Jaron Lanier has said it all, better than ever I could. He’s eloquent and has a lot of positive things to say about tech and the internet. I get his vibe – it’s not the technology, but what you do with it that counts.
It’s just what he terms as ‘Behaviour Unconsciously Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent companies (which he then refers to as BUMMERs – I like his quirky humour) that spoil it for everyone else doing awesome and brilliant things with the internet.
He has a delightful irreverence married to incredulity with a sprinkled tone of inevitable-in-hindsight admission threaded through reasoned and balanced arguments. I highly recommend it if you’re after a bit of light reading to kick start an evaluation of how you spend your time online.
Here’s the caveat, and an admission of my privilege: I don’t need social media for my business. But some of the people I work with, who I work for, and who work for me, find it of use. Some may need it to stay in business.
Here’s a question to help you decide whether your business requires any social media use: are you a B2B or B2C business?
Business to Business
B2B is short for Business to Business – if you’re B2B, then your clients are specific individuals or companies who then sell their product or service to the consumer.
They’re unlikely to find you on twitter, facebook or instagram and then hire you on the spot.
In person networking, word-of-mouth, and, if you can really work that system, LinkedIn are the places on which you want to concentrate. The best of these is, in my experience, word-of-mouth.
Business to Consumer
If you’re B2C or Business to Consumer, you want to hit as wide a range of people as possible (even if you’re in a little niche, you still gotta scale if you want your business to thrive) and those people are on twitter and facebook and insta and all the others, whiling away their hours looking for the next dopamine hit (and being encouraged to do so by finely tuned algorithms).
By paying for sponsored posts, ads, by posting regularly and being ‘authentic’, by responding quickly to consumer queries on the platform, by understanding analytics and all that other social media jazz, you may get some return on your investment.
Social Media as Part Of Your Business
If I were B2C, maybe a singer-songwriter releasing an album for example, I’d treat my social media activity as part of my business.
I’d schedule it, limit my hours, customise my notifications to show only those that will serve my business (eg customers’ direct messages), I’d investigate my analytics for any return on investment including not only my financial spend but also my time and energy, and only use those social media where my audience hangs out.
In treating it like this, I’d have to weigh up how I spend all of my work time, energy and money, to decide what I’m going to do less of in my business to make room for this form of marketing.
I know I wouldn’t be able to half-ass it either: it looks worse to have an irrregularly updated or even fallow social media account than to not have one at all.
On Social Media, You and Your Behaviour Becomes The Product for Someone Else To Sell
If you’re going to use social media, be aware that by participating even just a little you’re opening yourself up for behavioural modification that’s not for your benefit. Or that you’re providing data that will help the platform sell ways of modifying other people’s behaviour, people who act like you.
If you still think you need to use social media, then post regularly, find a way to separate your sense of self-worth from the metrics of likes, comments, follows and retweets (good luck with that), and most importantly don’t forget to treat it as business.