The appearance of social media has brought a revolution both in business and our private lives. Each of us, whether we wanted to or not, has become a part of that machinery in some fashion. On one side, there are those who are complete opponents to the revolution and continue to refuse assimilation because they ‘do not have time’ or ‘do not want to share information and news with anyone’ or ‘do not want to be victims of the greatest conspiracy theory in history’ or ‘already have an established position in the market and their old fashioned methods are proven’.
Then, there are those who are just opening their first account on the most secure platform that they could find and contemplating each status / update / info before sharing. These rookies would rather communicate with their friends and acquaintances live, and clearly have no interest in what is being read or what meetings are being attended by people they don’t know. Even when they try to become more involved, these users hold a meeting with a handful of colleagues to even approve anything that should be posted…and to debate whether or not to add a disclaimer for each post.
And, of course, there is that third and final category of individuals that have already mastered (some have even doctored) a novel shorthand language for more effective communication with limited space. These power-users swear upon their ‘home page’ as a bona fide news source, and without thought share with the whole world each and every occurrence from their work and personal lives.
This entire revolution brings a mound of experts that devote themselves to researching the ‘to share or not to share’ phenomenon, as well as the eternal topic of privacy…in fact, what does privacy even mean today? Social media has redefined the meaning of privacy in a society that was built upon family as a pillar where that which happens within a family sphere stays in the family and where issues and problems were solved within the family…that used to be privacy. Now, that same family structure is no longer needed, as each individual has an opportunity to find someone ‘out there’ on some social media network that better understands them, approves of their actions, and / or gives better advice than a family member ever could. Social media is also redefining privacy in the business world. While a once distant corporate atmosphere used to look at business as simply doing business, strictly formal and defined without delving into emotions or topics not directly related to business, it is now beginning to show care and opening discussion forums for employees and other stakeholders through social media platforms. Wow! What a major shift, whether we accept it or not.
For me, over time, it has become quite interesting to follow the activities of those around me more and more as a social experiment. What is important enough for someone to ‘tweet’ about, or to publish as a ‘status’, or to announce in some other public way? Is that which is published done so without reason, is it simply straightforward information, or is it perhaps a means to transmit something between the lines? The trouble lies in finding the true meaning and decoding each ‘say it loud and say it proud’. Here are three examples of posts / status updates that I’ve had a difficult time decoding.
It’s a wonderful world
The most harmless post is one related to the weather; for example, “it’s a beautiful day”. When used for personal reasons, it is positive…a signal that someone is in a good mood and a “let’s get together” call for action. However, it also very frequently used in the business world, where it leads to confusion as most people wouldn’t understand the logic…why would anybody waste space and write about weather on business platforms? In my opinion, it is almost a human touch to doing business, showcasing a regular person who wants to go out for lunch in the park…and maybe talk business. More importantly, it is a simple reminder that you are in someone’s network, ensuring that your name pops up before others and perhaps encouraging them to show interest and begin clicking away…on your name, website, blog – the key destinations you wish to direct these ‘incidental visitors’.
Show me the money
“I love my work” although I always love to see that someone is satisfied with his or her work, I am often suspicious of statuses like this. Such comments could be interpreted in a number of ways…someone could like his or her job because he or she really enjoys the work, has the flexibility to leave work early, makes a lot of money, or because he or she has a hot boss…or secretary. Don’t you find yourself wanting to click and learn more about that person, where he or she works, his or her position, and job description? Of course! This leads us again to a ‘yes, please click on’ result because this post is only here to encourage this action. Rarely does your clicking lead you to truly understand why this person loves his or her work.
“We heart [love] our customers” is another frequent comment that I seem to run into more than I would like. It seems like the worst way to say to customers that they are loved and their loyalty appreciated. Aren’t there more sophisticated and more effective ways to communicate gratitude and sincerity to valuable customers in today’s world? Do you think that your customers would continue to click further after reading such a simple and meaningless post? Some customers might be even insulted and start thinking about what you have really done to thank them for their loyalty. Think twice before sharing, as different people could read differently between the lines of your post.
Me, me, me
Every now and then I see some self-proclaimed ultra-professional sharing posts like “your profile has been viewed by 187 people in the last day…yesterday, you appeared in search results 538 times” via a business platform. This ‘ode to self’ and self-praise could be a double-edged sword. Yes, such a post may help generate many clicks from curious users wanting to know who is the man or woman behind the update. At the same time, this kind of self-representation could indicate an insecure and amateur braggart attempting to market oneself and his or her business...”see how popular I am” or “everyone wants to be my friend” or “everyone views my profile”. Different users could read different meanings between the lines, a risk that everyone must consider.
These are just a few examples of how social media and networking via this channel are still young and contain rules / guidelines that are open to interpretation and not well defined. The early adopters are the ones who are paying the price of following this trend, so be careful not to overpay. Ok. Think again. Yes, now you can ‘share’!
P.S. What are some of your ‘favorite’ statuses / posts where you’ve read something between the lines?