Is Social Media really very social?

social media not social

If you simply push your information out there without any expectation of feedback, response, or interaction is Social Media really living up to what it’s meant to be?  Would you walk into a coffee shop and spill out 20 minutes of your opinion then simply walk out?  What satisfaction would you get from that?  What benefit would your audience get from that, and even if a slight amount of benefit is gained by anyone is this the new definition of being social?  Sounds more like what we used to call those that were a bit socially awkward – have we all become socially awkward?

We get daily updates from friends and family via social media and to most that’s just about enough and all they really need.  Is Uncle Jim still alive?  Am I still doing better than a few of my high school classmates? Has Aunt Sue got that thing fixed on her nose?  Is it really that important to let everyone know what they ate for lunch?  Does anyone really ever comment or expect a comment on that type of post?  I can’t really smell it, taste it, or even judge from the quality of the picture if that’s potato or rice, but good on you mate, it looks appetizing…

What is the right amount of social etiquette when connecting?  Facebook is obviously for family & Friends but once you’re over about 150 “friends” you’re getting into “I live within the same general region as you” contact associations, or Facebook told me you were a friend of my friend who has a friend and I thought wow, we’re almost related, we should connect…

LinkedIn is for business connections but just because we work within the same industry do we really need to connect if all you share are pictures of your dog wearing hats and in your profile picture you’re showing quite a bit of skin laying out by the pool…   Do those things make potentially doing business with you more advantageous?

The concept of social media as both a social and marketing tool took off so fast that no-one really much thought through the actual benefits of having 20 real good contacts opposed to a few thousand passive associations.   Marketing is accustomed to this mass media distribution approach in that the results are so low to begin which why not leverage volume to make the end numbers look a bit better.  So why did the marketing approach transfer so well into online social media?  Sure it’s very arguable that if you have 1 million contacts there’s a good chance that maybe 2 or 3 will actually read your post.  But if you had 10 real social connections the chance of all of them reading that post is substantially higher.

So is it possible to make thousands of contacts socially interested in what you have to post?  Only if you are willing to get to know every one of them.  But who has time to do that?  We all have a bit of that “go big or go home” contact attitude.  We see people with tens of thousands of contacts, 100’s of instant likes on every post and we all think I’m interesting, I can have that too so we “friend/contact up” with little regard to if we have an actual connection going.

Social media has gotten a bit awkward and quite possibly to a point in which the less contacts that you have and are actually social with are maybe a bit better and healthier.   If I don’t know you even though you’re one my thousands of contacts, I’m really not “socially” into you.  But if I only had 10 contacts I might be considered online socially awkward and less attractive to those I do want to be socially connected to.  So we’re all in the race to have lots of contacts with no real connections at all.  That guy spurting out an opinion in the coffee shop is maybe a bit less awkward than the rest of us online.

What happens in the end when each of us have thousands of anything but social connections?  The evolution of social media is to simply move onto the next social platform with a clean start and best intentions to keep it “just social” the next time.

David Raine
dave@daveraine.com

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