I am reminded every day of what social media can achieve by Sal who continually amazes me with her creativity and ability to use the tools available to draw focus to things that matter - for example, the MooMag project and yesterdays post on cyber bullying.
She is connecting to people for a reason and using social media as just another tool rather than as the end point and this reinforces the idea that I have been mulling over since my 'break' a few weeks ago:
Social media must be applied
Social media must not become a self congratulatory love-in unless there is actually something worth celebrating. The call to arms is for this to go mainstream but if early adopters want to debate the minutiae of service operation from here to eternity then we cannot possibly expect the public at large to see the value in those services. There will always be the industry commentators in any environment but social media seems to be an industry that needs to mature. We already have 'complaints' such as this one from Jason Carreira:
What percentage of posts on FriendFeed are ABOUT FriendFeed? 50%? More? Web 2.0 has a collective case of navel gazing...
Obviously, the conversations you are exposed to will be influenced by those people you are following and there is a lot of discussion that is not so self referential but I can see his point. It is up to the early adopters to find worthwhile uses of social media to demonstrate the possibilities it can afford or it is in danger of imploding in a puff of its own self indulgence. As Marco has said: if the early adopters are still working through what role this technology should play in their lives how can we expect the 99.9999% of the other people in the world to readily and easily latch on to something like this?
Julian Baldwin posted a while ago "Social Media gets damn boring when..." and proceeded to give a few examples. I replied that it becomes boring when "the same topic goes round in circles and, just when you think it's done with, someone else throws in a 'me too' post and rakes over it all again but with no insight or added value." It also gets boring when everything is the killer of something else - why get too anal about it and spend all of your time comparing services when you could just be using them to good effect? Often, the debate is a huge waste of both time and effort.
Each service has its good and bad points; nothing is perfect and no single service will become all things to all people without becoming over complicated and bloated. We should, therefore, be picking up on the positives of the tools we use and achieving something worthwhile.
What will YOU do with social media?
Image by Sam Judson.