Wednesday, August 11, 2010

7 Steps to Social Media Goodness

This is a framework I put together months ago when I was working primarily with traditional creatives who were beginning to learn about developing social media concepts.  If you're working on a social media project it outlines some basic questions to ask and steps to take.  I offer it here in the spirit of sharing.  Please feel free to use it or pass it on!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sharing vs. privacy, or I am the boss of me

We hear so much these days about sharing and privacy in the online realm, usually in a tone that is cautionary and alarmist.  There are certainly some reasons for alarm, for example, when a company invades personal privacy against the will of the user.  However, actively sharing what some may consider private information is a much different matter. 

What seems to be of specific concern is young peoples' sharing habits.  Many wonder what young people are thinking, publishing intimate details of their lives online.  As is often the case, with young people, it is assumed that they know not what they do. But interestingly, recent research shows that young people are actually much better at managing personal information online. In addition, their attitudes about sharing are simply different, and one might argue, more human.

According to Pew Internet & American Life, 18- to 29-year-olds are almost twice as likely than their older counterparts to limit the amount of personal information online, change their privacy settings, delete unwanted comments and remove names from tagged photos on social networks.  In addition, they trust social networks much less than their older counterparts.  They are not the ignorant, self-absorbed, digitally obsessed kids that many make then out to be. In other words, social media will not bring down an entire generation anymore than TV, rock 'n roll or Woodstock did.

According to another report from Pew, Gen Y is likely to make sharing a lifelong habit.  The majority of experts surveyed by Pew agreed that by 2020, Gen Y'ers "will continue to be ambient broadcasters who disclose a great deal of personal information in order to stay connected." Ultimately, they benefit from this disclosure, experts said.

There are some naysayers who don't believe that Gen Y'ers will continue to have the time to share once they get older, with more demanding jobs and family lives.  But my guess is that they will (as they do now) simply watch less TV (for more on that topic, check out Clay Shirky's latest book, "Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age").

In addition to being smarter about sharing overall, there is a sense that privacy as we know it is outdated. I couldn't agree more.  Who said it was more proper or more humble to keep both opinions and experiences to oneself?  I am not proposing a total setting aside of decency.  What I am suggesting is that sharing a win may not be bragging and that sharing a challenge may not be whining.  Maybe sharing a win is inspiring and sharing a challenge gives others an opportunity to see you as imperfect.  Who decided that that was a bad thing?

It could be that young people understand this in a way that previous generations, so obsessed with looking good (but not too good) didn't. When we talk about privacy online, I'd suggest that we look at our own teachings and assumptions, which may no longer serve us as a global community.

Of course, if you disagree, that's fine too.  Don't share your personal information online. Technology is not in control here, you are. Just don't judge me for sharing mine.