The Thing About Social Media is...

Malay Desai
Mar 27, 2012 05:00 IST
The Thing About Social Media is...

... that by the time you finish saying this line, some significant nut or bolt of a popular network would either have shifted, been bought over or worse, introduced new features you won't understand at first glance, and you would have to rework the line. This writer, having been there when the first social networks were forming an icicle (I had a Hi5 account okay?), turning into a snowball (was moderating four communities and had 5000+ scraps on Orkut okay?) which later created an avalanche (I live-streamed the conference in which Zuckerburg launched Timeline okay?), can thus safely attempt at completing the above sentence, so here goes..

...that you’re not taken seriously.

At the risk of you not reading further, let me say this. No ‘social media expert’ worth his salt has till date been taken seriously. Not by his employer (who thinks he’s not upping sales), his colleagues (who think he just faffs around), his family (duh, who thinks he ‘does something on the internet’ and compares him to his architect/engineer sibling), his friends (who see him online 24x7 and judge him by his LinkedIn profile)... hell, not even by himself (’coz he knows it will just take one new Facebook introduction such as ‘Timeline for Pages’ for him to cease being an expert.)

Perhaps it’ll happen only when he becomes a Pete Cashmore or 1% as lucky as Mark Zuckerburg. Maybe the experts can get together to make an official decree …or get universities to introduce Post-Graduate diplomas for social media. Only then, their deadpan serious line of ‘But this is big business now, boss!’ will be taken without a look that says ‘Ya, okay! But get a real job, na!’?

But then: Acceptance be damned, at least we ‘insiders’ of social media (note the self-appreciation there) can find simple joys in stalking profiles with weak privacy settings on the pretext of work, watching YouTube videos for ‘research’ and having a higher ‘Klout’ score and FourSquare badge count than most others!

...that you are an expert. But so is everyone else.

Yup, it’s like studying about all utilities and tricks of a Swiss army knife before school one morning, only to find out someone else already showing it off, albeit with another type of knife. Unfortunately, it does not take much to become a social media ‘expert’ (no three-month induction programmes or gruelling physical endurance tests yet) and hence calling yourself an expert isn’t a wise move. Face it, the speed at which the social networks and their related cousins are changing, it is virtually impossible to master it all.

But then: Real social media experts, just as real D-SLR photographers and wine connoisseurs, let their work do the talking. And besides, most online enthusiasts, or even passionate followers for that matter are rewarded with incredible contacts, unreal rewards and unique perspectives of things!

...that most of your clients won't bother about insights.

Or your Facebook ad’s click-through-rate, or re-tweets or LinkedIn group visitors. The plus about working in a zone most 40-plus peoples find it odd to understand is that you are free to revel in your networks’ inner worlds. While some ‘social’ workers fake efforts, some make an extra buck out of the clients’ ignorance.

Small-scale web-trepreneurs (*cough* such as Yours Truly) are at an advantage here, as bigger clients (for example a Tata Sky Actve or UTV Bindass) will have a social worker of equal or more caliber looking over your work! That said, many others are simply bothered about ‘Likes’ while some show you their bottomline repeatedly, often leaving you speechless.

But then: The thing is, all of us in our 20s and 30s now, reading this - we’re all going to be outdated one day (if the Mayans aren’t right about the apocalypse) and might have zilch idea what our next gen is up to on their social networks then.

… that it won’t stop changing

#Truestory. That avalanche I mentioned earlier? Well that’s already on its way to becoming something bigger (yet to be named by Mister Zuckerburg) and most of us have little clue what the social network scenario would be like this day, next year. Maybe Twitter’s new brand-friendliness might make it bigger than the F-word; or a Daily Motion or Pinterest might take us by storm; or Social Samosa might be as big as Mashable (see what I did there!) or hell, Mr Sibal might Taliban-ise all these possibilities!

But then: It is this ever-changing nature, the unpredictability of trends changing every minute and the constant challenge to keep up with the social media beast is what’s fun for most of us, right? After all, if (God.. or wait, Zuck forbid!) this turns out to be a dotcom bubble like situation, we’d at least be able to tell our kids ‘When I was young, I had 1,548 friends and 7000+ tweets!’



#Pete Cashmpre #Mark Zuckerberg #Facebook #Orkut #Social Media Expert #LinkedIn #Daily Motion #Mashable #Pinterest