Social Media Strategy, Social Media Marketing

The Loneliness of Social Media

flickr photo download  if it can t be my design tell me where do i draw the line 300x196 The Loneliness of Social MediaIs social media creating confusing collisions and separations in your life?

It is for me.

I sometimes feel like Jason Bourne. I can’t remember who I know, what I know about them, or what they know about me.

I spend more time on Twitter than in other social media outposts, so people on Twitter know a lot about what’s going on in my life, should they care to pay attention. Conversely, I do not get text message alerts from Twitter, so real-world friends are often asking me if I saw their particular tweet. Many times I did not. Thus, my Twitter exposure is staccato and semi-random. When I blink my eyes really fast, that’s what Twitter feels like to me.

But because I use Twitter so much (possibly too much), it leaves other fields untended to in some cases.

The Social Media Combo Meal

I’ve gone back and forth with hooking my Twitter stream to my Facebook status updates and then disconnecting it. Fewer than half of my Facebook friends are on Twitter, and only about 20% are serious tweeters. Currently I’m using the Tweeter application for Facebook, which inserts my tweets with moderate consistency, but does not send to Facebook any tweets that start with @ or RT.

Even with those filters applied, I’m convinced that many of my Facebook friends are befuddled and annoyed with the inside baseball aspect of my tweets delivered to Facebook. I don’t feel like I’m being a good friend, but also am not sure I want to selectively double-post (triple post now that LinkedIn has status updates).

Worlds Collide

My Mom is also now on Facebook. I’m excited that she’s embracing the technology and the opportunity. She is the queen bee, so she’ll love Facebook. And she’ll probably have more friends than me in about five minutes, which stings a little.

I’ve always foolishly considered social media to be “my thing.” But with my Mom on Facebook and my stepmom on Twitter, I find myself longing for the “privacy” that social media offered when immediate family wasn’t involved.

On the opposite side, there are people whom I’m close to that still aren’t involved in social media, and I wish they were. My wife, for example. Call me the typical non-communicative guy, but there’s no question that I put more info about what’s going on with me on Twitter than I tell her face-to-face. So it can be pretty awkward when we’re at dinner with friends who use Twitter, and they ask me about some little drama I tweeted about, and she has no idea what we’re talking about.

Am I trying to digitize intimacy in 140-character bursts, or is my desire for her to be on Twitter reasonable?

Clearly, the social media souffle is far from risen, and these questions of balance and intersection will both persist and change with the technology and its usage.

But for now, how are you finding the balance between real world and social media relationships?

(photo by Not So Good Photography)

Related
  • http://www.offmadisonave.com/ William Smith

    I tend to be one who gets annoyed by folks updating their Facebook status from Twitter, because when FB folks comment on that status, 9 out of 10 times the person who updated it from Twitter never sees it.

    It follows that this way of linking activities between networks inherently has the same problems as sites like ping.fm or Twitterfeed – its the same as walking into a room, shouting something out, then leaving without pausing to hear what other people have to say in response.

  • http://www.offmadisonave.com William Smith

    I tend to be one who gets annoyed by folks updating their Facebook status from Twitter, because when FB folks comment on that status, 9 out of 10 times the person who updated it from Twitter never sees it.

    It follows that this way of linking activities between networks inherently has the same problems as sites like ping.fm or Twitterfeed – its the same as walking into a room, shouting something out, then leaving without pausing to hear what other people have to say in response.

  • Jacki Mieler

    As someone who is just learning about social media and trying to establish a presence on various sites, I’ve definitely had some push back from friends who think I now only know how to communicate via Twitter or Facebook. Having recently moved away from PHX and up to Flagstaff, I don’t have that face-to-face interaction with a lot of my friends any longer and a few of them have commented that they only know what’s going on with me because of Twitter/Facebook. After I inadvertently posted news on FB that I had decided to go to Belize to get married BEFORE telling one of my good friends, she decided to rip me a new one on my FB wall! So, now I’m definitely more guarded about what I post, just to make sure I have my bases covered and that I’ve told the appropriate people either in person or on the phone. I’m also guarded on Twitter b/c I’m a City employee and the City reporter for the newspaper is following me, just waiting for me to say something that he can print.

  • Jacki Mieler

    As someone who is just learning about social media and trying to establish a presence on various sites, I’ve definitely had some push back from friends who think I now only know how to communicate via Twitter or Facebook. Having recently moved away from PHX and up to Flagstaff, I don’t have that face-to-face interaction with a lot of my friends any longer and a few of them have commented that they only know what’s going on with me because of Twitter/Facebook. After I inadvertently posted news on FB that I had decided to go to Belize to get married BEFORE telling one of my good friends, she decided to rip me a new one on my FB wall! So, now I’m definitely more guarded about what I post, just to make sure I have my bases covered and that I’ve told the appropriate people either in person or on the phone. I’m also guarded on Twitter b/c I’m a City employee and the City reporter for the newspaper is following me, just waiting for me to say something that he can print.

  • http://www.paulmiser.com Paul Miser

    Jason. This topic is something that we are all being inundated with. In our “real” social life, we carry many different personas and wear many different hats. We are really many different people rolled into one. I act differently and carry myself differently in different situations (with family, with college drinking buddies, with business contacts, etc). Social media is making these different personas highly public and breaking down the barriers between them. Social media is creating a single person out of all of us. We have to really identify who we are and build a personal brand that can cross these barriers and portray our best possible self. I recently wrote a post about it as well. Thanks for your thoughts and words. You are definitely not alone in this battle.

    http://paulmiser.com/transition-of-real-life-to-social-media-relationships/

  • http://www.paulmiser.com/ Paul Miser

    Jason. This topic is something that we are all being inundated with. In our “real” social life, we carry many different personas and wear many different hats. We are really many different people rolled into one. I act differently and carry myself differently in different situations (with family, with college drinking buddies, with business contacts, etc). Social media is making these different personas highly public and breaking down the barriers between them. Social media is creating a single person out of all of us. We have to really identify who we are and build a personal brand that can cross these barriers and portray our best possible self. I recently wrote a post about it as well. Thanks for your thoughts and words. You are definitely not alone in this battle.

    http://paulmiser.com/transition-of-real-life-to-social-media-relationships/

  • Pam

    Great post. I’m experiencing a similar thing. But, for me, it’s less about intimacy as it is about keeping worlds from colliding. In fact, I find myself censoring my Tweets because I know that half of my friends on Facebook (at least) will have no idea what I’m talking about. (But then I remember that I’m tweeting what’s going on in my current life, not in the my high school days. ;-)) Many times, I’ve wished that Facebook would enable me to group my types of friends (old vs new, colleagues vs drinking buddies, etc.) so that I could communicate with them at different levels and about different topics. After all, I don’t like it when I post something business-related on Twitter and someone I know from my Catholic grade school responds with a reference to some trouble I got into involving water balloons and a nun. Or, when a family member 9or client) “catches” me online when I’m totally screening my calls from them. Two, three, and four worlds can collide! Forget about trying to creating a “brand.”It’s only a matter of time before someone posts pics of you giving birth. Egads.

  • Pam

    Great post. I’m experiencing a similar thing. But, for me, it’s less about intimacy as it is about keeping worlds from colliding. In fact, I find myself censoring my Tweets because I know that half of my friends on Facebook (at least) will have no idea what I’m talking about. (But then I remember that I’m tweeting what’s going on in my current life, not in the my high school days. ;-)) Many times, I’ve wished that Facebook would enable me to group my types of friends (old vs new, colleagues vs drinking buddies, etc.) so that I could communicate with them at different levels and about different topics. After all, I don’t like it when I post something business-related on Twitter and someone I know from my Catholic grade school responds with a reference to some trouble I got into involving water balloons and a nun. Or, when a family member 9or client) “catches” me online when I’m totally screening my calls from them. Two, three, and four worlds can collide! Forget about trying to creating a “brand.”It’s only a matter of time before someone posts pics of you giving birth. Egads.

  • http://apartmentmarketing101.blogspot.com/ @CharityHisle

    I think more people will relate to you than you’ll expect. I think we all feel pretty much the same way. This post really hits home.

    I have three children, 2 dogs and a boyfriend that would like the opportunity to spend time with me. Then there’s my job, which sometimes gives me the opportunity to spend hours on Twitter every day and other times I can go days without tweeting.

    How do I balance my life and my social media presence? I don’t know, I wing it every day. For the days I can’t be on Twitter I rely on tweetscan to send me tweet listings on my favorite topics, but scanning those takes time. Ultimately, I think the balance will be different for each of us depending on the priorities in our lives. Right now, for me, it has to come 3rd; after my family and my job.

    Thanks for the great post! It helps to put our priorities in perspective.

  • http://apartmentmarketing101.blogspot.com/ @CharityHisle

    I think more people will relate to you than you’ll expect. I think we all feel pretty much the same way. This post really hits home.

    I have three children, 2 dogs and a boyfriend that would like the opportunity to spend time with me. Then there’s my job, which sometimes gives me the opportunity to spend hours on Twitter every day and other times I can go days without tweeting.

    How do I balance my life and my social media presence? I don’t know, I wing it every day. For the days I can’t be on Twitter I rely on tweetscan to send me tweet listings on my favorite topics, but scanning those takes time. Ultimately, I think the balance will be different for each of us depending on the priorities in our lives. Right now, for me, it has to come 3rd; after my family and my job.

    Thanks for the great post! It helps to put our priorities in perspective.

  • http://katie.heyvan.com/ Katie Van Domelen

    This is the third or fourth post that I’ve seen recently talking about this issue. I agree with the other people who have responded, social media becomes a place where the many versions of you collide. My own blog is themed around a similar concept – how my personal and professional life are mixing now that social media has become my job. I think the idea of fragments of self, how one person can seperately be the “drinking buddy” “serious coworker” and “good daughter” is becoming obsolete. Social media almsot forces you to be one person all the time, so I think that eventually society will change to accept this and our old notions of keeping things seperate to avoid judgement will have to be erased. We’ll all have to accept that even though we might see pictures of our coworker out drinking on the weekend that shouldn’t change our judgement of how reliable they are at work.

    However, I do agree that there are differences between my current networks. My Twitter friends don’t equal my Facebook friends, but it’s tricky because it doesn’t fall along preset lines. It would be easy if my Twitter was only work friends, Facebook only college friends and Myspace only family members. Then I could still keep those neat lines around the different parts of my personality. But it’s much more complicated than that.

    I used to have my Twitter status update my Facebook but I had to disconnect it. It wasn’t even a question anymore. There’s some overlap for me between Twitter and Facebook but not enough to make it worth it. The people I’m friends with on Facebook mainly don’t know what Twitter is. One of my friends even asked me why I kept posting the same URL at the end of my status updates (didn’t understand that tinyURLs are all different…). It just didn’t make sense – the point is to connect with people and it was causing more disconnects than anything else.

    This is inspiring me to take some time off of thinking about how social media affects businesses/marketing and spend some time really exploring books, blogs, etc that talk about how social media is affecting our society. Then those conclusions might lead full circle to a fresh perspective on the business side.

    Very insightful post! Thank you

  • http://katie.heyvan.com Katie Van Domelen

    This is the third or fourth post that I’ve seen recently talking about this issue. I agree with the other people who have responded, social media becomes a place where the many versions of you collide. My own blog is themed around a similar concept – how my personal and professional life are mixing now that social media has become my job. I think the idea of fragments of self, how one person can seperately be the “drinking buddy” “serious coworker” and “good daughter” is becoming obsolete. Social media almsot forces you to be one person all the time, so I think that eventually society will change to accept this and our old notions of keeping things seperate to avoid judgement will have to be erased. We’ll all have to accept that even though we might see pictures of our coworker out drinking on the weekend that shouldn’t change our judgement of how reliable they are at work.

    However, I do agree that there are differences between my current networks. My Twitter friends don’t equal my Facebook friends, but it’s tricky because it doesn’t fall along preset lines. It would be easy if my Twitter was only work friends, Facebook only college friends and Myspace only family members. Then I could still keep those neat lines around the different parts of my personality. But it’s much more complicated than that.

    I used to have my Twitter status update my Facebook but I had to disconnect it. It wasn’t even a question anymore. There’s some overlap for me between Twitter and Facebook but not enough to make it worth it. The people I’m friends with on Facebook mainly don’t know what Twitter is. One of my friends even asked me why I kept posting the same URL at the end of my status updates (didn’t understand that tinyURLs are all different…). It just didn’t make sense – the point is to connect with people and it was causing more disconnects than anything else.

    This is inspiring me to take some time off of thinking about how social media affects businesses/marketing and spend some time really exploring books, blogs, etc that talk about how social media is affecting our society. Then those conclusions might lead full circle to a fresh perspective on the business side.

    Very insightful post! Thank you

  • http://www.fivetechnology.com/ Aaron Weiche

    The secret life of Twitter & Facebook! My wife has no desire to engage in either and borders on creeped out or suspicious at the time I spend on both. I use both for 99% business and networking so I’m sure I bore most of my Facebook friends by status updates on web design, email marketing and the like.

    The networking and info gathering/sharing aspect of Twitter is something many, especially outside of the Net industry just can’t comprehend. The “why” and “what do you say” questions are endless. For me the opportunity to be at an industry conference/expo everyday on Twitter rocks.

    Now to get the wife to see the benefits. Ha! Thanks for the post, great thoughts.

    Aaron Weiche’s last blog post..A Bit of Web Design Recognition Feels Good

  • http://www.fivetechnology.com/ Aaron Weiche

    The secret life of Twitter & Facebook! My wife has no desire to engage in either and borders on creeped out or suspicious at the time I spend on both. I use both for 99% business and networking so I’m sure I bore most of my Facebook friends by status updates on web design, email marketing and the like.

    The networking and info gathering/sharing aspect of Twitter is something many, especially outside of the Net industry just can’t comprehend. The “why” and “what do you say” questions are endless. For me the opportunity to be at an industry conference/expo everyday on Twitter rocks.

    Now to get the wife to see the benefits. Ha! Thanks for the post, great thoughts.

    Aaron Weiche’s last blog post..A Bit of Web Design Recognition Feels Good

  • Jason Baer

    @William – I have Facebook set up to email me when people comment on status, so that helps. I believe we’ll have a lot more cross-pollination opportunities and solutions this year. Facebook Connect, for example.

    @Jacki – You’ve got to write a blog post about your Facebook faux pax. Awesome!

    @Paul – Wow. Killer comment. Making one person out of all of us is genius. I’m very much going to borrow that for a follow up post. (just so you know). And I really liked your post in that regard on your site. Nice job.

    @Pam – I hear you. I’d love to see a Facebook grouping capability, the way Tweetdeck enables for Twitter. What do you think, @william? You’re the Facebook pro.

    @Charity – The dogs probably understand you better than the people! Seriously, for something that’s supposed to create efficiency, social media sure is a big time commitment, right?

    @Katie – You make a persuasive case about Facebook and Twitter (mis)linkage. I may have to rethink it.

    @Aaron – If you’re like me, your wife isn’t against YOU putting information out there, but sees zero value or interest in talking about herself. I think the key is showing how valuable those newfound connections can be. To me, Twitter is better for that than FB, because you “discover” people on Twitter in a way that you typically don’t on FB (at least not for me).

  • Jason Baer

    @William – I have Facebook set up to email me when people comment on status, so that helps. I believe we’ll have a lot more cross-pollination opportunities and solutions this year. Facebook Connect, for example.

    @Jacki – You’ve got to write a blog post about your Facebook faux pax. Awesome!

    @Paul – Wow. Killer comment. Making one person out of all of us is genius. I’m very much going to borrow that for a follow up post. (just so you know). And I really liked your post in that regard on your site. Nice job.

    @Pam – I hear you. I’d love to see a Facebook grouping capability, the way Tweetdeck enables for Twitter. What do you think, @william? You’re the Facebook pro.

    @Charity – The dogs probably understand you better than the people! Seriously, for something that’s supposed to create efficiency, social media sure is a big time commitment, right?

    @Katie – You make a persuasive case about Facebook and Twitter (mis)linkage. I may have to rethink it.

    @Aaron – If you’re like me, your wife isn’t against YOU putting information out there, but sees zero value or interest in talking about herself. I think the key is showing how valuable those newfound connections can be. To me, Twitter is better for that than FB, because you “discover” people on Twitter in a way that you typically don’t on FB (at least not for me).

  • http://mediaemerging.com/ Scott Hepburn

    Amen, brother. I was catching up on Twitter the other day, and I could have sworn I had a clone participating in conversations on my behalf. It’s a lot to keep track of.

    The overlap between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks is a problem. Do I post to all of my networks to make sure nobody misses out? Or do I segment my activity based on my network-purpose (Facebook for casual friends, LinkedIn for business networking, Twitter for the same thing, only with ACTUAL value creation)?

    From now on, I’m just gonna close my eyes when I’m Tweetblognetworkfriending. It’s safer.

    Scott Hepburn’s last blog post..Blogging as…Jazz

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Amen, brother. I was catching up on Twitter the other day, and I could have sworn I had a clone participating in conversations on my behalf. It’s a lot to keep track of.

    The overlap between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks is a problem. Do I post to all of my networks to make sure nobody misses out? Or do I segment my activity based on my network-purpose (Facebook for casual friends, LinkedIn for business networking, Twitter for the same thing, only with ACTUAL value creation)?

    From now on, I’m just gonna close my eyes when I’m Tweetblognetworkfriending. It’s safer.

    Scott Hepburn’s last blog post..Blogging as…Jazz

  • http://twitter.com/michaeljbarber/status/ Michael Barber

    Glad to know I am not the only one struggling w/ Tweet to FB status & social/real relationship issues http://bit.ly/13wmn (from @jaybaer)

  • http://twitter.com/ivan_nunez/status/ Ivan E Nunez

    Jason Baer (@jaybaer) on The Loneliness of Social Media http://is.gd/fUmr

  • http://www.adamgainer.com/ Adam Gainer

    Hey Jason,

    I was thinking about this the other day. While a good majority of my friends are on facebook very few are on twitter. In fact only 3 out of my group is on twitter. To find balance between the two I maintain the aspect of positive relationships on both of them.

    I’m FB friends with three people I’ve never met in person but tweet with them and they are great really nice people.

    I personally don’t use twitter to update my facebook, it is annoying when your status is something lame like heckling an employee. I think that @Charity and Katie are right where we are seeing a breaking down of traditional societal roles into one almost one incantation of our ego.

    Adam Gainer’s last blog post..Looking at 2009

  • http://www.adamgainer.com Adam Gainer

    Hey Jason,

    I was thinking about this the other day. While a good majority of my friends are on facebook very few are on twitter. In fact only 3 out of my group is on twitter. To find balance between the two I maintain the aspect of positive relationships on both of them.

    I’m FB friends with three people I’ve never met in person but tweet with them and they are great really nice people.

    I personally don’t use twitter to update my facebook, it is annoying when your status is something lame like heckling an employee. I think that @Charity and Katie are right where we are seeing a breaking down of traditional societal roles into one almost one incantation of our ego.

    Adam Gainer’s last blog post..Looking at 2009

  • http://www.TheSocialMediaBible.com/ Steven Groves

    I am hearing more and more of this perspective in recent weeks. There is a point of diminishing returns when there are sooo many social networks and social media technologies to be addressed.

    One element we promote at TheSocialMediaBible.com is ‘Strategy’ and as a part of the strategy of social media, there will most often be a plan behind the a social media presence. This is regardless if SM is being used as a way to build / extend a personal brand or as a technique to connect to a market, we recommend it all begin with a strategy targeting a desitred outcome.

    What’s your strategy Jason?

    Steven Groves’s last blog post..TheSocialMediaBible.com Blog Welcomes Steven Groves!

  • http://www.TheSocialMediaBible.com Steven Groves

    I am hearing more and more of this perspective in recent weeks. There is a point of diminishing returns when there are sooo many social networks and social media technologies to be addressed.

    One element we promote at TheSocialMediaBible.com is ‘Strategy’ and as a part of the strategy of social media, there will most often be a plan behind the a social media presence. This is regardless if SM is being used as a way to build / extend a personal brand or as a technique to connect to a market, we recommend it all begin with a strategy targeting a desitred outcome.

    What’s your strategy Jason?

    Steven Groves’s last blog post..TheSocialMediaBible.com Blog Welcomes Steven Groves!

  • http://beau.frusetta.com/ Beau Frusetta

    Trying to balance social media relationships and real world relationships for me is pretty easy – they are the same thing.

    I do tend to follow a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook because I’m genuinely interested in something those people have said before (and vice versa) and I’ve actively tried to connect with each and everyone of them. The majority of the people local to AZ though, I pretty much have connected with IRL at one point or another.

    I believe that you shouldn’t think of social media relationships and real world relationships as separate entities…they should be one…or you really aren’t doing it right.

  • http://beau.frusetta.com Beau Frusetta

    Trying to balance social media relationships and real world relationships for me is pretty easy – they are the same thing.

    I do tend to follow a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook because I’m genuinely interested in something those people have said before (and vice versa) and I’ve actively tried to connect with each and everyone of them. The majority of the people local to AZ though, I pretty much have connected with IRL at one point or another.

    I believe that you shouldn’t think of social media relationships and real world relationships as separate entities…they should be one…or you really aren’t doing it right.

  • http://ericinparkcity.wordpress.com/ Eric Hoffman

    Good thought provoking post Jason.
    My balance point conundrum involves having several other co-workers using social media (mainly Twitter) and the intersection of our various Tweets. It can be a bit disconcerting to see the “three sided conversation” (I stole this phrase from a great post by Mack Collier at MarketingProfs’ blog) element of SocMed pop up when trying to establish networking relationships online with others. I know that we’re not trying to step on each others’ toes, but it certainly can feel like it at times and I think that even with a solid SocMed plan that this is bound to happen. I think that this professional balance is going to wind up changing dynamically just like your personal one and it will be interesting to see where it winds up…

    Eric Hoffman’s last blog post..A Different View of the Mountain

  • http://ericinparkcity.wordpress.com Eric Hoffman

    Good thought provoking post Jason.
    My balance point conundrum involves having several other co-workers using social media (mainly Twitter) and the intersection of our various Tweets. It can be a bit disconcerting to see the “three sided conversation” (I stole this phrase from a great post by Mack Collier at MarketingProfs’ blog) element of SocMed pop up when trying to establish networking relationships online with others. I know that we’re not trying to step on each others’ toes, but it certainly can feel like it at times and I think that even with a solid SocMed plan that this is bound to happen. I think that this professional balance is going to wind up changing dynamically just like your personal one and it will be interesting to see where it winds up…

    Eric Hoffman’s last blog post..A Different View of the Mountain

  • http://twitter.com/StevenDuque Steven Richard Duque

    Interesting post, Jay. I came across it after googling a recent post I made on my blog with the same title: “The Loneliness of Social Media.” The content is vastly different, but I’d love to get your thoughts on it, especially given your expertise.

    The link is: http://stevenduque.com/2010/09/the-loneliness-of-social-media/

  • http://www.marathisongsmusic.com Marathi Songs

    While a good majority of my friends are on facebook very few are on twitter. In fact only 3 out of my group is on twitter. To find balance between the two I maintain the aspect of positive relationships on both of them.

  • Sandra

    Thank you for writing this article and this entire blog. I have enjoyed several of your articles in my first sitting (right now!) and look forward to reading many more but ths particular article really nailed how I often feel when I sit back and reflect on how ‘social’ I am online and yet how shut-in and hermit-like at the same time or how when I WANT to be social and do go out and see friends, they don’t know nearly as much as to what I’ve been up to as my virtual network. *Sigh*….But thanks, again, for the millionth time!
    Cheers,
    A fan

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Thank you Sandra. You literally made my day.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Thank you Sandra. You literally made my day.

  • diegonext

    I struggle with the opposite situation. I keep my Facebook status so “happy go lucky”, people think I am ALWAYS on a good mood, or always available, or always smiling. I guess trying to keep my Internet footprint free of drama can also bring misperceptions in the real world. I also consider that having family members and coworkers see your status can prove to be quite the hassle and bring many uncomfortable conversations, on the other hand, if we are striking for honesty, either those people should not be on our list, or we should not share the same content with them.

  • letstalkandchat

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out: http://www.mikelmurphy.com/easy-info-product-site-system/