The Reluctant Social Media User

Having seen The Social Network over the weekend, I couldn’t help but think about the early days of Facebook, or at least my early days with it. When I first heard of Facebook, it was the spring of 2005. I was about to finish up my first year of college and a friend of mine from high school, who I hadn’t heard from in awhile, was pestering me about how I needed to join this cool new site that would allow me to post a bunch of information about myself to share with the people from college I saw every day, as well as the people from high school and middle school I didn’t bother to stay in touch with, and, in return, I could view the information these people were posting about themselves…and, as added benefits, we could post funny messages on one another’s “walls.”

My reaction was one of disinterest. If I wanted to speak with one of my friends from high school, I had their phone numbers and email addresses. If I didn’t, I probably wasn’t that close to them to begin with. If I wanted to talk to someone from one of my classes, I could talk to them when I got to class.

But, my friend protested, Facebook would allow me gather information about my friends before actually talking to them so I would know what to talk to them about before actually talking to them…and I could “poke” them, and maybe even marry one of them as a joke.

My reaction was still one of disinterest, but my friend was persistent, and one night while I was bored I decided to check it out and after taking the time to set up a profile and give it a chance I was overwhelmingly underwhelmed. What was the point of it, I wondered. I’m a private person. I don’t want to share my every thought with everyone and I don’t want to read theirs. But, because everyone else was doing it, I felt I sort of had to at least set up a very basic profile. I filled out a fair amount of information about myself, my interests, my likes, and contacted the dozen or so people from high school I was friends with in real life and looked up a few people from middle school I sort of regretted falling out of touch with at the time…But then what? I left the account inactive for several months until the Fall semester when I unsuccessfully tried using it for dating purposes, learning the hard way that just because someone is a petite redhead in their profile picture, does not mean they are a petite redhead in real life (perhaps more about this if I see Catfish)…then I let my account sit inactive again, only occasionally updating it every few months when I saw a really good movie or when I wanted to do a little research on one of my classmates.

And that’s the way it was for years until I saw an online posting for a social media internship with Randolph Sterling, Inc. and figured that it was time to really update my account, as well as do copious amounts of research, both in a hands on fashion, and by reading blogs like Mashable and Spin Sucks, ultimately finding that much had changed in the years my account was inactive. To sum up these changes, Facebook had  grown up. Unlike MySpace which could never shake its reputation as a place where people went to promote their failed bands and find semi-anonymous sex, while broadcasting their immaturity, Facebook had become a place for adults. It could now be used as a tool to search for news, similar to what Twitter was, and it allowed pretty much anyone to promote their businesses through pages, ads, and groups.

Anyway, now it’s my job to tell people 15-40 years older than me that they too need to get involved before their business competition does, and do so by trying to sell them on the idea that through Facebook and similar sites they can implement an indirect sales strategy in which they implement the social media to build relationships with prospects and clients they otherwise would have no excuse to stay in contact with, a strategy that, so far, is working pretty well for us at Randolph Sterling, Inc.


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