The never-ending world of social media continues to draw me in. I started not with My Space, but with Twitter and Facebook in about 2007, when Twitter was still a word that made most people smirk, or raise an eyebrow. As I followed along with Twitter I learned the twitter-speak and yearned for more – jumping into any new thing that came along; Twibes, Twazzup, Tumblr, Flickr, Blip.FM, and of course LinkedIn and YouTube. I also found out about Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Mashable, Hubspot, Words with Friends and those nasty Phishing schemes. I followed leaders of the new digital frontier like @GaryVee @PeteCashmore, and @CaliLewis. I attended Tweetups on a monthly basis and got involved with the Foursquare community in location-based apps. But that’s all old news. Twitter is no longer the eyebrow raising app that it used to be and social media did not just go away like some presumed.
Today there seems to be a social media app for everyone. My brother got me into Geocaching where I learned of a whole new network of behind the ‘screen’ treasure hunters who took their devices outside. Geocachers are a whole new tribe of Social Media with different lingo and different allegiances, they don’t care so much about where you eat, or what you are doing today as long as you BYOP, CITO and avoid the muggles you’re OK. I also discovered apps like GetGlue, Klout and my current favorite; Instagram, and yet again each of these platforms is another filter from the mainstream of Twitter and Facebook. These apps draw smaller crowds of people who like certain types of things and have certain types of ways of sharing. There are whole worlds buried within these app communities of lingo, icons, contests and friendships. I had only just begun snapping photos with Instagram when I realized I had followers, and their was a feed that you could watch of your friends photos, and that with the right choice of hashtags you could open your photo to worlds of Instagram users.
Do I sometimes worry about broadcasting my life 24/7 to a mass of unknown followers? Somewhat maybe, but every time I decide to back away someone RT’s my tweet, gives me an #FF, or follows my Foursquare tip. Whether it’s a well-known event promoter like Mark Dudlik who contacted me about the AIGA/Pivot event happening in Phoenix Arizona, or a conference event speaker like Troy Thompson responding to me and seeking me out at a conference just to say hello. In San Francisco I met a company, At Large inc., from Sarasota, Florida who I’ve been following on twitter and ended up going to dinner with their staff, and in my own hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona lead vocalist Colin Hay from Men at Work, a major band of the eighties, complimented me on a tweet about his upcoming concert performance. These are examples of celeb social media stars, but it’s also the social media friends I’ve come to know that keep me from just walking away. It’s not just a marketing tool, or a new trendy application anymore, it’s a social network of connections with like-minded people. Twitter cannot be simply reduced to a cutesy app for tweeting about lunch, it’s also my only connection to many people I would otherwise never have met. When I go to a conference I automatically know people, when I go to a city I’ve never been to before I can seek out advice from people on where to eat, shop and how to get around, and most of all when in uncomfortable situations like a conference or being in a strange city I can easily be comforted by the reminders that I got friends watching my tweets, enjoying my photos and perhaps even meeting IRL. At home I find out what’s going on around town, with the weather and someday soon I know we will eventually pull together and stop a fire or perhaps catch a bank robber (of which we’ve had many in the last year). Social media is here to stay, if you haven’t got on board yet there is an app community out there waiting for you.