‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’: Social Media – Part One

Dolphin Pod by Rhombus

The discussions about ‘social media’ ebb and flow much like the tides. Or, possibly more like a recycling project. One week the banter about it is non-stop. The next week, a new topic will be dissected into small pieces. But, talk about social media never fails to reappear when a new app shows up for this or someone’s found a new outlet for that. The discussion cycle starts all over again.

In that vein, I am curious how large a role social media plays in your assorted positions as travel bloggers, writers, authors and in your assorted work-related situations. What do you consider true social media? How do you use it? How often do you use it? Is it effective?

Gary Arndt

Everything-Everywhere

Early Social Media by Gretchen Wilson-Kalav

What do you consider true social media?
I don’t know and I don’t care. I’ll let the self proclaimed social media gurus worry about that. All that matters is that I can talk to people. To that extent, however I can do is social media to me. I can talk to them through my blog, through Twitter, email, Facebook, whatever.

How do you use it?
I use it to talk to people. To tell people what I’m doing, to answer questions, to ask questions and sometimes just to shoot the shit. Social media for me is nothing more than talking to people online.

How often do you use it?
Every day, usually many times a day.

Is it effective?
Absolutely. People like being able to talk in real time to people who are out traveling. What separates bloggers from big media is the ability to have a conversation.

Ant Stone

Trail of Ants

When I first began blogging — when typefaces were black and mice were wired — there wasn’t what you would call a ‘social media culture’. That was in 2006. This was also the year I joined Flickr. A year later, I dropped MySpace in the gutter with all the broken animated-gifs and Friends Reunited; and hit the spangly high-rises of Facebook.com.

Two years later, in 2009, I was hopelessly lost in a sea of forgotten passwords, and followed the square-eyed mobs to Twitter. It felt warm and fuzzy. My first tweet captured the momentous occasion: “Branching out, and checking out Twitter for the first time.” In other words; My name is Ant Stone, and I’m a social media junkie.

Round of applause. Pat on the back. Group hug.

Two years after that, a major travel company hired me as their Online Community Manager. In other words, they saw me shivering in a corner, squishing hashtags and @replies into the dark rings beneath my eyes; and through a series of jittery interviews, they realised I was still sane enough to hold their hand as we skipped into the #scary #woods.

Social media has been the proverbial bottle to my message. It’s carried my name to the far corners of the world…

Social media has been the proverbial bottle to my message. It’s carried my name to the far corners of the world; and put me in touch with people who I would rarely have encountered otherwise (for a start, I was travelling in rural China and India, so the chances of bumping into a paying client were rather slim!)

I use social media every single day; not only for my day job, but to fuel my passion for travel. If I’m researching my next trip, I turn to Flickr, Twitter and Facebook, to deepen my knowledge, highlight any potential flash points, and unearth hidden gems in the region.

True social media is a meadow of minds; a place where an organic community can mingle at the push of a key. Social media allows us to sprinkle our thoughts and ideas in front of complete strangers, and also provides a platform to confidently confide, observe or converse with anyone who desires the same thing.

It’s energized by personal equilibrium; and I value social media for continually growing my knowledge of the world around me, because at the very least, it enhances the journey of my core passion: travel.

Dave

The Longest Way Home

I think I may be one of the few people to only use social media as a social outlet. And at that, a minimum one.

My main output is Twitter (@TLWH). I use it primarily as my personal global rant as I travel. Many a time I am sitting by myself during a meal, and will tweet out my observations of anything and anything I find amusing, annoying, or interesting. Likewise when I wake up in the morning I might quickly scan through twitter to see what people are up to, say hello, and read a few posts while telling my followers what I thought was a good read. I usually sign off with a link to my latest post.

Breaking news and Twitter go hand in hand, but so does responsibility.

I find Twitter good as a surface call out. Some people sitting behind desks go head over heels for scheduled tweets, and sourcing the very best, hoping to up their KLOUT etc. I simply don’t have time, nor the interest. What you get, is what you see with me. That’s a pretty honest social trait :)

Facebook and I don’t get along. Period. My website has a page. And that’s it. I find it too restrictive to be beneficial. Again, I am not online 24/7 and I find my best content goes to my site, not a third party.

My YouTube account is active, and I do post videos there. But again, I simply don’t have time to be searching online for other videos, etc. So these videos end up on my site instead.

StumbleUpon had potential at the start, but since then has become a bit of a traffic only thing for people looking for high bursts and Alexa ranking between themselves. I’d much rather a stumble for original, good content than .0001 sec hits.

Again, I write for my myself, and for my readers who enjoy my original style of writing, photography, and my journey. I realize there are a another few worlds out there clambering to get attention. No problem, I throw my streams out there, and if someone wants to join along, I can be their best friend. But, not at the expensive of being online 24/7 updating, RTing, linking, and stumbling just for the sake of it.

A lot of people use social networking tools to solely promote their work, and others in the hope of returns. It does get a little tiring to see this. And I recon in about a year this will start to die out apart from quality content, and large multinational content. The rest will just go the way of email spam, and be ignored.

Better to be a person, than a tweet :)

Julie Falconer

A Lady In London

Social media plays a big role in my life as a travel blogger and writer. From Twitter to Facebook and beyond, social media has been a great way for me to engage with my readers, encourage visits to my blog and other articles I’ve written on the web, and connect with other bloggers and potential business partners.

True social media can be anything that allows a person or company to interact with an audience.

True social media can be anything that allows a person or company to interact with an audience. Whether it is a travel blogger sharing stories about a recent trip and getting tips for the next one, or a company telling consumers about a new product and running a competition for a free sample, social media can take many forms and can be done across a range of outlets. Obvious examples include Facebook and Twitter, but there are many other sites that fall under this category as well.

I use social media on a daily basis. Whether it is Tweeting about an event, a place I’m visiting, or a new post on my blog, Twitter is an integral part of my daily social media use. Facebook is also an important social media outlet for me. My blog has a Facebook page that I use to interact with my readers and post new media for them to see. On a less frequent basis, I use sites like Stumbleupon to discover new blogs and websites, and to share some of my favorite posts from around the web with others.

Social media has been a very effective tool for me. My goal in using it is twofold: to interact with my readers in a meaningful way, and to encourage both new and existing members of my audience to visit my blog. Social media has helped me do both of these things, and I have seen great results since I started using it.

Jasmine Stephenson

Jasmine Wanders

I think social media is a necessary evil these days… Sometimes it feels like a high school popularity contest, and it also takes up more of my time than I’d like it too. On the positive side, social media has connected me with interesting people. The prominence of social media will be increasing as time goes on, so my involvement is likely to grow correspondingly.

Nora Dunn

The Professional Hobo

As a travel blogger and writer, my work is my life is my travel is my work. So my use of social media as both a personal and professional tool is intertwined. I love Facebook; my personal page is a great way to both stay in touch with people from home and friends that I meet along the way, as well as to broadcast articles I’ve written that might be of interest. I also have a Facebook fan page that is a great forum for interacting with readers, asking and answering questions, and again broadcasting articles of interest.

I’ve been playing with Twitter for a couple of years, and as such I’ve met some interesting people, including other travelers and writers with whom I’ve stayed when I’ve been in their neck of the woods. I also have a LinkedIn profile, which I admittedly don’t spend a huge amount of time on, but I belong to a few groups that sometimes offer up some interesting ideas and connections.

The ever-present battle with social media in general (and one that I know I’m not alone with) is how much time to spend on it. You can fritter away days (and weeks, and months) with social media and have a lovely – but largely unproductive – time. Somewhere in there is a balance…

The ever-present battle with social media in general (and one that I know I’m not alone with) is how much time to spend on it. You can fritter away days (and weeks, and months) with social media and have a lovely – but largely unproductive – time. Somewhere in there is a balance; a point past which the time you spend on social media no longer reaps the same benefits (professionally speaking). The same can be said of dealing with emails, which, although necessary, can stretch to fill your allotted work time before you’ve gotten any “real” work done.

My trick is to write my articles first – offline – before connecting to social media. Once I’m online, I can’t help but to delve into social media etc. If I’ve gotten something tangible accomplished first though, then I can fill the rest of my allotted time with social media and explore the opportunities therein in a relatively guilt-free way.

Simon Cordall

Life II, The Sequel

Communication by Kris Kalav

There are an infinite different means of communication. The slightest change of inflection can speak a thousand words, yet a whole oration can say, literally, nothing. Social Media is simply one aspect of that and, as such, is subject to the same conventions of all human communication.

As bloggers/writers/whatever the value social media can bring to what we’re trying to achieve is best assessed before we even put finger to keyboard. What are we trying to do here? If it’s simply to inform, then beyond spreading the good word and raising awareness of what you’re doing, Social Media isn’t going to play too critical role in your output. Frankly, I’ve never been too concerned about interacting with my Atlas. However, if you choose to view what you’re doing as more conversation than polemic, social media is going to be critical.

Look, let me be honest, I can only speak with any authority on my own output. However, what I can say is that this output has been shaped and moulded by the conversations I’ve had, via Social Media, with those people around the world who’ve read and commented upon my work. That’s to say that, while still distinctly my own, the finished product is growing steadily more collaborative. Let me run with the honesty thing a bit more, because it’s this collaborative aspect that’s not just added to the enjoyment of writing , but has also shaped – massively – the experience of travelling. Because that’s what the best conversations are about; exchanging experiences, experiences that then go on to make our lives that little bit better.

Social Media has taken the possibilities of any one conversation and wrapped them around the globe. The value that’s ultimately going to bring is down to you.

What do you have to say?
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Editor’s comment: Stay tuned for Part Two as six more people have given their opinions on this subject. All are quite interesting…

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Discussion »

  • #1Brad

    Social media has brought lots of benefits by connecting the rest of the world together almost immediately with some very helpful and useful information. However there is also lot’s of wasted tweets and status updates. It’s hard sorting through them all. We are becoming a very connected world, sometimes I think almost to connected. I hope people can continue to publish quality content when updating information online as this site does and it’s bloggers.

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