A history of social media
What do you do when you’re angry about something no one else cares about? Share it on social media. So as we started to each find our own voices on a platform that could reach micro-audiences, the easy thing to do was to use it as a place for venting. Flight delays, rude waiters, critiquing the latest episode of our favorite TV show were all common topics.
Of course, our fascination with the insignificant didn’t end there. It then both devolved and evolved quickly into an ongoing dance to portray ourselves as sufficiently happy, balanced, and successful individuals. Posts about new cars, new babies, and new vacations filled each of our feeds and offered an endless parade of good times for the world to see.
And then came selfie phase.
Mercilessly mocked for their ability to showcase narcissism in the form of duck face photos – the selfie has changed how we think about social media. Rather than just sharing thoughts about the moment in real time, selfies started us thinking about how to share that moment while still injecting ourselves into it.
The hottest new social media apps are promising to help us do the same thing, through live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope. So social media has completed that evolution from sharing thoughts to sharing experiences, yet as this shift slowly gained traction, something unexpected happened.
People decided to become vulnerable.
Today my Facebook feed is not only filled with congratulations messages for graduates or holiday plans, but also with friends sharing amazingly personal stories of dealing with the passing of a loved one, or getting a diagnosis of cancer, or the painful experience of losing a baby.
These are no longer over-filtered and meaningless depictions of the world. Social media is getting real. And as it does, the value we each find in it is starting to shift. It is no longer only a place for diversion, but is also becoming a place for belonging, a place for emotions other than anger or pride, a place for legacy.
Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about how to use social media for marketing goals. But let’s be honest, the last thing someone wants to see is a company boasting about how great they are on social media.
Social media is a customer engagement tool. It isn’t a soap box to declare your own greatness to the world. Instead, it has become an essential way of sharing the reality of what we each experience in our daily lives – whether life incredibly good or life shatteringly bad.
We can all finally share a bonding moment over this hard earned truth. Especially if it allows us to delight in our friend’s lives while also giving us the chance to be indignant or happy or sad about something that actually matters.