Remember your Mum urging you to go outside and play with your friends? Making you feel a little guilty about being on your computer too long?
I think a lot of us are still feeling that way about our gaming or social networking even now as adults. I get a lot of comments from people that think if you spend a lot of time on social media platforms you are being anti-social.
Surely I am not the only one that gets this?
Things have changed. That sentence is almost sarcastic in its’ understatement. When I was a kid computers didn’t talk to other computers. In fact many had no storage media, and those that did were casette tapes. I remember the first time my computer connected to the phone jack and talked to a bulletin board (in wanganui I think) – I was excited and amazed.
Of course these are things we all take for granted now. The tools we have for keeping in touch with each other are powerful and simple, almost ubiquitous. They even go out with us on the bus, at the supermarket, and at the cafe.
Once you have taken a photo of the great presentation of a meal and shared it on foursquare, instagram or facebook it becomes natural to want to do it again. In fact the photo of a cool tomato sauce bottle I saw at a local cafe and shared via instagram proved more popular than I expected.
Even computer games these days are social. It is almost unusual for someone to be playing on the computer and not be playing with others via the internet.
But none of this actually answers the question that I posed at the beginning: How Social is Social Media?
Well recently I helped the people who set up our local Hamilton chapter of the Social Media Club, and I met quite a few people through that. I started paying a lot more attention to twitter because the people I met were all active on twitter.
I learned what a tweet up is and attended several. (A tweet-up is just a get together of people from twitter at a pub or cafe). I have attended a Social Media Club event in Auckland as well as a few Media Mingles, and I have met far more people through all of this in the last 6 months than I probably had in the previous 18 months.
But this still doesn’t really answer the question. Because it is the wrong question.
Social Media tools can help you find people, engage with people and brands, stay connected with people and communicate with people. But the tool is only as good as the user so I would say the real question is:
How Social are you?
I guess the business corollary to this is that while social media platforms can be powerful tools to help you network with colleagues, peers or prospects they will never actually be able to do it for you. You still need to do that yourself.