Selling You On Social Networking

I signed up for a Twitter account in November 07.  It took me  a year to figure out what to do with it —which is post links to things I find interesting and to make the occasional wiseass remark.

That may sound like a waste of time, but compared to the “I just woke up/I’m now eating breakfast/I took a shower” crap that some people put on Twitter, my feed reads like the Wall Street Journal.

But you know what? It’s not the people who have nothing to say that don’t belong on Twitter, it’s the people who have something to sell.

Marketers have latched onto social networking the way those leeches in African Queen latched on to Humphrey Bogart. The difference is that Humphrey Bogart could get rid of his leeches.  For an example, let’s turn to America’s least trusted business: car dealers. They’re are all over Twitter and Facebook like a cheap suit, which is ironic isn’t it? They use it as a place to “connect with their customers” and “build their brand” and other marketing catch-phrase talk.

So here’s my question: do you really want to follow a car dealer’s Twitter feed or become a fan of them on Facebook? So they can pitch you on buying a car? All the time?

At its best Twitter provides useful information.  A news story, an interesting web site, a curious thought. Facebook? It’s a bridge that spans the space and time of friendship.

If you want to sell cars, go buy an ad.

Face Time

I’m not the oldest person on Facebook, but I’d guess I’m in the top 5%. At my age, it’s nice to know you’ve made it to the top 5% in something. Anyway, I joined up because I read that I needed to take control of my “personal brand identity” and that Facebook is one of the essential tools. I think what they mean is that you need to keep a grip on what people find when they search your name. And what they don’t find. And what I didn’t want found was my running times.

After almost 15 years of running, I’m still not one of those sleek, fast people who look natural doing it. I never will be. That’s OK, but since everything’s on the web these days, my race results were right at the top of my online life. Was that bad? Probably not. Most normal people would find running in races a positive thing. But runners? No, they would look at it is and say, “He’s, SLOWWW. VERRRY slow. Look at THIS: a 1:28 15K! And, oh my God: a FIVE HOUR marathon!” Yeah, five hours. Worst five hours of my life.

For better or worse, I’ve pretty much buried the slow race results behind all the other crap I’m doing online. But I’m not sure it worked out the way I wanted. And look at it this way: five hours is a long time, but I was out there running for two-and-a-half hours longer than the winner, right? That’s gotta count for something.