Last week, I introduced 4 key reasons why I have avoided social media up to this point, so to summarize for those who read other blogs:
- I did not feel I would add value to social media conversations
- I did not feel that social media would add value to my knowledge/life
- I blamed social media for electronic dependence so I boycotted in protest
- I was simply afraid of trying to learn and keep up with all of the new platforms
Looking back on this semester, it is nice to see how much my perceptions have changed with this list. Right away, my apprehensions from reason #4 were erased, as we were thrown right into the mix on Twitter and blogging and I had no time to be afraid. I can’t say that I am an expert at using either platform, but I certainly learned a lot about social dos and don’ts. For example, pictures mean everything on these platforms as the gatekeeper to gathering an audience. Post a plain picture and you will be passed, but post something funny or awe-inspiring and you have people for at least a few sentences after they click through. I also discovered that you will always have one friend who stays up-to-date with applications, so you can always lean on them to learn the basics. Reason #4 was low-hanging fruit, though, so what about some of my more experiential deterrents?
Well, after being a part of #IS6621 for the semester, I can truly say that reason #2, social media adding no value to my life, is a myth that has been busted. The conversations that I have been a part of on Twitter have been not only enjoyable, but educational as well. Yes, we spent class time discussing red cups and stars vs. hearts, so some of my disbelief is still there. However, I also would never have known about ghost apps or about private mode on Venmo without being actively involved in the social media discussions. I also wouldn’t be aware of how fast companies are willing to help people via social platforms. I would still shamefully be the person calling the 800 number to get my phone bill fixed as opposed to tweeting out a simple message to Verizon and having them answer back within minutes.
Along these lines, I also reversed reason #1 and found my own voice on social media. I’m not going to be the person who inundates your news feed with new posts every 10 minutes, but I feel comfortable engaging in specific conversations where I know I can add an educated opinion. Through blogging, I found a vehicle where I can continue my style of writing without restrictions on what I have to say. Maybe I won’t blog every week, but I now know WordPress is a great way for me to organize my perspective and share it in a hopefully creative way. One of the most valuable things I have learned is that, as a future brand manager, I should not necessarily push my brand to be on every platform if it doesn’t make sense with what I am trying to accomplish. It taught me to think strategy first and then to find the right medium to support that goal.
And finally I come to reason #3, our dreaded dependence on our smartphones. One day I was walking to school and I decided to check up on Twitter to see if anyone had posted anything interesting. I was reading a classmate’s article, crossing a street, when I almost walked directly into a girl who was also deeply engrossed in her phone. The near collision made me realize I was turning into the thing I feared. So, I confess that this reason to avoid social media is still alive and well in me. However, I have come to realize that there is a place and a time to use it, like when I used Skype to talk to my girlfriend in CT or to catch up on news when I wake up in the morning. And ultimately, we as individuals are responsible for choosing appropriate times to bury our heads into our phones. Thus, my fight against electronic dependence will continue, but I will hold people accountable for their absenteeism and not shun social media in protest.
Eight months ago, I made the decision to take Social Media for Managers because I wanted to be a good brand manager and to know what modern tools to use to reach consumers. I leave the class feeling comfortable with my role within social media and with a greater appreciation for the positives it can bring to people. The class may now be ending, but it has opened a new perspective for me to carry as I go back out into the working world next year. Now, leave me alone so I can go try a new Chicken Alfredo Tasty recipe I saw on Facebook.