SOCIAL MEDIA: What Do I Use, When and Why?

Over the summer, I had a lot of free time. One of my big projects this summer was trying to get into, and find a use for, social media in my day-to-day life. And I think I was largely successful. Following is a breakdown of what social media paltforms I’m using, how often, and why…

How do I define a social media platform? I consider it any internet network by which I create or share content with friends and strangers for a purpose. This runs the gamut from purely social networks like Facebook, to professional networks like LinkedIn, to ‘what am I consuming?’ services like LastFM, and even blogging platforms like WordPress.

Facebook [link]
What?: A social network used to share personal updates with a network of friends.
How?: Browser and iPod app.
How Often?: Check near-constantly; use multiple times daily to post, either personal status updates, messages to others, or to pages I control.
Why?: Facebook is useful for a handful of reasons: it allows me to remain connected and cognizant of a wide network of friends who I do not regularly see or interact with; it allows me to keep track of social events and birthdays; it allows me to create smaller networks of people who share an interest; and it allows me to promote projects of mine, either through said groups, or through the creation and curation of Pages. It also offers diversion when I just want to sit and have an easy, friendly read of how things are going for friends. Recently, I’ve used Facebook as the launching pad for a scriptwriters group at Ryerson University, to reconnect with a highschool friend over coffee, and to promote The Signal.

Twitter [link]
What?: A microblogging platform that lets you post 140 character messages that will appear in the feeds of your followers.
How?: Browser, iPod app and TweetDeck desktop app. Three accounts.
How Often?: @rjlackie: Use as an avid follower to keep abreast of news and content from a variety of sources; use multiple times daily to post personal content, converse with others, updates about my writing, or to share television or other news. @AldenPilots: To discuss my specific writing projects in greater detail and to share links to it with interested followers. @signal_tv: To keep follower of the blog updated on any news and new posts at the blog.
Why?: From my personal account (@rjlackie), I consider Twitter a meld of professional and personal social media. On one hand, I take care to curate content I think is interesting that I think will be of interest to my followers, and I try to offer as much wisdom about my topic of study (television writing) that I can. On the other, I have a number of personal friendships with others that I explore on Twitter through conversation, both from ‘IRL’ and from internet communities. I am both content creator and follower, with a stream of 421 feeds that I follow. The content I push through this account ranges from opinions on writing and television, to updates from various other networks (like GetGlue and goodReads), to retweets from others that are newsworthy, insightful or amusing. From @AldenPilots and @signal_tv, I pursue them purely as professional feeds designed to update those interested on specific projects (my scriptwriting projects and TV blog, respectively), and follow few feeds at each.

WordPress [link]
What?: One of the net’s most popular blogging platforms. 
How?: Browser, occasionally iPod app.
How Often?: I check the stats for The Signal and The Diversionist each typically once a day. In a good month for The Signal, I’ll either be writing or editing a post every 1-2 days for posting; in a bad month, weeks can go by with no content going up. The Diversionist tends to be updated only when I feel like I have something interesting to talk about and the time to do so, which means I don’t post very often at all.
Why?: I’m at heart a longform writer, which means that through micoblogging social networks like Facebook and Twitter are good for launching off a quick thought, my first love is longer pieces of writing. Though I’m more likely to work on a scripted pilot than an analytical paper, I do love the process of thinking about a subject critically, putting my thoughts down, and starting a conversation with others. That’s the thrust behind The Diversionist, which I use to blog about writing, but also about being a writer, as well as any subject that I think I have enough grounding to at least start a discussion on. Meanwhile, The Signal comes from my love of discussion television episodes. I love the idea of the watercooler, even though televisions division into niche audiences has mostly killed that idea. The Signal is a mesh of my wanting to chat about the episodes, and wanting to force myself to look at episodes beyond the very superficial. In the end, though, I consider both professional-style training grounds for my writing and my voice,a nd I try not to say anything on either I wouldn’t to a prospective employer.

LastFM [link]
What?: A social media platform for recording and sharing your musical taste with others, by keeping track of what you listen to and representing it in various numbers.
How?: I scrobble tracks through iPod app iScrob, and view LastFM through the web browser.
How Often?: I check the profile once every couple of weeks; I scrobble whenever I have WiFi and am listening to music, if I remember to.
Why?: When I was in highschool, I was a music blogger, Using my time and personal musical tastes to offer recommendations on music. Though I left that behind a long time ago, I’ve always loved being able to organise my tastes and look at them quickly. LastFM lets me do that pretty easily. It also gives friends a quick way to compare our musical tastes, either by looking through my stats, or by letting LastFM compare them by viewing my profile while logged in.

LinkedIn [link]
What?: A social media network used to create and organise one’s professional connections.
How?: Primarily via web browser, though I do have the iPod app.
How Often?: Rarely. Once a month, maybe.
Why?: I feel as though LinkedIn is a great thing to have active, as a way to connect me to the industry people who are also on the network, but at this juncture it’s almost exclusively a passive network for me. I keep my profile up to date, and occasionally participate in discussions within various groups, but I really just have a LinkedIn profile to have one; when I finally enter the industry, as opposed to being a student, I assume I’ll find more use for it.

Google+ [link]
What?: A social media network created by Google.
How?: Via browser, though I have the iPod app.
How Often?: Practically never.
Why?: I’m going to be up front about this: I don’t ‘get’ Google+. I’m not quite sure what hole in my life it’s supposed to fill, and I haven’t really gotten any simple, easy-to-understand answers on that front. Google+ makes me feel how I suspect non-digital natives feel when trying out social networks. I don’t get it on a visceral level. That said, I know Google are betting big on it, and that it’s nothing compared to what it will be down the line, so I’m keeping my account open… even if I never use it.

Stage 32 [link]
What?: Essentially, LinkedIn for folks in television, film and theatre specifically.
How?: Web browser.
How Often?: Rarely.
Why?: Unlike LinkedIn, this network has one thing I will definitely be sending people to, at least until I procure my own website: sections on my profile for embedded portfolio pieces, like scripts and reel videos.  The network is pretty new so far, so the actual ways to engage with it are few, and networking using it at this point is pretty useless, but that little portfolio feature means I’m more apt to link to my S32 profile than my LinkedIn one. So I use this less as a networking opportunity than a landing pad for my portfolio.

LiveJournal [link]
What?: An older blogging platform, branded more literary and less professional than WordPress.
How?: Web browser.
How Often?: Rarely posting, but often engage with communities.
Why?: I’ve had a livejournal for many years under a pseudonym. When I was a teenager, it was what I mainly used to share my fanfiction writing (which I am not ashamed of) and write about my writing under my pseudonym. Now, I never post at that journal, but I still engage with the site at communities, and I occasionally read various LiveJournals. What I’ve noticed is that LiveJournal is geared more towards fandom and fan communities, which is one reason why I think it’s still doing very well in the face of competition from Blogger and WordPress.

Klout [link]
What?: A service that measures social media influence via social media platforms.
How?: Via web browser.
How Often?: I check practically every day, and have received ‘perks’ (free stuff for influencers) via the service.
Why?: I find the measurement of social media influence really interesting, especially as my work on Twitter and WordPress has been partly about learning how to influence via social media. While I don’t think Klout is particularly effective (they aren’t even out of beta!), it’s interesting to watch, even if I’m convinced their latest update has created an endless feedback loop of losing influence thanks to their measurement of ‘Network Impact’. (If everyone loses influence, and influence is partially calculated by how influential your followers are, then the act of losing influence will in turn make everyone lose more influence… forever.) That said, useless or not, at the very least they offer ‘perks’ that are pretty worth the effort.

Chewsy [link]
What?: A social network based on rating restaurants.
How?: iPod app.
How Often?: Once in a while.
Why?: I love the idea of Chewsy, but it needs to grow its influence in Toronto for it to be something I use, rather than just occasionally submitting reviews to. I mostly use it to grow the number of reviews available to Torontonians who want to try the app.

Formspring [link]
What?: A social network based on answering questions.
How?: Browser and iPod app.
How Often?: Rarely
Why?: I love the idea, and I enjoy answering questions. I think for this to become useful or a regular thing for me, I either need to get much better known or raise awareness of my account. By the way, I’m R Lackie on there, if you have any big questions for me.

GoodReads [link]
What?: A social network based on reading and rating books.
How?: iPod app and web browser.
How Often?: Pretty regularly (1-4 times per week)
Why?: Few social networks can change your behaviour beyond eating up your time, but GoodReads actually has changed mine. When I get busy, I start valuing my activities in terms of how much benefit or how much progress I can make, even if its just something I do for pleasure. Reading, for example, would fall by the wayside because finishing a book would seem like an impossible task. Being able to regularly track how much I was reading, however, meant that I could measure my progress, somehow making reading an option again. And since digging back in, I’ve made more reading progress since the summer than I think I had in years. It also updated my Twitter feed when I update my page counts, allowing me to quietly promote the books I’m reading.

GetGlue [link]
What?: A social network based on check-ins when you’re watching TV, listening to music, reading a book, watching movies, playing video games, thinking about topics, chatting about celebrities or drinking wine. And you get stickers!
How?: iPod app.
How Often?: Pretty regularly.
Why?: I like getting stuff for free, so the stickers were the first appeal when I signed on for GetGlue. Since then, though, I’ve also enjoyed the act of ‘checking in’ to a show when I watch it and sharing that info with folks, primarily my Twitter feed.

CommonRed [link]
What?: A professional networking platform based on matching your interests to those of others.
How?:Web browser.
How Often?: Rarely.
Why?: I like the idea, but I sign on mostly to support the idea. The site is still growing, and they are mostly targeting tech professionals in Silicon Valley, so I have no real use for the website at the moment. If they can grow to include more professionals in other industriues, including the Canadian television industry, I could be persuaded to participating more.

So. Am I crazy for engaging with all of these? Which of these do you think are helpful, and which are pointless? Which ones do you use? What ones don’t I know about?

In general… thoughts?

4 responses to “SOCIAL MEDIA: What Do I Use, When and Why?

  1. Derek Andersen November 20, 2011 at 1:36 am

    We appreciate the support. Some big things coming soon. Don’t give up on us.

    • R. Lackie November 20, 2011 at 3:57 am

      Hi Derek!

      You definitely won’t lose me. I think the site has a great core concept and has gone about seeking growth in an intelligent way. I’m excited to see where you guys move forward and how things develop.

      Bob Lackie

  2. Pingback: DIVERSIONS IN BLOGGING: My Diversions Elsewhere Menu | The Diversionist

  3. Pingback: WRITING: Looking Back on 2011 | The Diversionist

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