I have this sort of running joke where every once in a while, I'll say, "Yeah, I'm like really into social media right now." But as with any joke, there's at least a glint of truth behind this one. It is true that I go through times where I'm more devoted to social media than at other times. Some days I'm just a passive observer, reading my feed to see what's going on but not contributing to the conversation. Other days, I'm completely disengaged from social media for one reason or another.
But right now, I'm going through a phase where I spend a significant amount of time and energy on my social media accounts. I'm re-investing in some that I've let lay dormant for a long time, and I'm trying out some new things that I've never really given a shot before. I thought it would be helpful during this time to really think through what social media platforms I'm using and why. And I thought it might be fun to share it with you.
This is the big one. I've had a Twitter account since I was junior in high school, and I've been using it pretty consistently to share my life with my friends for over five years now. To me, Twitter is kind of the catch-all of social media. Because tweets are short and pretty disposable, I feel it's appropriate to use Twitter to share updates about my life that others might consider minor. But Twitter is also a great place to have meaningful conversations about issues that really matter, and the team behind Twitter have done a great job of creating tools for just that sort of discussion, that hashtags and the new Twitter Moments feature. Plus, Twitter gives users the ability to embed rich content card links into their tweets, maximizing the power of those 140 characters to share videos, articles, photos, and more.
used to share: everything
pros: character limit, meeting people with similar interests, discussion of big issues
cons: so many tweets
This is the social media platform that I'm most excited about at the moment. It's a brand new app from one of the creators of Vine. When it released a couple of weeks ago, it immediately became the number one trending topic on Twitter. People couldn't stop talking about it. "What is Peach? Should you be on it? What makes it different?" Peach is a relatively straightforward mobile-only social network with beautiful design and one killer feature: magic words. Instead of having a bunch of complicated buttons for sharing different types of content like on Facebook, Peach has a list of words that set off different sharing features when you type them. "GIF" brings up a gif search bar. "Here" brings up a location selector. "Shout" allows you to create animated gifs with combinations of text, images, and emoji. There are all kinds of fun things you can share with Peach, and the options are only going to expand in time with new updates.
The problem with Peach right now is that very few people are on it, at least people that I actually know. But it has a lot of potential. Merriam-Webster is actually having quite a bit of success sharing images and articles for word snobs on Peach. If you want to try out Peach's magic words feature, go to peach.cool to download the app and add me on there (@devondundee, as will all my other social media)!
used to share: most everything
pros: beautiful app, magic words, simple interface
cons: still building user base
Facebook really helped take social media to the next level. Back in the days of MySpace and a plethora of instant messaging programs, Facebook made social media mainstream by introducing school- and work-based networks and the Wall, a place where you could share updates but your friends could also write to you. Over the years, Facebook has added a lot of cool features like groups, the timeline, and Messenger, their own instant messaging platform. I joined Facebook in junior high, back when you needed an invitation from someone who was already on Facebook in order to join. I mostly use Facebook to share big life updates like trips, major life events, and, of course, my blog posts. Facebook is also a great place to "check in" and let friends know your location, so I use it for that sometimes as well. Mostly, I use Facebook to keep up with what friends and family are doing when I cannot be in touch with them on a daily basis.
used to share: big updates, blog posts, location
pros: everyone's on it, posts stay on feed longer, birthday reminders
cons: constantly feeling like I post too much, comment arguments
Instagram and I have a love-hate relationship. I've had an Instagram account almost since day one (anyone else remember when it was iPhone-only?), but I haven't been consistent about using it. When I'm out with friends doing something interesting, I rarely think, "Hey, I should take a picture of this!" I struggle to find a balance between experiencing things and capturing them, and that's something I'm working on. My pictures are mostly just photos of what I'm doing in my everyday life, and they often don't even feature people. But I try to share pictures that are aesthetically pleasing and worth taking the time to look at. Instagram is probably the social media platform that I could improve on the most.
used to share: photos of what I'm doing and who I'm with
pros: tons of potential to be creative, fun way to share aspects of life with others
cons: I'm afraid of cameras.
I've been on Vine since day one. Vine is literally Twitter, but in video form. The 140-character limit has been converted to six seconds of looping video, and believe me, you can do a lot with six seconds of video. People tell stories, offer update about their lives, make jokes, share songs, and even show off some amazing visual effects. I used to post a Vine video every day, usually some sort of joke or reflection from the day, but I stopped that habit a while back. Now my Vine account is mostly saved for videos of Aiden, but I'm trying to find a way to bring Vine back into my regular social media routine.
used to share: jokes, reflections, and videos with Aiden
pros: time limit forces conciseness and creativity, fun to make and share
cons: scared of cameras (see above)
Everyone knows what YouTube is. It's the biggest video-sharing platform on the planet. People use it to share films, short films, TV episodes, music videos, educational videos, vlogs, and so much more. My three-year-old nephew watches toy reviews on YouTube. Popular YouTubers have become minor celebrities, and there is even an annual convention of YouTubers called VidCon where creators and fans meet up to talk about digital video creation. On YouTube, I am almost 100% a consumer. I've posted a few videos throughout the years, but nothing really of note. I'd love to create videos for YouTube, but the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to create high-quality content just isn't something I can really afford at the moment.
used to share: nothing
pros: great video content for everyone, including children
cons: oversaturation of content
I've never really been that into Snapchat. To be honest, I've never been exactly sure what it is. I know that it's a way to send your friends temporary photo and video messages that disappear after a certain amount of time, but I'm not sure how that really functions for me. I guess I just prefer more text-based communication than photo-based communication, probably because I hate taking selfies. Lately, a lot of people (including celebrities) have been using Snapchat's Story feature as a way of sharing their day-to-day experiences with their friends, and I'm trying to incorporate that into my routine as well. It's been a lot of fun, but I wish there was a better way for people to offer feedback (maybe some sort of "like" system on the Story feature).
used to share: photo and video update of day-to-day life
pros: fun, no high expectations for content quality
cons: Have we established yet that I'm afraid of cameras?
Of course, these aren't the only social media platforms I use. Most of what we do on the Internet nowadays is social media. Even Venmo (PayPal's quick money transfer solution) could be considered social media. I used to use Tumblr for my blog, but now it mostly sits dormant. I'd like to become more involved with that community sometime. Medium is another blogging platform that I'd like to get into. I'm going to start posting my blog posts over there to see if they get any traction. And, of course, my blog (which is run through SquareSpace) is the social media platform closest to my heart. I love social media. I love the many ways that we use to share our lives with each other. And I hope that as these platforms continue to develop and new ones pop up, we'll find even more meaningful, creative, and fun ways to do life together.
So now that you've heard my list of social media platforms I'm into right now, I'd love to hear from you. What's your favorite way to share your life with your friends and family? Is there something missing from my list that I should try out? Let me know in the comments below or on any of the social media platforms mentioned above. Thank you for reading, and I'll see you on the Internet!