Engagement. Authenticity. Responsiveness. People who use social media for marketing and communications love these words. They use them with a sense of authority and power and promise.
I’ve used these words before, in various meetings and presentations. I like them. But I also hate them a little bit. Because they basically add up to this ironclad guarantee that social media marketers are supposed to make it work around the clock. They’re supposed to be staring down at their iPhones and their computers every other second, checking on something they tweeted, posted, uploaded, etc., to see if anyone’s commenting on it, liking it, REtweeting it, pinning it. To see if there’s something new they should say, in response to a question or comment or photo. Basically, these communicators, who in their previous lives were people persons ... people people?? ... are now auto-conveying emotion, meaning, humor. They’re becoming human robots with social ADD who are plugged in 24/7 to digital everything. The ones who are taking pictures of the Jumbo Screen at the Pearl Jam concert with their phones while the band is only a few feet away and could practically spit or throw a drumstick at them.*
But you know who hates “engagement,” “authenticity” and “responsiveness” the most? The significant others of the social media “gurus.” Ironically, these words used to describe the personality of someone who was a great spouse or boyfriend or daughter. Someone who paid attention, was spontaneously awesome in the real time of here and now.
Guess what? These words can STILL be used that way, in that context. Here’s how: If you happen to use social media as a large component of your job, do yourself a favor, and give your partner the BEST valentine ever! Grab your boyfriend’s hand rather than punch in another text while you’re out walking down the street to the restaurant where you're having what feels like the first dinner out in weeks with just the two of you. Turn off the damn device when you’re out to dinner. For God’s sake, DO NOT bring your iPhone into the bedroom, at least not into the bed. Put it somewhere where you can still hear the alarm, but you can’t reach it to fire it up first thing when you wake up in the morning. Instead, wrap your arms around whoever’s next to you --- your husband, your girlfriend, your dog --- and appreciate them for a little while instead. Ignore your status updates, your tiny blue birds, your blogs. Just exist for a little while, and remember why you feel so glad to have someone who loves you, and who you're also crazy about. And if you’re single, all this stuff still applies: Ultimately, the best relationship you need to have is with yourself, and you’re not a machine.
Here are a few other great words: “Unplug.” “Recharge.” And let’s not forget “Hootsuite” and “TweetDeck,” or, as I like to call them, “digital interns.” Take the night off and go have some fun, with your friends, with your girlfriend, with yourself. The digital world, changing at the speed of light, can’t exactly wait, but it will be there when you get back.
Flickr heart image above courtesy of qthomasbower. Pic of my husband and me above on right by the ever-talented Amanda Shea. *And yeah, I did go to a Pearl Jam concert once where people were really doing that, people with killer seats.