We all have heard various stories of how a video upload went viral, resulting in 15 minutes of fame for some person or thing, or giving someone a boost in business or a career. It is common knowledge that recent political events, elections, and movements and causes have been greatly influenced by, and even had their genesis in, social media. The quest for fame or recognition may spur some to post photos, information, or videos which others might consider inflammatory or inappropriate. The concept that social media is “the” way to make a statement or make a difference can be accurate, and is certainly not an unreasonable conclusion. However, it is not the only way to make a statement.
Entertainers, recognizable brands, politicians, corporate leaders, causes, and non-profits do not always depend on social media as their main presence. Social media is a complement—not an end-all. It is only one avenue to reach out with a message.
There are many reasons to not depend on social media.
- Social Media by its very nature is not dependable. For example, social media networks may or may not survive; they may morph into something completely different, or may change the rules on privacy, control, participation, advertising, etc. without your input or ability to participate in the decision; they may make changes without obtaining your consent to certain variables with which you do not agree.
- Social media is cookie-cutter media. It dictates the format you must use for your message, right down to the size of images, the number of characters in a posting, the links you are permitted to include, if any, etc..
- Social media permits the existence of look-alikes, similar names, redundant postings, and positive or negative information, which may not be accurate.
- Social media is a time-consumer. It can take your time and that of your audience, without financial consideration or regard for the potential lack of any significance or interest on your part. It becomes a form of spam management when you have to weed through feeds containing content from individuals with whom you may be connected, but whose postings hold no interest for you and whose postings may have minimal value to most readers.
- Social media provides no guarantee that it contains appropriate or accurate information or actions. It has no fact-checking capabilities, it may contain both accurate and inaccurate information, and it is incapable of any “feeling” or foresight as to consequences.
- Social media is transient at best. It is profit-driven and carries an expectation of results by its users. If the media (organization, group, forum, etc.) is controlled by a single individual it may be subject to key-man issues. For example, if it is a key-man situation, and that individual abandons or discontinues activity on that media for any reason, the media operated by that individual may collapse unless formal arrangements had been made for its continuation or dissolution.
- Social media does not control the actions of others. It is not designed to protect your interests or ensure that your intentions are carried out. It cannot control who requires or steals access to your password. It is blind to who accesses your private information. If the appearance of authority is present, it obeys, or obliges.
- Social media cannot guarantee that an appropriate audience will see your message. At best it serves to facilitate the promotion of your message, but it alone cannot control who receives that message or what is done with it once received.
Social media can be a tool for business, or a tool for personal promotion and the accessing of information. At worst, any particular network, forum, or web site, is a tool that can be here today or gone tomorrow. Use social media wisely as what you post is not always retractable. Do not depend on it as your sole delivery mechanism, or assume that it will maintain its current configuration permanently or even long-term.
Social media is not your friend, your marketing agency, your salesman, your hiring official, your club, your organization, or your confidant. It is simply a form of media – just like television, magazines, radio, and newsprint. Its reach may be extensive or limited, but it is just media. Don’t depend on social media to be “forever.” Developed and controlled by people, it is subject to change. Don’t discount it, but use it with the expectation that you will have to adapt to it; it will not adapt to you.
What is your buzz about?