Is Social Media Really Social?
Is "Social media" a misnomer? Maybe a more accurate description is "self-expression media." The diverse media, from Facebook to twitter and beyond, give individuals a platform to express opinions and feelings.
More Crazy Names
Or maybe it's "exhibitionist/voyeur" media where people display their lives and/or talents for all to see as followers and fans lick their chops in anticipation of what happens next. Another take may be "admiration media" where likes are a virtual fist pump and shares are the maximum expression of respect. What about "FOMO media" where you're sure not to miss out on just about anything if that's what you want. What I'm thinking is that being social or social interaction goes beyond everything I've mentioned.
And then there's this. I'll never forget when I was moderating a focus group a few years ago about different subjects and social media came up in the discussion. One millennial gentleman stated: "I don't use social media, I have real friends." Wow! I think that made everyone in that room as well as observers in the back room stop and think. I don't agree with that point of view as having real/fake friends in the social media world or the "real" world is not mutually exclusive - they all exist in both worlds, but it made people wonder.
I got a late start on social media. It's pretty much my pattern when it comes to adopting technology. I was happy with DVD and didn't go to Blu-ray until that was obsolete too. I never had an iPhone 4, I went from a 3 to a 5, which I still have (7 might be my lucky number). Facebook was not my entry point, Instagram was.
For me Instagram was initially all about self expression. I used the platform to share my photographs (not much of my life as is intended for the platform). And something unexpected happened - I became inspired - so is "Inspiration Media" better nomenclature? I wanted to become a better photographer after seeing some of the amazing images others shared. I haven't posted to Instagram on this account for over a year; you might say I lost my mojo. But if you are so inclined, you can judge whether or not I got better as a photographer at instagram.com/riberoc or @riberoc on the app.
Not using Blu-ray cost me better video quality. Not having an iPhone 6 or 6s cost me better photography and a few other bells and whistles. But there are work-arounds for these technology gaps. Not so for social media. There is no other practical way to reach and interact with so many people simultaneously unless you've got a few million dollars in your pocket to buy a time on national television or a radio station.
If you are not using social media for business you are missing the boat - luckily my ship didn't sail and you should climb aboard before yours does. There are so many positive things to say about social media for business but I'll stick to three. First, it allows you to, yes, express yourself so that potential customers get to know you on a different level - your (brand's) personality and voice. Second, it allows customers and potential customers to interact with you directly - that two-way conversation is unbelievably powerful and differentiated from traditional media. And last but not least, results of social media efforts are measurable in real time. Unlike Blu-ray and iPhones, there is currently no work-around for social media, and it could cost you dearly if you are not using it for business.
And the Answer Is...
So back to the original question; is social media really social? Don't ask me. Ask the person who is lonely (a huge problem on a national level that most people are not aware of), ask the person who suffers from depression, or ask the person who is home bound. Social media may be the only way they can interact with others. And as for me, my original foray into Instagram became a mission to gain acceptance from all the awesome photographers that were on the platform - sounds like pretty typical social behavior, wouldn't you say?
Yep, so I guess "Social Media" is really social and not a bad name after all. What do you think?