I began thinking today about social media and all the tools we see. There is something of a digital cornucopia of “stuff”: Facebook, Twitter, iPhone apps, Twitter apps, aggregators and on and on. New ones pop up everyday.
Accompanying all of these is the hype. There is the marketing from the companies that bring them out, the reviews from the various “spheres” and the conversations we carry on about them, online and off. “You can do this with it.” “You can do that.” “You can also do these things too.”
It all sounds marvelous unless you are hearing from the contrarian perspective in which case the tools and apps are frivolous or any number of other negative descriptives.
What I was wondering about, however, was how we actually use them. Are we using them just because everyone else is and they are the distraction of the month? Are we using them to a productive end? How are we using them … or more to the point, I suppose, why? What, if anything, do we get from them?
I’m also thinking less about the business aspect and more about the general population that uses them. There are a number of ways we use them as far as business goes, some effective, some not so much. But how and why do people use them, that big consumer base that gets talked about so much? I’m sure there are a number of answers to this but I also wonder if they all don’t dovetail into one or two general answers, a theme that shows how those different hows and whys all relate.
Despite all the things that can be done with social media tools, from sending messages to playing games and grabbing weather information quickly, I think all the whys can be summed into a single word: people.
There are supportive words that follow from that one word: connection, communication and information.
Regardless of all the flim flam with video, audio, Flash and games, for people to find the Internet (and social media) to be of any relevance for them, those four words need to be considered essential: people, connection, communication and information.
Even a silly video involves those words since it is pointless without connection to other people which, when that occurs, communicates and even passes along information, at least to the extent that it says something about you. (Just as it says something about those who respond to it.)
Everything else, while amusing and entertaining, is just a passing fancy. In the world of social media, I suspect that if you don’t keep those four words paramount in your mind you run the risk of becoming quickly forgettable.
I should add that I don’t think I’m saying anything new here or something I haven’t either said or alluded to before. I’m probably repeating myself with this post. But repetition is not a bad thing since it is often through repetition that we best remember.