In this one-hour session, we connected with social media experts to discuss what we're supposed to do now that social media has imploded. (Exploded? Whatever.) Here, our panelists explore how social networks are functioning in the 2020s, ways to navigate your professional and brand social media strategies, and what social networks will look like in ten years.
About the experts
We discussed the current state of social media with our three expert panelists:
- Emily Rochotte is a content writer and social media manager. She works with clients to create digital content that builds brand awareness, increases website traffic, and grows their social media presence. Say "hi" to Emily on Instagram at @EmilyRochotte and check out her column right here at The Content Technologist.
- Arik Hanson is a social media consultant and adjunct professor who has provided midsized and Fortune 500-level companies with customized social media audits, strategies, coaching, and content development for the last 13 years. He writes one of the longest-running social media blogs in the US and co-produces the long-running Hanson & Hunt podcast.
- Kate Lindsay is a freelance writer and co-founder of the internet culture newsletter Embedded. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, GQ, and Vulture. She lives in New York with her partner and two poorly behaved cats.
On the agenda
- Introduction from host, Deborah Carver
- A word from our sponsor, Rockee.io
- Meet the experts: Emily Rochotte, Kate Lindsay, Arik Hanson
- Discussion: What's changed for social media over the past year?
- When did every social network become Tumblr?
- What are your social media routines, professionally and personally?
- Practice, mirroring and documentation with managing editor, Wyatt Coday
- Let's play: Dead social
- How do you classify different social media platforms?
- What is dark social? Should we fear it?
- The big one: What is social media?
- Let's play: Most likely to...
Watch a recording of the full stream here:
Deborah Carver: Hi! Welcome. My name's Deborah Carver. You're watching Relationship Status Update — it’s a salon presented by The Content Technologist. We’ve been publishing The Content Technologist newsletter for over four years, and we're very excited to expand into more virtual events, starting with this informal but informative gathering.
We created this show for a few reasons. We definitely wanted to connect and engage our readers in new ways, and we want to take advantage of the prevalence of low-cost video editing and streaming software. It's definitely a lot cheaper and easier to put together a live stream than it was three or four years ago. And we’re content technologists, so we want to experiment with the new tech—so here we are!
And also, we want to fix, or at least make B2B or business to business media a little bit better. The thing with B2B media, historically, is that it's usually aimed at executives and investors, or Wall Street Journal types. And I don't know about you, but that's not me. I don't read things in business papers… You know, they may help me from an executive perspective thinking about trends, but it doesn't really help me do my day-to-day job as a content strategist, as a content professional; because, like many of you, my work requires a lot of skill and experience, and it changes all the time, especially because I work in digital. And so, despite the explosion of communities and newsletters, there's not that many resources where knowledge workers can skill-share with intermediate and advanced techniques openly online. Knowledge workers love to talk about what they do, and so, we with The Content Technologist want to create places to do that. This live salon is one of those.
And it's also fun to experiment with things like small scale video, because we think B2B media can, and should, be fun while being informative and practical. So frankly, while there's so much content about content out there, not much of it is all that fun. B2B exists in this perceived corporate reality where everyone's very serious and stuffy. Or, there's this other side of it where content around UX and content strategy and social media can be weirdly angry or nit-picky of others work, and we don't like that either. We want to have fun without making fun of others or without making light of others' work, and we want to learn a few things while we're at it.
And with that, we'd love to hear from our inaugural sponsor, Rockee.io. Matt can't be here today from Rockee, but I had a chat with him yesterday, and here are a few snippets.
Matt Laybourn: I'm Matt Laybourne, I'm the founder of Rockee.
Deborah: Glad to have you here! How do you know your content that you've been putting on your website, that you've been creating all year — how do you know if it's good?
Matt: This was essentially my frustration when I worked at an agency. We’d constantly have client’s going, “How good is our content?” And then you’d put a number in front of them from GA, and you go, “Look, the dwell time is two minutes.” And they go, “What does that mean?” And I'm sort of like, “I don't really know what it means!” It's seemingly quite good that someone was on a page for this long, but there must be a better way.
That's why we started building Rockee. The only way we really could understand where the content resonates, whether it answered the question that person had, is by asking them. So, we've created a set of feedback widgets which go on nearly any type of content.
Rockee is a content feedback platform. It's the quickest and easiest way of finding out how valuable your content is. You can install it on nearly any type of content, whether it sits on your website, gated assets, offline assets, even events. It's a way of collecting feedback from your audience. You get a rating, you can understand more about your target persona. You can get the feedback on why it was good, and sometimes if it was bad, how you could make things better as well. So it's great for content optimization and making sure your content resonates with the audience.
Deborah: How are you measuring success? What are the metrics that you look at when you're working with clients on Rockee?
Matt: The thing that we've actually started to gravitate towards the most is the rating, because it gives us a really quick way… So, the thing that's interesting is… this is why we've embedded GA4 and search console, very quickly in one view you can go, “Okay, here's how I perform on SERP, here's the number of impressions by ranking, click through rate. Cool.” I get an idea of how that's working. I've got GA4 telling me engagement rate, conversions, and the session data as well. Then I've got the rating, and I can really quickly spot correlations, like really low engagement. Why is that low rating? What's going on here? And then you've got another button there to go, “What's the feedback? Is there something really obvious that we didn't get right?” I can go and adjust it. Same with high-performing content. You can start to go, “Okay, we know why that really lands, we know why that really works. So, it's actually the rating, and we've essentially added one more metric into GA4 that GA4 doesn't do.
Deborah: Awesome—thanks, Matt! Rockee is really great software, you can find them at Rockee.io. Check them out and let them know where you heard about them.
It's really great to have everyone here, and we chose social media as our first salon topic because it's changed so radically in the past year. And also because it's not my area of expertise at all, so I wanted to bring in some experts.
I would love to introduce our panelists. Emily Rochotte is a content writer and social media manager. She works with clients to create digital content that builds brand awareness, increases website traffic, and grows their social media presence. Hi, Emily!
Emily Rochotte: Hi, Deborah! Thanks for having me. Happy to be here!
Deborah: Thanks for joining!
Kate Lindsay is a freelance writer and co-founder of the Internet Culture Newsletter, Embedded. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, GQ, and Vulture. She lives in New York with her partner and two poorly behaved cats. What's up, Kate? Glad to have you!
Kate Lindsay: Hi, thanks for having me! I forgot I included the cats’ bit in there.
Deborah: It's cool—my cats are poorly behaved too, that's why they're locked in the bedroom right now. They're not going to join.
And then, Arik Hanson. With more than 25 years experience in the marketing and communications industry, Arik Hanson has been providing mid-sized and Fortune 500-level companies across the U.S. with custom social media audits, strategies, coaching, and content development as the founder of Arik Hanson Social Media for the past 13 years. He also runs a really amazing newsletter, and we're super excited to have Arik here. Hi!
Arik Hanson: Hello. Happy Friday.
Deborah: Yes, happy Friday! It's so great to have you all here.
In the past few weeks, there has been some news and updates from social media. One of the things that hasn't happened is the men in charge of Meta and X have not had whatever kind of fight they're going to do, so we don't have to talk about that, I'm happy about that. But some of the things I picked up in the past few weeks: Clubhouse, if you remember them from the early pandemic, they've added group text chats. And all I remember… I never actually used Clubhouse, I remember there was a Clubhouse for whale sounds where people would log on and just make whale sounds at each other? So, I hope those people have found the text chats, too, and are texting whale sounds to each other now. Instagram is testing some more options around Close Friends streams or paid streams. TikTok is running an ad on streaming networks that claims it helps children learn how to read. And LinkedIn has essentially added—which is kind of the most LinkedIn-thing ever—they tried all these really… they tried to add “stories,” they tried to add all different things… but what they've wound up sticking with and has been performing well recently is basically a PDF slideshow. The new carousel. LinkedIn is very like, “Oh, hey, upload your PDF.”
I think it's fun to look at all the changes in social media and see how networks are evolving. But, as the great David Byrne once asked, we want to know: How did we get here? How did we get to this state of social media in 2023? So, in your own words, Emily, we're going to start with you: What's happened in the past year with social media?
Emily: Too much! Everybody is just trying to be everybody else and not sticking to their roots of what they were known for. And, I understand wanting to come out with new features to keep people engaged, but when you don't listen to people about those features, it isn't really doing what you want it to do. I think it's a lot of people doing what sounds good and what they think people want while totally ignoring what people are asking for.
Deborah: Kate, what do you think's happened in the past year?
Kate: Yeah, very similar to what Emily said. Specifically, it seems that all these, you know, the big apps that we know from the 2010s, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook—they all saw TikTok’s success and were like, “We're going to do that too.” And like Emily was saying, that meant they went so far and away from the original purpose of themselves that everyone signed up for. The thing I'm hearing with even just the updates you were just sharing, just before we started speaking, Deborah, is that they all seem to be moving back towards text or back towards sharing with a smaller audience. And I think that's because those are the two key things that in their pursuit of being TikTok, they kind of abandoned and then everyone was like, “We actually liked that.”
Deborah: Arik, anything to add? Any other thoughts?
Arik: I'll tackle a different angle. I agree with everything Emily and Kate just said, but I think a few things, in the audits and strategy work I do, I see social media teams are more stretched than ever before. Many teams are a one-person team and they're freaking out because we're going on three years post pandemic, too much work, adding platforms, all this stuff. Number two, we're still seeing brands post way too much on social media with engagement levels dipping, which seems like it's contributing to the stress levels of social media folks. And number three, I feel like brands are trying to game the platforms too much and they're going away from creativity. Like your point about PDFs on LinkedIn, that's one of the games, right? Like, “Oh, those are performing really well! We need to use those.” At the expense of creativity? I wouldn't do that. So we seem to be seeing a lot of that, too.
Deborah: Arik, do you think that's any different than a decade ago? How has that changed since 10 years ago when the social explosion really happened?
Arik: 10 years ago, social 2013… I mean, Instagram was still relatively new, TikTok wasn't around, obviously. Creativity was still a little bit at a premium and now it's matured and there's more social media people, there's more process invested in it, and now it's all about gaming the stats towards the goals and we've gone too far that way. I think it'll come back but it needs to come back a little bit creatively.
Deborah: Kate, any thoughts on differences from 10 years ago from now… You're not a social media manager, you're more from the journalist perspective.
Kate: Yeah, I mean, the thing that comes to mind, from the journalist perspective, is just sharing articles. That’s kind of a real crisis that journalism is in right now because Twitter—these places, you know—Facebook has kind of abandoned news and that used to be a huge traffic driver for places I work for. Twitter never has been a huge driver of clicks to news articles, but it certainly isn't now, especially because there's been a lot of suppressing and gaming the system. It’s kind of forcing journalists who are not native necessarily to video to go on places like TikTok, or position themselves as influencers because that's just how news is being consumed now. Especially by younger generations, which is what everyone wants to capture.
Deborah: Emily, any thoughts?
Emily: I think, too, from 10 years ago, people are realizing now (well, still starting to) that it's a job and it's not just… You know, 10 years ago it was like, “Here's this other cool thing I can do to promote my business. I can get an Instagram, or Facebook is driving link clicks for me.” But now there's too much and you need to hire somebody, but I don't think we're at the place where people are totally seeing the value in that. They just know they need to do it and they don't really understand the cost behind it and what they need to be doing. Because when they see all these different things, it's just another person to dump something on. “Oh, we’ve got to make something for Threads now, and we need to bang out 10 TikTok videos in an hour because we got to move on to this new thing that's come out.” So, it definitely has changed in 10 years. I'd like to reevaluate this another 10 years and hope that people are seeing more value and supporting the people that are making all the content.
Deborah: Arik, actually, I have a question for you. As far as social media teams that you're seeing, you said there's lots of teams of one. What's the largest social media team that you've worked with? At larger companies—I'm curious.
Arik: Oh, good question. I work with… I think their social media teams are maybe like seven or eight people total. You talk about… the biggest of the big only has eight. That's before… they show the percentages, and I think it was like, 30% only have one, and up to 80% have less than three. You're talking about really small teams.
Deborah: It's challenging because there's so many different networks now. What are teams doing to catch up with the amount of networks? Is it just a scramble? Is anyone really great at getting everyone on board with the new networks or going for strategy? Or is it just a free-for-all right now? What would you say, Arik?
Arik: Oh, I think it's all about prioritizing. Again, in the work—the audits I'm doing right now—one of the findings is always that you need to prioritize your networks. You don't need to be on all of them and preferably, you need to be on two, maybe three. And they're still focused on, “We need to be on these networks.” Namely Twitter—or X right now, right? People are still prioritizing that and they're seeing no engagement or no reach and it’s like, why are you doing that? You don't need to do it anymore.
Deborah: Emily, with your clients, you work with more small businesses—how are you seeing that shift? You're saying that some people are seeing the need to do more social media, but they're just not staffing up, is that kind of what's happening?
Emily: I hear a lot of… I believe the direct quote would be, “I know I need to do this. I just don't have time.” People are not really sure. I think TikTok contributes to a lot of it, right? People were like, “I'm not going to get on TikTok. I don't have time for another thing.” And then they watched it take off and they're like, “Oh, I really should have done that. I don't want to make that mistake again.” And so then, to Arik's point, they’re trying to be everywhere instead of focusing on one thing. And when you are a team of one, and maybe you're just a solopreneur, and you are literally a half a team because you're trying to do 10 other team projects for your own business, it really comes down to: how can you repurpose? And I think part of the challenge is that social media is filled with these experts (that may or may not be experts) telling you all these things you need to do. Post this many times, make content this way, do these things… and people are so sucked into that that they're focused on either, “I’m doing that or not doing it at all,” and less of a, “How can I repurpose this and use things across different channels? That may not be the top strategy, but it's what I'm capable of at the moment.”
Deborah: I think there's a lot of that just figuring out what's happening at the moment. Emily does social media for The Content Technologist and I'm definitely guilty of the like, “I don't know what to do! I need to do it.” I'm sorry, Emily!
One area of social media where many of us are experts is not 10 but 15 years ago. For a lot of content professionals of a certain age, while Facebook was the first social network that we joined, Tumblr was the first social network that we loved. And we were talking about this, how all the networks are adding all these new features, and a few months ago, I was like, “Well, even though I'm not on Tumblr anymore…” I haven't been on Tumblr for 10 plus years, even though Tumblr is still active and still going (which, you know, they're on the third owner now… good job, Tumblr), there's still people there. But it seems like every social network—Facebook, Instagram, even LinkedIn just wants to do exactly what Tumblr did.
So, a few days ago we asked our panelists, when did every social network become Tumblr?
Kate: The Tumblrification of social media, I would say, started happening around the pandemic, which is when these more mainstream tech companies like Meta and Twitter started to realize that these internet communities and that being online were relationships and communities that they should take seriously, which is something that Tumblr always did.
So they started to mimic some of the same things, which is: what could they do to take 100% of a person's attention? I grew up on Tumblr and Tumblr had all I needed. I could repost. I could post content myself. I could post video, I could post audio, I could talk with my friends. It had everything, but it was also a much denser community, whereas these apps like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, they want to speak to everyone, which is a little bit impossible. So they're adopting all these features, and it’s making the apps either really diluted, in the case of Instagram, or, in the case of Twitter/X, really chaotic and just weirdly a place you want to spend less of your time, let alone 100%.
Emily: I think that Tumblr itself is not the blueprint. I don't think Instagram is sitting down and being like, “Tumblr had these features,” but I think the core features of Tumblr and what it represented at its time is the core of what people are looking for. So, your ability to share text posts, your ability to share photos, and your ability to share videos are really the main things that people are looking to share and use to communicate with other people, whether it's their own thoughts and feelings, or reposting something that speaks to them and represents how they're feeling. And so at the end of the day, no matter how new social platforms twist it, there's only so many ways to allow people to share text posts and photos and videos. I think those are the core basics and Tumblr just was one of the first people to do it. I think the same could maybe be said about MySpace and other earlier platforms in terms of hitting those core elements of being able to express your feelings and your life online.
Arik: I tend to think that that is happening, obviously, and it may end up being a signal that dies with social media as we know it. People are tired of the algorithms. They're tired of all the social networks being the same. They're tired of being sold to. They're tired of all the stuff that goes along with public-facing social media. And right now more people are migrating towards dark social, private, niche social communities, more and more. So, that trend may end up being one of the key signals that social media as we know it is over.
Deborah: Amazing. That was our pre-recorded panel discussion. So, another question for our panelists right now, since we're a little bit ahead of time: What are your social media routines, professionally, these days? What do you do daily, weekly, professionally to support clients, but also support your own social media? I'd like to start with Kate here on this one.
Kate: It's hard to be someone who writes about social media, creates on social media, and then also is a regular person who wants to use social media, because they all really blend. So I have to set a lot of boundaries: I don't check social media when I wake up or right before I go to bed, like those are all personal stuff. But when it comes to promoting, you know… if we take my newsletter, I would say I'm similarly a little bit in a lost time period. I'll still put it on Twitter, but Substack especially, Twitter really… What's the word? Sort of… hides those links, they're not being shown to people. And so, hearing you guys talk about, like, why are you still trying? I'm like, why am I still trying? The other thing I'll do is I'll post it on Instagram. If it's a larger topic, I will make a TikTok about it; I'll put on makeup for the day and film myself and make a TikTok. And that can do well, sometimes, if you get… it'll be through search and people usually aren't gonna really… there's no easy way to click on the app. But I found the best thing for my Substack is rather than using those tools to try and get people's attention when they're doing something else on social media, just really focusing on the community you've already built. Trying to just speak to the audience that I already have, trying to… it is always great to get responses, but you know, so much of our growth comes from people forwarding the email to someone or other Substackers recommending us. That's always one, more effective, but also more meaningful to get a real person recommending you than to invade someone else's feed and hope you can interrupt their time and get them to come look at your thing.
Deborah: Emily, what are your routines like now?
Emily: Definitely like Kate, it's hard to create those lines of, “I'm on social media to scroll as a human, versus I'm on social media to scroll for research purposes, versus I'm here to do work for a client.” I'm definitely notorious for putting other people's businesses before your own, sometimes not always keeping up with my social media. But also focusing on engagement, and so less, “I need to post these things,” but more, “Somebody else has posted this and I can start conversations with them about these things that I find interesting.” I don't always need to be the person that's putting the thing out there hoping people engage with me, because I find that a lot of people and businesses are very, “I made this content, why is nobody engaging with it?” But they're not doing it back. It really is just a matter of treating people how you want to be treated.
I've also been experimenting more with using Close Friends features on Instagram. I find that anything I post there gets significantly more engagement than just regular content. So, focusing more on some of that content just to kind of keep the DMs open and start talking to more people.
Deborah: That's interesting. I've never paid attention to my Close Friends feature. Like, I set it up once years and years and years ago, and I don't think I've… even though I have more close friends, I don't really maintain that. So, that's interesting to know that there is a little bit of boost there. And I think… I don't know. It is really hard. I used to say, “Well, you shouldn't post on social media unless you're actively using social media all the time.” But I think now, as a social media professional, that's getting harder and harder, and as a content professional, that's getting harder and harder. Arik, what are your thoughts about that? What are your routines and how have you changed them, and your thoughts on those routines in the past few years?
Arik: Well, first of all, I think it's interesting to hear my routines are wildly different from Kate and Emily, and maybe some of it has to do with age group, right? Because I'm far older and the way I use social media is much different. So, because I have a podcast, and a newsletter, and I'm a professor, I have to curate a lot of content. I use this tool called Feedly. I used to use Google Analytics years ago, or… uh…
Deborah: Google Reader?
Arik: Google Reader. Yeah, years ago.
Arik: Yeah. I use Feedly now. So, I have to curate all this content, so I read a ton during the week. That's a huge routine I have. As far as social media, I really only use LinkedIn anymore. I got kicked off Twitter for some reason, which was unfortunate.
Deborah: What did you do?
Arik: I don't know why! I didn't do anything weird, but I got kicked off, so that was unfortunate. But I don't really care because I wasn't really using it professionally anyways.
But LinkedIn, I do use a lot, and I think I'm probably the anomaly on that. I don't really have a content calendar. I have a strategy in my head, but I don't really have this big, huge plan. But that's worked out pretty well for me over the years. And I just really use it as a tool to connect with people and get to know people, because unlike other people that might have an agency, it's just me as a consultant. So, I feel like people are going to hire me ‘cause they know me. So, if they get to know me, they'll like me, and they'll hire me. That's kind of my M.O. on LinkedIn. I think that's a little bit different than the way some other people might use it.
Deborah: Yeah, and I also am primarily a… Well, Instagram’s my fun time and LinkedIn is my work time. Being primarily a LinkedIn user, one of the things that's also helped me recently is realizing that there's a lot of lurkers. There's a lot of lurkers on every social network. At least Instagram Stories tells you exactly how many lurkers and who saw your story, but LinkedIn doesn't. I know that I still see a lot of reach when I post regularly, even when there's not a lot of comments or not a lot of likes or feedback. And I think it's important to realize that there are, at least, I would say on the main social networks, there's a lot of people passively consuming content. And that's why we're making it. But also, that [they] are maybe less social about social media, but are still valuing your content. I think that that is important to realize, especially as a professional, and especially on some of those… a network like LinkedIn or even Instagram, generally. Instagram main feed: Where I've heard that cool people don't post there anymore. I don't know, I'm also older, so I’m like, “Okay, I just will post here sometimes, too.” So, yeah, things have changed, but also there's still lots of people lurking, lots of people engaging passively even when the active signal or the “like” may not actually be there.
And with that, we're going to go to our next segment featuring our managing editor, Wyatt Coday. They're going to talk a little bit about their routines and their social media practice.
Wyatt Coday: Hi, everybody. My name is Wyatt and I'm the managing editor of The Content Technologist newsletter. I'm actually quite excited to talk to you today about social media, but I think my comments are going to be a bit different than the other panelists, who I suspect are going to talk more about industry-wide changes with social and some newer strategies to how to get social posts distributed. I'm going to focus more on the production side of things, and that's because in addition to working with Deb on the newsletter, I also run a research design firm in Los Angeles where I work almost exclusively with artists and creatives. And what I help them do is develop intellectual property, which is often in the form of portfolio websites, publications, and other forms of “subsidiary works” that amplify what they do.
So, as you might imagine, social media is a big part of that puzzle and trying to figure out how to get artists who like to spend time alone or in the studio—not on camera—to put themselves either in front of the camera for pictures or for video like this, it can be a little bit of a challenge. As a research designer, I'm a big proponent of what I call research performance, meaning I do things in order to learn them and I ask other people to do things in order to learn them. I find that process to be revealing. And so, what I want you to walk away with today is at least three concepts that I'm sure you already know, but they're going to be bolted down and emphasized.
The first one is practice, and I'm going to particularly talk about when I use the word “practice” to describe what I do as a kind of professional. But I'm also going to talk about what I described as mirroring, mirroring exercises, and then also documentation, which, if you're an artist or work in the art world, you know, is very important.
So why I call what I do a “practice” is because it's something I do every day. It's also something I really value and I want other people to value. So, putting myself in a situation like the one you see where I have a little stage in my studio and I've created a space where I can easily make posts like this, has given me quite a bit of ammunition to make the social media posts I want to make. So first and foremost, I don't just use this for social posts. I use this to work with clients and make educational videos. I use it to document myself playing music. I'm a musician, but I also swim, so I'm a big proponent of practice, obviously. For example, when I am playing guitar to figure out what I'm doing (for better or for worse when I'm playing), and I'm recording myself, it's really easy to cut those videos up into smaller sizes or to grab film stills and repost them on social.
Now, I'm really lucky that what I do is in the creative field and that I'm trying to help people feel… sometimes humiliated productively, or just less humiliated, depends, as the artist changes. But basically, I can be a bit vulnerable, I think that has really worked. And also, I have two social accounts, so I have a personal one and one for my research design firm. For me, I like that division, but I also think having an interplay between them where people can see that, you know, it is me and I am it, at least for now, has been really helpful. But, as you might have noticed when I was describing that, when I was describing practicing music in particular, that was what I mean by mirroring, having some kind of relationship to the content you're making that you can see yourself making it, so you can start assessing what you need to do either better or it's fine, or it's actually really good, right? You won't know until you record it. And I think that's really important to me. As you can maybe notice right now, I'm wearing a hat. I took a couple takes on this video, and I did not like the way my hair looked. I put on a hat—easy fix. I also noticed that my glasses, because I have the blue light filter, were reflecting back and making me look like an alien, so I took those off. I would not have known any of that unless I had began experimenting with the camera and doing a number of takes until I got comfortable. I think I'm pretty comfortable now, I could probably be more comfortable, but, you know, someday.
And then the last thing I want to talk about, which I think is the thing that sits at the center of those two concepts, is documentation. I think a lot of people in the creative fields get really obsessed with getting the deliverable on the table. Done. Signed, sealed, delivered. And they forget that along the way you can collect tons of b-roll. I've already gone over that strategy and laying out how I use the recordings from practice and redistribute them on social. But I just want to say they can go pretty much anywhere. The cool thing about the kind of period we're in and the technology that's available to us is that we can take different media forms, translate them, remix them, and what you really want is just a kind of big archive of content that you can work through on on demand.
And so what I really love about this practice is it gives me a sense of what I can kind of finagle along the way or even what I can kind of push together that other people aren't doing that's specific to me. So, I hope you walk away with a sense of a little bit of endearment as you see me kind of prostrating myself in front of the camera, but also just know that it's not that hard. I'm not a really good public speaker. I know that might not seem to be the case right now. I'm also not someone that really likes to look at myself in the camera or the mirror, but I have found it really, really productive, not just for the reasons I described just now, but also getting to know how the user feels or how other people that are using social in this way feel. And I think that that information, those feelings, are the kind of stuff that make media really move. And so if you want to be, you know, hip and on the trends and make your social media posts really fly, I don't think it's about appealing to everybody. I think it's about appealing first to yourself and knowing what you have to offer, and then giving that in the most generous, but boundary way possible to other people.
And with that, I'm going to bid you adieu. Thank you, and I hope you've really enjoyed the panel.
Deborah: Amazing, thanks Wye!
So, we were going to do a live poll game, but we are having some issues with the software, so we're just going to do it with our panelists. This game should be pretty fun. Let's bring everyone back, hooray.
So, our first game is called Dead Social, and we're gonna go through some old or obscure social networks, and I would like each of our panelists to disclose whether they posted on it, whether they only lurked, whether they've never heard of it, or whether they just never tried it because it didn't seem important. And from the viewers, since we can't get our poll widget working, if you want to comment, if you hear a social network that you are on, please drop that in the comments and we will take a look.
So the first of our dead social networks—this one actually isn't dead, it's still very much happening, although I don't know if it's cool anymore, and I was always too old to use it— which is BeReal. Which of you are on BeReal? Let's start with Emily. Emily is. Kate?
Kate: I was on it and I haven't used it in months and months and months, but I was when it started.
Deborah: Yeah. Emily was on it?
Emily: Once a month if it catches me at a really cool time. I'll be like, “Okay, I'll still post here.” But I kind of stopped the posting because people didn't need to see my laptop every day, you know.
Deborah: Yeah, that was my thing with BeReal. Arik?
Arik: I was on it for a brief period to spy on my teenagers.
Deborah: Ah, there you go. Alright, the second obscure social network—well, it's not obscure, it's dead now—Vine. Let's raise our hands: Who was on Vine? Who posted on Vine? You didn’t post?
Deborah: I actually did, I had like three posts, I had three six second videos. Did you lurk?
Kate: I think, I don't know… it was a little bit… I was in college, it existed… it's funny because I'm on TikTok all the time now, but for some reason, I think the version of me then was healthier, and so it was like, “I don't want to watch a bunch of six second videos,” but this version of me is happy, too.
Deborah: Yeah, well, now they're up to 10 minutes. So, yeah—Emily, Vines?
Emily: Same. I lurked in the sense that if it, much like TikToks today, if it gets really popular and it makes it to all the other platforms and people are talking about it—so like, I could reference you like a couple of cool Vines, but I wasn't “vining” or whatever the kids were calling.
Deborah: Alright, next dead social network: Google+! I was on Google+ ‘cause I've been working in SEO for 10 years and we had to. . anyone else actually on Google+ and posted? Not even… Arik? No?
Arik: Never, no. Lurked, but no.
Kate: I may have made a profile just ‘cause, but I definitely never used it or lurked or anything.
Emily: I think I posted once or twice, but I did have a client at that time where we were posting regularly to it. Not that it was really doing… I'm not sure.
Deborah: Do you miss it?
Emily: I don't miss it, I don't miss it. That was definitely one of those platforms where I was like, “We don't have the bandwidth for special content, so we're gonna repurpose things we're posting to Facebook.”
Arik: That's exactly what it was, too. It was like, “Let's repurpose our content there,” I feel like.
Deborah: Yeah. COPE strategy: Create once publish everywhere. Alright, Periscope. Did anyone stream on Periscope, Arik?
Arik: I definitely lurked on that one too, because that was right in my prime—that and Google+ were right in my prime social media years, but never posted though.
Kate: Never even opened it. I recognize the name and I know what it does, and I would hear news stories about stuff happening on it. I've never opened it.
Deborah: Alright, here's a fun one: Peach. Does anyone remember Peach?
Kate: I remember this. I think I did get on it. Posted like one thing and then nothing. I can't… oh, that's really… that's an obscure one. I think a lot of people got excited about it for one day, it feels like,
Deborah: Yes. Yeah. Peach was a one day phenomenon. No one else?
Arik: I’m going to admit, I don't know what it is.
Emily: I don’t know what it is either.
Arik: I've never heard of it.
Deborah: It was in the time when everyone's like, “There's a new social network, we should be on it!” I mean, that's kind of… all this. But yeah, it was like 10 years ago-ish. And it was like, “Oh, let's be on Peach.”
Alright, Yo. Did anyone ever Yo, anyone?
Arik: I do remember that one, but no. Yeah, no.
Deborah: I never signed up. StumbleUpon. Was anyone on StumbleUpon?
Arik: That one, definitely.
Deborah: Okay! Were you all posting on StumbleUpon?
Kate: No, I just used the thing, to StumbleUpon. Yeah. And it was amazing. I loved it. Yeah.
Arik: That was good, they should bring that one back.
Kate: I think there's… because I've always looked into this because I always compare StumbleUpon as like a good algorithm or whatever, because you’re just like… I think there's a Google plugin version but it was bought and dissected, like it's not the same thing anymore.
Deborah: But what we're hearing is we want to bring back StumbleUpon.
Deborah: Yes. All right, cool. Here's some really old ones: Xando. Does anyone remember Xando? X-A-N-D-O. Claire Beveridge remembers Xando! Xando was like a LiveJournal, Diaryland thing. I did actually have an account on Xando in my early diary days.
Alright, two more. This is my favorite to bring up: Makeout Club. Was anyone on—or even heard of—Makeout Club?
Kate: Never heard of that.
Deborah: Arik, had you heard of it?
Arik: I have not heard of it.
Deborah: Okay, it was the first social network I ever heard of, because it was like pre-Friendster, and it was named after a Get Up Kids song. So it was a bunch of emo kids, and I was actually probably even too young to create a profile, because I was like, “I'm not putting my picture on the internet!” But I definitely lurked on Makeout Club to find cute emo boys.
And the last one: Friendster.
Arik: Friendster, yeah.
Deborah: You're on Friendster?
Arik: That was the first one I think I joined, years and years ago, I don’t know when, I think it was 2006 or something like that.
Deborah: Anyone else on Friendster, Emily or Kate? You guys are probably pre-Friendster. Yeah, and the thing I remember about Friendster was, like, us talking about… we were talking about it, it’s like, “It's like friend trading cards.” That's how we describe social networks to each other.
And from the audience: LiveJournal, yeah. Anyone on LiveJournal?
Kate: No, but that was like, I was definitely… I think that's when I started using Tumblr. Like I opted for Tumblr, and a lot of people were on LiveJournal.
Deborah: I made some mistakes using LiveJournal. And yeah, MySpace. Were we all on MySpace?
Emily: I was a heavy lurker, but I never had a profile, but I was definitely lurking all the kids at school.
Kate: Oh, that… it was like a requirement in my school to be on MySpace, and everyone was ranking their top eight. Everyone was ranking their friends, the meanest feature ever invented!
Arik: Facebook-style, yeah.
Deborah: But the first one was, well, Tom's my first one, so let him be there. Still the most iconic social media profile picture is Tom from MySpace.
Alright, thanks for participating in Dead Social! That was fun. I love… I was looking at the Wikipedia page of old social networks, and I'm like, “Wow, there's so much that happened that I don't even remember.” Alright, so, back to our panel questions.
Do you classify or group social networks these days—like the existing prime social networks—do you classify them or think of them in different buckets? And if so, how do you do that? Kate, let's start with you.
Kate: I feel like, if I were to… because I, once again, think of everything from just promoting my work… I would say, like, Twitter, Threads, Substack notes, like everything that's trying to be Twitter, and then also recently LinkedIn, is… that's where I will drop a link and then leave. And it's really low-lift. So I just hit all of them using a similar copy for each. Instagram is its own thing ‘cause I'm not very visual, but that’s the one where it feels the most… I don't know. I don't have any data to back this up, but it feels the most negligent to not have a platform on.
And then I think I grouped them just in terms of effort, it sounds like. Like whatever I can do to just get it out there. And then Instagram is a little more work and then TikTok requires a whole… Makeup, camera setup, like internal pump up to like talk to a camera, which is terrifying. Yeah, so, I think that's how I think about it. But in terms of as a user, I use them all pretty much the same in terms of just wasting my own time
Deborah: Arik, do you have classifications or do you think of them in different groups?
Arik: Yeah, I think you have three, really: You have entertainment, which probably starts with TikTok, maybe a little bit Instagram in there. You have information, which is really X, maybe a little bit LinkedIn, YouTube probably crosses over those two. And then you have community, which I would say maybe LinkedIn a little bit, Reddit, stuff like that. Those are kind of the three buckets I see.
Deborah: Emily, do you group them?
Emily: Yeah, I classify them mentally in two ways, one being what can you repost on and where can you overlap? So, I would put TikTok and Instagram together because I can repost my content from one to the other. Now that people are rolling out new features, it's getting a little murkier because I'm like, “Well, TikTok has text posts now, so can I repurpose X content there? So really, I kind of group them as TikTok and Instagram to repurpose, Instagram and Facebook to share the same content similarly, and then any kind of text-based platforms, so Threads, Twitter, et cetera. And then on the flip side, another way that… I don't think about platforms like this, but I have been involved in conversations where people are always debating, “What is technically a social platform versus a search engine?” So like, is Pinterest a search engine or is it a social platform? Same with TikTok; I’m moving more towards search engine. So also kind of classifying them that way too.
Deborah: Yeah, I think of them… there's the discovery platforms, which are more search engines versus… well, TikTok is discovery… versus passive. There's an active discovery versus passive discovery. And thinking about your content that way can help to—
Emily: —and also platforms that are prioritizing sales versus not. I mean, everybody is, but I mean in the way of like, Instagram shop, TikTok is pushing shop, versus platforms where you would just say, self-promote your own things and not sell directly in the platform.
Deborah: Yeah. The e-commerce versus passive consumption. So, here's one of the big questions: What is dark social and should we fear it? And I know Arik kind of brought this up in the Tumblr question, so we're going to start with him. What's dark social?
Arik: Well, I guess it probably has many meanings. I see it as social that is more private and that is a little bit behind the firewall, so to speak. So texting, DMing on Instagram, private communities, like Slack… and that's getting a lot bigger. That's kind of where it feels like that's where social is going. Really. There's just so much action there versus public facing social, it feels like it's kind of dying off, really. Outside of the passive stuff, right? I think that's going to be where people focus their efforts in the next few years, but I guess time will tell.
Deborah: So are brands going to be sliding into our DMs? Is that…
Arik: Well, that's the question! I don't know how we do it from a brand perspective, but we're that's to be TBD, I guess.
Deborah: Yeah. Kate, to you, what's dark social?
Kate: Well, yeah, so I had to look this up because it sounds so scary. But then when I saw it, I was like, “Oh this is it for me.” Like I said, I feel like I keep coming back to this, but you know when I when I write something, to have a human share it with another human feels like the most meaningful outcome. And that's when I kind of… it is starting to sort of subconsciously and now consciously inform when I think about what I want to write. The idea of writing something that someone will send to their friend and be like, “We were just talking about this!” or like, “This reminded me of you,” that feels like such a… that feels like why I want to write is, I want people to feel seen and I honestly think it's kind of refreshing because I grew up or—not grew up, but more so like my career started in a world of like clickbait where I was writing things that were supposed to trick people into you know, reading them? And so it's like, like I am embracing the shift of writing something because people feel like it really resonates with them. But similarly, I don't know how that gets… I can’t be aware, there's no— I don't get a notification when that happens. So, I don't know if it's happening, but I'll sometimes see it or a friend will tell me it was sent to them. And that's always nice, but you can’t… there's no real way to harness it. But I agree that that's where this is going because, there's an Insider article recently of the group chat… concept of the group chat killed social media because everyone's just sharing stuff with their friends. And I'm sure we'll find a way, as we do with everything else, to analyze, monetize… I don't know what that looks like yet.
Deborah: Yeah. Emily?
Emily: It’s things that you can't always track and where you can't control the narrative. So, if people are talking about your brand on your own social profile, you can delete the comment, you can respond. But here it's totally out of your hands and you can’t necessarily even know that it's happening. Like Kate and Arik said, if I text a link to somebody or something, the brand can only see so much. Oh, like, “I can track the Google Analytics of this, this got read this many times, but how was it necessarily shared all the time?” And I know that platforms are trying to harness that as much as possible. I know if I text a TikTok to a friend, like if I send it to a friend who doesn't have TikTok, they're going to see my profile at the top, trying to encourage them to join. And if they're on TikTok and I am too, and they send it to me, like, I'll see that they opened it. So I know we're trying more and more to crack down on that dark social, to track everything, and it's just not possible. And I was thinking about this yesterday and the dark social topic, and I would almost go out on a limb and say that Reddit can be a dark social place because you can't… brand can't really be there the way they can on other platforms and so they can't really control what's being said about them, and while you can search your brand name and who's talking about you, it's not trackable in the way that it is on other platforms. And so I think that that is, in its own way, a dark social platform to keep an eye on where you're being talked about because it's definitely a place where people are talking about you if they have strong feelings.
Deborah: Oh, yes. If you, if you have the stomach for it, go see if they're talking about you on Reddit.
The only thing I want to add to is… it's funny because the name dark social, that comes from people who do marketing attribution—so, Google Analytics. And they're just like, “Well, it's dark because we can't track it.” And it's like, “Alright…” But it takes the surveillance factor out of social media, which is one of the things that I think people really, like, it’s like “I don't want to be tracked anymore. That's why I'm sending this to you, is because I don't want to get a gazillion ads about this word I mentioned one time.”
So if you are the kind of person who looks in Google Analytics to find your social traffic, that your direct traffic will probably be—which is always the thing here… Deborah, the Google Analytics expert, I'm putting this in, which is—your direct traffic will be the one that goes up when more people are sharing via dark social. Hopefully, hopefully. That's just my little dark social tip.
This is kind of the ultimate big question: What is social media? Is texting social media? Is Slack social media? Does it have to be public to be social media? And I'm going to pick Emily.
Emily: Yeah, I don't think it does. I think that the average person will not think of texting as social media or Slack as social media—especially Slack because it's centered around work typically. But for me, social media is where you're being social and it's where you're talking and it's where you're sharing and arguably I am much more social on texting than I am on social media some days. I mean, it is social media, I guess I just contradicted myself, but on what we continue to think of as the traditional social channels. We're not thinking about it. However, I do see more and more and more brands using texting as a way to share sales and promotions, and it seems to be what I'm seeing preached to businesses more and more often for engagement. As a recipient of that form of social media, I'm kind of over it. There are days where I'm like, “I just need to unsubscribe to this brand.” Because like, please stop texting me at eight in the morning that this dress is on sale, I'm not going to buy it. But I do think that texting and Slack and all of those chat-based apps that we're using day in and day out are their own form of social media, even if it's not what comes to our mind immediately.
Deborah: Yeah. Arik, do you want to…?
Arik: Yeah, I would agree. I really think it is more of the—I mean, it's social and it's media. It's got to be the platforms where people talk to each other. And like we referenced before, that increasingly is not happening anymore. So, that's where I feel like it's maybe slowly or quickly dying because it's just not happening anymore. Like, you think about Twitter, like 10 to 13 years ago, that was social media. People were talking to each other. They were in conversations, it was happening. Twitter doesn't act like that anymore. It's an information stream and that's the way a lot of the platforms are, so like, it's not really social anymore. And that kind of stinks, but that's kind of where we're at because of the surveillance issue and some of the other topics that people are just tired of it.
Deborah: Yeah. Kate, anything to add?
Kate: I agree. I think what those platforms were in 2010s was social media, but they all slowly, or really quickly, went from people talking to each other, now people just talk out. They post it out into the void, and you don't even really hear anything back. And so, I think texting and things like that are what remains. It's like, “Okay, well, that's the closest thing now.” Because like, you know, I wouldn't even really say TikTok is social media at all. It's really hard… even when you have a conversation with someone through video features is then displayed to strangers to observe, and it just doesn't feel at all like what social media is supposed to be.
Deborah: Yeah, the attitude of… it's more it's more about viewing the social aspect versus the like, “Oh, I actually have something nice to say and want to have a conversation with you.”
Emily: I was going to say, to that point about things like TikTok, I think social media platforms like that can create the social aspect in messages. I mean, I look at so many TikTokers who are friends or like a predominant TikToker I follow who just got married the other day and there were so many TikTokers at her wedding that I was like, how do you even know each other? And it just happens by messaging. And so, I think that the traditional social platforms are the springboard for creating conversations these days in platforms like text messages and DMs.
Deborah: Yeah, I think that that's very true. Technically I know all of you from—except for Emily—technically I know Arik and Kate from social media. Do you have groups of friends who you met on social media who are parts of your life? Because I know that I do. Some of my best friends in Minneapolis are Tumblr friends that we met in 2008 when I moved here and we are still very good friends. Do you all have social media friends who are real life friends? Am I alone in that?
Kate: No, I definitely feel like I, as a teenager, made a lot of friends on Tumblr, but we were just friends on Tumblr. In terms of people I've met and who are actually my IRL friends, social media for many of them was the tool that got us in the same place. Like, we already followed each other on Twitter and then saw each other at a happy hour, so it kind of already laid some groundwork to be like, “Oh my god, hi! I know you from this,” and it's always awkward. So, it's played a role in a lot of my friendships. And then you can kind of leave the event and then you can keep chatting—it's a real hybrid now. I wouldn't… it used to be, “These are my internet friends, these are my real friends.” And now it’s like… it always starts on one, but then goes to the other and back and forth.
Arik: I really had that phenomenon with Twitter years ago. Remember we talked about Twitter being a conversation platform? Back when it was, I was heavily invested. And I suddenly had all these people that I knew across the country, and then I’d go to conferences and then I’d meet them in real life and it'd be like… you met them and it was like you'd been best friends on for 10 years, because you've been talking on Twitter every day for the last five years. That was a really weird phenomenon. I don't know if that…maybe it still happens with TikTok, like Emily said. But for me, in early 2010s, that's what happened. It was weird and wonderful though, you know. These people that you had common connections with, you’d meet them and it felt like you're best friends.
Deborah: Yeah, that's always what I like about social media. It's like, “Oh, well I met some other cool people.” And there's no pressure to meet people in real life, but if you happen to, like, it's cool! We're all just posting.
Alright, so we have one more short game that we're going to do. For this game we are going to ask our audience to be the judge. So you can… We're just going to ask everyone these questions and, in the audience, if you have a particular favorite, you can just add a clapping emoji, how about for the particular favorite of a question. And this is called: Most Likely To, and it is a series of questions about social networks. Of the big social networks that we know, which one is most likely to do… something or other. I hate that I can't say which one is most likely to X, because now X is actually a social network. It's not just algebra anymore! Alright, so which social network do you think hosts the most multi-generational covens of witches? Which social network has the most groups of cross-generational witches?
Kate: Oh, interesting. I was going to go Instagram.
Arik: I'd probably say Instagram too. Sorry. I guess I'd say the same thing.
Deborah: I was thinking Facebook, just because of the multi-generational thing. Because yeah… the elders hang out
Emily: I think the #WitchTok hashtag is… you can get real deep there. That immediately came to mind.
Deborah: Oh, I should do that after. Awesome. So, which social network hosts the most multi-generational gatherings of trolls? And by trolls, I mean the internet trolls.
Arik: Well, it’s Twitter right?
Kate: Twitter, yeah. X.
Deborah: Probably, two years ago I would have said Reddit, but I feel like, yeah.
Arik: We'll second it.
Deborah: Which social network will one day be taken over by nostalgia for Roblox?
Arik: Probably TikTok, right? Yeah. That's what the kids are on now, so that's what they’d use.
Deborah: It's funny, no one's mentioned Snapchat. I think that's all because we're older, but I also don’t know if…
Kate: Snapchat's like the forgotten middle child, I feel like. It’s still going and it's like, people really are using it, but I never think to even ever say it.
Deborah: Alright. Which social network is most likely to actually be run secretly by dogs? On the internet, no one knows if you're a dog.
Kate: I don't know why I want to say Facebook for that one.
Arik: That's what I was gonna say too, yes.
Deborah: Everyone on Facebook's just like, “Ruh roh!” Alright… Which social network will free the nipple first?
Kate: I was going to say, I would say Instagram only because it's the one place where people are really campaigning. But I could somehow see it being TikTok. But that's probably shocking if you're scrolling and then it's like, oh!
Emily: I mean, it used to be Tumblr, and then they took that away, which was like…
Arik: That’d be the answer, I'd go with TikTok, too.
Deborah: Yeah, that’s funny. Alright, and let's do one more. Actually, no, we'll do two more. Which social network is most likely to suddenly reveal that your high school crush is now a professional lumberjack?
Kate: LinkedIn, because that's like… I always get some insane information like that whenever I go on it.
Arik: I would say Facebook…
Emily: I'm going to say TikTok.
Arik: …show a picture of them sawing, deep in the north woods of Seattle or something.
Deborah: That actually happened to me. My high school crush is a professional lumberjack. And I actually found out from a newsletter. But, it was just like one of those things like, when you find out someone from high school is doing something crazy, like on a social network? I love it.
Which social network hosts the most embarrassing picture of you?
Kate: MySpace for sure. But, I can't find it or access it, but it's never been deleted, so I know it's there, and I… yeah, so.
Arik: Mine’s probably Facebook just because I've been on it the longest.
Deborah: Yeah. Emily?
Emily: I like to think there's none only because… it's probably Facebook and it's not pictures that I took because I didn't get a Facebook until I was like 25. So… I thankfully was not posting my own embarrassing things, but I can guarantee people probably were posting embarrassing pictures of me sleeping or something on Facebook.
Deborah: Yeah, mine's Facebook. Actually, no, there's still some of my old Tumblrs. Like there was the gratuitous picture of yourself Wednesday. There might be some there… don’t look.
Which social network will you be still posting on in 10 years in spite of yourself?
Kate: I feel like Instagram.
Arik: I feel like none. I'm gonna say none.
Deborah: Alright. I love it.
Well, that concludes our panel discussion. Our final part of this event is where you attendees can connect with each other. I want to say thank you so much to all our panelists for joining us, they're all fantastic. And if you want to reach anyone, you can just… just email me at The Content Technologist and we can connect you. They're all very awesome social media professionals, so, happy to connect you with them. And then, our final area is networking time. So, if you in the Hoppin go over to networking, it'll just kind of.. It's just speed networking, so you'll be connected with someone else in the audience and you guys can talk about your favorite social networks, you can talk about what you do, why you're here.
We want to thank you so much for coming. This has been a lot of fun. We're going to be doing another event on the first Friday of every month this year. October 8th is the next one, we're going to be talking about AI. We’re going to be talking about practical AI for content professionals, which I think a lot of people will be interested in. We want to talk about how we can actually use AI-generated tools, or different kinds of tools that content professionals can use that's not necessarily, “It's writing my content for me.” That's next time, October 8th. You can grab a ticket if you would like now.
But again, thank you so much for coming. Enjoy speed networking and we'll see you soon. Thanks.