On my 46th birthday I received more than 100 birthday wishes and greetings. Birthdays 45, 44 and I think 43 were like that too.
Heck, I am fairly certain that 42 and 41 were as well.
They came from a wide swath of friends and family, many of whom don’t require Facebook’s assistance to remember my birthday.
I am not complaining about it or trying to be dismissive because these greetings made me smile and they made me think of the ripples in water that come after you drop a stone it.
The people in the inner ripples/circles probably would have reached out and I would have been glad to hear from them but those on the outer, well I probably wouldn’t have received any sort of message.
There is nothing wrong with that, either. We all lead busy lives and few of us expect to hear from the outer circles on a regular basis or even on special occasions.
That doesn’t negate the joy that came from seeing their names pop up and the memories of moments once spent with them.
As the day went on and I heard from more people I started thinking about the impact of social media on my personal and professional life and what I wanted from it.
Social Media Should Be About Conversation
The thing that jumped out at me was conversation, or maybe a lack thereof.
I only spoke with a small percentage of the people who said Happy Birthday.
Is that a bad thing??
Not necessarily, but there are limits to how much you learn about a person from a Facebook post. In my circles it is not the typical tool/way you find out about the big stuff, the important and meaningful stuff.
What I really want more of are conversations where we get a chance to talk. Maybe it is about that time we watched some lady make a meal inside a small boat or maybe it is about the car we want to buy.
Could be about our kids, our dreams or something else.
Those moments don’t happen as often as they used to but it would be nice if that changed.
Social media should be a tool we use for conversation so that we can have a dialogue.
Right now it feels like more of a broadcast channel.
The Utility of A Tool
It would be hypocritical of me not to point out the utility of a tool often depends upon the skill of the user.
There were some conversations via the Facebook chat function. There were some Twitter DMs and emails were also exchanged.
I am tech savvy.
I am familiar with the basic and advanced functions of most of the platforms I use and if I am not I am capable of figuring them out.
Fact is, I enjoy that. I like teaching myself how to do more with them, but not everyone does.
If I were running the social media team for a brand I’d make a point to figure out whether we were having conversations or just broadcasting messages online.
Granted I am just sharing an opinion. I haven’t presented any hard data to crunch but this is one of those areas I am willing to go off of a hunch.
What about you?