helen gynell

  graphic design blog

Who's Afraid of Social Media?

Almost daily, I run up against someone with a fear of Social Media. Especially among people who do not spend much time on the computer at home. Maybe you know someone like that. Maybe you are that person. You imagine that someone somewhere is just waiting to get their hands on your personal information. Maybe you worry about information like date of birth, social security number, etc., being ‘out there’. Trust me, it’s already out there (don't read that link, it's 'scary' LOL, I only included it as proof.)   If thieves want your information, it’s surprisingly easy to find. Just take normal precautions, and . . .

Keep Calm and Don't Worry sign

Keep Calm and Don't Worry

My own philosophy about having personal information on the web comes from one of the corporate philosophy lessons I learned while working at The Container Store (TCS). The lesson had to do with their inventory control system.  At the time, TCS really didn’t have one.  An example they used to illustrate why not, was the shopping cart theft-prevention policy at Marshall’s.

At Marshall’s, you could use the carts in the store, but once it was time to take your stuff to the car, you couldn’t take the cart outside because the tall pole attached to the cart prevented you from wheeling it through the door. So, if you had something big, no matter how heavy, you just had to take it out of the cart and schlep it to your car. This was seen by TCS as punishing 95% of customers for the (at most) 5% who might steal a cart. And if no one steals carts, everyone suffers. TCS’s attitude was: Don’t worry about theft until it happens.  So simple, and so easily applied to every area of life. 

Think about how much time you waste worrying about something that hasn’t or won’t happen, and weigh that against the small amount of time you might have to spend if and when it did.  Rather than live in fear and waste all that energy worrying, you should just assume it’s fine, and that nothing bad will happen, and, if it does, deal with it then. Liberating, isn’t it?

Facebook logo on the letter o of a welcome mat

To Post or Not to Post

What really amuses me is all the fuss over the type of personal information that gets posted on Facebook. People really do have an exaggerated idea that the whole world is looking at their posts.  Get over yourself. Almost no one cares.  All the warnings about current or future employers seeing you be human on the web is so overblown.  The warnings are for the overshare-type person with no boundaries. They probably won’t get the job anyway.  You should be glad anyone cares enough to read your posts.  A simple test on posting stuff is that if you are not sure whether something is okay to post, it probably isn’t. 

Privacy versus Sharing

The other fear of Social Media I find is the idea that people are judging you.  So many of my “friends” have Facebook pages that are so proper you would think they were running for office. They post only picture-perfect snapshots of their 2.5 children and themselves on vacation, or at important social events. They “Like” things that either further their career (they think), or that they choose to be seen as endorsing.  They live such careful lives.  If you think you have to be that careful , it really defeats the “social” aspect of Social Media.  The Scott Disik family

“My Privacy” is a GREAT BIG EXCUSE I hear from people who have a Facebook account but don’t use it.  What the what?! I think they don’t want to be left out but they are too afraid to post anything, so they make an account so they can say they are “on Facebook” but then try to hide their fear under disdain.  Again, get over yourself.  Which brings me to . . .

Twitter and Protected Tweets

I cannot understand people who protect their tweets. That’s what instant messenger is for.  Twitter is supposed to be open. It’s the exchanges that make it work. If you’re not going to drive the car, get off the road.  People who are not on twitter don’t get it. You really can’t say what it is, or that you don’t like it, until you try it.  Many people think, like I did at first, that it must be an ego-driven thing where you post what you’re having for dinner, or stuff about which no one cares. Before I opened my mouth negatively about it, I made sure I investigated.  It took about two weeks before I saw the big picture. Sure, there is some ego-driven stuff, but twitter is so much more than that.

Here is the BIG PICTURE

Imagine a bulletin board where the whole world is checking in, from every hour to at least a few times a week.  People on twitter choose five labels to classify themselves on wefollow.com, and then wefollow ranks people by category. It makes it easy to find all those who are interested in the same topics you are and follow them, thus enabling you to customize your feed of tweets. Further still, twitter allows you to make lists so you can see just those tweets in your stream. But again, it’s so much more than what someone ate for dinner. 

listing of twitter categories and accounts ranked by number of followers from wefollow dot com

Let’s look at how twitter has changed searching the web for everything . . .

Search Results and Freshness

Let’s say you want the latest news on something, so you "Google it".  What you are going to get back, results wise, are the posts that are selected by Google. If you want the most recent stuff (with 24 Hours is a search-selection filter), you have to tell it that.  With twitter, you will get all the stuff posted up to a second ago. Google is giving you the web pages from sites that they’ve ranked.  Twitter has no such disdain.

If I write a story on semiconductors, I have to post it on my website, then the Google spiders have to find it in order for it to appear in search results.  That leaves a lot to chance as to whether I have enough keywords in it to appear as a result for “semiconductors”, and, how popular and useful 'newsy' Google feels my posts are. Their ranking system has a factor that is based on "secret criteria" including 250 different indicators, and it’s part spiders, part people, so you can’t really 'game' the system—contrary to the slew of junk emails we all get making promises about boosting your website ranking (although there are some best practices, but that's another discussion). [Google has since changed their search algorithm. It's called Hummingbird, and it went live back in August 2013].

Twitter, by contrast, is instantaneous. I tweet “I just published an article on #semiconductors.” It reaches the whole world whether they are following me or not because anyone searching for "semiconductors" will get my post in their results.

"With over [500 million total users and
200 million active users tweeting] at a
dauntless pace, twitter currently controls
the most contemporary thoughtstream humanity has ever seen
." 

-ROCKETBOOM

Seen in a prudential light, twitter is the door to infinite classrooms. Now, don't you feel like you're missing out?

The Golden (Social) Rule

Another fear I run up against is the idea that someone is taking advantage of you if you serve their interests. The heart of Social Media is sharing. That’s the social part. One hand washes the other. You tweet something about me and use my twitter name, which helps me get followers. You don’t have to do that, but it helps. Why not help if you can? If you have a business, think about what you would want others to do for you, and do it for them. 

"Socialnomics"

If you haven’t heard that term, it represents the idea that economics has been so affected by Social Media that we now use "socialnomics" to buy and sell products because people want what their friends have and want, and because . . . well, just watch (and bear in mind this video is from 2011!)

  SOCIALNOMICS VIDEO

Still not convinced?

This great graphic from a presentation by Miami Social Media Expert Alex de Carvalho @alexdc perfectly captures the shift:

graphic of shift from tradtional media to social media from Alex de Carvalho

So, if that doesn't make you feel like you're falling behind and need to catch up (if you're not keeping up, you are falling behind), I don't know what will. 

It's so easy to catch up, stop putting it off. Just make the time to watch a few short videos, start with the those listed on my homepage under "Never Stop Learning" (there are two long ones on YouTube but most are about 5 minutes each), and start sharing who you really are, because life is too short and sweet not to live out loud.

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