I’ve been “using” social media in some capacity since 2004. I was in college when Facebook hit, and Myspace was already a ‘thing.’ I had a few Friendster requests from people even before those; I set up a profile one day and never checked it again. So, I have been a user of some sort for the last 9-ish years. My involvement with social media with a business/brand twist has been present since late 2009, so even that’s creeping up on 4 years.
My use of social media before 2009 was a lot different than now – the social business boom hadn’t hit yet, so we weren’t liking Facebook brand pages or getting quick info from major brands on Twitter (well, maybe a few). And, ever since that big social business boom, I’ve been looking at it all through the lens of a social marketer/strategist/manager. A couple months ago I wrote a blog about how taking a break from it all is healthy, and I still absolutely believe that. But over the last two weeks I took another break and got to learn even more about myself as a social user: how I behave socially when I have no connection to the business side.
I have been on paternity leave for almost two weeks. We welcomed our second child, a wonderful baby girl in early February. So, I have given myself the opportunity to step away from it all, completely cut it off, for two weeks. I’ve honestly been paying very little attention to what’s been going on in the social media world (I’ll have a lot of catching up to do), with brands that I work on, or brands in general. I’ve had other priorities during these two weeks of leave. But what I discovered after these two weeks is that I have been using social media as your everyday “user.” I put down my social business lens. I have been using it to be, well, social.
So, how do I use it?
Looking back at these couple weeks I can say that I used Twitter and Instagram more than any other platform. It wasn’t even close. I still got all of my news from Twitter and kept up on what my friends were doing on Instagram. I also posted to Instagram more than I ever have, from my own personal account. I posted a couple things outgoing on Facebook, but to be honest, I really didn’t look at Facebook much during my time away. When I would look at it, I found myself much more interested in taking an action (liking, sharing, commenting) on actual friends and family’s content as opposed to a brand’s.
What does this tell me?
I am a challenging user for a brand. I consume the content but rarely take an action. I don’t produce a stat or metric. I typically don’t engage, but, I am still part of that community and enjoy seeing the content come through. So now I ask myself when looking at it through that brand lens, “What would make me actually engage with this content?” And I’m not talking about for statistic’s sake. I am talking about true engagement that can form a relationship and/or loyal following within the community. If I could create something that even I would click on, then I’m winning. That’s something I learned over these last two weeks. As a social marketer you can strategize all day and make your users drink the Kool-Aid, but would you even drink the same Kool-Aid that you’re serving?
A vacation from social is good for you, but an extended leave with “normal” social use is a very helpful exercise and experiment. I didn’t realize any of this until I was already doing it for almost two weeks. Pretty interesting stuff (at least I think so).
A final point that I learned or reaffirmed: Twitter is still my favorite.
As a side note: And yes, I’m fully aware of the Harlem Shake meme. It was unavoidable no matter how hard I tried (or didn’t try). Seems like every brand and their brother has made a video with their own version…