Too Many Tools

June 12, 2011

“Go where the conversations are.”
– Every PR and marketing person worthy of his/her job

There are things that I want to be able to communicate through my personal social media presence. For some time, I was desperate to grow the “social media brand’ that was “dtearl.” I use it across Twitter, Facebook, my email account and a host of other social tools. With more job security and greater devotion to my school work and job work, upping my Twitter followers and trying to connect with more people feels less critical.

Fewer people are now reading my blog, I tweet far less, and I hardly post on Facebook anymore. I check LinkedIn once a month to write requested recommendations and approve new friends. That isn’t to say I don’t have anything to say, but I’ve become comfortable with how I’m saying it and who I’m saying it to. My desperation for online attention is replaced by pushing a brand that I promote in my job. I tend to it on nights, weekends, almost every waking moment.

Both for my job and for my own personal amusement, I am trying to stay up on what is happening in social media and social tools. I also want to see how it fits my needs.

That’s why I’m signed up on Tumblr now. I’m certainly not an early-adopter, but I feel like I have virtually no choice – it’s growing faster almost anything on the web right now.

I’ve regularly checked Tumblrs for months, probably because nothing is better suited for generating memes. It’s multi-media friendly, it’s easily shared among users, and it’s easily maintained. I’m there now, at, surprise surprise, dtearl, and I hardly know what to do with it.

For long form writings, reviews and links, I use this blog. For sharing videos and other content that entertain and amuse, and to keep in touch with friends of a purely social nature, I use Facebook. For sharing non sequitur thoughts, links, following the news, and following people who I’ve found based on similar professional and academic interests or niche passions, I tweet. I keep half an eye on last.fm, quora and flickr too.

It is entirely logical, if not critical, to build your social media presence around your needs, not the other way around. Yet, new social media tools are a lot like sex, I think. Consider:

“Ugh, I haven’t had (sex/time to check my Facebook/access to Twitter) in (length of time that is supposed to sound long but is really bragging).”
“You did just fine without it for (length time from birth until estimated first exposure based on coolness) years.”
“Yeah [sigh], but now I know what I was missing.”
[Eyes roll, return to drink/plate/own computer screen]

You don’t know that you need it until you’re exposed to it, and then it becomes integrated into your life. Sure, I could write letters, read a newspaper, keep a journal, make phone calls, and turn on the radio, but I feel like I don’t know how I would keep in touch with family in friends, get the news, entertain myself or share my thoughts on things.

Here’s the thing. For the first time trying a new social media tool, I’m not sure what it’s giving me that I don’t already have. Yeah, everybody’s doing it right now, but why? I’m finding myself unenthusiastic about joining the crowd in a digital social space. I might sound like people who argued that joining Facebook was unnecessary when Myspace and Friendster were all you needed, but with the tools already available, aren’t we reinventing the wheel?