Social media mythbusting


social media mythsI had a spiffing time last night talking about social media for journalists with the Guild of Health Writers in the (frankly rather elegant) surroundings of The Medical Society of London.

The thing that struck me when talking to people who don’t use Twitter or other social media tools was that it’s the myths that seem to put people off. Myths including:

  • You have to be a tech-y gadget freak to make sense of it
  • It uses up all your time
  • Why would I be interested in what random strangers have for lunch?

None of which is actually true. I am about the most un-techy person you could ever hope to trip over. My 11 year old knows her way around a computer far better than I do. I only started texting, downloading music and moving photos from camera to computer within the last year. I got an iPhone all of three days ago – before that, my phone was the crappiest of the crap. Creating a PowerPoint presentation for last night’s event pretty much stretched my technical abilities as far as they can go.

But what I do have is an open minded attitude. I’m willing to have a go. I don’t mind if I get it wrong, because I’ll learn from that and aim to do better next time. I’ll ask questions even if they might seem a bit daft, because I believe that ultimately the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

And the time thing? Even people who seem to be on Twitter all the time, probably aren’t on there all that much. We notice it much more when people do speak than when they don’t. And anyway, spending time developing your network of contacts and saving your sanity by checking out links to funny pictures of cats is a good thing, right?

And the what you had for lunch tweets? People don’t really do that any more. If they do, and you don’t like it, that’s what the Unfollow button is for. If the people you’re following don’t tickle your fun buds, you’re following the wrong people.

Anyway, I said I’d post the notes up here so check back here from tomorrow, where I’ll be going into more detail about how journalists can use social media to attract work, and not waste all their time in the process.

UPDATE – Start here with the first post on social media for journalists

  • Thanks for your comment Abi. I think there is still a perception amongst peple who don’t use Twitter that it’s *only* about people tweeting what they had for lunch, when as we both know, there’s a lot more to it than that. Sometimes people tweet about their breakfast as well…

  • Abi

    I look forward to reading the rest of your presentation! I’m a big fan of social media (although of course, like everything, it has its flaws.)

    And as for what people had for lunch? Even that can be entertaining in the right hands…Why else do food-based magazines exist?

  • I actually don’t believe that you only worked out how to download photos from your camera within the last year. Seriously? I’d never have guessed you weren’t “all over” your technical gadgetry, you’re clearly a natural. And as for the Twitter thing, a friend of mine recently pointed out that it’s like “office banter for people who work from home”. Nicely put and so true.

  • Amy

    Thanks for this… always good to remember you can make mistakes and try again, it can all feel a bit daunting and like something ‘someone else’ knows about! I look forward to seeing the additional info.

    PS Lots of people in my timeline talk about what they had for lunch…but being a food blogger I follow the types that would!

  • @Molly – Honestly, it’s true. I used to hand the camera to my other half and ask him to magic them on to the computer. Then I realised I was being a bit pathetic, so I got a camera for my birthday last December and forced myself to learn how to use it properly. It was a bit embarrassing to realise how straightforward it was – I think I assumed it would be like alchemy.

    @Amy – I really believe that it’s the mistakes we make that make us human. If we got to the point that we thought we knew it all, where’s the fun in that? And also as journalists our job is to ask questions, so really we should always have the attitude that there’s a lot more to learn.