Monday, September 30, 2013

Social media strategy for a socially averse person

LinkedIn from the series "Tanaklogia" by Tarek Chemaly

Let me start this post by shooting myself in the foot - if I am known for anything it is for my stage presence during conferences and lectures. Lately I approached someone I met once in a conference in 2008 in Sweden, the man is the head of a global NGO and meets about a gazillion people a month. Upon reintroducing myself he said with humour "one either remembers you or doesn't know you." All of this is a convoluted way to say that when the "stage lights" dim, yours truly feels more comfortable unmingling and being by himself. I am a natural introvert as opposed to being extroverted - the more the public time spent, the more I feel the need to rejuvenate by counterbalancing.
Which brings us to the purposes of this post. People dealing with digital strategies abound in the market, all of them are tech gurus and specialists (just look at how they define themselves in their twitter handles), all of them are "results oriented", "strategy focused", adopters of the "I link therefore I exist" (to paraphrase Descartes) and so on.
They bring preconceived formulas, adapt the same thinking everywhere, try to duplicate whatever worked elsewhere, and in a world where social media fatigue is starting to kick in (yes, even Facebook admitted that the youth does not find it cool any longer and are flocking to other providers such as twitter and instagram), the whole equation is starting to become - boring at best, tedious at worst.
Naturally, this is not to underestimate the reach of social media. But simply to point out that what works for one entity does not work for the other. It is only very very recently that I established a profile on Facebook - I am so popular there, that I have zero friends. You read it right, zero friends (and I am bragging about it!). See? The whole idea was to be there to establish a Beirut/NTSC page, no more, no less. Sure, I could lead an exponential growth had I accepted all the friend invites I got there, but the simple idea of having my email inbox flooded with items tagged Facebook annoys me beyond measure.
Now, let's focus on the supposed ghost town that Google+ is. To begin with, it is not. When I started posting Beirut/NTSC entries on the g+ page ( a profile I got ipso facto by virtue on having a gmail account), there was a very tangible increase in readership. And here too, whereas many people added me to their circles, I did not add anyone. Not out of snobbishness but because anyone who wishes to have a serious discussion with me knows that - either they are on already on my (not very long) email list, or they can contact me direct to discuss matters.
Paradoxically, whereas I only joined Linkedin only last weekend, I accepted all invites that came my way. Schizophrenic you might say? Not really, because the whole "tone of voice" of LinkedIn is different. Yes, the same people who wanted to befriend me on Facebook found me on LinkedIn - and whereas I denied them the pleasure on the former, it was OK on the latter. My phone number and private email were common knowledge among students when I was lecturing at universities, and they would phone me at all un-Godly hours, but they way they addressed me, be it in speech or writing, was always courteous and professional - much like LinkedIn. Facebook lends itself to a different way or behaving, one where boundaries are much harder to set (mind you, I am as egalitarian and class-blind as they come, but it annoys me that one could talk to me in a very relaxed or slouchy manner simply by virtue of me existing online).
However, had I entrusted one of those social media so-called local moguls to come up with a strategy for me and implement it, I would have ended up with a fiasco. I would have knowingly self-sabotaged it as opposed to endorse it and cherish it. Simply because, they were giving me a social media strategy while not caring as to my character, personality or own social attitude. In short, everyone of them brags about a tailor-made service. I want mine made-to-measure, not for my product (a blog and a media presence) but for me (the person who is behind the "social" part).
Needless to say, for my purposes, the strategy is a staggering success. It resembles me, brings in the required results and it doesn't flood my inbox with irritating messages. What more could one want? As an anecdote, anyone who knows me knows I wear a hearing aid. When I was doing my fitting, I asked for it to be done in red as opposed to dull "flesh" color. The technician, puzzled, told me that the red part would never show as it would be inside the ear and therefore not visible. To which I replied "if I don't like it, I won't use it."
I wear a red hearing aid (not visible) and have zero Facebook friends, and that's the way I like it. And that's the way it works. For me. Just for me.

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