Social Media: So many options...pt. 2

This post continues a series starting with Social Media: Understanding our Digital Relationships pt. 1

I use many different forms of social media to interact with friends and customers. As I discussed in the earlier post each platform encourages varying levels of communication and participation by its users. Here is a run down of the platforms that I use, and the level of commitment required by the user and consumer.

Twitter and Instagram

Twitter targets the equivalent of a casual acquaintance. The 140 character limit is perfect for communicating with the "friends of friends" type that you might only interact with at a party once a year. I want to know what they are up to but I probably won't call them on the phone. This rings true for business relationships as well. Twitter is great for checking the pulse of the ceramic world through galleries and individuals posting their most recent events. Instagram is the visual equivalent to Twitter allowing you to post your photos or view other peoples' images. As a format they both require very little commitment allowing you to easily pop in or out of the environment.

Mail Chimp

I use Mail Chimp to distribute a digital newsletter. It is the most reliable way to interact with my diehard customers. Each person has to opt-in and sign up to be part of the mailing list. Everyone who receives the newsletter has already expressed interest in my work, which is a nice contrast to less direct forms of social media communication. To draw a comparison, using an opt-in form of social media is similar to fishing with a fishing pole. You cast the information to a specific spot and usually get a few bites each time you cast. In contrast a format like Twitter is similar to fishing with a loose net. You throw your information out there and drag back whatever gets caught. At times this includes things you might not want, i.e. overnight Twitter followers that want to sell you everything from website design to health plans.

The commitment level is relatively low for a newsletter because the out put is low. My Carter Pottery newsletter goes out quarterly and my Tales of a Red Clay Rambler podcast newsletter goes out biweekly as episodes are released. The individual newsletters are longer than a standard blog post but they come infrequently. People seem to be willing to read deeper into each edition because they are only asked to read on a semi-regular basis. Digital newsletters are especially useful for targeting the digital middle class. This mildly tech savvy group is very comfortable interacting through email but may feel intimidated by following blogs or downloading podcasts.


Everybody knows Facebook and everybody knows everybody on Facebook. It can be used for highly personal contact or for contacting total strangers. I use both a personal Facebook account and a Carter Pottery fan page. For the sake of this post I will focus on the fan page. The main advantage to Facebook is the ability to network quickly. An image or status update can be shared from friend to friend with the click of the button. This allows your info to ripple out into a larger group of like-minded people. Theoretically all social media shares this viral quality but I have noticed sharing happens more often on Facebook. I am amazed at how fast information can travel on Facebook.

Twitter is another common share-based format but the shelf life of a tweet is considerably shorter. Unlike Twitter it is common for Facebook users to read a page backwards from the present day to access older information. I often get "likes" for pictures I posted months or years ago. This post-dated reading allows you to build momentum and a following in an easier way.

The commitment level is low for both the viewer and the creator. From a purely business (a.k.a. numbers) standpoint Facebook has been my most successful form of social media. I can reach hundreds of people very quickly with information that has staying power. (This is a good definition of a successful social media platform so I'll come back to this in the next post in the series.)


A blog is an umbrella term for a digital location where various forms of information can be posted within a chronological timeline. The information itself can be as simple as an online journal, or it could be as complicated as multimedia presentation. For my blog I choose to use Blogger, one of the original easy to use blog formats. Another popular format is Word Press, which integrates blog posting capabilities into traditional website formats. The visual differences between blogs and websites are relatively small. The main functional difference between the two is that blogs offer the ability to read backwards down the information pipeline. You can read a person's post from a specific date in the past, making the reading experience more personal than a website.

Versatility is the greatest strength of the blog. You can literally do anything on a blog. Many people post quick image-based posts that can be created and viewed in under five minutes, while others post in-depth essays on a topic. Another strength of blogging is the ability to search through blog archives with search engines. This makes blogging one of the easiest ways to generate searchable content, thereby increasing your internet presence within Google and other noteworthy centers of internet power. Blogging represents a moderate level of commitment from both the viewer and reader. 

Podcasting through Libsyn 

Libsyn is a podcast distributer. For those that might be new to this form of social media, podcasts are short-form "radio" episodes that can be shared as MP3 files or streamed through servers. They represent a high level of commitment from the producer and a moderate level of commitment from the listener. To start a podcast you need basic recording equipment, editing software and a computer. Like many forms of social media there is a steep learning curve during the beginning stages. I spent many hours teaching myself the software and hardware involved in recording. There was a lot of trial and a whole lot of error, but now I can make a podcast in about five hours. For the consumer, podcast listening requires an MP3 capable device (smart phone, ipod, etc), a computer to download, and time to listen. Thankfully iTunes makes the downloading very simple with the option to subscribe and automatically download a podcast. Listening can be done at any time. I often listen to podcasts while I exercise or work in the studio.

In comparison, podcasting has the ability to provide information with a deeper impact than other social media. No other form of social media is matched in duration or level of intimacy. My podcast features artist interviews and averages an 1 hour and 10 minutes per episode. The length allows me to cover a whole range of detail that is not accessible through short-form social media.

Part of podcasting's ability to connect is the way a consumer ingests a podcast. Listening, versus seeing, increases the retention of information because listening is a more intimate action. There is an interesting phenomenon associated with listening. When you listen to someone repeatedly you start to feel like you know them even if you have never met them. This familiarity creates a connection that is not possible through other social media. As the listener forms a relationship with the podcast they are more open to receive information that may have been overlooked on other forms of social media.

Video sharing through Youtube

Youtube is one of many free video sharing sites. The level of commitment for video sharing is high for a producer and low for a consumer. Like podcasting, video making requires a large financial and time investment. Video production can be simple or complicated based on the level of professionalism you want the video to portray. To make a video that meets basic standards you will need video and sound recording equipment, editing software, a large hard drive for data storage, and a computer. For the consumer, video watching is very simple. You only need a computer and an internet connection capable of downloading the large file sizes of most videos.

While video making requires the most effort of any social media tool it can provide the most rewards. Video engages our eyes and ears in a way that leaves us mesmerized. There is a reason TV's have been cast as robotic overlords. They easily grab our attention in today's fast paced world. Unfortunately retention of information is not always reciprocal to engagement with a video. We are so bombarded with videos (TV, movies, etc.) that we tend to glaze over while we watch. A successful video grabs the viewer's attention while providing a take-away message. This could be seen as the foundation for all social media but it is essential for video making.

With so many options for social media I want to end this series by answering the question "Which form of social media should I choose?" I'll address that in my next post so check back later in the week for the conclusion of the series. To blow your mind with even more options I thought I would post this info graphic by FredCavazza.net explaining the major players in the social media landscape for 2012. So many options...


  1. There are a lot of social networking platforms on the web today—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Myspace. buy instagram followers fast

  2. I guess "Twitter is another common share-based format but the shelf life of a tweet is considerably shorter."