Taking social media too seriously

Over the last few weeks there’s been a fair amount of static about Facebook and the changes it implemented regarding privacy. That’s on top of changing the “Become a Fan” button to “Like.”  I’m not going to go all “War and Peace” on you for what I believe and what I don’t on those issues… yet.  

Then the social media universe was thrown into a tailspin on May 10 when a Twitter bug subsequently caused people to allow celebrities like Conan O’Brien to follow them.  Twitter then showed the follower/following count at zero before making everything right in the Twitterverse again.  

Here’s my argument though.  Are we so dependent on social media that whenever something is changed on Facebook, we need to get all bent out of shape? I know you are probably saying, “Jason, you’re getting bent out of shape wondering why we are getting bent out of shape!” (Wow, that’s got to be a record for writing bent out of shape)  

Facebook has made more cosmetic changes in the past year, it should make Heidi Montag blush. The whole privacy deal shouldn’t be that shocking.  We are all searchable.  If you put your birthday, town where you live, etc. into your profile, it’s your choice.  If you play Farmville or Mafia Wars, Facebook can use that information to determine popularity by age range.  It’s no different from Company A using that type of information for marketing purposes.  If you are outraged by it, stop using Facebook.  Simple as that.  Facebook will roll on, believe me.  In Twitter’s case, the bug issues annoyed some folks, mostly because of the follower/following stats dropping to zero and wondering if it would go back to normal.  

IMDB.com

 

But every time something happens, we tend to get in a tizzy. You can blame it on social media dependence.  Smart phones all have applications for Twitter and Facebook.  We can always update our status or tweet on the go.  A good portion of us log on to Twitter using TweetDeck or HootSuite, instead of going to the main page.  

Sure, Facebook and Twitter have now become key marketing and public relations tools.  If they crash or change, it needs to be addressed with a client.  In the grand scheme of things though, we are getting worked up over things we essentially can control.  

Maybe it’s because I dealt with dial-up when I was younger (GASP! Not dial-up!) and used to wait for an open dial in number for Prodigy.  Or maybe it’s because, as much as I love social media, I can survive a few hours without it.  And even though, in PR and marketing, we have now built social media strategies for our clients, we can still be successful not using Facebook or Twitter.  

The next time Facebook ticks you off or Twitter goes #FAIL, step away and remember… there are other ways to interact and get your message out.  

Let me know your thoughts.

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About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on May 12, 2010, in Hot Topic, Media, Public Relations, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. The issue with Facebook’s recent changes is that they make privacy overly complicated and totally against what Facebook was when it was established.

    When most people signed up for Facebook it was under the promise that the information posted there would only be made available to those they agreed to connect with. Little by little, with each update and privacy change, many people have unknowingly made much of their information public. Now, the defaults are to make your information public and if you want to try to keep settings how they used to be, you have to jump through hoops and check off any number of boxes that hopefully do what you want it to.

    But Mark Zuckerburg has a serious case of Twitter envy and wants to own the real-time search that Twitter has really pioneered. And unless everything posted to Facebook is public, that won’t happen.

    I completely agree with what you’re saying about people’s overreaction to change, though – seeing the furor every time Facebook makes a design change has gotten to the point of ridiculousness.

    And, the point that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on these platforms to communicate is a good one. While they provide great opportunities, we also need to remember that we are relying on a third-party that could decide to shut it all down or drastically change their business model on any given day.

    Great post!

  2. Not much to say other than… Right on!

  3. Samantha Ogborn

    Hey Jason,

    Great post. I completely agree – so many get people bent out of shape about Facebook and Twitter – especially with Facebook and all of these privacy issues, like you mention.

    The one thing for me though is that this gives people something to talk about – I don’t know how much people actually care, it just stirs up commotion. I know I was slightly frustrated at first to see my Facebook profile get dismantled and handed to the Facebook gods, but that’s part of a platform that is ever-changing. The true intention of social networking sites, while to bring people together is also (and obviously) to make some kind of profit.

    If people are really getting this upset with Facebook, they just need to realize that there’s beauty in the growth of social media – new sites are always emerging to combat other sites. This works in the consumer’s favor, everytime.

    And like you say, there are always ways to interact. Great post Jason!

    • Thanks Samantha!

      It does stir up commotion. I see now that there is a new Twitter account called “FacebookProtest.” It’s certainly their right to do it, but I think it’s much ado over nothing in my opinion.

      Take a deep breath and move forward is my feeling.

  4. Hey Jason,

    Love your article! Great post and I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Like you, I remember the days of dial-up, using pagers and having to find a pay phone, those Shaquille O’Neal shoe sized cell phones (ah yes, the good ol’ Motorola with the gigantic battery), and more!

    Trip down pre-digital age tech memory lane aside, you make some great points. No question developing effective social media strategies for our clients is essential and it can also be a ton of fun on the social side. But you’re right in that getting bent out of shape when technology #FAILS us is really ridiculous. We survived just fine before the dawn of the digital age and although it has definitely made the world smaller and connecting with our colleagues easier, we can’t be so dependent on it that we lose touch with what’s most important at the end of the day – good ol’ face to face interaction – something a 140 character DM or RT can’t do.

    Although of course, it does open the door to it these days! 😉

    Thanks for a good “reality check” read! Appreciate the post!

    – Wesley Mallette

  5. I think some people have handed their souls over to social media and then when changes happen, they are like headless chickens – totally out of their element. I often wonder if people knew how they functioned before Facebook and Twitter.

    Pay phone days I would never want to go back to though. Ugh. 🙂

    Great post.

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