My Hierarchy of New Media: How I Use Social Media These Days

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012


So many choices, but really, only a few matter.

Too much media? Maybe. More like too much noise and not enough sound.

Since I consume vast amounts of noise and sound, you might wonder what I consider to be the best media and how I take it all in. Or not.

Anyway, media power users have their own methods of choosing, consuming, and digesting media. It’s probably not the same for most people.

Here’s most people: I use Facebook. Also, I check my email. And if I’m savvier than 3/4’s of my friends I Twitter. And Skype to call the kids. Sometimes, if I remember, I use Foursquare. And if I’m kinda diligent, but if I’m the majority (92%) I’m not, I use LinkedIn.

Clearly, that’s not me. Please know that I haven’t actually audited my life. This is just a survey of how I perceive my own use. Reality might have different percents of time, but this is how my mind works when choosing my media.

So, most mornings, I check my email–usually in fear. I hate email. There’s too much of it and no matter how many Gmail filters I create, there’s too much crap. The “Mute” feature has been helpful for all the chains of email I get.

While I’m packing my kids lunches, getting them ready for school, I might check Twitter and fire off a couple RTs of good stories. Because of the news cycle, many journalists have their stories go up early on East Coast Time which is an hour before me. So, if I check things at 7 am my time, it’s still 8 on the East Coast. This is all done on my iPhone, unless I am printing homework or something for the kids at the computer.

Aside: I own a Mac i7, MacBook Air 11″, iPad 1.0, iPhone 4G.

By about 8 most mornings, I’m at my desk. I throw on my Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 Headset
(doubles as back up microphone for podcasting–I’m looking to buy some sweet cans) and fire up Spotify. I don’t effectively use Spotify–a social music sharing app. I haven’t got my full music library uploaded from iTunes yet. It takes some time that I haven’t made for it. I have followed a couple friends who also use it, but haven’t explored their music choices nearly enough. I get into music ruts and play stuff to death depending on the mood I’m in. Still, Spotify has better sound quality than iTunes (yes, I can hear it). No, I don’t use a media player like this. I don’t even open iTunes, really, unless I want to buy something or upload something, etc.

A note about Spotify. Sometimes I spam my Facebook followers and sometimes, I don’t. Set your listening session to “private” if you don’t want to share it with Facebook, or just don’t link the two.

I check my email again.

I check Twitter again. Speaking of Twitter, I don’t use the native Twitter, I use old-school Tweetdeck v.038.1. No, I haven’t updated. Twitter, who now also owns Tweetdeck, seems intent on committing user interface suicide. They hate their users, especially their power users. I find this irritating. The new Tweetdeck is native and not based on Adobe Air. Air is definitely a resource hog. Still, I’ve heard nightmares about the new version. Other power users use Seesmic. Again, I got in a tech rut and like it.

For those who don’t follow too many people and who like seeing a stream of tweets, but like a pleasant UI, download Echofon Pro for your desktop.

For Twitter on my iPad I use Echofon Pro and for pleasure, use Zite or Flipboard–both fun interfaces that are easier to read. I find that they bring my attention to different media in different ways.

It’s important to keep in mind that with all the customization, we’re limiting our own point of view. If keeping the big picture is your priority, make sure you follow diverse people and keep your interests broad. If you don’t care about having tunnel vision because your social media intake is purely for pleasure, just be self-aware. There’s lots you are not seeing.

Speaking of new versions that suck: Skype did the same thing with their upgrade. So, I roll old-school with Skype, too. I’m using Version 2.8.0.851. Skype is a free internet-based phone and messaging app. I use it almost daily but almost exclusively for my podasts.

After email and Twitter, I hit Pinterest and reluctantly, Facebook (this is variable as I can go days without checking it). On Facebook, I’m still slowly whittling away at acquaintances and trying to only follow people I actually know. This has caused some heartburn, but when I had “friended” 5000 people, I was hating everyone and couldn’t keep up. Am I missing some networking opportunities? Maybe, but at this point, people can find me all sorts of places, so Facebook is going back to its intended purpose for me: keeping up with actual friends.

Pinterest I’m still exploring so I’m spending more time in it. I kind of use an emersion therapy on myself to learn the language of the new media. Pinterest speaks to my OCD, my desire for categorization, and my desire for more relevant search.

For everything but news, Pinterest beats Google and even Twitter by a mile. I don’t like Twitter’s search. Pinterest is visual–humans are visual. It is easier to find a product or something I’m interested in by scanning pictures. Now, my friend Robert Scoble says Storify is better. I haven’t used it yet, but have downloaded it and am starting to play, so I’ll let you know. Pinterest does have some limitations but that’s one of its strengths–simplicity.

If I have clients, I’m checking their stuff everywhere too and monitor it via Tweetdeck. There is no multi-user monitoring device for Facebook. That’s irritating. I’m doing word searches. I’m getting Google alerts. And of course, I’m also making phone calls. Phones: the original technological social media!

If I’m focusing on blogging, I write a blogpost. I use WordPress. I still have my Blogspot blog for backup. I have plugins for YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest. Writing takes uninterrupted time. I try to get my post done and then go check on socmedia stuff again.

If I see patients, well, everything is on hold until I’m not with them.

Google+, the socmedia that Twitter fans love to hate, is still my favorite social media to learn and grow as a person. It all depends on who is curating the content and because I’ve been choosy and kinda anal about how I organize the people I follow, Google+ continues to be my “breath of fresh air” social media platform. It is where I learn new things, therefore I love it.

When I go some place and happen to remember, I check into 4Square. Meh. I check in as I’m leaving because it’s all so stalkerish. It can be helpful when I travel, though. I just don’t care to know that someone is at CVS, nor do I care to share such mundane details.

Perhaps the biggest shift in my new media consumption is to ignore most blogs unless I find the information through another media like Twitter or Pinterest or more rarely, Facebook. I still use an RSS feeder and through Flipboard on my iPad, it’s truly an enjoyable experience. But really, I read blog posts via Twitter or not at all. I am too harried to go from site to site. Ben Domenech, Jim Geraghty (and of course mine) and a few others have good wrap up emails that make my life easier. Most of the time, I am beating Drudge now, in my own Twitter feed. So why go there?

After work, if I can wrest it from my youngest’s hands, I get on the iPad and read, play Words With Friends, play cards, and do home stuff like, and play with Pinterest more.

There is rarely a time when my phone, computer, or some form of tech isn’t with me. It’s simply integrated into my life. With family obligations pressing in at certain points and little time, Twitter because a way to stay involved and continue sharing news without a huge time commitment.

So there ya go. Twitter is easiest and most mobile, thus the ubiquity of my use. People ask how I can tweet so much. It’s everywhere with me and easy to use, so why not?