I must tell you that I stopped writing about social media for 1 year plus and it was one of the happiest times of writing I have ever had. I restarted because of a new book last summer. I hate it. I have to do it professionally, but I hate it. –Geoff Livingston
[This post is inspired partly by my friend Jennifer Leggio’s “No One’s Influencer” post, and partly by Tamsen McMahon‘s recent enthusiasm for writing again.]
When I started on Twitter in 2008, I was lucky enough to be able to be part of the conversation with a bunch of early adopters, many of which became friends or at least people I’m friendly with, and several who have become leading voices in the social media and online marketing space.
Being a part of this community led me to work on finding my voice for this blog. Up until late 2008, it was much more of a personal music recommendation & cool links destination (which was admittedly not all that popular). It gradually moved toward posts focused on how we communicate on the Interent, which includes what some call “Social Media.” (you can actually see the exact moment the focus shifted, with this post about podcasts which features Chris Penn).
Since this shift, the blog has grown in readership to a respectable number (if one cared about such things), and I’m appreciative of every person who takes the time to check out even a single thing I’ve written.
My blog output here has been slow in the last few months. I know this. Part of the reason is that I’ve felt trapped by the subject matter, and feeling (rightly or wrongly) like the people reading (i.e. you folks) have come to expect something specific from me. Because of this, and because I’m stupidly stubborn (I am a Taurus, after all), I’ve kept myself from getting too “off-topic” here, beyond the occasional personal/professional rant. But that needs to change in order for me to be fulfilled, to keep sharing, to have any agency at all.
I’ve never been a “Go social media! You have to do it this way in order to not be a megafail!” type blogger (I’ve written a bunch about why in posts focused on writing evergreen posts, and why social media isn’t a game changer). I’ve been called out not infrequently for not being on the bus, and for occasionally being a grump. Yes, I am sometimes guilty of that.
For me it is so frustrating to see people making friends and giving all the credit to a website, instead of owning the connection themselves. Twitter doesn’t create friendships, twitter is a channel for people to meet and cultivate a connection. It is the least interesting part of the process. And here you see where I get labeled a naysayer, a skeptic, a grump.
It’s never been more clear to me that for me writing about Social Media is akin to writing about newsprint or phone wires. I cannot wring any more substance from the tools. I cannot both be true to my core and keep the sole focus of my writing to “how companies can connect with consumers”. The whole enterprise (given recent political events, as well as my upbringing as the child of artists) rings hollow.
There are now hundreds of worthwhile bloggers covering best practices, concepts, toolkits, and even philosophies behind the sea change. I just cannot bring myself to be passionate about “…and here’s what it means for your company”. That’s not what communication that manifests online is about for me. It never has been. In this way, I guess I’ve never really ‘fit in’ as either a marketer or a ‘social media person’, and although my resume makes it seem like I am, I’ve never felt “in my element” as a marketer or a strategist.
These last few months of being unemployed have given me ample time for self-reflection and some new directions are starting to become less fuzzy. Taking a look across the blogger landscape, this particular reflection seems to be a growing trend (Jennifer “Mediaphyter” Leggio, Gapingvoid via Copyblogger, and even the illustrious Amber Naslund have recently weighed in on the topic).
Upon so recognizing my limitations, my interests, my challenges, I take a deep breath and embrace scary change, because it is the only thing that can lead to growth.
All who have for whatever reason decided to keep me in your reader (or even just click through to posts as they show up on the feed) are not just here for my posts about social communication, right? There are a lot of things that I’d like to talk about with you, things I’d like to explore and learn about from you. I hope you will continue on with me on my little corner of the interwebs, but if this isn’t what you signed up for, I totally understand. Maybe I’ll cry a little, but I understand.
I have not yet decided about the specific aspects I’d like to cover here. Will some of the posts be about how we communicate online? Undoubtedly (and hey, I still have a backlog of half-finished posts to complete). But it will not just be that, it cannot.
There’s a huge amount of music I’d love to share. There are a lot of bands out there that deserve your attention. I’ve not written nearly enough about my time creating podcasts at Sony Music, exploring the stories behind the albums many of us love so dearly, and why I believe in the anecdote as a social object is so powerful. Also, I’d like to not be so deadly serious all the time.
My goal is truly to build something that reflects all of me (and takes cues from your feedback), and not simply focus on this one part that aches to steer the community away from “OMG chrysler just cursed on twitter” (this reference is probably already dated by the time you read it) and toward “what can we do now that 2 billion of us can connect with each other. Can we save the planet? Make each other laugh? Remove the concept of ‘the other’ from our vocabularies? From our children’s vocabularies?” Those discussions are happening, I will contribute to them on others blogs who say things more eloquently than I.
Anyway, this is what has been on my mind. Thanks for your attention and indulgence, as I know posts like this can be gratuitous or dramatic (which is truly not my intention). I simply have not been able to post, and I felt I owed you all an explanation and myself a kick in the pants. And to all those that may be feeling similarly, consider this your permission (nay, encouragement. nay, DEMAND..tion) to blog about whatever the fuck you want.
So… What’s next?