This morning I spent three hours chatting to people in Australia, Sweden and France via both twitter and plurk and it felt great and the reason for this is that it was personal. We hear so much and read even more about the social media and the social web but there is one fundamental flaw and oxymoron in this vision. That is that there is an utter lack of the social aspect.
Everyone is here, trying to promote their work, their brand, their friends and everything. They re retweeting what other people say and do to promote work. They are promoting things that they think can promote a person’s value. The trouble is that how many of these people do you know as friends. Do you know anything than their marriage, their recent hirings or their job. Do you know where they’ve been out with friends?
I could name a hundred locations where podcamp have been, where tuttle have gone and many other things but I couldn’t tell you where more than two or three people like to go for drinks or good food. That’s because the social media are hidden. Everyone is hiding their real identity, their real friendships and their real passions. That’s why some of them have a public twitter account and a private one. That’s why there is so little conversation left on twitter. That’s also why you want to have 20,000 followers.
The truth is that if you use the social media as a professional tool, as a branding tool then you might find work, and you may find those who provide you with an increased profile but is that what the web is really about? How many of you will send more than two tweets to anyone except for work? How many of you will spend an hour just chatting?
You see for most of the people I follow on twitter it’s about work and nothing else. Sure there’s the charity for breast cancer and the organ donation drives that give good results but what about the mondane conversations? That’s lacking on twitter. That’s why plurk is more fun at moments.
In reality if what you called the social media were truly social then I would have had nothing to write and dream about in my nanowrimo effort. That’s why I lampoon most of you. You haven’t understood the social nature of the social web because for you it’s a work tool, not a play thing. Learn to play with the social media and you will get a lot more out of it. You will build friendships and the transparency will result in some positive things.
I’ve seen the Francofous community, how it grew, how it meant there were many meetings and how they talked behind closed doors. i’ve also seen the consequences of the lack of openness and what it can do to people’s involvment in the communities they’re part of. How many francofous still use seesmic for example. Of those I follow I see just one person still on seesmic.
Plurk at the moment is more social, you see conversations between friends and they have fun. it’s about funny images, it’s about night shifts, it’s about waking up, or going to sleep. In general it’s just a convivial social space where no one is using the network as a professional tool.
I’m not saying that you should be social all the time, what I’m saying is that you need to think about how to give time to the communities you’re part of. Ping.fm, hello text and others provide no value to those that are listening. Engage with your audience on a personal level. SHow them that you’re interested in the individuals, not the professionals.