What Spongebob Squarepants taught me about Social Media

SpongebobIf ever a picture told a thousand words, it’s this one, which recently appeared in my timeline on Facebook- sadly because a ‘friend’ had ‘liked’ it.

The complex relationship between God, cancer and Spongebob Squarepants must have passed me by, but it illustrates the beauty and the curse of socially referred, user-generated content- quality control is only as strong as the weakest link in your network.

It’s annoying when spam appears in your timeline from large brands, but this is no more annoying than an ad and you tolerate it because of the huge benefits that ‘free’ access to a tool like Facebook brings. Plus, you know it’s an algorithm’s ‘opinion’ rather than one of your nearest and dearest actively engaging with the content by clicking ‘like’.

I can’t help contrast this with my LinkedIn timeline. No doubt helped by the removal of automated twitter feeds into LinkedIn, the stream of updates from my professional network of over 550 contacts on LinkedIn (some of whom are also Facebook friends) doesn’t suffer the same pollution of ‘like spam’.

Accepting it’s not in any way scientific, there appears to be a clear difference in behaviour by the same people on Facebook as on LinkedIn. Hardly ‘hold the front page’ stuff, I know, but with more and more talk of the drive from “B2B” (business-to-business) to “P2P” (person-to-person) communications being fuelled by social media, there’s clear evidence to me that people do fluctuate between their “work” and “personal” self, and use separate social media platforms to power these dual personas. For this reason, I struggle to see how Facebook will ever evolve into a truly valuable social media tool for engaging B2B audiences.

Maybe 2013 will be the year Google+ really starts to take off. The segmentation possibilities that its ‘circles’ functionality give you help alleviate some of the issues I’ve touched upon above.

How do you use social media tools? Do you have different platforms for your ‘work’ and ‘personal’ self? In what ways do you manage your digital personal brand using social media?

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