Social media has consumed our lives and it is a huge part of my life but I wanted to address some pros and cons and my overall views on social media.
Social media has allowed me to keep in touch (even if it is just for major life updates) with so many long distant friends. It is a great way to share major milestone (new baby, wedding pictures, finishing a big race, getting a new job or moving cross country).
Facebook - I used to LOVE Facebook, would upload pictures and status updates frequently but I find myself only contributing on rare occasions and spending less and less time on it. My current issue is that it is 90% sharing stupid viral videos and articles that just clutter it up. I have far and away the most “friends” on Facebook but i’m losing interest and seeing less and less value in it as a social media platform.
Tumblr - Home of my little blog. I don’t have a huge following on Tumblr and I don’t get a ton of hits per day but i’m ok with that. Sure, i’d love to have more influence but I love it for a place to document my life and express my opinion. I don’t have to stress about scheduled posts or brainstorming topics. I discuss what I want, when I want and it is a perfect platform to just write, to express emotion and to communicate to my family and friends. I also like the community aspect and their web building templates are great for html novices like me.
Twitter - I still don’t “get” twitter - I don’t think in 140 character phrases and I don’t find much point in jotting down my every thought and whim to my followers. However, It’s a great way to connect and meet other people. It can be overwhelming at times and I know there are apps to organize everything but I haven’t invested the time into figuring that out. Twitter is great for up to the minute breaking news (before polished press releases can be drafted) which I find to be its biggest perk.
Instagram - I love Instagram which is mainly because I love photography and I am a visual person. It’s simple, it’s streamlined and frankly I like looking at pretty pictures (the filters are nice too). I share important stuff and stupid stuff but it’s a nice easy way to document my random happenings. I post almost all of my workout related activities on there, not because i’m trying to gloat or rub it in but because seeing other peoples run photos helps keep me motivated and I want to pass along the inspiration and at the same time it acts as an a method of accountability. I have a handful of fitness buddies that are my main audience, we encourage each other and motivate each other to keep training and keep pushing – whatever our goals might be.
From a totally different aspect, social media has provided me with some pretty awesome marketing opportunities through the Scuba Diver Girls. I have traveled to Finland and the Bahamas, to trade shows and photo shoots. I’ve had input on product design, marketing launches, and color choices. I’ve given feedback and written reviews and it has been so much fun. Operating one of these top ranking social media marketing companies is hard work. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to build a fan base, develop content, and recruit sponsorships. So then the question is, what is the benefit?
Of course, from a readers perspective the number of times I have read a good review or seen a picture of someone wearing some gadget or decked out in a specific brand or raving about this super awesome place they traveled, it sinks in and occasionally I respond by whipping out my credit card. There is a fine line between the in your face, “i’m trying to promote this product because the company is paying me” to the “hey, look at me, i’m having a great time here, oh and by the way i’m wearing this watch while doing this activity”. You have to be subtle while at the same time actually promoting the product. I love a good product review, one that is honest, give a few cons (because no item is perfect) and from a person who has actually used the product more than just once before writing the review. It’s is an art form that I would love to perfect.
However, not all marketing it trying to sell stuff, there is another side, the non-monetary, informational, content creation side of social media marketing. A Facebook page can act as an informational site to educate people and spread awareness about a topic. Sure there are likely some sponsorships involved but if done correctly they can interact seamlessly with the sites overall purpose and do not come across as a “hey, this company paid me to say that I like it so hey buy this”. For example, this photo received 7,800 likes on Facebook (i’m the one in the middle with the green mask on).
Not only is it a bad ass photo but it helps spread awareness for Tiger Sharks as well as marketing for Ocean Technologies Systems (the full face diving mask). People saw it, interacted with it and it hopefully had an impact on a small fraction of those 7.8K people. The companies that I interact with all have an overall purpose of promoting a healthy ocean, conservation, animal rights, saving sharks, reducing pollution as well as empowering women (cause that never hurts). Sure they might be trying to sway you towards a certain resort that is great for diving a well protected reef or using a certain brand of gear that supports them or buying a certain type of underwater housing for your camera. The dual purpose is often necessary to keep these sites operating, to pay for content creation, site monitoring and server fees.
So where do all the “mommy bloggers” and “baby blogs” and “running blogs” fit into all of this? That’s a good point, I would love for my blog to become a resource for people, to educate people on issues that I am passionate about and to promote brands that I personally love and use daily (and not just ones that people pay me to promote cause that hasn’t happened yet). Honestly, I think there are way too many pointless blogs out there, people who ramble on endlessly and devote hours of time discussing a topic that is seemingly pointless. It’s all freedom of speech and more power to someone who wants to use a blog for whatever reason they want, I just only read a certain niche of blogs that I get valuable information, inspiration or personal entertainment from. I follow people on twitter and Instagram that inspire me and that keep me informed of cool tips/tricks/gear/suggestions. I’ve been on a super fitness kick and I follow a lot of people casually but I don’t make it my job to stalk their blogs and read every single word they post cause I have a job and a life and I really want to find a balance.
The problem is, social media has consumed my life and I need to find a better balance. I love it and I find it extremely useful but I find that I am missing out on real life things as a result. I want to schedule a total social media break, be it one day, one weekend or one week - where I won’t check instagram/twitter/tumblr/facebook and try and reset my normal. All too often I find that I get fidgety if I don’t see what the world is up to. I lay in bed at night and check Instagram one more time to see if anyone else liked my stupid photo of my dinner. I can’t sit down and watch a movie without checking my computer or phone the whole time – i’m literally addicted to multi-tasking and I don’t have a healthy relationship with social media right now. I haven’t set a date for this detox but i’ll probably pair it with some sort of real life vacation. Stay tuned!