My initial reaction to social media thus far is that it is extremely overwhelming. The newsfeed on my shiny new Twitter account refreshes so often that I could sit here all day and read it and the comments from my limited number of followers just to stay on top of what everyone is saying and posting. I am not a first-mover in technology nor social media whatsoever; having created an Instagram account and gotten an iPhone years after my classmates from college did.
Creating a Twitter account for this class was confusing. Is a follower the same as it is on Instagram? What are the rules? It seems redundant to me, with much of Instagram and Twitter overlapping with one another if you follow news accounts like CNN or Fox News. The same news is being provided, just via different platforms. I do see a differentiator in that Twitter is more word-heavy and Instagram is more picture-centric. Otherwise, they are very similar. I get frustrated, however, when the same news is delivered on every single platform, including via text alerts from news channels. Just this past Sunday I almost had myself convinced that I, too, had heatstroke after how many times it was reported on Twitter, Instagram, text and every other social media site that Hillary Clinton had fallen ill. The poor woman just needed an hour out of the sun but the media was relentless in keeping all followers on all platforms up to date on her brief medical scare. Social media can be overwhelming in this sense, too – not that you need to keep up with the whereabouts of the presidential candidates but rather that the same facts are pelted from every outlet that you may not find interesting. I do like, however, the brevity of the news sources on social media and how you do not need to read more than a text, tweet, Instagram or Snapchat to quickly be brought up to speed on what is going on in the world.
Another reason I find social media overwhelming is the burden of having to keep up with it. I am often of the philosophy that ignorance is bliss. Not having had Snapchat until this past spring when my friends and I went to Nashville, I did not have a moral obligation to watch other friends’ Snap stories and know their whereabouts as they posted them on Snapchat. As soon as you create an account in Snapchat, you are expected to keep up with your friends’ accounts and be able to comment on their social media content on the platform as well when you see them in person. If you do not, friends can take a personal offense to this, knowing that you saw they had a new Snapchat but did not open it to see what they were up to on Cape Cod or at a Red Sox game. If I already know they are there, I do not see why I need to view their Snapchats of them at the actual places.
Once I got past my first week of creating a Twitter account, I felt like I started to settle into an exciting new neighborhood with lots of locations to explore as well as some familiar faces nearby as my alma mater, the University of Michigan, and the school’s newspaper which I used to read in print, The Michigan Daily, were two accounts that I began to follow. It was nice making the space my own and bringing in information from sources that I had chosen. Even after a week, I felt somewhat more adept at handling Twitter, but not all the way there yet.
The irony in my lack of social media skills is that I used to work for a wedding website where I sold online advertising, including social media tools, to wedding professionals. I was able to advise the professionals on how to optimize clicks to their webpages and boost Search Engine Optimization. While I could consult on how to set up tweets to go out at certain times with the tools we provided, I would not have been one to advise on what to actually tweet.
Even this past summer at my internship, I helped the company for which I interned boost key words on their website through Hubspot to increase SEO. While I have some knowledge on how things are found via SEO on the Internet both organically and through generated key words, my understanding of social media is limited to my experience on Facebook and Instagram. Understanding on a basic level how algorithms on Google work to choose which pages pop up highest in Google searches is not exactly the same thing as understanding how to smoothly generate a tweet for social media. However, both are important aspects of running the digital side of a business.
I hope to learn about social media from this class and to take a lot away with me at the end of the semester. I want to be more in-the-know and better informed of current events that are going on. By checking the Twitter news sources that I am now following as well as my classmates’ tweets, I see this as an attainable goal. Additionally, I hope to pick up on the Twitter lingo. My first tweets that I generated felt forced because I did not know the jargon to use or the length at which to keep them. These are skills I hope to hone over the course of the class.