Future of personal social media
Is personal (or perhaps personable) social media on the way out?
I’ve been on… in… using… making… I’m not even sure which verb to use but that’s by the by… let me start again.
I’ve been ‘involved’ with social media for a long time now, certainly longer than the term itself existed (round ’ere, t’were all fields.. etc) and recently, with yet another option starting to make some noise in my own circles I’ve been wondering about where my future with social media lies.
What value social media?
I am not a follower whore, but then my livelihood doesn’t depend on my internet presence, so as a hobbyist internet user I have a different view of the value I get from social media. For those who worry about stats, how to improve their coverage and saturation is important, but as I use social media on a personal level my value judgements are very different.
For me it boils down to a simple equation, what is my return for the energy I spend on social media?
Recently I closed down my Google+ profile because I wasn’t expending any energy or time using it so, obviously, it wasn’t giving me anything back. My lack of desire to invest made it an easy decision to close that account down. Zero investment. Zero loss.
But could I do that with Facebook? Possibly, although it has some uses for keeping up to date with friends and family (as opposed to, you know, phoning or visiting them). I don’t use it all that often, and it’s definitely not where I focus my energy. Equally I rarely get ‘news’ via Facebook. Low investment. Medium loss.
Could I close my Twitter account? Again possibly, but of them all it’s the most ‘fun’. It’s also the easiest way for me to get a view of the world that is different from mine and due to the nature of the medium I’m much more relaxed about ‘missing’ any updates. But the world of Twitter is changing, adverts are becoming more and more prominent, and some people are starting to look elsewhere. That said, Twitter is where I’m most active and where I find out what’s going on in the lives of my ‘internet friends’. High investment. High loss.
It’s not the first time this has happened – anyone remember App.net? – and the current noisy startup is Ello which is promising to be ‘ad-free’. And yet, after only a few days of noise, there has been a tempering of enthusiasm. This cycle has happened before but it seems to have quickened around the launch of Ello. The realisation that there is a business, money and investment behind something being offered to us for free is an obvious one that many still don’t always consider, and why should they when places like Facebook offer no ‘harm’ (on the surface at least, which is where most people focus).
And there is the key. The many millions of people who use these free services, monetising them, who don’t mind how Facebook makes money, just that they can use it for free. It’s a simple enough equation.
My social media
What of my usage? There is no doubt it’s changing. I find myself looking for where the value lies and where I want to ‘exist’. Facebook, despite a recent slimming down of my friends list, remains a chore. It feels like I have to use it because so many of my friends and family do, whereas most of my internet friends are more active on Twitter.
Even then I find myself dipping in and out of Twitter much less often than I used to, perhaps my interesting is waning there too? It’s hard to tell.
I know the value I’ll get out of these things is largely a result of what I put in and, as I continue to streamline and minimising the things in my life that aren’t all that important (or don’t bring much value) then I’m not expecting any of the above to change.