Look left, look right. Social media everywhere. We just use them every day, sometimes without actually knowing why and to what purpose. I have a challenge for you, forget about NSA and all the other possible ugly parts of using social media and join me in this exercise!
If you were to choose one thing (and only one) you really like about each of the current most popular social media sites, what would you choose? These would be my picks:
(click to enlarge)
Twitter – INTERACTIVITY
It’s no coincidence that I start with Twitter – it’s definitely one of my favorites and that is because it is a wonderful source of novelty information and it gives you a lot of flexibility when picking who to follow (content creators and curators) and therefore what type of information you have access to. Also, the character limit pushes things toward a more concise and effective communication.
Another thing I love about Twitter is that it really works when you have a question and need an answer on-the-spot. Pick the right hashtag or tweet to right person/business account and you’ll get your answer most of the times. Example: In less than 30 minutes, I found out which liquor stores in Vancouver sell a Belgian beer I had been looking for since I moved from Europe. How? By doing a search and reaching out to a local Belgian beer importer. That easy!
Facebook – COMMITMENT
“Commitment” might not necessarily be the best word choice for what I am trying to say, but I hope you’ll get my idea. In a world where time is oh-so-precious-and-hard-to-find and our friends and family are scattered all over the world, Facebook helps us stay in touch on a more personal level. Of course, not all of us use Facebook in the same way, but this is how I mostly use Facebook. I have family and friends back at home in Romania, old university/work colleagues or childhood friends in almost every continent, plus a bunch of virtual friends I really care about and want to keep in touch with.
I might not know what they do every day or I might not be aware of every time they’re going through rough times, but I do know what most of them are interested in, worried about, celebrating for, enjoying, laughing about, eating, listening, taking photographs of, whining about or, simply put, living through. Technology does often turn us into shallower human beings, but it also helps us stay connected. And I honestly think it’s up to each of us to decide how much we want and allow social networks to help us with this purpose.
LinkedIn – REPUTATION
Recently, I was sitting in my bed trying to fall asleep and a question suddenly struck me: when did I actually join these most common and older networks? I got up from bed and opened my laptop and here’s what I found out: Twitter – March 2010; Facebook – February 2009 (a month after launching my first blog on WordPress); LinkedIn – September 2008. Wait, what? So, from all these networks with such different purposes and functionalities, I actually signed up first for an account on LinkedIn. I remember that soon after signing up and editing my profile, I enthusiastically asked my boss for a recommendation and understood that you don’t just ask for that after you’ve just started working with that person 🙂 Of course, almost 2 years later, I got a different answer to my request.
To this day, I have 24 recommendations received on LinkedIn from people that honestly felt they wanted and could say something about me as a professional. I’ve never used this as a quid pro quo and I’ve never approved of sending recommendation “drafts” together with the request. And, honestly, I myself haven’t written any dishonest recommendation (better say “sorry, I can’t do it” than writing words without meaning). Now to get back to my point, I am true believer in LinkedIn’s power as soon as people are using it correctly. I am also aware that many people (e.g. LIONs – LinkedIn Open Networks, or people who just connect with anyone) state that, if you want to rule the world soon, you have to connect with lots of people, but once again I’d rather use this network differently. So, to sum up, LinkedIn is your one main tool to build reputation as a professional and .. it works (it truly worked for me so far) as soon as you don’t lie and prove your words.
Google+ – VISIBILITY
I know that many people can’t seem (yet) to find the benefit in starting a completely new profile/presence on yet another completely new social network. Actually, it’s not so new anymore. Google+ is slowly growing and, if you at least care about SEO (Search Engine Optimizaition), then you’d better start using it. You’ve probably heard a lot about “Search plus your world” (if not, please do google it): if you want to be heard, then you have to make sure you’re connected with the people that should hear about you.
Now, seriously, Google is everywhere and they’re awesome. Just think about how much is Google present in our lives nowadays – would you have foreseen that a while ago? Think about it and act. Now.
Quora – KNOW-HOW
I must admit I am not the most active Quora user, but this is because I haven’t dedicated enough time to it so far. Quora is just another proof of our natural human instinct to help and work as a group (think about Wikipedia as another proof of this coming world of collaboration and collective action). I find it simply wonderful that nowadays we don’t just depend on our family and friends to find answers to our questions and enrich our knowledge. More than this, you can actually get more than facts (something that Google or other search engines can also help with) – you can get opinions coming from other human beings, from a specific point of view that you are able to define and covering a specific set of characteristics/aspects. And in a more efficient way, too.
Time is limited and there is oh-so-much information everywhere nowadays. Have you ever read an entire book just to get answer to one or a few questions? Wouldn’t it be better if you could have asked someone those questions from the very beginning and got organized facts, various perspectives, recommended further reading, etc.? I am in awe of how many intelligent people there are all around me and how precious their answers/opinions can be in certain circumstances. To sum up, what you need is curiosity and the wish to understand how things work – use Quora for the next steps 🙂
Pinterest – PASSION
Heaven for scrapbooking fans, retailers and fashion brands & passionates, Pinterest hasn’t got much under my skin but it continues to surprise me while being the fastest growing content sharing platform ever. We’re talking about a highly visual medium where attractive images and colorful infographics really seem to drive sales. However, what I mostly like about Pinterest is that it manages to create the perfect environment for passion-driven individuals that haven’t necessarily been into social media before discovering Pinterest. I am not going to encourage Pinterest’s consumerist side, but rather its creative side and the passion with which many of its users build inspiring collections and actually get a chance to set trends.
Instagram – EXPRESIVENESS
Instagram, oh, Instagram 🙂 I am going to be honest and start my comment by saying that I am a huge fan of Instagram, though I will try to make a point while being objective. What’s to love about Instagram, you ask? It’s not only about sharing what you eat (disclosure: I am both a foodie and a food photography fan and I often post what I cook/eat out). It’s about taking pictures of small, trivial things with innovative points of view. It’s about discovering that there are many things around us that we might take for granted and that make our lives beautiful. Even if only for the sake of sharing and getting likes/comments, Instagram encourages us to pay more attention to small things surrounding us and express ourselves by means of color, composition and light. Now let’s enjoy it while it’s still ad-free (we’ll get them in Canada soon).
That was it, these are my picks. What do you think and what would you choose?
P.S. Liked it (or maybe just the pic)? Feel free to share it 🙂