I recently read with interest an article on Medium called A Teenager’s View on Social Media, written by 19-year-old American student Andrew Watts, where he describes Facebook as being “dead ” to him and his peers:
Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.
His entire round-up is pretty accurate, tbh, and sums up many of my own current feelings towards social media, even though as I’m a 34-year-old British female (SHUT UP), we’re poles apart.
Having been active on social networking sites for well over a decade now (shout out to MSN and MySpace, espesh my mate Tom), naturally my feelings towards certain social channels have evolved since my first fresh-faced foray.
Not only that, but let’s not forget I’ve also made my career from social media – quite literally – sending @Ilana a tweet back in 2008 when she was building the self-hosted community for ASOS.com (anyone remember ASOS Life?) and offering my services. Now every retailer and their (Instagram-worthy) dog have a carefully engineered presence on social media, but back then, ASOS.com was one of the pioneers. Instagram didn’t exist, nor did brand pages on Facebook and Twitter was a LOT quieter with a real community feel.
To be a blogger for a brand was still a novelty back then, and it wasn’t until 2010 that social media REALLY hit the mainstream. In April that year, I was featured in Company magazine’s (RIP) first ever blogger issue (hello @The_Style_PA on the page with me!):
They were exciting times, when social media was shiny and new, and we were the equivalent of the bloggin’ Brat Pack. Following a stint as Digital Fashion Editor for Cosmopolitan.co.uk and being welcomed to the world of ‘list-icles’ and click bait (UGH), I now find myself back in the commercial social media arena, building the brand presence for Etsy UK.
Lately I’ve wondered if my feelings for social media would be different if it didn’t form the basis of my job. Essentially, I’m paid to give a shit about social, a flying fuck about Facebook and a toss about Twitter, which sort of means I have to have a presence online. Although last year I made the decision to turn off all notifications on my iPhone as I was sick of my device constantly sounding like R2-D2 having an epileptic fit, and needed to be able to switch-off outside of work. I’m stuck in a sort of limbo with needing to be online and engaged for my job, contrasted with the desperate need to be offline outside of work, for my own sanity.
With that in mind, I thought I’d take stock with where I’m PERSONALLY at with social media. So here’s my rundown of the most popular platforms and how I currently utilise them…
OK, I’ll admit it: I’ve fallen out of love with Facebook. While it’s pretty much mandatory to have a Facebook profile, and there was certainly a phase a few years back where you’d encourage new acquaintances to “add you up” these days I’m. SO. Over it.
Nothing in the news feed interests me anymore; I find it full o’ the same ol’shite, despite repeatedly hitting the ‘I don’t want to see this’ button: Buzzfeed, Heat magazine and people over-sharing baby pictures, this means you btw. Of course, I work in the industry, so I know how the Facebook algorithm works but it still baffles me as to how a networking site with access to sooo much of your personal data still fails to provide a fully personalised experience.
I only accept friend requests from people I know IRL, so my network on there tends to be old school friends who I haven’t seen since we signed each other’s school shirts on the last day of term, old work colleagues from jobs I hated and family members. I might have the occasional browse *cough* stalk *cough* if I’m super bored, and the group message functionality is sometimes useful for arranging nights out, but that’s about it.
I went through a phase a few years back of being TERRIFIED of being tagged in an unflattering photo, but that hardly ever happens now. I know not if that has anything to do with a) people not posting as many pics to FB b) the new era of image editing apps on smartphones or c) me giving less of a shit about what I look like.
From a brand perspective, it’s getting harder and harder to push your marketing messaging, and rightly so; in all honestly, brands have crashed the social media party big style, and it has started to reach saturation point. Besides, Facey B wants brands to pay to be seen.
If I was in a relationship with Facebook, I’d update my status to: IT’S COMPLICATED.
I still enjoy Twitter and will always have a soft spot for it as I’ve had some great opportunities off the back of it – my job at ASOS being one example.
To me, Twitter offers more mature content (and by that, I don’t mean Ian Botham’s dick pic [NSFW!] and the like), but it seems to have largely remained an adults-only party. Twitter ticks a lot of boxes for my demographic, particularly my industry and location and most of my peers tweet regularly.
Strangely, for someone whose life IS social media, I keep my real actual life quite private – and only recently have I started to open up a little more; sharing my blog posts on my personal account and showing a slightly less ‘edited’ version of me.
I still consume the majority of my news content via Twitter – particularly breaking stories – however only recently have I started to use the list functionality as an aid. Following 1.3k people means it’s hard to see the wood for the trees (twees?), so I’ve started to make categorised lists – blogs I like, mindfulness, fashion and tech, etc. I then like to tweet a mix of updates, comprising of my own, EXTREMELY hilarious and witty world observations (like moaning about the Met Line and what I had for lunch), as well as RT-ing content that people expect from me when they subscribe e.g. fashion, social media, wellbeing, Stevie Nicks and dogs on trains, heh. I’m conversing more with people recently too, trying to nurture the community-esque vibes of yore.
Right now, Instagram is my favourite social media platform. This is for several reasons.
Firstly, I’m an inherently visual person, and I love how Instagram has empowered us all to be professional(ish) photographers armed only with our iPhones. I think it’s made people more creative, and maybe more appreciative of the beauty around them – it certainly has for me, anyway.
Unlike Facebook, where there is a tendency to post 493759754957 photos of holidays and drunken nights out, Instagram forces you to be a bit more selective about the images you upload. Probably because you’re followed by relative strangers on IG where as on Facebook you can keep it a bit more ‘real’.
I also like the fact there are no ads on Insta. Well, until recently there wasn’t, anyway, and they’re rolling them out s-l-o-w-l-y, so this may start to piss me off more (but would be easily pacified if this brought with it a dual sign-in functionality).
I started off REALLY well on Pinterest, when it launched in the UK back in 2013. In fact, I had an account waaay before that and was even asked to be a featured account for the UK launch. However, it’s a bit too time-consuming for me. Both in th sense that you need the luxury of time to be able to stumble across Pinterest-worthy pics, but also in that it can be one of those lethal time-drainers, and before you know it, you’ve created a whole board dedicated to kittens in clown costumes, but haven’t done the hoovering/important work project/showered etc. I’m currently trying to spend less time online outside of work, so Pinterest doesn’t seem to be condusive to that.
Mind you, all of my now-married friends used Pinterest to help plan their weddings, or those who’ve bought houses have created interior inspiration boards, so there’s that AND I did quite fancy doing a 2015 travel inspiration board using their map functionality, so all is not lost yet…
Ugh. I have, like, 3084539759847 unread messages on LinkedIn. Whenever I dare to log in and look through some of them they’re always from a recruitment consultant or a student wanting help with their dissertation. I have never once read a message in my LinkedIn inbox and gone: ‘Holy shit, what an AMAZING opportunity!’ and as such tend to avoid LinkedIn until I’m ‘tween jobs. I think it’s handy to have somewhere to house your CV, but I don’t actively use LinkedIn, and I certainly do not consume any content on there. I honestly think Twitter is better for networking, although my LinkedIn profile usually ranks first in Google searches for me, so I try and keep my profile up-to-date.
I use Whatsapp more than Facebook Messenger, and it’s always the turn-to if you want someone to quickly share a photo with you.
The stalker in me appreciates the blue ticks to see if someone’s read my message, as well as being able to see when they were last online (and worry about why they haven’t replied yet). However, as most of my friends have iPhones, it’s just as easy/beneficial (FREE) to send an iMessage. So.
When Snapchat was launched I immediately downloaded it, used it for a bit with a very select few friends and, er, that’s it. The show-off in me likes to invest time in more public-facing things. What? I think I might be too old for it, although I know some of my pals like to send awful pictures of themselves the-morning-after-the-night-before, or when they accidentally take a picture and giving themselves 900 chins and a piggy nose using the front-facing camera.
So, that’s it. They’re the main ones I use, but am well aware I’ve left out platforms like YouTube, Google+, Tinder, Quora and Vine etc because I PERSONALLY don’t use them (because I’m old). What’s YOUR relationship like with social media these days – is it ‘complicated’? Have your say in the comments below or tweet me @NatWallers.