The Value of Social

I’ve been on a “social media cleanse” since Monday. Not a full-out purge, just a mini-cleanse to rejuvenate. (That person on a juice cleanse…at the bar? That’s me.)

I’ve removed the Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone. It means I’m still able to go on these networks via desktop but also removes the temptation to compulsively, incessantly, maniacally graze through an unending stream of (mostly) uninteresting updates on-the-go. It’s a small move, but proven immensely helpful.

NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot gives the specs on NYC gov social media engagement.

NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot gives the specs on NYC gov social media engagement.

My cleanse lasts a week. On Monday, I’ll be back on the social grid, starting at NYCEDC as manager of social media and content. My task is to develop their social media, blog, and content marketing strategy, which will require full immersion in these platforms.

Though I sometimes decry the impertinent nature of social media content, I do believe in its value. The problem is I can never explain it. Does its primary value lie in the human capital that powers it? Its technological ability to surface interesting content? Its power to connect?

My real reason for disconnecting this week is to determine the void social media fills, if any. As I pull back the curtain and prepare to step behind the scenes of the grand social media production – taking on the “voice” of a 500-person organization – I’d like to know what exactly it is that people get out of their feeds.

So, I’m curious:

  • What gets your attention online?
  • How do you interact with social media? Do you use it as a discovery engine, an address book, news source?
  • What conversations/stories are relevant to you? (Particularly about your city?)

Please share your thoughts! I may be on a cleanse but ultimately, I believe that social media’s *nutritious* value is just waiting to be revealed. (sad food pun, sorry)

Food for thought:

Social Media Is For Listening.

Are You An IDIOT?

All Hail the Digital Revolution

President Obama is currently speaking to a televised audience of millions in his State of the Union address.  I am watching. But an even larger audience awaits on the web.  What used to be a strictly televised event has transformed into a digital one, a conversation developed through multiple mediums.

Ian Elsner (pictured above) no longer reaches for the remote during nationally televised events like these.  For him, his two computer screens do the trick.  With one screen fixed on Twitter (following the trending topic #SOTU) and the other live streaming the address on, Ian Elsner stays attuned with headphones plugged in…while maintaining dialogue with friends via text.  His room is silent. No blaring television in the background.

Ian is the product of a truly digital generation.  One that is not stricken to merely one screen, but many.


Say what you want about this digital revolution, but one thing is undeniable: it is connecting us.  In the case of the State of the Union address, social media has connected the public to the White House.  The White House embraced technology in the lead-up to the speech.  Not surprising since President Obama owes much of his presidential victory to the power of social media.  Since then, citizens have felt more involved in the political process via the Internet.  Concerned Americans posted their questions via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  President Obama’s Facebook page shared a preview of his speech (posted on YouTube) and even released the full text days before.  People read along as he delivered his words.

40 years ago- heck, even 10 years ago- this would have been unimaginable.  The world stands at the cusp of a new era when anyone, regardless of age, income, or location, can question the people who are supposed to look out for their best interests.  Of course, among the barrage of questions and comments, there’s bound to be a lot of white noise.  After all, how in depth can anyone get in 140 characters?

That said, anything that gets people talking about what our elected officials are doing must be doing a good to society.  All hail the digital revolution.