Social Media Troubles

Social MediaI use social media a lot, both professionally and personally.  Something has happened to me a few times over the last little while that at first just frustrated me, and then I thought that it’s more a spreading design flaw.  It started in Facebook.

One day, a friend of mine posted this article.  I clicked on it, read it, and found it interesting.  It was on creating a good work environment in an office that perhaps doesn’t naturally have a good work environment.  A few weeks later, a friend came over for dinner, and she was talking about how her cubicle at works makes her feel on display and unproductive, and I immediately thought of this article.  I quickly jumped on to my Facebook, typed in the friends name who had originally posted the article, and… couldn’t find it??

The next day, I asked the friend if he’d taken it down.  He hadn’t.  So we logged onto his Facebook page to have a look, and it wasn’t there.  Facebook does this thing where it hides your feed if it’s old, doesn’t have as many likes or you just posted a lot that month.  There are these little grey buttons that say ‘show me more’ or ‘expand December 2014’.  We had to open up a few tabs before we could find it.  Even though he’d posted it, it took us nearly ten minutes of opening things up to find the article.  Facebook had hidden it that well.

Let’s move over to twitter.  There are two options on twitter when viewing someone’s profile, or even your own.  One, you can view what they posted, and the other is to view posts and responses.  I thought a colleague had simply posted a picture that I was trying to find, but instead he’d apparently responded to it, re-attaching it, and so it didn’t appear in his feed.

Jump forward to today.  I’m trying to find an article published on Linkedin.  I remember who published it, and it was only a couple of days ago, and I can’t for the life of me find it.  So I asked a colleague who uses Linkedin more than I do, and he showed me that you go to the person’s profile, and click the little down arrow beside the ‘send a message’, and there’s an option for ‘recent activity’.  Really?  I can find a connections newsfeed under ‘send a message’??  Who designed that?

Social media is mostly about what’s happening in the moment, I know that.  You post what’s happening now, or comment on what a friend just did.  But what if you have a new connection, and you want to see what they’ve done in the last few months just to catch up?  What if you don’t log in all the time, and so there’s a lot of catch up instead of just the day?

Perhaps social media is morphing into something that wasn’t intended.  Think about when Facebook first came around, competing with myspace.  It was about connecting with friends and having online chats.  It was all about personal.  Now, it’s a mix of personal and professional.  Often people have two profiles, one for their friends, and another for their colleagues.  So why do I feel like as a professional, social media isn’t working in my favour.  LinkedIn doesn’t fit with the others, because it’s built to be professional.  But the others…

I’ve been doing social media on behalf of a business for two years now, and I’ve come across a lot of blockers over that time.  On Facebook it was better to have a page than a profile, only as a page we couldn’t follow clients on profiles, only other pages.  As a business, we want to follow our clients and keep up with them, but unless that client has a page, we can’t.  So should we have a profile?  No!  As a business, you’re not going to be ‘friends’ with everyone.

Twitter is a one profile serves all service, which works okay.  You can choose to be professional or not, and it’s up to you to keep things smooth.  But their filtering is very wonky.  I used to search hashtags a lot to find industry information.  But if I type in a hashtag, often the top results were not the newest, so a month later I would get the same results.

LinkedIn works more like Facebook, but using the term ‘connections’ instead of ‘friends’ makes it easier to connect with people who you don’t necessarily know, but who work in your industry and you want to sneak in and start talking too.  But the constant ‘you haven’t put in the languages you know’ prompts drive me insane.  If I skip it once, twice, a third time, stop reminding me!!!

In an online world, social media has become crazy useful for meeting people you otherwise would never have met.  It’s become you address book where you can find people and keep track without having to pick up the phone or go to events.  But living in a digital world where computers are the go too for everything, and the internet connects us all, there is very little patients for finding things.  When I remember something, I want to see it right away.  I don’t want to search.  If I remember which friend, and about what time of year, I should be able to click on it within seconds of sitting down at my computer.

This is a very generational way of thinking.  My generation grew up with computers, so you would think we know how to use them better and therefore things are less confusing.  The truth is, our knowledge was paid for by patience.  I know computers.  I know what they can do, and how to get it done.  And I know how fast they can be.  So when I come to something that’s not smooth and immediately easy to use, it’s not worth it for me.  I don’t want to use it.  This is very common in my generation, or anyone who is really good with computers.

In contrast, the older generation who learned computers after the fact, are more understanding.  They think of it as a technology after their time, that was never meant for them, so they’re willing to admit their own shortcomings and be patient while trying to figure it out.  Of course, this is general, but the theory is there.  I think of my mom.  She slowly clicks each button, and waits for things to open.  My colleague next to me clicks, and if it doesn’t immediately open, clicks twenty more times and gets angry.  He’s not normally in impatient person, but I’m like ‘dude, calm the hell down!!’.

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