Thursday, August 8, 2013

Personal? Professional? Professional Social Media Agent?

I struggle with the relationships between the personal and the professional in online life.  I have tried to keep my professional contacts in Linked In, and my personal contacts on Facebook.  I know that some people have set up separate accounts, but that doesn't seem practical to me.  I did that with email, and ended up with nine email accounts, and the compartmentalization was, in the end, not helpful.  My social networks have a lot of overlap, but the categories do hold up, as much as possible in our complex world.  My Twitter feed, however, is a totally random collection of things I'm interested in and things I like and people I think are entertaining.  I think the conflation of the personal and professional is inevitable, in part because it is easier -- and the technology itself encourages consolidation.

Today, I'm turning to the use of social media in an area which is of interest to me, but not a part of my professional purview -- beyond the unimpeachable fact that librarians are interested in everything -- sports marketing.

NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt, Jr., today did two chat activities, one on Reddit, and one on Twitter, to demonstrate the use of his employer's "new Digital Dashboard social media command center".   What interested me, beyond the content, was not only the interactive use of social media, which is not new, but both the high tech center, and the other media forms used by Dale Jr.'s publicity people to publish the content on the web afterwards.

Check out the photos of the command center -- it's pretty impressive. There are photos on the team twitter feed @TeamHendrick #DashChat.   This project used, twitter pics, (the NASCAR subreddit),  a photo site called imgur, and a site called Storyify, used by his publicity person to create a complete list of the answered questions with photos and comments. It might be the type of project a library could do, even without the high tech command center.

I can see possibilities for using the Storyify and Imgur tools to create materials for classes or other educational applications.  I also find the process fascinating -- taking a celebrity who is famously not on Twitter and having him use social media to interact with fans in a controlled environment. For peeks behind the mirror, you can follow his publicity people @MikeDavis88 and @MikeHoag88.  Mr. Earnhardt got into social media early (back in the My Space days),and encouraged NASCAR to use the web more effectively.  He owns a television/film production company, and his staff maintains a set of web sites, two Facebook pages, and a podcast.  You'll notice, however, that it takes a complete team of public relations people to maintain all of these web outlets.  On this week's podcast, Mr. Earnhardt said that he gave up maintaining a social media page himself because it "became like a small child." Mr. Davis, himself a father, pointed out that an actual small child probably is more work.  However, I understand the analogy.

On another social media front, on Linked In today I saw, in my news feed, a question and discussion about how to learn social media platforms.  One person posted a New York Times article from last March with a list of classes -- credit and non-credit, many requiring tuition -- available for people wanting to become certified in social media.  I was happy to see that I already know how to use most of the media listed, though, of course, I'm sure more things have been added to the social media universe in the last five months.  I did find both the question and the answer interesting -- do we all need social media certification if we need to be our own publicity agents?  Has anyone done time/benefit analyses on the use of social media?  At what point does it take too much time?  For an individual?  For an institution?

My personal feeling is that there needs to be a balance between the time spent and the benefits, and one way to maximize benefits is  to pick one or two sites and types of communication to focus on, and do them really well.  Unless and until you are earning $23 million a year...

That's a lot of text without pictures, especially if you didn't follow the links [hint:  follow the links!].  Here are some photographs far from the racetrack or the computer screen:

Basking in the sun on the special turtle raft
Waterway through the wetlands

Prairie flowers

Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa