About Me

My photo
Facebook says I live in the Bay Area. Twitter boasts that I like puns and bad jokes (@The_PUNisher_SF), and then Reddit upvotes and says I LOVE puns and bad jokes. And this blog tells you about my experiences using social media sites and learning to fit them all together into my life.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Twitter/Facebook analogy

Have you ever seen an image on Facebook and had a good laugh, and then 6 months later see somebody else post it like it just happened? That’s what I’m starting to think is the biggest difference between Facebook and Twitter.
Because Facebook is limited to your own social network, content travels in smaller circles and goes in roundabout ways to make it around the Internet. Sure, things definitely can still go viral, and you could even argue it’s better because it gives things a longer shelf life. But in terms of being at the forefront of information, I think Twitter is more immediate fresh news, and less recycled information.
The best analogy I can picture is standing at a luggage carousel at the airport, waiting for your bags to come out. Some people stand right at the mouth to the carousel so they can see the bags coming out and get to theirs first. They are the Twitter users. They’re getting new information from all over the world and are ready to jump on it.
Then you know that sad looking duffel bag that you keep seeing go past and just wish someone would claim? That’s Facebook content, only the people around you don’t know how many times you’ve watched it go past.
I am working on other analogies (chain letters versus Fed Ex) to help me understand the comparison. Nothing has resonated yet and I don’t want to make one sound better than the other since they service different needs. I just hafta figure out what those needs are.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Social Media breakdown

My first step in learning about social media is to create accounts with all the big social media sites.  For starters, I want to just get my feet wet and understand how to navigate around.  So I’ve focused on searching for people I know and getting familiar with how to add posts and how to find people with my common interests.  Here are my results so far:
  • Facebook (836 friends) – I already had this account obviously
  • Twitter (36 followers) - I created this account a while ago but never knew what to do with it
  • Instagram (8 followers)
  • Pinterest (20 followers)
  • Vine (0 followers)
My main goal is to figure out how to use these in synchronicity.  When would I post a tweet instead of a Facebook post, and why post a photo to Instagram?  I want to understand how each of these sites work independently, and from there understand how they all fit together to work in my life.  After these first two weeks, I’ve come up with my own descriptions of these sites, in hopes to better understand them.  Here’s my first crack at it:

With over 800 million users, Facebook is the lowest common denominator of social media.   Most everyone in my world has a digital representation of themselves on Facebook.  By searching for your real-life friends and becoming “friends” with them on FB, you can write updates and upload pictures that are viewable by your friends.  It’s the common day “newsletter update” about the goings ons in your life.  In order to become friends with someone, it is a two-way connection, meaning both people have to accept the friendship in order for it to become official.  This is a way of keeping your information somewhat private, and making sure that you are only sharing your data with your own circle of friends.  People are less likely to accept your friend request if you don’t know them in real life.  So if your goal is to connect with friends/family online and keep them posted about your life, this is a great way to go!

Here’s what makes Twitter different from Facebook:
  • Your tweets are viewable to the public by default, and are searchable by content.  You are more likely to go viral or start a trend on Twitter because of that.  It also means news sources can pick up what you post and call it reporting.
  • Your links to other people are not a two-way “friendship” street.  By default, you can “follow” someone without their approval.  If they see that and decide they want to follow you back, they can but they don’t have to.  This means you can follow people you don’t know and vice versa.
  • Your tweets are text-driven and have a maximum letter count.  By limiting each post to 140 characters, Twitter is keeping comments succinct and to the point.  It makes it easier to scan through your newsfeed since it’s only texts and links.  It also makes load time faster, which is good if you have a slow internet connection.  This keeps the information footprint much smaller but it does make reading your newsfeed a little more work.
Twitter is a much more public forum.  The great thing is it makes your network much bigger and much more specialized by interest.  If I’m really into puns, I can follow people like @omgthatspunny and write posts with the word “pun” in them so they’re more publicly searchable.  Maybe I can even write good enough puns that one of them gets retweeted by someone with a lot of followers, which could lead people to follow me too.

Crowdsourcing is a really powerful tool, and is inherently what’s so amazing about the internet.  A few years ago, I was in SF watching the Blue Angels fly for Fleet Week.  They flew a couple passes and then stopped, and we were sitting there wondering what happened.  There was no public announcement for anything, so I went onto Twitter and searched “Blue Angels”.  The result was a slew of tweets saying the show was just cancelled spontaneously because of fog.  This info was spoken on TV but there was no way to broadcast it to the people watching outside.  This is one of the cool uses of Twitter.

Your number of followers is a big status symbol on Twitter.  The more people you have following you, the more audible your posts are and the more longevity they could have.  The average successful twitter’er posts 5-10 times per day so it’s easy for your posts to get buried.  That’s why it’s good to get a following where people will retweet your posts and keep them floating at the surface.
I’m still figuring out what voice I want to have on Twitter, so far it’s jokes and funny things but it’s really hard to do more than a few a week (let’s face it, I could but the jokes would be pretty awful!).  I like having a voice as a customer, since you can post directly to businesses, and I want to make use of that too.  But if I start gathering a comedy fanbase, I don’t want to lose them by posting too many unrelated things.  This is something I will figure out over time, I think.

Another thing I have to figure out is, I think if you put @(name) at the beginning of your tweet, it doesn’t get posted onto that person’s account page because it goes to their messages instead.  But if you put @(name) in the middle or end of your tweet, it does go on their public page.  Is that true?

This is another public forum, but while Twitter is text based, Instagram is the opposite…all pictures! You are posting photos as your main focus, with captions and hashtags to make them searchable.

Searching by hashtags gives you an instant photo album of other people’s pictures.  For example searching #catsofinstagram shows thousands of pictures of cats that people are uploading every second.  Searchable photo albums are fun, and a photo news feed is much more appealing.  Because it’s public, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time to capture the perfect moment, your photo could go viral or be used on the news or in another medium.

Instagram was recently in hot water for claiming ownership on all photos on their program.  They lost a lot of users and have since reverted back.  Your photos are your own.  At least that’s what they say now.

The thing I like about Instagram is, you can post to Instagram and immediately share it with your Facebook account.  And in your Facebook newsfeed, the photo looks identical to if you uploaded it directly to Facebook.  This way your photo can get twice the viewership and all the magic is happening under the hood.  You will get 2 different sets of “likes and comments” though, since those aren’t connected.

This is DIY-(do-it-yourself)-ness to the extreme!  Pinterest is an inspiration site where you can search and view other people's photos.  They could be of food, of clothing, of home designs, really of anything!  A lot of times the photos provide captions of what they’re doing, and usually link to a full article giving more information.  When you make an account, you make a “bulletin board” that you name by what you’re searching for, and then each photo can be pinned to that board for later viewing.
I think the biggest challenge for me was deciding what bulletin boards to make.   These are the boards that I’ve created on my own Pinterest account:
  • Party Food Ideas
  • Dinner Ideas
  • Inspiration/Quotes
  • Life Hap-pin-nings of Me (these are my own photos to show my successes and failures from trying out what I’ve seen on the site)
At first, pinning ideas to boards seemed a little complicated, so I started out by just “liking” things that I wanted to remember for later.  Anytime I heard myself say “I should remember that for _______”, I liked it, because I know I’m not going to remember it.  It’s a way of communicating with my future self.  After all, who knows what my future self will enjoy seeing better than ME?
Later, I was going through the list of pins that I “liked”, and I started seeing my own patterns emerge about what I was focusing on.  That’s when I buckled down and created categories, and started moving my likes around to fit my boards.

I’ve noticed that even one hour of Pinterest time will give me inspiration for the next month or two.  I have a place to go when I don’t know what to make for dinner, or when I wanna bring the perfect food to a party.  I don’t need to go on often, but when I do I always walk away inspired!

I don’t know much about Vine yet (hence my 0 followers, 0 posts stats).  I just know that it’s Twitter meets Instagram meets video.  Users upload 6-second videos, and they play back on an endless loop in your feed.  Again they are public source, and are a way to get short succinct videos out to your adoring fans.  So far it’s fun to just scroll through the home feed and watch these short, quirky videos.  People are so creative!

So far these are all the social networks I have been focusing on.  I am hoping that time will give clarity to some of the things I don’t yet understand.  And I’d love to hear ideas for other sites to try!  Also to be fair, I should mention that I started writing this blog on Tumblr and WordPress, and was going to include either of those in my summary of social media sites, but I just recently switched to Blogspot.  Maybe one day I’ll add it to the list, but for now I’ll keep figuring it out first.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My introduction to social media

I am an avid Facebook user and have always been a little intimidated by the other social mediums (is that the right use of the word?) that I know other people use.  Words like Twitter and HootSuite and Instagram always come up and I am aware they exist, but I don’t know what place those things have in my life.  Everyone I know is on Facebook, and so far it’s treated me pretty well.  But I don’t really understand the choices people make to decide between using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  I know those sites exist, and I understand they all must have some unique value, but I don’t yet understand what those values are, or how they all fit together to be relevant in my life.
When I was coming up with my New Years resolutions for this year, it seemed like a cool idea to focus some attention on the parts of the Internet I know less about, and maybe try and see where I might be able to draw inspiration in my life.  So I decided to create accounts with all the major social media sites, and try to start posting to them and using them on a regular basis.  My goal is to decide where the value lies in each site, and figure out how they all fit together in the bigger picture of social media.

To start, I created accounts on these sites:
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Vine (from Twitter, a site for 6-second video clips)
Creating the accounts was just the first step, next I have to figure out what voice I want to have on each.  I am hoping that time will give clarity to some of the things I don’t yet understand.  And I’d love to hear ideas for other sites to try!  I should really include Blogspot in my posts, but I’m really just getting started with this blog and I don’t think anybody is reading it yet, so I don’t think I’ve quite grasped the concept yet.

Are there any other sites I should focus on?