29 Oct 2008

I’m a Codependent, Social Media Baby

I’m pretty ashamed right now. Let me tell you what’s been going on.

I’ve noticed a sickening pattern emerging in my life, or at least in my Twitter stream (and really, what’s the difference?). Problem is, I’m not sure what to do about it.  Here’s what’s going on.

  • I move from California to Troy, NY and very publicly miss my flight. What do I do? I tweet my desperate pleas for help and pathetic tears.
  • I misread the parking signs in Troy and my car gets towed while I’m at SMX East. What do I do? I ask Twitter whom I should call, secretly  hoping for virtual hugs (which I get in an abundance.).
  • Jack Jack falls out Pat Sexton’s third story window (!) when I’m not home and all my neighbor can tell me is that “they” came to “take it away”. What do I do before I even know that he’s still alive? I’m Twittering the horror.
  • The Red Sox come back from a 7-0 deficit to win Game 5 of the Tampa Bay series. Do I excitedly knock on Pat’s door to tell him? No. I Twitter it.

This is not normal behavior. What the hell has happened to me? When did I become such a social media addict that the computer is where I turn to for advice, solace and pats on the back? I used to be an intelligent, independent woman. Then came social media. Now I am a blubbering, anti-social baby incapable of fending for myself. I hate you, Twitter! I wish I knew how to quit you.

Social media has changed me as a person. It’s changed the way that I interact with people, the way I consume information, and the way I see the world. It’s made me needier and less sensitive to other people’s feelings (the training worked). I know this. And though I’m not sure that it’s entirely bad, it also scares the bejesus out of me. Especially when I’m driving around historic Troy, NY totally lost and my first reaction is not to consult a map, but to see if Rhea’s watching Twitter so I can ask for directions.

And I know that I’m not the only one who is experiencing this. There are lots of people who consult the Interwebz in times of trouble or just to share good news, but are they as obsessed as I am? And if they are, is it okay to be like this? Are you at all concerned with the effect social media is having on your life?

I can’t help but wonder what affect this has also had on businesses and if companies are missing out on real human-to-human contact. If they’ve now adopted social media as a one-size-fits-all marketing solution and abandoned everything else. I hope that they haven’t. I hope that they’re taking the time to explore social media, while also paying attention to the tried and true tactics. The stuff that we know is important to users looking for your site.

It’s one thing to use tools like Twitter and Facebook as complements to your Internet marketing campaign, but it’s another thing when you get tunnel vision and focus on ONLY that. When you become so consumed with talking to people online that you forget about real life customer service. Like when Apple let dreamy Kevin Ryan walk out their store even though he was primed to make a purchase. Or when companies launch social media campaigns just to have one, without first aligning it to their offline efforts.

You also have to think that it’s only a matter of time before Google starts devaluing links to social media sites the same way they’ve devalued everything else marketers have taken advantage of.  Today, the natural links generated by social media are very powerful. But that can all change.  What are you going to do if Google strong arms another social media network [coughTWITTERcough] to nofollow links? Or if they issue a major update to their index and it takes a month to get the kinks out? Are you going to stand around and eat that loss while they figure out their next move? We certainly won’t allow that for our clients.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from getting involved in social media, but remember that there needs to be a balance if you want the best results. Add in the social media elements, but don’t ignore everything else that Internet marketing has to offer. Focusing on only one element, regardless of what that element is, simply won’t be enough to compete on today’s competitive space.

I guess what I’m saying is that with all these flashy alternatives now fighting for your attention, don’t forget to actually run your business. When Google is on a witch hunt to penalize everything that could even remotely be look at as unnatural, you want to make sure you’re in bounds. That you’re paying as much attention to your offline efforts, as your online ones.

Sometimes I look at the affect social media has had on our lives and get a bit scared. Social media is like my BFF. Take it away and I guess I could survive. But I’d probably be under a desk somewhere rocking back and forth.  Hmm, maybe it’s time I make some more offline friends?

*[I should note that Jack Jack is fine after his Superman Fail. A little PTSD (for him and mommy), but nothing that a few days of cuddles couldn’t heal.]


  1. Rhea October 29, 2008 at 2:07 PM

    heh, perfect post for today. In Troy it’s so easy to stay in the office and tweet each other until the wee hours of the night while hammering away at a post or report. Alas, we need balance! I believe a very smart blogger once said, “work smarter, not harder.” This doesn’t just apply to blog posts, but social media usage, too. So, let’s not let four seasons go to waste, let’s get out and enjoy the area, carve pumpkins, eat Irish-Mexican and play in the snow!

  2. Lisa Barone October 29, 2008 at 2:12 PM

    Ooo, let’s go to the Irish-Mexican place tonight for dinner! Wanna?

    However, I think making dinner plans via a blog entry negates whatever offline benefit we were trying to generate. Social media has turned us into lazy cry babies.

  3. Rhea October 29, 2008 at 2:19 PM

    That was a generic statement… I didn’t really want to spend more time with you! Silly Lisa.

    😉 Would love some Jose-Malone’s!

  4. Dana Lookadoo October 29, 2008 at 2:59 PM

    Forget Yahoo! Answers, and even search for that matter. We tweet our questions to our Twitosphere of friends.

    Want to start a Twitter support group? I’ve engaged in similar self-talk recently while pondering the need/want/desire to tweet and connect online. I cycle with a large group of friends and thought how great it would be to have bike-to-twitter input/feedback. Why am I thinking about Twitter when I’m with my offline friends? OUCH!

    Regarding search and how social media applies to marketing, maybe the NOFOLLOW aspect shouldn’t be a factor in strategies. Many companies jump into social media because of the lure of increased ranking. Those involved to build relationships will surely have higher conversions and loyal customers.

    Search engines don’t offer relationships. Twitter offers instant relationship, even with tweets that are void of feedback. Maybe it’s because we often just want to know someone is listening. We don’t always want solutions.

    Thanks for the opportunity to ponder…

  5. Xurxo Vidal October 30, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    Thanks for sharing this – makes you wonder when they’ll come out with Social Media Anonymous for twitterholics.

    Also a great reminder that as with most things powerful, there has to be a healthy dose of responsibility and self-discipline.

    Like you said, doing more offline stuff to balance things out and keep things in check (like our weight and fitness levels) is a necessary counter measure.

    Haven’t heard yet of widespread reports of people becoming obese because of twitter or suffering from twitter withdrawal, but I’m sure it’s happening.

  6. Brian Carter October 30, 2008 at 1:51 PM

    I’m with ya, Lisa. You mean it’s not normal to twitter for 6 hours per evening?

  7. Sugar October 30, 2008 at 1:54 PM

    Is it bad that I tweet for pats on the back, too? *sigh* The only good thing is the random comments that my husband used to ignore are now welcome on Twitter. So now, I’ve transferred my manic need for my husband’s attention to the 700 or so of my closest tweeples…

  8. Jack Leblond October 30, 2008 at 2:01 PM

    I didn’t think I had a problem until I realized I saw each of your cries for help as they happened…since I was online at the same hours of the day/night.

    I think we all need more twiterapy.

  9. Lisa Barone October 30, 2008 at 2:51 PM

    Sugar: You are so living my life! 🙂

    Jack: Twiterapy? I like it. I wonder if that domain is still available? We could hold nightly meetings on Twitter where everyone could come and talk about how obsessed they were.

    Oh wait…

  10. NinjaTony November 3, 2008 at 10:17 AM

    you got lost in troy? that’s impossible! It’s not like there’s an over abundance of one way streets or anything! jk!

  11. KatFrench November 5, 2008 at 12:49 PM

    Ya know, I wrote a post about this very subject a while back; there really is some psychological validity to the idea of being addicted to the “strokes” social media provides. Check ‘er out if you’re interested: http://internet-bard.com/archives/the-psychology-of-social-media-or-why-twitter-is-so-darn-addictive/

  12. Bill Hartzer November 6, 2008 at 7:47 AM

    It sounds like it all started when you moved to Troy.

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