I have very mixed feelings about social media. And that’s why it’s almost taken until now to really start to work with these tools in a business capacity.

For all the benefits that it provides, I have had some serious hang-ups when joining, and participating in, social media.

And, I’ll tell you why.

Loss of Content Ownership

In the fine print, Facebook lets you know that when you post things on their site, that content no longer belongs to you, it belongs to them. By virtue of using their service, that picture of you and your sweetheart overlooking the Grand Canyon on that vacation you’ll always remember no longer belongs to you. It belongs to Zuckerberg. And, why would he want that picture of you and your girlfriend anyway…

The Perfect Audience… for Paid Advertisers.

What has been created is something that doesn’t resemble the web at all, at least not what it was intended to be. The web used to be a place where anonymity and free exchange of ideas was the point of the “inter-net”. It connected people when and how they wanted to be connected. Since you didn’t have to share your personal information with a cadre of highly-trained software analysts/behavior manipulators, you were free to be honest. The problem with social networking sites is that there are levels of honesty, and different ways you can interact. But, Facebook tracks it all. Then serves you up advertisements that they think you’ll like. Rat in a cage?

It goes even deeper in that Facebook’s news feed, learns from your behavior and sends you items that you are more likely to like, and interact with – not necessarily what’s actually going on around you – a filtered version of what’s going on – to keep you addicted to facebook. The problem lies in “filter bubbles” as Eli Pariser calls them. Take a look at this amazing Ted Talk for more information:

Man Power

Who’s going to run it? Everytime I have a client ask about social media – this is my question to them. The truth is – like any medium – you get out of it what you put in – and Social Media may in fact be even more man power intense in this regard. You can/should be on networks constantly (and there are whole companies that ONLY do this!) in order to maximize the effectiveness of your social media campaigns (and catch any positive or negative situations to properly guide them).

Avoiding the Unavoidable

Everyone is on some kind of network these days. You (and I’m really telling myself this) must be where your clients are.

So, forgive me for my hesitation, though I feel that I was (am) thoughtful about my reasoning, but I’m now at the table. We’re “social” and it’s really cool. So, drop me a line if you think that I was being a bit neurotic. Drop me a line if you think I wasn’t. Or just hit me up with your Twitter links in the comments, and I’ll chase after your tweets!

Zach Katkin – Entrepreneur, Web Developer, Designer and Writer – is the co-founder of Florida Web Design Company Atilus. In business for nearly a decade, Atilus has more than 600 clients worldwide.

  • I think you’re being neurotic, but I also think you’re making an interesting point in being so.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with the way that Facebook and other social media platforms work. I have no problem posting pictures on there. If I’m going to have to see advertisements online, I’d prefer to have advertisements that are somehow related to things I’m interested in.

    I’ve gained a great many benefits from social media. Not just the opportunity to keep in touch more easily with my many far flung friends, but from being able to find a greater degree of engagement with other artists and designers (I just wrote about this on my blog).

    But there is a really important point in your post. Social media is not bad, but a genuine awareness among social media users of the conditions by which they use the service *is* important. And that’s something that’s often overlooked. I am giving away a certain degree of control of my personal “brand” when I post things on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I do that with an understanding of that, but I’m not sure many people have that same level of understanding.

    Social media certainly isn’t going away, and in general I think it’s a really positive online development. It provides many of the benefits of personal interaction and networking, and makes that process very efficient. Just be aware that saying “yes” to the terms and conditions of any social media service means accepting certain things.

  • What you call “Man Power” is by far the number one problem with companies and social media.

    • Zach Katkin

      Agreed – social media takes time! And to really get the most of it you need more time… I’ve seen some great success from Twitter for example, but a large part of it is simply being there to inject yourself, your brand, your ideas into the conversations.

  • Being in marketing, I knew that advertisement overload was an inevitability. Anything that takes off that fast and becomes this big of an institution is going to draw the suits to monetize it.