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Wednesday 4 August 2010

Putting The "Social" Back Into Social Media.

My personal history with Social Media is a fairly short one. By some peoples standards anyway.

My first experiences probably started off on MySpace and maybe the odd message board. All that was around the 2005/2006 period. It wasn't until the summer of 2006, when i discovered YouTube and started making videos, that i really started to get involved with other people online.

As i said in a recent blog post. I realise that not many people actually regard YouTube as a Social network at all. But, for me, it most certainly is and it is the site that i have used more than any other over the past four years. I have also made more friends there than on any other Internet site.
Please see that previous blog post for more information about my experiences on YouTube.

But, i don't expect i am alone in saying, that i didn't consider what i was doing ,back in those early days, to be Social Networking.
I can't honestly remember when i first heard that term. But, i suspect it was sometime after my first hesitant steps into that world.
For me back then, it was all about having fun and it still is. It was only after a while (early 2007?) that i realised that i was meeting like minded people and was enjoying their company online. That was when the more social side of my online life started to take off. But, i still didn't really think of it as networking.

I think it was around that time, although i could well be wrong, that i first started to hear about Social Networking and Social Media. But, without many exceptions, those terms were always used in a busniess context and that is where i have a problem with all of this.
Yes, we hear on the tv news. or read in our newspapers about "The Social Networking site Facebook", or similar. But, just about anything else you read about Social Media and Social Networking is all about the business aspect of it, or the money making opportunities that can be had.

I follow several Social Media blogs and websites. Mashable and TechCrunch being two of the most well known and i do find them very interesting. But, i can also find them very frustrating. Because the vast majority of their posts are all about the business and money making angle and not the social side.

As you might have guessed, this is a topic that i am very interested in and i have read several books about the whole world of Social Media.
I fully realise that there is money to be made out there and that Social Media is the new kid on the block. Therefore, many people are looking for that gap in the market to make their own dotcom fortune.
But, for me at least. The use of the word "Social" is there for a reason. This isn't just all about business and money making. It is also all about people and i do believe that that is often forgotten.

Maybe, i am being unrealistic, expecting things to be any other way?
Maybe, the vast majority of Internet and Social Media users don't care about this in the same way that i do?
Maybe, i am actually being a little hypocritical? After all, i am a YouTube partner and do allow advertising on my videos and blog posts.
Maybe, i'm just plain wrong?

Maybe, that's for somebody else to say?
I just can't help feeling though, that the "Social" side of all of this has been hijacked a little.

Whatever the truth is, i do know know that during my time using Social Networking sites and using Social Media generally, i have met, whether online, or even in real life, some of the best people i have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Now that's the sort of Social aspect we should be concentrating on.


  1. I agree. Although, I find that I really limit my connections to YT and the blogs that I follow. Twitter can be a great tool as well. But I get lost so much in the other mediums. I guess, that's because I have so much going on outside the computer these days that logging in and market the connections isn't a priority.

  2. Steve: We use all these sites in ways that best suit us. That's the beauty of them. We can, generally, tailor them to suit ourselves & use them in different ways.
    Social Media is different things to different people.

  3. My unrelatedly related comment is to compare the "business coverage of social media" to the coverage of movies.

    Once upon a time, the entertainment news would tell us how many four-star ratings a certain movie received, or which critics loved or hated it. Not the entertainment news is only about which picture had the best box office receipts this weekend. Who, besides the investors in a particular film, or shareholders of the studio stock, really needs to care about that?

    But the media want to cover a horse race. They want winners and losers, and what better (and easier) way to measure that than by dollars and cents?

    And so, instead of suggesting what film we might enjoy (totally subjective and opening them to criticism), the give us the objective measure of which picture was a good investment.

    And instead of going out on a limb and telling us how to communicate outside of traditional media, they just tell us about the money to be made in the new dot-com boom.

    Repeating numbers is so much easier than investigative reporting and analysis.

  4. Ken: Great comment Ken & great analogy too. You make a very valid point.
    Now that i think about it, i can think of many occasions when a story on the BBC news has been about the money made by a movie & not about the actual movie itself. The money becomes the story.
    Their priorities are all wrong.