My Changing Social Media Habits

My social media habits have undergone an interesting change in the past few weeks. I’ve only been on Facebook a year, and while I haven’t become a prolific poster, I do check my account throughout the day and will post several times a week. It’s become a regular source of information for me, be it information about my friends or information about the world.

But just as I celebrated my first Facebook anniversary, I recommitted to my Twitter account. Over the period of two or three weeks, I’ve followed scores of new people and posted perhaps five times as often as I would have in the past. I’ve learned how to use lists. I’ve boned up on Twitter etiquette. I’ve researched how best to use Twitter.  My reward?  Enough invaluable information to make my head explode.  I’ve bookmarked site after site, blogger after blogger, all based on leads I’ve found through Twitter.

And suddenly, I’ve become bored with my Facebook account.  Facebook seems too slow, too irrelevant (these are my friends I’m talking about!), too limited.  Sure, I still check Facebook daily.  But no longer am I obsessively scrolling through all of the updates. Worse yet,  I’m dodging my inbox.

This may just be a phase.  But I have a feeling the Andy Borowitz quote (presumably) making the rounds on Twitter (where else?) has nailed it:  “I worry that children raised on Twitter won’t have the attention span for Facebook.”

Name change or game changer?

What’s in a name?  In reality, quite a lot.  In this age of branding, your name—be it for a product or for a person—is the starting point for your brand.

I’m not sure I understood this when I chose my usernames for the different social media I’m now using with greater regularity.  For example, my username on Twitter is Kaplann, my username for my wiki page is Jourwiki, my Delicious handle is Newsfangled, and my blog is, well, SkylineJour121–that’s a winner.

Turns out, I’m a mess.

When I reflect on this, I can see that part of what it represents is the uncertainty of purpose I had when I was first starting to use social media.  Were these outlets going to be my public and professional face?  Or was I going to play but still try to remain anonymous? Was I promoting myself, my class, my program?  Was I trying to create a brand while still protecting my privacy by opting for the username “Newsfangled” on several accounts?

Truth be told, I didn’t ask myself any of these questions then.  Back then, I was simply jumping in and experimenting.  But what I’ve composed is a brand that’s not very cohesive.  Nor is it a brand that’s search-engine friendly.  When was the last time you did a search for blogs on, say, Journalism 121?

Not that I’m beating myself up here.  This dilemma is a byproduct of trying out new technology, and now that I’ve been at this for a while longer, some things are becoming clearer:

  • Social media is here to stay (duh), so while trying new tools out is great and necessary, assume that your latest experiment will stick.  In other words, from the outset, assume that the new tool will be a part of your branding portfolio and choose your username accordingly.
  • Pseudonyms are cool (I rather like Newsfangled), but you add credibility and “searchability” when you use your real name for those new tools.  And chances are you’ve already made an effort to build your professional reputation.  Why not capitalize on that beyond the office? Or, if you are going to use an alias for your username for brevity (for Twitter, for example), identify yourself in your profile by your real name.
  • Do not equate name continuity across social media with sameness of purpose or content.  Think carefully about how you want to use Facebook vs. Twitter vs. YouTube vs. WordPress, even if all carry your same username.
  • In the end, the tool helps define the purpose, but the name helps define you.

Given this, I’m considering renaming my social media accounts, including this blog.  In the end, will this be merely a name change, or will it be a game changer?  I don’t know yet, but stay tuned!

UPDATE:  I’ve officially changed the name of the blog.  It still feels like a work in progress, but anything was better than the previous name.