Social meeja blues

Image: OLPC

Time was when I was a guru of social meeja for lawyers. I was an early adopter with a keen eye for the potential of blogs, feeds and all that followed – and I sang its praises. I had a vibrant blawg with a large(ish) (in the scheme of things) band of followers and a small coterie of keen fellow blawgers. I quickly figured out the joys of Twitter and encouraged others to tweet. I had set up a profile on LinkedIn, made connections there and begun following a few emergent groups. I had also set up on Facebook – not sure why, but all those kids couldn’t be wrong, could they? And then the bell curve went mental!

Now everyone’s into social media. Every Joe Blawgs, every Sue Grabbit and Run and every legal service company has a “Twitter feed” and a “Facebook page”; there are hundreds more “blawgs” (I use those quote marks deliberately and forcefully); and on all platforms there are people desperate to make as many friends/followers/connections as possible. It’s all got out of hand, hasn’t it? Turned into some sort of spamfest. Couldn’t we go back to 2005 please?

Am I just being a Grumpy Old Man? Let’s look at what really sucks with some of the social meeja (and some of the good points too).

The good thing about Twitter is you don’t have to follow anyone if you don’t want to. That’s cool! In fact you don’t have to use Twitter at all; it’s not obligatory. On the other hand it is kinda neat to exchange banter with your contacts, show off what you know, learn something from them, make some new contacts. That’s all good if you have the time to follow the fast-flowing river. Thumbs up. What gets me is the dumb people who use Twitter. There’s way too may “marketing” peeps and egotists who broadcast low value pulp and pump up their follower numbers by mentioning and following everyone in sight. I couldn’t give a FF how many followers you have. That’s no measure of your worth to me or anyone else. In fact if it’s too big a number I’ll likely steer clear of you. (And yes, Stephen Fry, that’s you too!)

What about Facebook? Well, forgive me, but though 600 million plus people (and counting) use Facebook I’ve yet to find one who extols its virtues as a professional networking tool. You have to be there just because 600 million others are there (and, let’s not kid ourselves, most of them are way younger than you). But things could change; it could get better. Anything’s possible, but somehow (don’t quote me on this) I think Facebook’s pudding is over-egged. Sooner or later users will wise up to the fact that they’re just advertising fodder.

And LinkedIn? It’s a must-have, at least for now: a bit boring perhaps, but adding functions here and there and growing nicely as a serious business networking tool. What gets me again (and this is no fault of LinkedIn but the dumb people who use it) is the complete strangers who profess to know me and want to connect. Well sorry mate but unless you can establish at least a tenuous connection to me you go in the trash can. A tenuous connection will leave you to suffer in my Inbox for a while. Real connections are welcome. Believe me, working up 500+ connections (and thence, let’s say 50K+ second degree connections) is not the way to play this game.

Blawgs? I still love ’em. Most of the early wave of blawgers are gamely still at it, though Twitter in particular has taken a lot of the the wind out of our sails. We’ve been joined by plenty more: some great new sources of analysis and comment, many boring law firm news/update blawgs and many misguided marketing initiatives.

And then there are all these new “businesses” set up by/for lawyers on a blog and a prayer. Those college kids in pyjamas and flip flops surely have made it easy for us all to become squillionaires!

Stop by later for another instalment.

4 thoughts on “Social meeja blues

  1. All sounds very familiar – people I have never heard of claiming to be my “friend” on LinkedIn are a particular annoyance… although I understand that if a few invitees click the “I don’t know this person” button they are then barred from new invitations unless they have the email address of the person they are looking to connect with?

    My list of Twitter profile terms which trigger an automatic “don’t follow” response is also growing by the day:-

    1) “Award winning” (unless you are a cheese maker or a brewery)

    2) Social media Guru / ninja / rockstar

    3) Entrepreneur (let other people decide that, not you!)

    4) Law firm (not really interested in any more legal updates – any why are you just following loads of lawyers anyway?)

    Anyway – I am starting to sound a bit grumpy so that will do for now. Look forward to the next installment!

  2. We are relatively new on scene in the grand scheme of things and this is all a new phenomenon to us.

    I am certainly in agreement with a lot of what you say. It does just feel a bit like we are ‘social networking’ for the sake of it! Especially since we have set up our Facebook page – the only people that actually “like” us are one or two friends…who I think just feel sorry for us! :| And then all the others, who just seem to be spammers, who send you links to look at some dodgy photos on their Facebook pages, which you promptly “ignore”.

    I have found that Twitter is very informative, particularly in the way that you can search for a certain legal term or in fact anything and then all the tweets on that subject will appear. You can then pick and choose who are the most interesting ones to follow. A great one I found recently was RollOnFriday. Funny and topical most of the time.

    But as you say, there does seem to be an obsession with getting the biggest following possible no matter what tool you are using and no matter who it is following you. It can then just become obsolete and boring.

    Having said that, I totally agree that blogging is a great tool and I have discovered this more recently and something that I intend to use on a regular basis. It provides people with information and is highly engaging. It also takes the blogger time to write a blog which must means that they actually have some interest in what they are talking about.

    Everything is moderation (except possibly “blawging”)…

    Looking forward to the next one.

  3. Nick, there are times when I certainly feel the same way. SM has scaled, which is what we were predicting 3-4 years ago. Like it or not, we got what we asked for. kinda. :)

    Is it less appealing than when it was just early adopters? I waver on this. Bigger means more personalities and more opinions, which I’m ok with; but the volume of noise has caused a lot of online aggression. People are fighting to have their opinions heard, and the lack of respect has risen steadily. Frankly, I find that troublesome.

    The trick, I suspect, will be to find that next frontier (not FB, Tw or LI); to keep our eyes & minds open for the next wave. Good chance all those early adopters will meet again.

  4. As Marshall McLuhan said; “the content is the audience” and if social media’s audience is a rabble of narcissists, what value does the content have? Not a lot. It’ll be interesting to see where things go… whether the social media ‘fad’ implodes in on itself, and what the next big thing will be….

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