BREAKING: Instagram's No. 1 user Kim Kardashian considering dropping photo service. Following the week we've had, I can hardly think of a headline that's more needlessly overblown than this one. Or is my reaction like this because I'm not one of Kim Kardashian's 5.7 million Instagram followers? Or because my life is, as documented in this column, so dull that the best picture I shared anywhere all week was a photo of a rainbow -- arching over the big water tower in Yonkers that has "yonkersgov.com" painted on it?
Already the pace of posts, tweets and shares is starting to level off. Less than a week since the tragedy in Connecticut, we are returning back to where we were before. But, it's too early. No matter what side of gun control or mental health support you stand on, it's too early to stop the debate. Now is the time to discuss, inform and become informed. Every column I've written for Social Media Insider has been about helping businesses. This one is not. This column is about using social media to help ourselves.
The other day, while I was sitting in the waiting room at the pediatric orthopedist, I saw the strangest thing: it was the soap opera "General Hospital," playing on the flat screen in the waiting room. I thought that show, not to mention soap operas, was dead. But it turns out even Robert Scorpio is alive! Forgive me, but now I'll turn to the kind of soap opera that only people in social media care about. It's our own little internal drama, wherein the major platforms are fighting over photos and fretting over filters.
As we look back at 2012 from a social media perspective, it's important to look at the good and the bad. I always like to ask two questions when analyzing a situation: 1) "What is being done right?" and 2) "What if everything is wrong?" So, to start, here's a social media insider's top-six disappointments of 2012:
I was too busy to notice when it happened that Wed., Nov. 7 was National Stress Awareness Day. There was no time - and hasn't been for a while - to casually surf through Facebook and Twitter. Not when there are things to write, conferences to organize, and a volunteer project that just doesn't know when to go away. But lately, I feel like I've been seeing more and more signs - well, three to be exact - that even when you do have the time, and perhaps even inclination, to while away the hours on Facebook and Twitter, there's ...
Most businesses like to think they are special: They have a unique problem. They have a unique customer. They have a complicated offering. Businesses make excuses all the time for the difficulty they find with social media. Trouble is, most of the time, it's just not true. This struck me as I saw one of the most complicated issues facing America today -- the fiscal cliff -- being discussed via a Twitter Q&A. That's right, the morass of political, financial and social complexities known as the fiscal cliff was being discussed in 140 characters or less.
Man. I wish I had time to recover from the story about the baby that was named Hashtag just before the column was due. And the newborn is a girl, no less! To the extent that I've put thought into Little Baby Hashtag at all, I was positively sure this name-challenged infant would be a boy. I'm reeling. But life, and social media, must press on, so today, let's ponder Facebook Gifts, an ecommerce upgrade from what I'm pretty sure was the only thing you used to be able to buy on Facebook: a virtual cow.
By far the biggest mistake marketers make is thinking social media is an insular activity that is strikingly different from the "real world." But the "real world" can't exist without social media, and social media can't exist without the real world.
Instagram is most definitely its own beast. Businesses thinking they can parlay a Pinterest strategy into Instagram will be sorely mistaken, thanks to strikingly different user engagement styles on the two platforms. Without clear "transactional" support, Instagram is proving to be much more about brand building and brand allegiance. If your company doesn't hold the term "brand" highly, simply stay off Instagram for now -- there are other platforms more worth your transactional-based time. However, for the brand-conscience, recent metrics show Instagram might be a worthwhile marketing tool.
So I guess by now you've cancelled your reservation at Guy's American Restaurant and Bar, because the cocktails are said to taste like formaldehyde, the rice isn't rice, but "an insipid Rice-a-Roni variant," and the fish tastes like toasted marshmallows. (Wait. It's the other way around -- the marshmallows taste like fish.)