Originally posted to my G+ account.
Poisoning Our Own Well
establishing habits on social networks that diminish person-to-person interaction
So, as many of you know – I work in social media – I post links about it, I blog about it, I speak about it, and I dream about it. I love to talk to other people about it, and of course the best place to go to talk about social media with other like-minded people? Social media, right? Well, businesses are fast becoming hip to the idea that this social media thing isn’t a fad – a cliche proclamation if I’ve ever uttered one, but hey – it just might be true. Because of this onboarding, though, we have people giving ‘social media for business’ tips… I am one of those people. Normally, you’ll see these posts where people talk a good game about engagement and technical interaction… you see these best practices list… you see the optimal posting time suggestions… and you see the tools created so you can automate posts… and there’s a whole bunch of that stuff.
Well… people read it. Ok, yeah, so people read it, so what? That’s what they’re supposed to do, they’re learning, they’re going to make social media interaction between me and my favorite brand awesome! I love that they’re reading it.
Not so fast…
By making actions related to social media for business more cost efficient, more time efficient – by automating it – we are pumping a lot of poison into our water supply. Why? People wise up. People know that this front, this plastic visage of brand-to-customer interaction is a falsity. Just like when robots answer the phone when you call in to your cable company. You hate that, right? Now, it’s supposed to be saving man-hours – it’s supposed to direct you to the right place – it’s supposed to be helping to direct your call to the right department… and yet people still hate it. That’s happening now in social.
“FINE, Ryan, we’ll be careful when interacting with businesses, I get it I g-”
But that’s not all… if you’re on LinkedIn, you might know about these things called ‘Groups’. Now, these groups were once an effort by LinkedIn to turn the social network more social. And they worked for awhile. However, big social media blogs – and ‘experts’ – started pumping out these tactics about joining and representing yourself in LinkedIn groups. “Stand out in a LI Group and get noticed!” and “Show that you’re an industry thought leader” or “Curate excellent content and people will recognize your expertise”.
What did this lead to?
People are FLOODING these groups where networking USED to happen with links to their own site (with no context provided as to why the link was posted, if any existed at all) and links to industry blogs without any commentary. In my experience, it has become a HUGE chore just to find an actual conversation going on – and I belong to a TON of groups on LinkedIn. I stopped participating all together in the public groups because it was just… link after link after link with no intention at all of starting a conversation.
Just wait until Quora really catches on… sigh. I’m worried, too, that this will happen on G+. Luckily, Google (LinkedIn does this, too, actually) gives us the opportunity to sort of ‘Police’ ourselves… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and I’ll encourage it again. Do not let people get away with spam. Unfortunately, it will become harder and harder to identify when people are spamming links… services… who can say you HAVE to comment on links you’re posting? Who determines proper usage (beyond the ToS)?
It’ll rely on all of us as a group and all of us individually… a difficult proposition, no doubt. Sometimes the best you can do is just raise awareness. So, that’s what I’m hoping to do with this post.