I opened my first Twitter account in March 2011 (disclosure: I’m not claiming to be one of the first users; I realize this is 3 years too late for die-hard Twitter fans). 39 Tweets and 4 Favorites later, my stint on Twitter came to an end. I don’t remember it being a conscious decision to part ways with the social media platform – I wasn’t in the middle of a job search and worried my content would be viewed inflammatory, I wasn’t trying to get over an ex, and I don’t recall feeling addicted and concerned about my time wasted on the site. @LauraKayeum just seemed to fade one year later, on a summer day while taking the bus home to Connecticut.
A week ago, I activated my second Twitter account and a rush of familiar emotions came swarming back to me. In just a few clicks, Twitter was back in my life, inundating me with information and opportunity to be utterly in the know on all topics, happening everywhere, in every moment. Without even realizing, I began to navigate from tweet, to article, to hashtag, to website, back to tweets – completely distracted and overwhelmed by all of the content.
I returned to @lak_yaks the next day hesitant, but prepared to embrace the #IS6621 mission – to gain a sophisticated understanding of social media tools and use the tools personally to support the class environment. I noticed some of my classmates had already begun to tweet about content that had been touched on during our first class. The class hashtag was prominent, and my target follower base was clear. I read the class conversations, but this time I was focused and much less distracted by the Twitter noise around me. I had a clear agenda. I wasn’t as frantic, and found myself casually scrolling through the relevant IS6621 dialogue. The sense of information overload from the day before had gradually subsided.
As the week progressed I began to add new followers to my network. I noticed myself turning to my peers to see their followers and which thought leaders were relevant to help me better understand the current state of social media. I began to curate my personal platform for my specific purpose, and made a conscious decision not to overdo it. Since I understood my audience, I felt confident posting certain content knowing it would meet my followers expectations. In just a week, IS6621 was already providing order to the social media chaos.
It wasn’t until I created @lak_yaks for a specific purpose last week, and after reading “strategy, not technology drives digital transformation” that I understood what happened during my Twitter run back in 2011. I had no clear strategy as I approached this social media platform. I had friends that had used Twitter to actively engage in celebrity news and pop culture; others who used Twitter to solely interact with all of their favorite brands; and then there were those who used their feed as a way to say educated and informed on domestic and global news. Personally, I had attempted Twitter to meet all of these objectives, and I couldn’t keep up. I was unable to find the right balance, and ultimately rendered Twitter too much.
From just the first week of class I have two clear takeaways and expect this list to grow over the next few months.
First, I have been reminded that when approaching any social media platform it is imperative to have a clear strategy. Unlike my own Twitter experience, organizations can’t just write off social media as “too much.” Corporations also can’t just use social media just to check a box, and then either do nothing, or try to do everything. There must be a balance and there must be “clear digital strategy” if firms wants to drive transformation. But this perhaps obvious takeaway just scratches the IS6621 surface.
Throughout the semester I expect to learn how companies are strategically approaching the abundance of social media tools and how they are then effectively (or ineffectively) using these tools to drive success. We see companies today exploring the power of customer engagement – ranging from just social media sharing and posting to strategically engaging customers in product design and development (e.g. Hasbro). How are companies dealing with the concept of brand agility/decision making versus protecting the brand in the vast social media space? Cycle times for social media, blogging, and video content are infinitely faster. How are companies strategically confronting these challenges? And given these trends, how are we able to really measure success?
Second, I expect to be part of a fascinating shared experience with my classmates. Given the exorbitant information already at my disposal I believe my fellow classmates will provide clear direction and create insightful live and virtual dialogue and debate. I hope to explore social media beyond just the platforms we use on daily basis. I imagine my classmates will be the ones uncovering these platforms and together we will predict how they will shape our digital future. I expect my social media community will afford my second attempt on Twitter, and my debut with WordPress, as productive and instrumental in my growth as an active receiver and provider of social media content. A snapshot of @lak_yaks just a week later leads me to believe I am already off to a better start.