Wired Pursuits

Archive for December 2008

The Internet never forgets…

“I’m rubber and you’re glue.  Anything you say bounces off of me but sticks forever in cyberspace.

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Social media is a bit like parenting. You don’t get it until you’ve tried it.

Before I had kids and I would offer up my thoughts and opinions on pare­nting and raising kids, I often had other parents tell me that I really couldn’t understand what it was like to be a parent until I was one.  No one could explain the mental shift that supposedly happens, but I heard the same thing from more than one person.   I hated it when people told me that, and I really didn’t believe it.  Then I became a parent and I understood.

Social media is a different way of thinking and until you immerse yourself in it and your mindset shifts, it’s likely that you’ll be a bit befuddled as to what all the fuss is about.

It’s not linear; it’s fluid and multi-directional.  I think that’s what freaks people out.  You can’t diagram it or even replicate the experiences you have from one day to the next.  It’s an immersion in information that is free form and seemingly random.  That makes is a bit confusing for those who don’t think that way.

Which brings me to my second thought.

The uniqueness of social media is its immediacy.

Social media has an immediacy and urgency to it.  The conversation around a new blog post typically has about a 1 – 2 day shelf life.  Comments start the same day, but the conversation peters out by the second.

If you post a question to a forum or a social network, if you don’t get an answer that day or the next, you typically don’t expect to get one.

Tools like Twitter allow you to tap into the latest news faster than you ever could before, but if you’re not following the conversation you miss it.

It’s a live conversation that you can watch on multiple channels as it happens.  Sometimes if you blink, or forget to listen in, you’ll miss it. This immediacy makes it hard to jump into and out of and still keep up. This can also be intimidating to people whoa are just diving into social media.

Which brings me to my last thought.

Engaging in social media isn’t something you think about.

While social media is a different way of thinking, the people who get the most from it are the ones who don’t think about it.  They’ve integrated it into their day.  It’s just what they do.  It’s like checking email is for the rest of us.  It’s not something you have to remember to do, you just do it without thinking.

When you’re just starting to explore social media, following multiple blogs, keeping up with Facebook and LinkedIn, and twitting on Twitter often feels like one more thing to do in an already busy day.  Just like with any new technology, there’s a learning curve.  But if you keep at it, you’ll find you get into a groove and you’ll begin to become somewhat addicted to different tools and conversations.

Just do it.  Start listening in.

Which brings me full circle.  In order to reap the benefits of social media, you need to integrate it into your day.  In order to integrate it, it has to be something you don’t think about doing.  In order to not think about it, you need to understand that it’s a different way of thinking.  And in order to understand the new mindset, you’ve got to experience it.

For a while you may have to leave yourself a note reminding you to check certain blogs, open TweetDeck, or scan your RSS feeds.  You may have to block off certain times during the day to catch up on the conversations.

Little by little, you’ll find the right tools and conversations that work for you.  And you’ll begin to be able to leverage and learn from all the smart people out there engaged in those conversations.

To see comments, go to original post on Erickson Barnett Blog.


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