This tweet from Andrew, leading to this article, has prompted me to think about Social Media on my own laptop.
Social Media connects people from all around the world, truly globalising cultures and communities. It’s easy to assess how it has quickly become one of any PR Professional’s most valuable tools - it offers global exposure and influence, if used correctly, and allows you to connect with multiple countries, companies, and people daily in a manner that would previously have taken months.
However, as the article points out, what has been created is something of a Sharepocalypse
- an era of social network insanity, where we (both as PR Professionals and consumers) are overloaded with massive information, and are constantly trying to catch up. The article suggests that this information and choice overload will make way for a new type of social assistance, outlined below:
▪ Social Relationship Management (SRM)
: Services that help people create, organize and manage sets of social network relationships — for example, sets of people to follow and/or share with on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.
▪ Social Awareness:
Services that help people keep up with their social networks, especially among a user’s friends.
▪ Social Curation:
Services that help people organize and make sense of their streams and messages.
▪ Social Personalization:
Services that help people sift through the network noise for information most relevant to their particular needs and interests.
▪ Social Analytics:
Services that help to measure online social behavior and trends, optimize engagement, monitor activity and communicate more appropriately.
▪ Social Automation:
Services that help to automate activity in social networks, like automatically updating your status, helping to increase your influence, suggesting what to share, matchmaking, alerting, and using bots to intelligently interact with and assist users.
Social Media as a whole (not individual sites) - especially in PR - hits it’s snag at usability; the ease of which one can use and receive what it offers. We, as PR professionals, are both users and consumers of social media; consuming data, information, and trends, to use in our own field, to create our own trends, promote our own information, and assess our own data. (This, in comparison to primarily social users, who use various social networks for just that - socialising, and nothing more.)
This is where I think Social Media has the chance to thrive, proving it’s not just a craze of an internet savvy generation and is in for the long haul, or dive, because no one knew how to control the mass information being spread, pushed, and received.
There are programs and applications that attempt to socially assist consumers in all of the above aspects, such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, CoTweet, Postling, Spredfast, Sprout Social, Klout, SocialOomph, Ping.fm, Gist, Nutshell Mail – there are plenty out there to choose from. However, they’re all restricted in one way or another.
• They Cost.
Sorry, guys, but if your program costs me money, I won’t use it – not just because I’m a financial struggler of a uni student living off hot water and honey, but because I will bet my bottom dollar that I can find another program out there that does either the exact job you’re offering to do, or one similar enough for my needs. Unless I’m a huge company with expenses that cover the cost and a genuine need for your exact services, I’m going to look elsewhere thanks. Cheapskate? You bet. But guess what? So is everyone else in this dog-eat-internet world.
• They Limit Your Accounts.
Most applications are limited when it comes to how many, or even which, social media accounts you can connect. I use Tweetdeck, and I love it – but I can only connect Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Buzz. I don’t have a MySpace or Buzz. Two problems:
o I can connect multiple Twitter accounts (thankfully), but only one of the others. If I were a PR Consultant managing several Facebook & Foursquare accounts, I would have to strike Tweetdeck off the list.
o What about my other accounts? My Tumblr, Klout, AboutMe, email, last.fm, Skype, and Google+ when I finally succumb to peer pressure and get one?
• They Limit What You Can Do.
On some, you can receive notifications, but not reply. On some, you can reply, but purely in text. On Tweetdeck, it’s very hard to share images across multiple platforms at once.
• They’re Aesthetically Difficult To Understand.
I love Tweetdeck, but it, along with Hootsuite and several others, is very difficult to process visually. The English-Western method of reading is left to right, top to bottom – yet I receive my information in thin, horizontal columns that are text-heavy, not spaced or formatted very well, and poorly categorized. This doesn’t feed me information effectively at all – not when you consider it takes me around two or three seconds to consciously find a piece of information on Tweetdeck that I would have seen and filed subconsciously had I been using the account website. I hear you gasp mockingly - Oh no! Not two or three seconds! But it takes less than that to form a subconscious opinion, and if I’m missing or being frustrated by information I receive from a certain source, I can bet that the audience of my future clients is going to be missing or negatively judging that information too.
You get the drift. Most social assistance platforms are restricted and limited, and yet in an information-heavy, noisy environment like social networking, we need social assistance platforms. In order to reach out internationally, we have to be able to read, assess, analyse, and distribute information quickly, easily, and effectively from our own laptop. To summarise,
I want an application that I can connect my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Hotmail, Gmail, Tumblr, last.fm, Skype, AboutMe, Klout, and Foursquare (and any other accounts I so wish to gain access to in the future) to.
I want to receive notifications (that I can adjust – eg, don’t notify me when someone checks in near me on Facebook – do so on Foursquare – you get the idea.) in a timely, easily viewable manner that doesn’t disrupt whatever else I may be doing on my computer at the time.
I want to be able to post text, images, video, links, whatever I please onto whichever account I want with ease, preferably without losing any html formatting options.
I want to be able to send one message, status, or update to every account, but I want to option of sending the update to only one or two accounts should I so choose.
Yes, I will probably go and visit each of these sites individually, but I would like to have the option of receiving information and notifications, and distributing information, immediately to all accounts without having to open multiple tabs on my browser.
I want an application that is aesthetically pleasing, and visually easy to understand.
I want an application that tells me about new social media platforms, and allows me to link one as soon as I get it, whether it be five years after it was popular, or five minutes after its release.
Is that so much to ask?