The Social Media Contrarian

The realm of social media experts tends to be an echo chamber. (Note that social media experts universally hate the term “social media expert.” They prefer “rock star.”) Everybody’s on the same page. Everybody says everybody else’s work is “awesome” or “valuable.” The conventional wisdom is, well, conventional.

In hopes that I’ll spur some discussion, I’ve compiled a list of things I disagree with most social media types about:

It’s not about the numbers

Many social media types have thousands of connections on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Large numbers of connections seem to be the way one is validated as a social media star. I say that having thousands of connections is antithetical to the spirit of social media. Social media is supposed to be about starting conversations. Can you really have a conversation with thousands? Perhaps those with thousands of connections are more interested in creating an audience than creating a conversation.

Twitter is not mainstream

I really like Twitter. I find that I use it a lot more than any other social medium. But Facebook is a lot easier for most people to understand. Things like hashtags, retweets and @replies are simply too geeky for most people. Photo and video sharing via Twitter is also difficult. I rely on Twitter for news about technology, social media and online marketing. And nothing beats Twitter for getting a read on what people are talking about right now. But Twitter will never become mainstream in its current form.

Coffee tweets are evil

Coffee, like bacon, is big among the social media elite.

I like my coffee. But I don’t care about yours.

You provide no value or entertainment to your friends and followers by telling everybody how your coffee tastes, how much you’ve had, how much you need, where you’re purchasing it, how you’d like to receive it intravenously, etc. (Unfortunately, my idea for a #nomoredamntweetsaboutcoffee Twitter hashtag went nowhere.)

Location sharing is boring

OK, I admit it: I’ve never used Foursquare. I simply don’t get the attraction of making your location public. But even if you are into letting the world know where you are, that doesn’t mean that the world cares. Unless most of your Twitter followers are in your metropolitan area and might want to connect if you’re in the same neighborhood, they really don’t have much use for this information. And they really don’t care if you’re the “mayor” of your local supermarket. So why clutter your Twitter stream with this stuff?

To be honest, I’d be a little worried if lots of people expressed an interest in my whereabouts. We used to call that “stalking.”

There’s nothing wrong with email

I’ll never understand why some people prefer to handle private messaging through Twitter or Facebook. What’s wrong with email? Everybody already uses email and checks it regularly. I don’t have to be a connection or friend for us to exchange email. Most importantly, email won’t restrict me to 140 characters.

Stop repeating your tweets

Lots of social media types update their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other services at once. There are lots of tools that let you do this. But just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. First, those that you’re connected with on multiple services will see the same thing multiple times. Second, your Twitter updates with @replies and hashtags make no sense to your Facebook friends. Unless they’re on Twitter. But then, they already saw your update on Twitter. Get it?

Message boards are the purest form of social media

I believe that the decidedly unhip message board is the most social form of social media out there. Message boards create content through social interactions among peers. You really can’t say that about many other forms of social media other than Twitter (which is essentially a giant chat room). On a blog or social profile like a Facebook page, one person is speaking to many. Others may be able to comment, but they’re commenting on another person’s turf. It’s not peer-to-peer.

By the way, podcasting is not a form of social media. It’s a one-to-many form of communication. There’s nothing social about it. Don’t get me wrong, I think podcasting is very important and I’m a huge fan of the Adam Carolla podcast. But it’s not social media.

So that’s my take on the state of social media. Please add your two cents. After all, it’s the social thing to do.

3 comments for “The Social Media Contrarian

  1. jbxpro
    February 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Another plus for email is that conversations can be archived easily. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I forget what someone told me … or I like to forward an email I already wrote to someone that I should have included in the first place. But perhaps “social” communications are ephemeral by definition. Never mind.

  2. February 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Agree completely with your last point about message boards. As I watch all the social media experts clamor for everything from threaded conversations on Twitter, to touting them on FriendFeed, to calling for collapsible threads on Buzz, it keeps going though my mind that every one of them is simply trying to reinvent message boards. We already have message boards, and that’s where the real conversations (and friendships) happen.

  3. Gary
    February 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I have a group of friend that uses facebook for emails. I don’t get it either. First of all, they can’t include non-facebook users like my wife. Second, I don’t know I have a facebook message until I get an email notice. I’m already in email, why would I then want to log into facebook.

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