I fume over the spam, sales pitches and fake accounts just like everyone else, but I sense a change online. I find myself using my social media sites (Twitter, Facebook & Linkedin) as quick references rather than hang-out spots.

Is it me or has social media become less social?

A couple of weeks ago I got ripped on by someone via tweet. He thought I was complaining when I was simply stating my opinion (which was that he was wrong.) Later that week, a company tweeted the same message every few minutes throughout the day – trying to slowly drive me mad with their “try this” repeat tweet. I blocked them. Then, I noticed that some of the people I started using Twitter to hang out with were dropping off the radar.

Since then, I have had this feeling that maybe we’re not so social when using social media.

Later, on Linkedin – the safest of social media sites (if can even call it that) – I went to one of my favorite PR groups and all the topics were poorly disguised sales pitches. Gone seem the days when professional discussions were about issues and concerns rather than the latest deals or products.

To add insult to injury, someone I know does not have good feelings about me, tried to friend me on Facebook. It prompted me to look at who I was friends with on FB. I noted that of my 100+ friends, 75 never actually converse with me. On Twitter, half of those who follow me have never conversed with me, either. Recently, I have seen a huge increase in the number of tweets and posts I am privy to, yet most are directing me to read, view or comment on another tweet, post, blog, video or site.

On my blog, I was thrilled to see a post retweeted 10 times (yeah, that’s a big deal for me)  but it only had one comment. That’s like dropping by a friend’s house, taking a bite of cake, running out the door, but telling 10 other people to stop buy to see how great the cake was. If it’s so great, stay a while. [Of course, the flip side is no tweets, so let’s not talk about that anymore.]

All of this has made me wonder if it’s still social media or if it’s turned into spam media?

I asked around and here’s what I received as feedback to the question (note only two responses from over 1,000 followers):

  • Response 1: Actually, I think [the social aspect has] improved.  The tweets are much pithier, there’s less “I’m eating a ham sandwich” and more of putting that into context, i.e. “I’m eating a ham sandwich @ XYZ Restaurant.”
  • Response 2: I think it will continue to grow…more people brings more opportunities for companies [emphasis mine] to reach out. Social media will continue to change and evolve.
Interesting that the first person disagreed with me, but the increased socialization comes from geo-location, which I find so unsocial if you are on  receiving end of the updates. The second person did not agree with me either, but answered in a way that supports my fears: “more opportunities for companies to reach out.
To me, being social means more people, not more companies; more conversations, not more links.
What do you think? Are we having more conversations or have we just created a non-stop one-way-blab-feed? Or am I just being anti-social?

5 thoughts on “Is Social Media Getting Less Social?

  1. Prescient post, Jules. But, then, they each tend to have the Oracle aura about them. Incidentally I hope I’m not on your “this person in my social media group isn’t cool” list.

    I agree with your assessment. Spam is an issue in the blue rectangular can or in my social media meal. Both are bad for you, are poorly packaged and are a little too easy to find. I had a conversation with a LinkedIn friend about the high school cafeteria feel of a certain LinkedIn group. Ostensibly designed to aid and abet the improvement of a bunch of like-minded people, it’s taken on the veneer of an especially snippy social set, complete with ridiculous and arbitrary rules and exclusionary policies. Where’s the social in that?

    People are scorekeeping, tracking Twitter and Facebook followings, looking for sheer scale rather than organically growing a group for social and practical purposes. I use Twitter for fun, sure, but also as a prong in a larger strategy to increase my client base, ensure my portfolio gets a look and surround myself with folks from whom I can learn or with whom I can exchange valuable information. What’s needed, I suppose, is a nose (or software) for sorting.

    As for pithy tweets, is that the standard by which we want to judge something with the reach and scope of Twitter? That’s a really low bar and I admit to a bit of snobbery when it comes to communication. I want to deal with exceptional folks in as many realms as I can fit, social media and all, and it’s difficult to raise the bar when the standard derives from a desire to get in front of as many eyes as possible rather than to foster meaningful interaction.

    1. I love reading your responses, Benjamin. Thanks for your ongoing support. And no, you’re on the good social list.

      I like social media for business use, I just keep seeing more one-way or hit-and-run tweets. Look at this; read this; look at me, look at me, look at me. Sure, I do that too, but I genuinely try to balance it with responses to others, retweets with comments and sharing of information that isn’t about me (news articles, events, etc.). Lots of others do that, but some don’t. Is that the new way to use social media? The company that I blocked had 50k followers, so although they lost me by tweeting the same thing 20 times in a row, they must be doing something right, right? Or, they purchased followers.

      I have tweeted some really low-conversation inspiring tweets, I just hope that others to find that those are the rare exception.

      Thanks for being here.
      ~ Jules

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