Only in social, it’s much harder than calling up your local cable provider and signing on. You can join all of the social channels you want, from Snapchat to WhatsApp, YikYak to Whisper, but if there’s no one you know to connect to, it isn’t worth much.
The first time I encountered this conundrum was back in February 2007. I was writing a feature about Facebook for another ad trade, and so I joined, only to find it was inhabited by college and high school students. Demographically speaking, I could have qualified as a cougar. I sure felt like one, a Stalker Mom who ends up being the subject of a bad movie on Lifetime.
It wasn’t until I asked readers of this column to friend me -- which was exactly a year later -- that I started to have a real Facebook experience. My early Twitter experiences, which date from roughly the same time, were the same.
And now I find I’m back in the same place with the raft of newer platforms, that, like those once were, aren’t actually chockful of people I know. Officially speaking, I’m on WhatsApp and Snapchat -- and I could’ve sworn I signed up for Line, too, but I can’t find it anymore on my phone. However, the truth is, that in one way or another, my accounts are graveyards. Yes, Snapchat dutifully ported my social graph from elsewhere to help me find a few friends, but it’s been months now, and none of them has sent me anything. And McDonald’s, my first Snapchat “friend,” has gone silent.
Same with WhatsApp. Plenty of friends of mine have that little message by their WhatsApp profile that says, “Hey, there! I am using WhatsApp.” But it’s a lie! They may have signed up for WhatsApp, but they sure aren’t using it -- at least not with me.
But while some of you can corral your officemates into joining and experimenting with these platforms, like a little cyber-gang, for me -- and many other work-at-home types -- that’s impossible. My principal daytime companion is my cat, Dustin, and even if he could type, he’s just not very social, just like Sergey Brin. (You don’t make that many friends when your hobby is killing birds.)
So it’s time once again to ask readers of the Social Media Insider to join me in exploring a few platforms together, at least until it becomes commonplace for Soccer Moms to use Snapchat, or my next-door neighbor and I to converse on WhatsApp. (While I’m at it, my Instagram account is a little pitiful, too.)
There will be several rules of engagement:
1. All content must be SFSM (safe for Soccer Moms -- my ten-year-old’s fascination with my phone is a little disturbing).
2. You can’t just join the platform. You have to actually participate in it.
3. If you discover an advertiser using it, let the rest of the group know.
4. No trolls allowed -- not even the plastic ones with the bright orange hair that sticks straight up on their heads.
To have some control over the process, here is how we’ll proceed: Message me via the MediaPost platform (you have to be a MediaPost member to do so, but it’s free!). Then, suggest what platforms you’d really like to experiment with, so we get some kind of consensus. And then we’ll all friend and follow each other, and the fun will commence! (As will more Social Media Insider column ideas.)
God! What did I just get myself into?