Can Social Media Be an Artistic Outlet?

In my last blog post, The Language of Social Media, I wrote about how social media is changing the way we write. Our vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation all take a back seat to being casual and brief.

Whether this movement is good or bad is entirely debatable: there’s no objective answer. But regardless of your view on the matter, some people are embracing this change and seeing it as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. Here’s one of them.

Teju Cole is a Nigerian-American writer, who has spent time living in both countries. Cole’s experiences give him a unique perspective on life, death, and the different social issues that America and Nigeria face. Along with being an accomplished author and photographer, Cole uses his Twitter account as an artistic outlet of a different kind.

Cole’s tweets mix social commentary, American history, and Nigerian culture– only he writes them as poetry. This unique blend of content and delivery often come off as morose obituaries or headlines, and they certainly aren’t for the weak-hearted. Still, Cole achieves a goal that most of the Twitterverse has yet to reach: he makes you think. Here are some recent examples of his tweets:

What Cole proves without a doubt is that social media can be used as an artistic outlet. And I don’t mean in the way that bands, artists, and authors use it to promote their newest product– I mean it in the sense that social media is providing the actual basis for creation. Twitter is Cole’s canvas, not just a place where he can post a link for people to view or buy his canvas.

On top of that, Cole hardly ever self-promotes on his Twitter. After going back through a week’s worth of tweets (probably about 100), the only kind of posts I could find besides the ones shown above, are the occasional wordy (albeit macabre) joke, and a lot of interaction with his followers.

Cole is showing how to make a personal brand through social media while keeping his integrity as an artist. So what can we take from his example? A lot of things:

  • Be unique.
  • Provide value in a way that nobody else is.
  • Don’t be overly-promotional.
  • Write about what you know and care about.
  • Don’t be afraid to be provocative.
  • Be persistent.
  • Don’t complain about or shun change: use it to your advantage
  • Be consistent.
  • Turn obstacles and restrictions into opportunities.
Tom Hummer

Tom Hummer

Tom’s two biggest passions in life are writing and music. In his free time, Tom reads, writes, and works on musical projects.

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Friday Clicks [Volume 21] | The Best of the Social Web

Well, the Internet nearly broke this week when Facebook bought Instagram. That’s been covered endlessly by many other outlets, so I won’t worry about it here. <soapbox> A note to those who were vehemently angry about it, however: if you’re so upset, stop using Facebook. That’s the only way the domination of Google and Facebook in the social/digital sphere will stop. If we keep using them all the same, nothing will change. </end soapbox>

The Links:

  • Credit cards are hopping onto the social train is some quite innovative ways. Financial institutions have traditionally been terrified of jumping into it because of tight industry regulations. American Express, though, is finding ways to give Twitter users special savings using hashtags. Pretty cool. (Click here)
  • Spotify released an embeddable “Play” button – so you can add music to blogs, websites, etc. This doesn’t seem inherently social, but the implications are huge. Stream music to your blog and perhaps in the future to Facebook, and you can trigger people’s memories and emotions in unique ways. (Click here)
  • Out of nowhere Google did a total redesign of Google+. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but it seems to look nice. Worth noting is a new “Cover Photo” option. Wonder where that idea came from… (Click here)
  • Grantland.com, a well known sports blog believe it or not, talks about the issue of digital elitism. It notes how belonging in a “secret” club (like Instragram was) gave us a nice big digital ego. Fascinating read, and my favorite article of the week. (Click here)
  • Another more philosophical piece here, but Slate discusses how the Internet, despite being an unending well of knowledge, can actually polarize us even more, especially in terms of politics. (Click here)
  • And now to make you giggle. The video below gets better every single time you watch it, and EVERY LINE is a golden nugget. Every. Single. Line.

Did we miss anything? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy is a blog-reading, report-writing project manager. In his spare time he enjoys reading a good thriller, drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and spending time with his wife.

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40 Days in the Desert (without Twitter…) | Lenten Reflections

I am a social media professional. I am also a Christian. Every year I try to do something meaningful for Lent. Maybe it’s some intentional reflection, or giving up something that plays a big role in my life. The hope and intent is that giving something up brings you closer to God. This year, as both social media experiment and spiritual endeavor, I thought it would be interesting to give up Twitter for 40 long days (closer to 46 or so when you include Sundays).

Now, a lot of people give up some form of social media for Lent. It’s also not an integral part of their career, however. I obviously had to establish that I would in fact continue tweeting for clients, just not myself. I realized a few things during my time without Twitter that I’d like to share. Some might be deep, most probably aren’t, but they are reflections nonetheless.

  • Most people didn’t even notice. I got a couple people saying they missed my tweets, but the majority of people I spoke with were surprised to hear that I took Twitter off – even when I told them a month into my experiment. They obviously weren’t missing much in their world without my tweets.
  • I did feel less informed. I had to intentionally seek out news versus just let it come to me in a 140-character stream. People would ask “Did you see ____”, and whereas before I could usually answer “Yes” – I had to say “No” quite a few times and feel a little left out.
  • The above didn’t actually impact what I knew. What I mean by that, is that ultimately I was informed. It just happened to be through other outlets (Facebook, “real” conversations, etc), and it just happened to be approximately 10-30 minutes later than I normally would have been informed.
  • The things I missed out on were mostly superfluous. Yes, I’m probably a little more knowledgeable of things when I’m on Twitter. I read more random links. But these aren’t things that necessarily make me a better human. Most the time, actually, I’m being distracted from my job and getting something done.
  • Social networks themselves are neutral mediums. Especially in 2012, we’re seeing people start to discuss the perils of social networking and digital communities. We also see folks ringing their praises as the greatest thing since sliced bread. The platforms themselves, however, are neither. It what’s we do with them that makes them good/bad. Are you seeing your relationships go bad because of social networks? Take some time off. Are you seeing your relationships enhanced because of social networks? Keep doing what you’re doing. To make blanket statements about social media, however, is as foolish as making blanket statements about things like cars or microwaves. You can do good and bad things with both of them, the choice is yours.
  • Having said that, my relationships were in fact enhanced by taking some time off. I realized that I could communicate with people through personal and more intimate emails (intimate as in revealing more details about life, not the other kind of intimate) or phone calls. My relationships weren’t so much surface level. I spent more time talking with my wife in our back yard than sitting on our couch with iPads. It was refreshing, to say the least.
  • I’m excited to be back. Because of the fact that I took some time off to reflect on how social media impacts my life, I feel more confident that I can use it smartly versus just doing it because it’s my job and it’s in front of me. I really have cultivated a small community on Twitter and I enjoy the conversation that happens.

All I ask is that you reflect a little and think intentionally about how you use social media in your own life, and the kind of impact (whether subtle or not) it has on your daily interactions with people.

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy is a blog-reading, report-writing project manager. In his spare time he enjoys reading a good thriller, drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and spending time with his wife.

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Friday Clicks [Volume 20] | The Best of the Social Web

This was a full week with a bevy of digital April Fool’s jokes and the mega-popular app Instragram finally coming to Android phones everywhere. It’s also a good week to think about what kind of message your company sends out over a holiday weekend. Do you feel comfortable posting about Easter? If not, that’s okay, it’s just wise to have that discussion before the time actually comes.

The Links:

  • Photo-sharing is becoming more and more popular as people’s attention spans for reading go down. So which sharing site is right for you? Our opinion is probably some combo of Tumblr and Instagram. (Click here)
  • I’ll again highlight my love of craft beer with a blog post from New Belgium Brewing Company. They launched a new beer, and with it one of the more creative marketing campaigns I’ve seen this year. It includes: an infographic, a mobile app and even a Pandora radio station. (Click here – you’ll have to go through an age-gate)
  • There have been a number of companies jumping on Pinterest lately, but Kotex seems to have embarked on the first true marketing campaign using the new-ish site. Pretty interesting! (Click here)
  • This is one of the more incredible infographics I’ve seen detailing the rise of Draw Something. It’s the fastest app to ever reach 50 million downloads. (Click here)
  • Yes, Google+ IS still around, and folks ARE still using it. All kidding aside, Chris Brogan featured an infographic on his blog detailing how people can use it for 10ish minutes a day and find success. (Click here)
  • Singer Kimberly Cole held a dance audition for a music video, and a nerdy guy showed up with incredible dance moves. It’s clearly a joke, but the dude is a totally legit dancer. It’s quite awesome.

Did we miss anything? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy is a blog-reading, report-writing project manager. In his spare time he enjoys reading a good thriller, drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and spending time with his wife.

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When To Put Your Mobile Device Away – Digital Respect

In a world consumed by online interactions, niche (sometimes referred to as “weird”) communities, personal/business profiles or the latest apps (video, music, photography, or daily deals); it’s no wonder people are increasingly irritated by what the digital device is doing to ACTUAL social interaction and relationships.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and observed people texting under the table? Checking Twitter or Facebook on their phones or iPads? Have YOU ever been that person?

This even happens in an office setting. Have you ever been in a meeting where you or someone else is speaking and you realize most heads are looking down at their phones or iPads and most likely not paying attention? (Although, it’s fair to say that sometimes people do take notes or are commenting about certain speakers/news …but I’m going to go out on a not-so-far limb and say this isn’t the norm).

Texting in Meeting Social Media

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when we see these situations going on: That’s just rude.

It’s time (long past time, actually) that we all take a step back, set down our digital devices, and remember that along with the digital freedom comes human respect. Whether you’re spending time with family and friends or in the office (even if it’s a boring meeting), we all need to keep in mind that consistently losing eye contact with someone because you are addicted to your mobile device is rude. End of story.

There’s a time and a place for the digital world – heck, it’s my profession! But we also need to remember that there’s a time and place to turn those devices off and give other human beings our undivided attention. I’m just as guilty as anyone else reading this blog.

So, what can we do?

  • Unplug when it’s necessary.
  • Focus on eye contact.
  • Hold conversations longer than five minutes that don’t involve a computer/phone/iPad etc.

Remember, your behaviors have an impact on your kids, spouse, co-workers and your IN PERSON reputation.

Find the balance. Enjoy and embrace the benefits of the digital world, but learn to cherish and thrive in (real) uninterrupted human interaction as well.

It’s important. 

when to put your phone away

 

Kelsey Jones

Kelsey Jones

Social Media enthusiast who loves reading about and experimenting with the newest forms of communication. I'm a news and political junkie who loves advocacy work, the Green Bay Packers and working in this fast-paced environment.

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Friday Clicks [Volume 19] | The Best of the Social Web

Well, it’s judgement week for Facebook pages everywhere, as they automatically get converted to the new Timeline. We’ve written and talked about this plenty (here, here and here), so I won’t do it more here, except to say that I’ve seen a lot of Cover Photos popping up into my News Feed. I was a little surprised at how many big brands waited until they were forced. No harm done, though. Just being prepared, I suppose!

The Links:

  • Are you a CEO? Do you know a CEO? In our current economic world, people aren’t generally thrilled with their executives, but a new study shows that those who tweet are held in higher regard than those who don’t. Interesting (click here)
  • Who are the Pinterest-ers? This article shares some generalized demographic info about the folks using the online bulletin board phenomenon. (click here)
  • Do you love Instagram? We sure do – in fact you can follow OSM if you’d like (OneSocialMedia)! A new service allows you to make photo books with your Instagram stream as well as your Facebook photos. Pretty cool! (click here)

  • We all saw this coming, but RIM/Blackberry is making some major changes after another awful quarter. Bottom line: They didn’t adopt social or apps like Apple and Google did. (click here)
  • If you are a fan of the Will Ferrell classic “Anchorman”, you’ll absolutely love the video below.

Did we miss anything? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy is a blog-reading, report-writing project manager. In his spare time he enjoys reading a good thriller, drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and spending time with his wife.

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The Status Update: It’s All About Variety

Creating a presence for your brand on social media sites like Facebook. Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+ is great, but it’s really only the first baby step in a never-ending quest to build and maintain a connection with your online community (prospective clients, customers, loyal brand advocates, etc.). Here’s the harsh truth most businesses are unwilling to understand or do anything about: simply having a place for people to go—like a Facebook page for your business—isn’t enough to make people want to stay, interact regularly, or click on your seemingly enticing links to products or services. 

So what is it that makes people stick around and interact with your business on social media? It’s all about the variety of information you choose to share with your network on each social media platform. Yes, consistency is important. Quality is more important than quantity. And you have to have a plan. But if you plan on consistently sharing the same old boring content, you might as well not waste your time. You need to care about the people you interact with on social media, and part of caring means being thoughtful about the information you take the time to share with them. Are you thinking about it? Or are you just going through the motions day after day?

If you’re guilty of not thinking enough about the content you’re sharing on the social media sites your business is using, then take a look at the diagram below. It will help you think more about how to add variety to the social media updates you share with the people you want to connect with.

Don’t just go through the motions because someone told you that your business needs to be on social media. Be thoughtful. Add value. Embrace variety and be creative. Care about your customers.

EXTRA: Want a PDF version of the diagram above to print out? Click here.

Rob Wormley

Rob Wormley

As a social media specialist, Rob thrives in situations that require constant creativity. On days when Rob isn’t working hard to create, maintain, and strengthen relationships online, you might find him spending time with family, browsing through his nearest bookstore, or sipping on a cup of coffee at his local Starbucks.

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Friday Clicks [Volume 18] | The Best of the Social Web

There weren’t any huge social announcements this week, but there are definitely some newsworthy items to share. One of those  being that allergy season has hit us in full force here in Iowa, which the majority of our office having stuffy noses and pollen-induced headaches. How about where you are?

Anywho, onto the goodies:

  • Twitter celebrated its 6th birthday this week. Piers Morgan gives a nice ode to the social site, saying how it has transformed America and is a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit. (click here)
  • As with any new and booming social site, Pinterest is running into problems with folks poaching usernames of big brands. The company has yet to really do anything about it, but that likely won’t last. (click here)
  • One Broadway show in New York has started selling “tweet seats” in an effort to combat phones going off in the middle of the show. Interesting way to solve the problem and integrate the 21st Century. (click here)
  • Have you ever been asked to give your Facebook password to a potential employer? Apparently it’s becoming more common and companies really want to dig in to applicant’s personal lives. The ACLU is not happy. (click here)
  • A new study shows that folks with more Facebook friends are likelier to be socially aggressive and narcissistic. Seems to make some logical sense, but is also quite a broad generalization. (click here)
  • Finally, in honor of Twitter’s birthday, Jimmy Kimmel had celebrities read people’s tweets to them. Quite funny indeed.

Did we miss anything? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter! Also be sure to follow us on YouTube and Pinterest!

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy is a blog-reading, report-writing project manager. In his spare time he enjoys reading a good thriller, drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and spending time with his wife.

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The Language of Social Media

In this video from the TED Education series, Terin Izil talks about the relationship between brevity and clarity in language. “Ten-dollar words are rendered worthless if they’re not understood,” she says. According to her, the secret to great communication is efficiency: get your point across in as few syllables as possible.

 

All you need to do is read the comments on this video to get an idea of the controversy it’s sparked. Some people think this is a dangerous idea, and that it would mark the death of artful language.

But despite the opposition, society has definitely moved toward simplicity. In National Treasure, there’s a scene where Benjamin Gates (played by Nicholas Cage) reads the following line from the Declaration of Independence:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

After he’s done, Gates says “People don’t talk that way anymore. Beautiful, huh?” and his friend, Riley, responds, “No idea what you said.” This conversation sums up the gap between the 18th century and now quite well.

Unsurprisingly, social media has definitely played a large role in this trend. On Twitter, for example, where users only have 140 characters to make their point, brevity is key. And that brevity often comes at the expense of interesting language. Even on Facebook, in text messages, and (shockingly) LinkedIn, punctuation and grammar are commonly thrown to the wind.

Since this new style isn’t going away anytime soon, the real question becomes: Is it good, or bad? Or neither?

As a social media professional with a background in literature, I’ve seen enough “LOL”s and “OMG”s to make Chaucer and Whitman roll in their graves. But surprisingly, the lack of engaging language in social media doesn’t bother me– after all, it’s about context. There’s a place for fancy, artistic language, and everyday communication isn’t that place. Izil makes that point when she talks about knowing your audience. A novelist’s audience expects different things than an online audience, because they serve different purposes.

The language of social media is here to stay. Rather than complain about it dumbing down the way we communicate, we should try to improve its efficiency. Remember– you can still read Shakespeare and Hemingway any time. But when connecting and understanding is the goal, simple is better.

Tom Hummer

Tom Hummer

Tom’s two biggest passions in life are writing and music. In his free time, Tom reads, writes, and works on musical projects.

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Friday Clicks [Volume 17] | The Best of the Social Web

I am back in action folks! Huge thanks to @KelseyBJones for filling in during my absence last week. This is one of my favorite things I get to do for One Social Media, so I’m happy to be back in the saddle. It was a week of dichotomy – at least in my own reading. We had companies launching some exciting new things, but also lots of folks a bit disenchanted with social media.

The Links:

  • Pinterest unveiled a major profile redesign. The home page is the same, but going to someone’s page is new. It seems more organized, and our office consensus is that it’s a nice upgrade. What do you think? (Click here)
  • One Google employee details why he left the company. Very interesting and well-written piece about how the culture changed from one of innovation to an ad/revenue machine. (Click here)
  • This is a very interesting article from TIME Magazine about viral/social activism, and how it might not actually be as good as we think it is. (Click here)
  • CNN has a very interesting feature about our addiction to our mobile devices – including a very powerful photo gallery. (Click here)
  • We all know that the new iPad was unveiled last week (and launched in stores today), but here’s an actual review of the device. Consensus: the display is incredible. Is it enough for you to go out and get one? (Click here)
  • Also, if you enjoy laughing, you must watch the video below.

That’s it for this week. Did we miss anything? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy Anderberg

Jeremy is a blog-reading, report-writing project manager. In his spare time he enjoys reading a good thriller, drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and spending time with his wife.

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