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Social media is bullshit!

Mon 31st Mar 2014
By Todd

I watched a YouTube video recently of an event hosted by the Economist. There were two speakers being interviewed about the revolution and evolution of social media. The speaker began his talk with a great line, and a line that I agree with.

“Social media is bullshit!”

Now I know what you’re thinking. And no, I’m not saying it’s a waste of time. I’m saying it’s all bullshit. It’s just noise and it’s not anything in itself… it’s just stuff, it’s just us, talking and sharing.

Social media is just conversation. It’s not media.

I’ve never really thought about the name ‘social media’ like that. Of course it’s SOCIAL media (clue’s in the title) but I’ve never focused on the media part. I guess we gave it that title because it was the only thing we could think of.

But it’s not media, is it!? It’s just conversation. And how you use it is up to you. Media is not something we can control. Social media is something we’re all shaping as we use it.

Social media is not a thing. It’s just you engaging.

SocialMedia TweetcloudWe are all obsessed with giving things a label. Social media has a label and we’re happy because we can categorise it. But we can’t give something so large a label. We can’t just put the world’s conversation in a box and label it.

Social media is under constant fire from governments. China have blocked it and Turkey have recently moved to block it too. And I fear that social media as an entity is so misunderstood because we gave it a label. We can then blame things on it because of the ease to lay blame to its label instead of realising that it’s just a tool to communicate with. The problem is the people behind it and against it.

Social media is not something you have to do, or something that you should be afraid of. 

Social media can enhance you or your brand but it’s your choice to use it. No one is holding a gun to your head and making you share your breakfast. No one said that your business would fail if you didn’t engage an audience on Twitter. As I’ve always said: “Social media won’t change a crap business, it’ll just tell people it’s crap more quickly!”

Of course businesses need to embrace change and adapt, but the sheer speed of social media’s development has made people feel they have to join it now and that often gets them into trouble. Not understanding something in business or in life and then careering into it has never been a clever move.

Social media allows people to understand you and your products/services.

That’s a great thing, right!?

You have access to a great way of helping people understand you and your values so they then they become a fan, an advocate and a supporter of you. Social media advocates can be a powerful way to succeed online and in life. They’re constantly looking out for you when you’re there or not there.

Strong relationships help us succeed in life and in business. On social media you build relationships that grow with you and your brand. Having an audience that grows with you is something to hold on to. People are more likely to see you though a rough spot when they care about you.

Who needs press releases any more?

You now control your own press and the debate afterwards. You can just tweet it! Years ago this was the only way to get your news out there. Now you’re the editor, the publisher and the PR consultant.

Being in control of your own ‘media’ is the way to go. You always get published. You never get misquoted. And unlike the media of old, you can interact live with the responses.

Connection is the best part of social media.

We’ve never been able to connect with each other so easily – but you can be a slave to it. I know this first hand as I’m a slave to my apps and my internet connection. But it’s my choice. It’s my choice to be connected constantly, and it’s my choice if I want to know who’s tweeting or sharing what. It’s also my choice if I answer all the questions and comments once I publish a blog or a post.

I Just have one eye on the clock because those hours do disappear!

Being online can and does save time though as it’s faster to connect and get things done. Think about how fast you get responses and feedback, or how quickly you can find a person or a service. That time is given to us in exchange for the hours that you spend looking at videos of cats and pictures of people’s breakfast.

Jeff Jarvis and Amanda Palmer discuss social media with The Economist's Robert Lane
Jeff Jarvis and Amanda Palmer discuss social media with The Economist’s Robert Lane

So is social media just bullshit?

Well most of it is, yes, but that’s the point. It’s not organised or regimented. It’s not a ‘thing’ that you have to conform to. It’s the freedom of speech online. It’s the social media revolution. It’s the conversation evolution and it’s here to stay if we want it to. As Erik Qualman said in his book Socialnomics: “Word of Mouth Goes World of Mouth.”

Social media is not something to be afraid of; it’s something to use as a communication tool if you want to.

Having a connected world is a wonderful thing and I for one have been completely enriched by it. I’ve spoken to people I don’t know, I’ve stayed connected with family in other countries, I’ve learnt a LOT, and I’ve fallen in love with people I never knew existed.

You can hate it and misunderstand it all you like. But I like this bullshit and I’m sticking with it.

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1 comment on this article

  • Stuart McHattie at 6:55am on April 1st 2014

    I guess it depends on your understanding of the word media. As a tech consultant media to me is the plural of medium and to me it is a means of storing and transporting information. Under that definition, Social Media makes perfect sense. It’s a means of storing and delivering your social information to others.

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