Technophobia

I have the conversation literally every week. In the conversation I usually hear a line not unlike this:

“People don’t know how to interact in real life any more.”

…or some similar phrase. I undersand where people are coming from and I believe, based on the information that has been presented to them, they have a valid reason and a solid case for having these feelings. These thoughts are usually formed by a diet of To Catch a Predator episodes with a side of cultural disconnection. This is backed up by ‘studies’ and news stories that want to diagnose ‘Internet addiction’. I think there is valid evidence for this I just think we need to get past it.

Most of all I think people have these feelings because this has all happened so fast. It wasn’t until the late 90s that the internet started to get traction in America and it was around 2002 MySpace started to get serious momentum. Even then there were a whole lot of people that had no idea what MySpace even was. I would mark the year as 2007 when Social Media really got traction in culture most¬†notably¬†with the explosion of Facebook. That was just 4 years ago!

And to to think that it took 40+ years for our society to find a way to get in 20 hours of TV watching every week; we did the same with Social Media in 4 years.

I firmly believe that we are past this and that the conversation is all but over. I think in the short time that ‘Social Media’ has been pervasive western culture has come a long way in terms of education and integrating it into every day life. As our culture learns to use the tools of the internet to make life better it becomes precisely just that; a tool.

Facebook is not a community

The mistake we make now is to classify Facebook (or any other media channel) as a community which is categorically wrong. These are simply just tools just like a phone, a mailbox or email. This attitude propagates that false sense of it being an alternative to real life when in fact it is not; it is simply another way to share information with other humans.

I have more or less given up on trying to convince people that they need to get in the game, they’re just going to have to figure it out themselves.

Social Media Gurus

So you’re a social media guru (I tell myself that’s who reads my blog); here’s my plea to you: Let’s stop doing workshops on introductions to social media. Lets stop writing how to blog posts on 101 level social media stuff.

Rather; here’s what we should do: Move forward. Keep using the tools and pushing the technology forward and eventually it will become the norm to the masses. If we keep going back to the starting line to pick up¬†stragglers¬†then we will never be able to blaze new trail and we become stagnant ourselves.

Shelf life

At conferences and in conversations I bring up the concept of shelf life a lot in terms of content. I’m talking about how long a piece of content can have a life after it is first published. Content that is based around current events tends to not have a very long shelf life where as content that is art first often has a very long shelf life.

I bring this up because we have a wonderful example of this happening right now before our eyes.

A video, ‘Wooden Heart‘ by the ‘talk music’ artists Listener that was posted on Vimeo in December of 2010 has, as of right now, 2,681 views of which 2102 have come in the last two days.

In Listener’s defense the same video on YouTube has garnered 12K views to date since YouTube is a¬†significantly¬†larger site than Vimeo.

Why did it take 7 months for the video to finally get this attention? After all it is an awesome piece of art.

A quick search in Google News and we can trace where and when it was posted on blogs.

Monday morning it was submitted by a user to a site we manage, OneFifty.me and also appeared here and here.

Tuesday it was posted here and here.

It continues to grow through this network of blogs and Twitter that are all connected in the Christian content camp.

Granted, this isn’t a massive case of going Viral, it is just a couple thousand at this point.

The video has the right elements to give it the shelf life to survive at least until it was given the large platforms of OneFifty.me and Ragamuffinsoul.com.

When we are going to put a lot of resources (this is relative) into a piece of content, like a short film, it is a good idea to design it with shelf life in mind because there is no telling when it may get put on a bigger platform than we might immediately have access to.

Twitter Housekeeping

If left unchecked, your Twitter space can get overwhelming and the result is that you become a lame Tweep. I have a few things I do regularly to keep things tidy and happy.

Prolegomena: Twitter is a mostly open public forum if you are not interested in connecting with people you don’t already know then you should stick to Facebook because you are missing the point of Twitter and breaking the internet. I wrote a post about the Facebook and Twitter¬†relationship.

Following

Following someone does not mean you are listening. Following is an¬†acknowledgment¬†that you see that they are a real person with something¬†legitimate¬†to bring to the table and not a spammer/gamer. If you follow me and are a real person with an avatar, bio and a link, then I will follow you back. This doesn’t mean that I am listening to you however.

LISTening

This is how I organize who I am actually listening to. Twitter lists are subsets of twitter users that allow you to pay attention to a smaller group of people. This works best when you use a Twitter client (I use Tweetdeck) that has columns or tabs to display different feeds. A couple of my favorite lists are one of my colleagues in my field and another list, which is private, called; ‘don’t miss’. That one is a list of close friends and other people that I don’t want to miss.¬†Making¬†it private¬†makes it so that they don’t know they are on the list but more importantly other people can’t see that they are not on it.

I do keep a column of everyone I follow and look at it a lot, but the shelf life of a tweet in a stream of thousands is pretty short.

Unfollowing

The most rocking tool ever for pruning your Twitter account; Manage Flitter. Manage Flitter looks at my account and allows me to drop people in bulk. About once a month I go there and drop everyone who isn’t following me back. I’m on Twitter for the conversations and relationships not to simply consume your content. That’s the main function that I use it for, but it will also let you sort out people who Tweet too much, don’t tweet enough, don’t have a profile pic, have certain keywords in their bio or tweet certain things.

You may have seen me follow you more than once because you didn’t follow back and your name came up somewhere and I followed you again, I’m pretty sure this has happened more than a few times for some people I follow. This is because when I do clean up my Twitter once a month I unfollow everyone who isn’t following back.

That’s how I live in the twitternets. It’s not perfect but it works for me.

How are you keeping things organized?

My church is behind the times so is Time magazine

I hear it all the time from people I consult and work with.

Guess what, you’re not the only one in that position. So is my church. So are the churches that you look to as thought leaders.

So is time magazine!

Maybe I’m wrong and I’m going to get flamed for it, but I think if Mark Zuckerberg deserves person of the year it was 3 or 4 years ago not this 2010. Facebook did the work a few years ago that we are now seeing.

Or maybe it’s a lesson in the long tail.

Follow Friday revisited

At it’s core, #followfriday is a great show of solidarity in the Twitter-sphere and I think in the past it used to be a great resource for connecting with new tweeps.

Fast forward to last Friday and this is what most #ff tweets look like:

#ff @awesometweet @someguy @myhomie @billy @rerun @obama @moartweets @lazerdab @techblog @blahblahblah

This gives me no¬†compelling¬†reason to follow any of these people. I’m guilty of it just as much as the next person.

Last Friday I decided to make a change and actually make a change in my #followfriday behavior. I started by caring.

Who gets a Follow Friday tweet?

I scroll through my mentions column in Tweedeck and look for people who have engaged me this last week. That’s rule number one for me; you don’t get #ff love unless you are a two way communicator.

The formula

#ff –> @tweep [something they are] + [something they do]

Try to say two things in the #ff tweet; what they do and who they are. This gives your followers some real insight into them. They might act on the #ff because they have common ground vocationally or they like what you tweeted about their personality.

example:

“#ff –> @tweep¬†music lover and a cooking guru”

It’s a little thing…but it might make a big difference.

You need Facebook and Twitter

I have this conversation often:

Me: “Are you on Twitter?”

Them: “No; I’m already on Facebook

Every time I have this conversation an angel gets it’s wings…clipped.

It does go the other way…although less often. There are Twitter users who are above using such blue collar social networks like Facebook.

Truth is, when done right, Facebook and Twitter are very different spaces and it is my opinion that if you want to rock at social media you need both.

I’ve shared this analogy with a lot of people and even mentioned it in a post or two.

Twitter is your coffee shop

At the coffee shop you connect with both people you know already and people you don’t know in a public space.

Twitter is quite the same. You will most likely initially connect with people you already know and then be introduced to people you don’t know and eventually make your own connections.

Twitter works best when you are open to meeting people you don’t know and connecting. This will be the biggest hurdle for people who have been on Facebook for a long time before getting on Twitter. Truth is, if you’re not willing to meet people and network, Twitter will not click and you’ll give up.

Quick tips for Facebook-ers moving to Twitter

  • Do: Follow people you don’t know
  • Don’t: Post pictures of your kids in the bath tub
  • Do: Engage in conversations
  • Don’t: Just be a broadcaster

Facebook is your living room

Your living room is for people you already know. Sometimes the people you know will bring people you ‘kinda’ know to your living room but for the most part it is people you know that come over to your house. Not everything that happens in your living room should be made public and most of the conversation that happens there is only interesting to people who know you.

Facebook is at it’s best when you share content and interact with people you know. People who use it as a networking space tend to come off as spammers and get ignored.

Quick tips for Tweeps moving to Facebook

  • Do: Upload lots of photos of your kids
  • Don’t: Add people you don’t know, that’s not the point of Facebook
  • Do: Connect with your mom
  • Don’t: Play Farmville

Personal communication layers

Earlier this week I wrote about communication layers for organizations. Looking at your toolbox of communication apps and spaces it is important to categorize them in terms of context and voice. Who is the targeted recipient of the content and how do you voice it?

Here are the communication layers I use personally and the context and voice that I have in them starting with the outer layer and working my way in:

Twitter | the coffee shop
This is a public space. And like a coffee shop the content you broadcast is targeted at people you know, but it is overheard by people who may be listening. If they like what you have to say the may chime in and you make a new connection. This works the other way too.

Blog | my platform
This is my space. My words. This is where I give away the best thoughts I have to the world and engage in conversation about those thoughts.

Facebook | my living room
My living room is for people that I actually know. It’s not for strangers. I’ll accept friend requests from people I have a connection with but I keep my feed trimmed pretty tight so that it’s just family and close friends that I interact with. I’ll add that I treat Facebook email just like regular email. And I block every app from my feed (farmville).

Email | grand central
I have been trying really hard lately to reduce how much email I handle by pushing a lot of the interaction to Twitter and/or in person. When I need to document something or handle some details this is the place to keep it. I use Gmail and all the awesome GTD features like labels and server-side filtering to keep this place squeaky clean and efficient. I try to turn email around in 24-72 hours. I’m currently in the habit of working through email in the morning only…in one sitting. If you need me today then you need to move down a layer to Twitter DM/Text.

Twitter DM/Text Message | my phone
In this shrinking world where we are connected with more and more people, Twitter DM has replaced a lot of phone calls for me and in my world it carries the same priority as a text message (be warned, if you abuse it I will drop you. I’m talking to you auto DM’ers). Talking on the phone is so inefficient that I rarely answer when I don’t know who it is and I schedule just about every call I make on my calendar because it has become the new meeting for me.

In Person/Video Chat | get it done
When it’s time to get stuff done I go in person or video chat…not the phone. I hate the phone. For as unproductive as it is it takes up too much time and mind space.

Meetings | avoid them
I won’t even classify them as a¬†necessary¬†evil, they’re just plain evil. OK, maybe I speak too harshly. The traditional meeting is evil and unproductive. Lately I have been scheduling meetings for like 12 minutes in the hall. I picked up this tip form the book; Rework. It works well. Meetings aren’t social time…just get stuff done and go rock!

What are your layers looking like?