January 7, 2009

Choosing Your Social Media Drug

Last week I noted that of all of the social media sites, I’m prob­a­bly most engaged with Face­book right now. Twit­ter tends to frag­ment my atten­tion too much, so I started restrict­ing my time on it to about an hour a day. The con­ver­sa­tion there is too dis­jointed for me, and it’s impos­si­ble to find and refer back to all the pieces of a con­ver­sa­tion even just a few days later. The best I’ve been able to man­age is to use Tweet­Deck to cre­ate groups to check in on peri­od­i­cally, as opposed to try­ing to keep up with every­one all the time. I still don’t let myself sit on Twit­ter for too long because as Ed Viel­metti says, “If you keep refresh­ing it will never, ever stop..” In fact, my rule of thumb on any social site is that I never hit the “older” button.

Then Friend­Feed came along, which helped unify con­ver­sa­tions and brought pic­tures, audio, and video into the mix. The breadth of ser­vices it aggre­gates is pretty impres­sive, so when a crit­i­cal mass of friends hit there, I switched my hour a day to check in there.

Let me pref­ace this next state­ment by say­ing that I love the serendip­ity of Friend­Feed, and it def­i­nitely restores fun to aggre­ga­tion. That said, it moves way too fast for me. As a result, I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that Friend­Feed is Twit­ter on speed, while Face­book is Twit­ter on Ritalin, and for where I’m at right now, Face­book is my pri­mary drug of choice. I need some­thing to help me con­trol the fire­hose so that I can more eas­ily focus on spe­cific pieces, and the fact that I can sep­a­rate the links and posts from the sta­tus updates on FB does exactly that. I have the sta­tus of about three dozen folks texted to my phone, which means I see what I con­sider to be the most impor­tant func­tion of the site for me front and center.

I had been friend­ing peo­ple there for a while, watched what libraries were doing, and gone through the “play with var­i­ous appli­ca­tions” stage of Face­book love, but then I found myself using it less and less. I fell back in love with it, though, when they added the abil­ity to com­ment on a friend’s sta­tus, because that’s the piece I was hav­ing trou­ble track­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in amongst all of the con­ver­sa­tions tak­ing place on Twit­ter. Even bet­ter was a change in the way SMS responses are han­dled so that replies from my phone now appear as com­ments on sta­tuses, not inbox mes­sages attached to pre­vi­ous emails. That means there’s con­ver­sa­tion around updates, and it’s at a man­age­able pace.

I still check Friend­Feed a cou­ple of times a day, but I’m swamped with enough stuff right now that I use my social net­works first and fore­most for friend updates, and Face­book turns out to be per­fect for that, espe­cially for my non-library friends. I can lit­er­ally see oth­ers get­ting a lot out of Twit­ter and Friend­Feed because they mon­i­tor those sites a lot more closely, and more power to them. There are a lot of con­ver­sa­tions right now about the ROI of blog­ging ver­sus Twit­ter ver­sus Friend­Feed, but it’s impor­tant to exam­ine what you want to get from these tools in order to eval­u­ate which one(s) are best for you at any given time, remem­ber­ing that it’s all cycli­cal and is likely to change just when you get com­fort­able with your rou­tine. Of course, that can be a good thing.

Be Socia­ble, Share!


  1. Face­book does birth­days bet­ter than any other sys­tem I know; that’s its one super­power to me. You could spend an hour a day wish­ing peo­ple happy birth­day and catch­ing up with the peo­ple you only know a tiny bit one day a year and their friends.

    Friend­feed lets you have a nice long con­ver­sa­tion with short mes­sages with a bunch of peo­ple who used to be bloggers.

    Plurk does long con­ver­sa­tions with short mes­sages too, and its UI is so res­olutely silly that I’ve only got­ten one frakkin spam­mer try­ing to friend me there. My lunch crowd is on that so I can spend 10 min­utes at about 11:00am there and have some peo­ple to share lunch with.

    My deli­cious feed is full of smart, smart, smart peo­ple book­mark­ing research papers (and me clip­ping local news­pa­pers, go fig­ure) and I can eas­ily spend an hour a day there.

    I can spend an hour a day in MyBlogLog (web ana­lyt­ics soft­ware) fig­ur­ing out what peo­ple are search­ing for and link­ing to and read­ing on my blog and then writ­ing more on top­ics that are com­ing from inter­est­ing search queries.

    It’s almost like I need to have a tele­vi­sion style sched­ule that says “hm, it’s Wednes­day, let’s do wiki wednes­day in the 1p-2p slot” and then stay out of wiki for 7 days until it comes up again.

    Comment by Edward Vielmetti — January 8, 2009 @ 12:40 am

  2. I really dis­like and dis­trust Face­book. I feel they are just a big front for adver­tis­ing agencies.

    Comment by Cybergrunt — January 8, 2009 @ 2:01 am

  3. The old method of adver­tis­ing is inter­ac­tive mar­ket­ing. The term is mis­lead­ing. Most peo­ple think it means that there is some type of inter­ac­tion on the part of the per­son adver­tised to, and there is. But, it is not con­ver­sa­tional. Instead, the adver­tiser wants you to inter­act with their cam­paign in a spe­cific set of steps. Fol­low­ing the call to action and vis­it­ing a web­site for instance. It’s the push to make you do some­thing. Live this image. Buy this now.

    Social Media Mar­ket­ing is just the oppo­site. It’s the pull of the tribe. The tribe already has your trust so the actions they take are ones you align with. On a larger scale, it’s the allure of belong­ing in the group as you take action together. “I am doing this so why don’t you do it with me?” On an indi­vid­ual level, the attrac­tion is to behave the same way to get the same results that ben­e­fits your fel­low tribeswoman or tribesman. “She looks hot! I want to look hot too. I want to go to her hair­styl­ist” and you do. Social Media Mar­ket­ing uses the power of attraction.

    While adver­tis­ing tries to use the same tac­tic, with a bill­board for instance, of a gor­geous woman telling you the ben­e­fits of the salon, it doesn’t have the same impact because it’s push­ing you to go. It is not pulling you in as a trusted friend. Your friends have your best inter­ests at heart and adver­tis­ers do not. Social Media Mar­ket­ing is based on build­ing trust and that foun­da­tion will make Social Media a dom­i­nant player in Marketing.

    Comment by Brand4profit — January 8, 2009 @ 3:45 am

  4. Ed, that’s a great point about Face­book. I don’t nor­mally use my real birth­day when I reg­is­ter with sites, but I do there because of the util­ity. You’ve clearly exam­ined the var­i­ous ser­vices with a more prac­ti­cal per­spec­tive than most of the rest of us do.

    I used to try to carve out spe­cific time each week to check online sites, espe­cially for work, but I haven’t been able to main­tain that sched­ule. Either I’m under a dead­line, trav­el­ing, or like this week, a cri­sis hits and I need to pay more atten­tion. I think that’s one rea­son I like the aggre­ga­tion of Friend­Feed, because it lets me dip in and out of con­ver­sa­tions more eas­ily than Twit­ter does, because I don’t have to do the work to iden­tify them. But for keep­ing track of my friends at a time like that, noth­ing beats Face­book for me right now.

    I’m also inter­ested in how well these ser­vices work on cell phones, because Friend­Feed doesn’t have have any built-in mobile ser­vices to help cater to that expe­ri­ence, while Twitter’s dis­jointed nature just gets trans­ferred into that envi­ron­ment. That’s another advan­tage of FB for me. It will be inter­est­ing to see how these sites adapt when usage becomes even more mobile than it is now.

    Comment by jenny — January 8, 2009 @ 6:40 am

  5. Cyber­grunt, I com­pletely dis­trust Face­book, but I feel the same way about Twit­ter, Friend­Feed, Yelp, Flickr, and every other site. I’m care­ful not to put too much on Face­book, espe­cially con­tent they could claim own­er­ship of down the road. Google is one big front for adver­tis­ers, but I still use it, although I do shape how that usage.

    It’s good to rec­og­nize your dis­trust and decide not to use FB, but I don’t think it’s a prac­ti­cal strat­egy to avoid every site if you want to inter­act with oth­ers online. If you use Twit­ter or Friend­Feed, you have to do so with the knowl­edge that they could be bought out at any time, thereby expos­ing your data even fur­ther to all kinds of marketing.

    I’m curi­ous — how are you choos­ing which sites you par­tic­i­pate in now? I’d be inter­ested to hear your criteria.

    Comment by jenny — January 8, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  6. My favorite mobile phone (Black­berry) site of these is twit­ter; it works the best in my par­tic­u­lar mobile con­straint of being on the bus and want­ing to write some­thing short or notify friends to expect me on the other end of the bus route.

    Face­book works really well as a mobile site too; in fact the mobile Face­book birth­day greet­ings process works very smoothly.

    The mobile stuff I really want to have are the var­i­ous “pro­fes­sional” social net­works. I remem­ber try­ing to look some­one up from my phone and fail­ing, but that was a cou­ple of years ago.

    There should be some mobile phone assisted roll call tak­ing — you are in a meet­ing with unfa­mil­iar peo­ple and you hae enough dex­ter­ity and band­width on your mobile phone to help you keep track of who is there. I still end up using paper for that task.

    Comment by Edward Vielmetti — January 8, 2009 @ 8:25 am

  7. It appears I’ve said some­thing sim­i­lar about Friend­Feed: http://friendfeed.com/e/141a745d-9aca-48ee-aeda-4dd3ea897f27/Greg-says-FriendFeed-is-like-Twitter-on-crack-I/

    Comment by Greg Schwartz — January 8, 2009 @ 8:40 am

  8. Great minds think alike, Greg! I agree with you about the addic­tion and inten­sity aspects of FF, but I specif­i­cally used “speed” because the river flows so damn faster than what I can take in on a con­tin­ual basis (and still be pro­duc­tive, anyway).

    The more I mull all of this over, the more I real­ize that I’m drawn most to the FB sta­tus updates because that’s where friends choose the most impor­tant thing about that moment that they want me to know, and I don’t have to wade through the noise of links and com­ments to find it. I love the extra noise when I’m in a posi­tion to engage with it, but I like the delib­er­a­tive­ness of FB sta­tus. They are the nee­dles in the haystack for me.

    Comment by jenny — January 8, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  9. I hear ya. It’s not like I know the first thing about crack or speed any­way. I like FB sta­tus updates too. So much so that I sub­scribed to my feed of them. As it turns out, once you hit a cer­tain crit­i­cal mass of friends, the Face­book sta­tus updates are pretty much a crazy flow­ing river too.

    Comment by Greg Schwartz — January 8, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  10. True, but that’s why I have the ones I care most about texted to my phone. Of course, you have to be will­ing to accept that kind of intru­sion and you really need an unlim­ited tex­ting plan. It’s the com­bi­na­tion of pick­ing out spe­cific sta­tus updates and putting them in a chan­nel I’m delib­er­ately not over­load­ing that’s work­ing well for me.

    I think this is an impor­tant les­son for libraries to note the need to be flex­i­ble enough that they adapt to the user’s flow and can be accessed in what­ever way works best for the user.

    Comment by jenny — January 8, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  11. Greg, I thought about this some more and remem­bered that you’ve always been a lot more care­ful about who you friend on Face­book, so prob­a­bly all of your friends there are impor­tant. I’m a lot more care­ful now, but I wasn’t always, so I have a lot of friend­sters there. So I can see what you’re say­ing about your FB stream, since they’re prob­a­bly all rel­e­vant to you, whereas I can nar­row mine down to a few dozen, and they don’t all update often because they’re not techies.

    That’s prob­a­bly why the unique com­bi­na­tion of mobile avail­abil­ity and focus on sta­tus are so appeal­ing to me. You doing that would prob­a­bly over­whelm that chan­nel for you. I’m really inter­ested in your approaches to man­ag­ing online iden­tity and want to explore that more.

    Comment by jenny — January 8, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

  12. Ed, I love your meet­ing idea and could really use that myself, espe­cially at con­fer­ence. It sounds like the Palm Pre might be the first ten­ta­tive steps towards that since click­ing on a name in email dis­plays the stan­dard con­tact info plus Face­book sta­tus, Gtalk update, etc. I’m pretty sure there’s a Pre in my future, and maybe they’ll have thought through how to make some­thing like Friend­Feed more man­age­able in a mobile envi­ron­ment. I’m still floored that FF is com­pletely ignor­ing the mobile mar­ket. As some­one from Face­book said dur­ing the Pre launch at the CES today, mobile users are the most active and engaged.

    Comment by jenny — January 8, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

  13. […] is Twit­ter on Ritalin, and for where I’m at right now, Face­book is my pri­mary drug of choice. The Shifted Librar­ian » Choos­ing Your Social Media Drug   « Wastric­ity is the use of elec­tric­ity in a way that pro­vides no per­sonal or public […]

    Pingback by BlogBites. Like sound bites. But without the sound. » Blog Archive » As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that FriendFeed is Twitter on speed, while Facebook is Twitter on Ritalin, and for where I’m at right now, Facebook is my primary — January 11, 2009 @ 12:11 am

  14. […] doesn’t help fig­ure out how to get a cool clear drink of water out of the fire­hose that is Twit­ter. For now, it does give me a bet­ter idea what fla­vor bev­er­age I’m looking […]

    Pingback by Blogs vs Twitter « JC Shepard — January 11, 2009 @ 7:10 am

  15. I’ve been think­ing about this as well this week — whether I want to con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate in Twit­ter, Friend­Feed *and* Face­book, or if I can select one to be rid of. There seems to be a bit too much for me to keep up with, although your “older but­ton” rule may help with that. I like the imme­di­acy of Twit­ter (for things like the plane in the Hud­son and the TVA coal ash spill), and the grouped con­ver­sa­tions in Friend­Feed. I like Face­book for some of the rea­sons you men­tion, and see it more as a tool for keep­ing up with peo­ple, whereas Friend­Feed is maybe more for keep­ing up with things and ideas. I actu­ally find Friend­Feed less hec­tic than Twit­ter, because of the group­ing of replies. Now, if these ser­vices would just be more redun­dant so I could feel bet­ter about ditch­ing one! :)

    Comment by Rachel — January 18, 2009 @ 10:11 am

  16. […] for those groups.That’s enough for now, will play around and see how it works out. *Jenny Levine and Walt Craw­ford, to name […]

    Pingback by Simon Chamberlain’s library weblog » Blog Archive » Friend Feed — February 2, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

  17. […] from the won­der­ful Shifted Librar­ian is this post about choos­ing your social media drug. One, I just like the title of the arti­cle and two, it is a great look at why peo­ple choose […]

    Pingback by Friday’s Trend Watch « The Waki Librarian — February 20, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  18. […] fact, Twit­ter was my first foray into the world of social media. The blog­sphere, has on occa­sion, drawn par­al­lels between social media ser­vices and an array of illicit sub­stances, and Twit­ter is com­pared to hard-core sub­stances such as heroin. Given that sim­ile, it makes […]

    Pingback by You Have A Twitter Page? | Zach Owenby — March 29, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

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