Mitch Joel recently opined that he felt Twitter had become a distraction. Many of the responses to his post echoed this sentiment and advocate for “all things in moderation”, yet the conversation as a whole points to a fact about social media that is often overlooked.
Social media use and habits evolve over time. Tools come and go and are upgraded and enhanced. And our awareness of tools and strategies and what works best for each of us is constantly evolving depending on many factors.
For instance, I started using LinkedIn to simply connect with business connections and people I met. Then, I found myself using the status update function regularly. Over time, I found status updates on LinkedIn were not getting noticed by my contacts so I switched to using the #in hashtag on selected Twitter posts to update my LinkedIn status. More efficient for me.
Similarly with a tool like Twitter. I started following people and tweeting irregularly. I found the conversational use of Twitter perplexing and annoying. Then I started meeting people via Twitter and observing how they’d use Twitter to give me a “shout out” and I started trying that approach as well. Which was a slippery slope to having a conversation on Twitter. As I posted more frequently, I got more followers. Sometimes I try reworking tweets to see how different language engenders different responses.
My point is, we are all experimenting with social media, learning on the fly using trial and error. Adapting our use of the tools to the time we have available, our objectives and awareness of what works and what doesn’t and, of course, our own personalities.
My sense is that a guy like Mitch Joel has evolved both his understanding of and his objectives surrounding his use of social media. After all, he’s a best-selling author, writer and columnist, he runs a successful digital agency and he probably has less time and (I’d hazard a guess) less need for the networking and reputation-building opportunities afforded by Twitter. In this context, I understand how Mitch Joel can see Twitter as a distraction.
And why each of us will constantly be defining our own most optimal use of social media technologies.