be branded and known for having developed a strong niche. You offer a something (mealtimes are food, blog time is entertainment, knowledge, information, opinion, humor) others want, so they’ll stop by, join you, and invite their friends.

    GOOGLE PLUS ~ After dinner shmooze and dessert. You’re sated. You’re full. You’ve slowed down. You linger at the table. You’re hanging with friends. Family. Having tea (or coffee) and dessert. Conversations meander. Pictures are shared. You might spend an evening telling jokes. Another time you might wonder down memory lane, discuss politics, wedding plans, potty training, photographic technique. There is no limit to where after dinner conversations meander. This is the part that lasts the longest. You nibble on the cake. Have another cuppa.

    Often, friends who couldn’t make the meal will join you for dessert.

    FACEBOOK ~ College frat party. Too much of everything. Music’s too loud. Booze flows too freely. People are trying too hard to have a good time.

    LINKEDIN ~ Formal, sit-down, multi-course meal (Or visiting Aunt Bertha.) The serious stuff. You want to make a good impression. You put on your best clothes. Are on your best behavior. Remember your manners and rules of etiquette.

    FLICKR and INSTAGRAM. Not sure about the differences between these two photographic sharing sites. Each has strong advocates and detractors. I recently joined Flickr and am still finding my way. Flickr does seem to make it easy to organize photographs, chat about them, join groups of like-minded photographers, or those who appreciate a certain branch of photography. Some groups have active discussions and fresh photographs, others less of both.

    Perhaps Flickr/Instragram can be equated to Trail Mix (generally a combo of nuts, dried fruit, and small candies). If you hike or backpack, you’re going to be very specific about what you pack since you have to carry it. You will probably be specific about your photographs, perhaps only black & white, digitally enhanced, Polaroids, portraits, cloud-scapes, or etc.

    PINTEREST is a virtual, interactive scrapbook/bulletin board/Coffee Klatch. Rather than the sit-down-dining-room meal of Blogs or Linkedin, you’re more relaxed. This is the join-us-in-the-kitchen gathering. Your friends and neighbors stop by. Grab themselves a mug. Pour a cup of coffee (or tea). Help themselves to the coffee cakes and cookies. You swap D-I-Y ideas for science projects, recipes, or patterns. You talk books, fashion, and hair styles. You offer inspiration in the way of great quotes, cool books, life-style changes.

    TUMBLR, REDDIT, ETC. Have not a clue. If you do, please enlighten!

    For a healthy body, you need to eat a variety of foods. For a healthy cyberspace presence, you need to partake of a variety of social media. The trick, however, is to use them wisely.

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    Sydney Avey - March 26, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Helpful, amusing and erudite (as usual) Tana. My current dilemma with FB; now that they are limiting who sees our “brand” pages (like Author pages) to force us to pay up, I can’t figure out how to separate my writer and reader friends from my friends and neighbors. (Of course there is overlap, but I want people who don’t know me to have a choice about whether they want to hear about the score of baseball game I am at or see my grandson’s latest Bob Dix and the Dingos drawing.)I guess it will all sort itself out.

    Tana Bevan - March 26, 2014 - 5:02 pm

    Sydney, While I’ve never been on FB, I have heard a lot of grumbling about recent changes. Perhaps Google+ might be a better match for you now? As you can tell from my post, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole social media thing. Who knows, at some point there may be an epiphany. (One can always hope.) Until then, I keep moving forward. *smiles* As always it is a delight to hear from you and I am tickled pink you’re pleased with your avatar.

    Sheila Bergquist - March 26, 2014 - 9:57 pm

    I am still pretty clueless about all of those sites, even though I try to use them. This is such a great analogy…very clever Tana! Frankly, I wish social media had never been invented…I’m so sick of it and all the importance put on it, but that’s probably just grumpy old me! Love this post though!

    Tana Bevan - March 26, 2014 - 11:25 pm

    Sheila~I still haven’t found my stride with social media. Being told to think of it as if I were at a party shmoozing, doesn’t work for me. If equated to such shmoozing, the difference to me is online you need to constantly be active and interacting. In person person you can watch, observe, occasionally ask a question of the speaker, or better still simply “hmm” or “um-hmm.” Still, since social media is here for now, those of us for whom it isn’t a natural fit, continue muddling on through.

    Sheila Bergquist - March 27, 2014 - 8:56 pm

    Well said! That’s exactly how I feel using those sites…I am definitely just muddling through :D

    Shelley Sackier - March 29, 2014 - 8:28 pm

    Tana, this was perfect. Charming and delightful. I’m filled to the brim with your take on the multiple media meals. A total treat to read! :)

    Tana Bevan - March 31, 2014 - 10:18 am

    Shelley~Thank you. Bon Appetite. :-)