IRONY: My Mom Clips Articles on Social Media

Digital Anthropology

My mom still clips articles and leaves them for me on my desk. It’s nice sometimes, especially if it’s a longer op-ed piece or something from the Sunday Times magazine, as I do enjoy longreads more in print than on screens. Otherwise, when she tells me she’ll save something interesting in today’s paper that she wants me to read, I tell her to not bother – I’ll find it online.

She took the time to grab a pair of scissors, and physically cut out an article to share with me – on social media.

But this week, she cut out and clipped the ultimate irony: an article about social media and the ways in which companies are using it to leverage their market research. It was already funny that she was still doing this for articles in general: obituaries of interesting writers or anthropologists, travel pieces on places I’ve visited or are planning to, etc. But this one took the proverbial cake. She took the time to grab a pair of scissors, and physically cut out an article to share with me – on social media.

I read it, and learned nothing new. It was written for people who do not use social media, but instead clip articles about it. My mother enjoyed it, and I think it helped her understand a little more about the field in which I work and am interested.

I just got a kick out of the message/medium combo.

3 Bones to Pick, 3 Social Networks

3 social media bones to pick

There are a few complaints I just have been dying to put out there on the interweb recently. I decided to stop putting it off and air my grievances in the hopes that someone finds them, who will either (a) fix what’s wrong with the user experiences of these social networks, or (b) realize I’m the missing piece of their UX or social media team and hire me on the spot. Or, more likely, (c) I’ll get a huge weight off my shoulders by “blogging it out”.

Picasa (or Google Photos, or Google+)

I was one of the first people to join Google+, before it was open to the public. Remember they wanted it to be all “exclusive” and you needed an invite? I actually signed up for a mailing list, to be notified when Google+ was in beta testing. I tried it out, I created some circles, I posted things for about a week before I realized not that many people were using the damn thing. A few weeks later, everyone else did join – and then the cycle repeated itself. Fine, I’m over it.

Until . . . I wanted to view a friend’s photo album recently, and it was literally as convenient as taking the LSAT. The friend is actually a 70-year old author for whom I’m building a web presence. He tried sharing with me a photo album with Picasa. When I clicked on the link in his email, it told me the link did not exist. I had him set up a Google+ account, but still I was unable to view the album. The two of us went back and forth for about a week, until somehow he was able to share the damn album with me. It was shocking how complicated the process was, considering Google+ is supposedly all about sharing and engaging with one’s social circles. It was a mind-bogglingly difficult experience to view this guy’s one simple album.

Facebook’s iPhone App

Facebook Mobile TimelineWe all know that it’s slow. Fine. But I only found out yesterday that you can’t even access Timeline from it. Does this make any sense? You cannot convert the user experience on one platform (desktop) and not the other. I was tagged in a friend’s picture, and went to approve the tag but was told the app could not access Timeline. I will, however, give Facebook credit for recently adding the ability to unfriend someone, on mobile. I unfriend people every so often when I’m feeling sassy, and not being able to do this on the go was really inconvenient. I can’t predict when some random person I met on a teen tour 10 years ago is suddenly uploading pictures of their wedding – and I want to be able to unfriend this person immediately. Even if I’m on the bus. Thankfully, this is now relatively simple to do on the mobile app. But the Timeline thing – come on.

Instagram’s Social Options

instagram Social OptionsThis is really also a Facebook complaint. Ever since they bought Instagram, you can no longer search for someone on Instagram by their Instagram username. You have to be Facebook friends before you can be connected on Instagram. Which I get – it’s in Facebook’s interest I guess to get even more users. But part of what I love about Instagram is how not intimate it is; it’s supposed to be all about the pictures, not the people behind them. I actually met a girl at a bar who I clicked with, and we tried becoming Instagram friends then and there – only to discover that since we’re not Facebook friends, we can’t. And it feels a lot stranger to quickly “friend” someone you meet when you’re out, as opposed to just following them on something like Instagram or even Twitter. I left the bar that night without having a new Instagram follower/followee, because I didn’t feel comfortable asking this girl to be Facebook friends right away.

Adding someone on Instagram should be much more casual; I see you taking a photo of something interesting, I want to follow you. Not get updates on your sister’s wedding photos or a link to the article you read in the Washington Post this morning.

Phew. I said my peace. Now hopefully some good will come of it, and these weird little kinks will either be worked out or I’ll realize that I’m the dumb one all along. The sad thing is I don’t feel like either of these outcomes is likely.

QUESTION: What is Your “Brand”?

Brand Personality

The dog park is such a great place to meet interesting characters. Today I met a digital marketing guru (no joke, I checked). We watched my minpin try to maul her 12 year-old standard poodle, and got to talking shop. She advised me to think of my personal online presence as my “brand”.

Advice I’ve encountered before, but today it sunk in a little deeper. It got me wondering: exactly what is my brand? What do I want it to be?

The Human Element of Brands

Marketing-speak puts so much emphasis on voice and tone, personality and style as brand attributes. Companies devote considerable time and money on making themselves “sound” a certain way. Web start-ups tend to act act friendly, quirky and “innovative”.

A perfect example is the new TV ad for Google+. It’s a multi-media love letter composed by a forlorn guy to his long-lost love, as a grand gesture to win her back. It adds a humble and very relatable human element to the social network, showing slices of a life we can all picture ourselves in.

Here’s what I envision as my own personal “brand” qualities:

  • Sharp.  I notice things. Connections between things. I love finding commonality in hard-to-reach places.
  • Witty.  In 6th grade two boys made fun of me for “laughing too much”. They both have boring jobs now.
  • Compassionate. Understanding the point of view of others is a great skill to have, both as a human and a writer.
  • Professional. I love shopping at Staples.

From this I hatched an idea for what to name my business if and when I start a business: “The Content Chameleon”. I’m the chameleon, and I create content for any niche/purpose. Executing powerful messages by tapping into those 4 traits.

And it all started at the dog park. Where dreams are made and digital marketing strategies are hatched.

IDEA: An Infographic of Typical Social Network Users

Last week I posted a comment on Google+ (after remembering that it exists for the 1st time in a few weeks), about how there are too many social media networks to be consistently active in all.

I then wondered: there must be an infographic to illustrate the typical user profile, for each social media site. For instance, typical Flickr users might be completely different from Instagram users in terms of age or profession. I think it would be extremely interesting to see such data, and tried to find some fun, graphically composed poster with bright, bold colors and shapes pointing out just what that data is from a macro and even entertaining perspective.

I came across a few interesting infographics: Social Media Demographics, on Flowtown.com; and Twitter Users Profile, on InfographicsShowcase.com to name a couple.

I’d love to pool these and other related concepts and presentations together, and see what pops out. Or, would getting real actual user data constitute for privacy violation?

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