Lots of people I talk to seem to spend a LOT of time worrying about ‘the next big thing/development/product/platform/way of working/etc’. Indeed there seem to be people who spend all their time thinking about what will happen in a year’s time rather than dealing with the way that things are at the moment. Of course this, in some cases, is to be expected – someone needs to absorb themselves in considering what is next going to impact our lives but you also need to understand the situation as it currently exists so you can actually get on with things on a day-to-day basis.
The problem is that as far as developments online go, things move pretty quickly. Often people are only just coming to terms with the last ‘big thing’ before 15 other products have popped up, all of which are being touted as the next important development which causes everyone to go into meltdown in trying to figure out how the hell they’re supposed to use whatever it is that is being proffered as the latest miracle solution.
I’m as guilty of getting excited about ‘new stuff’ as the next person. By their very nature people who work with ‘digital stuff’ tend to like progress, development and new ways of working. However too often this can spill over into taking your eye off the ball and not getting to grips with the platforms/products/etc that everyone is using now, if people who you want to reach are using a platform then it is relevant to you and you need to understand how to use it. In this I am talking about people who have a Twitter id but never use it, or have obviously never taken the time to work out how to use it effectively, the organisations who are on Facebook but engage with it in the strange, disconnected, 3rd person-7-times-removed-from-reality of a marketing team adopting the persona of a brand and then still trying to talk to people in something approaching a normal way, or companies who have a blog but have never posted anything worth reading, people who promote a Flickr account for no discernible reason, Youtube channels devoid of content etc etc etc, you get the idea.
What is strange is that these very same people will then doubt the ‘point’ of these platforms, they will claim that they ‘don’t work’ and are perhaps searching for the next big thing because of this perceived lack of effectiveness. However surely it is obvious that if you fail to engage with people/products/platforms then noone is going to want to engage with you. If you never say anything, or anything worth reading/responding to then don’t get frustrated at the channel – it’s not Twitter’s fault that noone is talking to you.
In my opinion it is an almost undeniable truth that with social platforms (and in that I am grouping everything from networks such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook to content-sharing such as Flickr, Youtube, blogs etc) that you get out what you put in AND these platforms will only work for you if you recognise that they are populated by people and that you have to behave like an actual, real person in order for other actual, real people to respond to you. Of course I’m not suggesting that you should use your personal and organisation’s Twitter IDs in exactly the same tone of language but the tone should be degrees of difference on the same scale rather than coming across as though they are being run by people talking two entirely different languages.
So, what am I saying, in my typically rambling manner?
- Social platforms are social
- They’re also populated almost entirely by people (and some spambots)
- You have to actually use them for people to notice you
- You also have to use them in a way that is recognisable to other users, how do you use that platform/service/website when you aren’t at work? you should probably use it in a similar way when you are at work too (unless you spend all of your spare time posting naughty photos/videos of yourself or other questionable activities, if you do that then I wouldn’t recommend doing that when you’re at work too, you’ll probably get fired)
- Stop worrying about whether or not this platform/service will exist next year – if your audience/customers/friends are using it now then, for now, it is relevant.