Be purposeful about social media

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I always tell people I’m not cool.

It’s not meant to be a joke – it’s a mantra. I’m here to have fun and experience what I want, not follow what seems to be trendy.

I try to be judicious with my time, and social media falls into that realm – I am only on Facebook and Twitter.

And even then I struggle with it. At any given time, I have maybe 50+ unread messages on Facebook, and it routinely veers into the hundreds.

As a proud luddite (ironic as my degree is in Computer Engineering), and with a commitment to keeping my personal and professional lives separate, I also refuse to install social media on my phone.

The only apps I have installed all serve very specific purposes:

  • SkyMotion
  • Evernote
  • Uber (I prefer the Lyft experience, but not available in Canadia)
  • Yelp (when traveling)
  • Whatsapp (90% of the time I use it on my desktop)
  • Google Maps
  • Google Authenticator

Hell, I only have one email synced on my phone, and only so I can easily access tickets and what not.

Have purpose behind what is on your phone (and thus in your life).

The Big 4 all have a specific purpose

People often see all social media the same, but it’s not.

Here’s how I break down the big four:

  1. Facebook – a place to get personal and a bit more intimate (as access is granted, not freely given). You can be as brief or as long-winded as you want.
  2. Twitter – surgical verbal vomit and streams of consciousness. A fantastic way to reach out to anyone.
  3. Instagram – expose snippets of your personal life in a visual manner. I’d be remiss to not mention the ever-hilarious “oops didn’t mean to” opportunities.
  4. Snapchat – the transient version of stream of consciousness (a la Twitter), combined with exposing snippets of your life (a la Instagram).

Each one is a different take on being “social,” and each one is to be used in different ways.

The Big 4 social media platforms have specific strengths and focuses.

Why are you on social media?

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll usually see me just tweet out links to articles I found fascinating.

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll often see me posting my opinion on things.

These opinions run the entire gamut of thoughts; from the inane and irreverent to the thoughtful and poignant (or so I’d like to believe).

People often conflate my being candid with my opinions and thoughts with me being public…

Incorrectly so.

The truth is that I am a very private person.

I used hashtags like #sollife in a sarcastic manner and other ones such as #cookielife and #fulldisclosurefriday as cheeky more than anything else.

I rarely post any pictures of myself. I have posted a picture of my woman only once, and I have never posted a picture of my dog.

(And I quite love both of them).

I’m also incredibly liberal in my usage of blocking people. Sitting at 250+ people now, my logic is simple: if I wouldn’t want to hang out with you in the real world, why should I listen to you online?

I’m on social media for a simple goal: to expose people to ideas and thoughts they may not have considered before, and via interaction, have the same happen to me.

And there is a multitude of reasons why I can expose them to ideas not previously accessible to them – be it my background in multiple industries, my tastes in literature, my actual ethnic background, my travel history, and a myriad of other reasons.

Social media to me is not about being social about me or my life.

And so, Facebook and Twitter let me work towards my stated goal. It’s about the message, not the messenger (okay, occasionally it is also about the messenger)

It’s kind of funny – people think I am far more active on Facebook than I really am. I post 3-5 times a week, on weekdays, and I have FB logged into only one browser (I actively use three). So when I want to get work done, I just close that browser, and voila – FB no longer exists. Say goodbye to distraction.

A simple example is my latest post – What are your favorite rewatchable movies? – was a way for me to learn about movies I may not have considered watching before.

And confirming the different utility of each social network: Facebook, where I have an audience of 7500 people, yielded 220+ responses. Twitter, where I have an audience of 3500, yielded five.

I’d posit that most people use social media haphazardly, posting the same thing on all the different channels. This effectively dilutes the “specialness” that each platform can convey. If you look at people who are doing well with social media, each one is being used in a different way.

One should use social media… IF they have a reason for doing so.

Are you true to yourself?

Instagram is very personal – snapshots into your life, both via imagery or video. To do it right, you have to expose your day-to-day – from what you’re doing to where you are to what you’re eating.

Just posting motivational quotes is not doing Instagram right.

And Snapchat is akin to Instagram, just more ephemeral.

I’ve always made it a point to make the brand separate from me (e.g., Examine.com, SJO.com, and next up: PET.ORG). Look at the Examine.com About page – I’m listed way down below.

That’s just my modus operandi. And as such, Instagram does not align with who I am.

On the other hand, if I wanted to build MYSELF as a brand (as an eCeleb), then yeah – Instagram and Snapchat are great.

So the real thing to mull over here is – why are you on social? What will it give you?

Make sure whatever it is you decide lines up with your goals.

If you’re spending time on social media, make sure you’re doing it with purpose.

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