My (mis)adventures with social media
The way I and some of the people I know are “wired”, we have a passion to jump into anything that is new . Not only do we jump in, we also drag every one in that we know. And then we get into a “tribe mentality”. Irrespective of whether it works well for us or not, since we are doing it – we feel the urge to promote it like crazy.I am as guilty of this behavior as the next guy. I have got a large number of people – friends, family, colleagues etc – hooked on to social media.
Today morning, I woke up in my hotel room, brewed some coffee and started reading USA today.The front page story was this http://tinyurl.com/yh2f8moThis article struck a chord with me – and seriously set me looking back at my own social media adventures and then on to questioning the value of social media to me these days.And that, in turn, led to this blog.
I am a relative newbie to social media. I started blogging in 2008, and also opened an account each in Orkut, Facebook and Twitter.Later in the year, I got into Geni, the family tree builder.Maybe a year or two earlier, I started having a profile on Linkedin. And in December 2009, I started a personal blog.
LinkedIn helps me keep track of all the professional relationships without worrying about new email ids etc.However, since most people don’t update it when something changes – it does not always work.The other thing I like about LinkedIn is the ability to give or get a public endorsement.I greatly appreciate the endorsements I got from terrific people that I admire.And I have had an opportunity to endorse a few that I felt deserved such recognition.So, on the whole – I have only good things to say about LinkedIn.
Facebook helps me a lot in staying on top of my hobby – dog shows.Plus I love the structure of Facebook. This is where I think Facebook scores over twitter.If some one posts something interesting, others can join the conversation right under it.And you can see the whole conversation in one place – no worries about hashtags etc. Also, it is easier to put photos, links etc.The thing I hate about Facebook is the sheer number of people using it to ask me for donations.I also have no interest in Farmville, mafia wars and so on – and had to find a way to turn off those updates from showing up on my page.
Orkut was great – I reconnected with my high school class. And it was a blast.After about 20 years, I got to find what my buddies were doing and could even arrange a meet up.I totally treasure that. However, Facebook seemed a more elegant site than orkut, and served the same purpose for me.So I almost don’t use Orkut anymore.
Geni – that was an awesome find. Now I can track several generations back on both sides of my family, and it was very nostalgic to find people post 100 year old photos.And it is terrific in keeping track of anniversaries, birthdays etc for whole family.It has a great UI that I like, and a good search feature. However, I think they will get bought over by some one bigger, and I hope Facebook buys them and integrates it.
And then – along came SDN blogging. I have been following SDN religiously from the time it was formed, but rarely contributed to it. One day I decided – what the heck, maybe I can blog too. And my first blog got featured on BPX homepage, thanks to Marilyn Pratt. Marilyn encouraged me a lot, and I have been blogging ever since. I am not a frequent blogger though – maybe once a month or so on an average. And I rarely do any deeply technical “how-to” type blogs – mostly because I don’t get to do many hands-on things any more at work. Also, there are many people in SCN with way more knowledge than I do in those topics. More than writing a blog – I enjoy the conversation we have afterwards in form of comments, both on my blogs and on other blogs.This is where the value of SDN shines for me – people with different perspectives join actively and bring diverse perspectives to the topic.I cherish the experience, and this is something I plan to continue doing.
Which brings me to Twitter. My primary attraction to Twitter was the 140 character limit. I thought that will cause people to put a well thought out message on their tweets.To say I was mistaken would be to make the understatement of 2010. Here is the type of tweets I generally see – and I mostly follow professionals, may of them in SAP space.“just came back home from walking the dog”…”too much snow, I can’t walk wearing these heels”…”I had sushi for dinner”…”just met long lost friend”..Now, why would any one who follow these people like to know any of these? Beats me. In between – there are some useful tweets too. I get links to new blogs, probably before RSS scanners send them to me. I also occasionally get some breaking news that is of interest – the latest being SAP CEO change, just when I was about to board a plane in Phoenix Skyharbor.But as a percentage – I get 95% useless information and maybe 5% useful information.
I do support use of social media at workplace – but with the assumption that it is not for posting trivia when some one is paying you for productive work. The way tweets are organized – unless people use consistent hashtags, it is hard to get the whole conversation.And hashtags are created on the fly – making it near impossible in some cases to get an idea of how a conversation evolved, if you are joining late. So off late, I am not too sure anymore if it is worth my time to watch Twitter.
And being in the Enterprise Software ecosystem – I am always keen to find out what is the ‘business” application for any of these media?Is it just a marketing tool for enterprises? Is that the only use case from an enterprise perspective?For sure, some sentiment analysis can be done on products and services to see how market is responding. I seriously believe that all the noise in Twitter decreases its value as a viable marketing too./ Instead of email spam, we just move on to tweet spam.
Since Twitter has a simple API – maybe SAP can include tweets as another message they can support on top of fax, EDI etc. Say, send a tweet to the Manager when an employee applies for leave? Is that kind of use case even worth considering?
So, all things considered – for me, Twitter and Orkut are not working out.I would stick with Facebook and Geni, and I will definitely keep my profile active on LinkedIn. What about you?