PR And The Shifting Tide Of Social Media

There seems to be a trend happening that is quite interesting. It certainly created some engaging discussion at the AHA office. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit beside the VP of Social Media for a large PR firm. I have a passing acquaintance with this woman and we got to talking about the demands of our jobs and how our roles have changed because of social media. She surprised me by saying that at the end of the month, she was turning in her BlackBerry and was going back to a cell phone. One that would be turned off at 6 p.m. and back on at 8 a.m. – just business hours. Keep in mind, this is the VP of social media.

dreamstime_12364700Another friend approached me to ask about Facebook protocol and etiquette. It turns out he took a look at his Facebook “friends” and realized that, for the most part, they were friends of friends or acquaintances that really don’t impact his life very much. He was trying to figure out how to “unfriend” people, going so far as thinking about deleting his page and starting a new secret page just for people that he wants to stay in touch with.

I have another friend who entered the Facebook world cautiously. He doesn’t use his real name on Facebook, he keeps his friends to a small number because the only way you really know he is on Facebook is if he emails you and explains that his “alias” wants to friend you and it’s really him.

Yet another friend just announced that she is leaving Facebook forever. That life before Facebook was so much better.

I understand the challenges that people face. I have to admit, I jumped on Facebook early and I didn’t have a plan. My Facebook page is a blend of old friends, business colleagues, a few clients and some acquaintances along with a number of companies and organizations that I follow because I am interested in what they are doing on Facebook. I am still finding the balance of who my community on Facebook is and what I want to share. I look at it like a coffee shop where I can run into people. What would I share with someone I know slightly if I met them in the lineup waiting for a latte? That’s what I share on Facebook. My personal stuff is kept between my friends and I in the real world.

There has been a huge outcry recently about privacy concerns on Facebook. I think that as communicators, it is important to understand not just the overall use of Facebook and the privacy issues, but the behavioural aspect of it as it relates to our community or audience. There are very different behaviours on Facebook. Some people seem post all the time, others once in a while, some just commented on status updates and others just appear to read the status updates and never comment.

Social media networking sites like Facebook may seem like they have been around forever, but the fact is we are still in the infancy stages of what they will mean to us as communicators and as people. I am feeling a bit of a shift in the tide of how people perceive sites like Facebook. It will be interesting to see what the next six months bring and how our attitude and usage will evolve.

How do you think it will change?

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  1. Ann Griffiths

    Thanks for your thoughts on social media, Ruth. I have been on FB for a while but admit that I went into it kicking and screaming at my family who pushed me there. Now I see it as part of the mix I need for getting the word out about my new venture and book. It’s also a wonderful way to keep up on what’s going on with my many nieces and nephews.

    This weekend I’m attending a writers’ conference in Seattle where I plan to take in a series of four workshops on social media. Really looking forward to what I’ll learn and be able to apply.

    Ann Griffiths

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