I hate to get stuck on a position. Whenever I do, I’m no longer open to learning. I turned my back on social media after experiencing the cruelty at Digg and mistakenly allowed that to color my perspective for all forms of social media.
Shortly after that Digg experience, I happened to have the chance to talk about social media with some friends in the search marketing industry. 10e20′s, Chris Winfield, was the most positive voice and did his best to present a site such as Digg as a mix of good and bad. He, and other marketers like his company, use social media as a tool. For them, I sense, there is a true science to navigating which social media site fits the needs of a promotional campaign for a client.
Knowing the territory is where they far exceed my personal experience. It’s unfair of me to lump social media into a pile of junk somewhere without really understanding the nature of the beast.
My friend, Miriam, of Solas Web Design has been researching the social media environment in an effort to understand how it can be applied to her work and services. Is it a valuable tool? Are there risks? She interviewed several people, myself included, for a thoughtful piece called The isms of SM.
What Miriam found was racism, sexism, religious intolerance, prejudice and bigotry in Digg and Reddit. She wondered why anyone would expose a client to this. She wrote:
I am extremely disturbed by the rampant hate speech going on in the comments field of Digg and Reddit. Though some of the comments are benign, there is an ugly feeling in the atmosphere. Tragedies are met with laughter and sneering. Serious articles about religion receive incredibly hateful replies. Racist comments are everywhere. How do you feel about this element of Social Media? Does it shock you?
After I had sent my responses to her questions a few weeks back, I felt unsettled that my own negative experiences influenced my perspective. Could I be persuaded to reconsider?
Definitely. An article called Analysis: 6 Useful Social Media Tools and Sites For Women showed up on my radar and I bookmarked it to explore the sites mentioned. It’s not that I’m only into women sites, because I’m not. What attracts me is the fact that there are more choices. This means there may be environments where I could fit in.
Bill Slawski pointed out in Miriam’s article several “positive” social media sites, including forums and business networking sites. I found a 68 page report called Never Ending Friending: A Journey into Social Networking (PDF) The research covers:
The Insiderâ€™s View of the Evolving World of Social Networking
The Momentum Effect:Creating Brand Value in the Social Networking Space
Implications for Brands and Agencies
There’s the anti-social side of social media (image) and the mature, tolerant side. There’s the “It’s cool to humiliate people” type of social media web site and, unfortunately hate sells in some target markets.
That’s the part I get stuck on.
When did we permit inflicting harm on someone as a marketing tool and ticket to riches and fame?
Instead of the Internet unifying people, social media divides and separate us into categories. While that’s natural, because people like to do that, I’m hopeful I’ll find fair sites that value me.
What makes a social media site worthwhile to you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.