Social Media is a fascinating subject. Do a quick web search for how to create a great social media project and you are inundated with “how-to’s” and “don’t do’s” all of them saying different things. The commercial world has lept into social media. In your search you will find that to many social media now means corporate advertisements using “social” media. No longer is social media a way for people to connect. It has quickly become just another, more subtle way, to sell mostly unneeded stuff to increasingly poor customers. “Social Media” also has a dark, hidden, side. Go to news or progressive action site that tells a story different than allowed in the mainstream (corporate) media and you will find the comments filled with rebuttals, all taking a very similar pro-corporate, pro-inequality, pro-oligarchy line. Almost always the first few comments are in support of the economic and social policies that are creating and increasing income, wealth, and power inequality and slowing killing the middle-class society constructed after WWII. A groundswell of opposition by “Real Americans” to the DFH’s (look it up)? Or the comments of “astro turf” organizations and companies paid big money to counter small-d democratic thinking and organization?
That said, for those of us trying to address various problems around the world, social media and the internet is a great resource. Since most of our mainstream media outlets no longer discuss or present any options other than those that support the status quo (and domination of society by a very small group of extraordinarily wealthy men), the internet and social media is one of the best ways we have to communicate with people who know something is seriously wrong with society but don’t know what to do about it. It is the only game in town.
In my project I didn’t get much in the way of comments, likes or followers. I’m not sure at this point that I can call it a success. The most people that have taken one of my quizzes is three (and one of them was me). I can think of several reasons for this:
- Any social media project has to hit a sweet spot. In other words, a need in people to express themselves or solve a common problem. The areas that I covered (inequality, the distortion of capitalism to maximize profit for banks, etc.) are covered in great depth by other social media actors. Perhaps potential readers are overwhelmed with bad news since so much is going wrong.
- I think a good social media project allows people to interact and contribute. It is not enough to just push ideas out into the “blogosphere” and hope people will read it. How can the person reading your post, quiz, Pin, etc., join in helping solve the problem? How can they express their own concerns? How can they self-organize? My project at this point is too much push and not enough interaction.
- I wonder if I am taking on too many subjects? Do I need to concentrate on a more specific social issue?
- Consistency. A general rule of thumb is that a content provider (me) needs to put out some sort of post (quiz) every week. With the demands of school and my general sense of fatigue caused by nearly a year of school, I’ve not had the energy to generate quizzes and posts on a consistent basis and to keep new viewers coming back to my site.
- Time. I think this just takes time to grow an audience.
- Perhaps quizzes aren’t the best way to present this type of information.
I plan to continue this effort over the summer and see if I can grow an audience. I’m going to investigate how to use Pinterest as the core to my project rather than a blog. That way I can post my quizzes, images and other media in a place where people can interact and respond to the issues I present with their own thoughts and media. I can then respond to the interests of my audience based upon what they post. I also want to use twitter to present my posts to those that are interested so they can keep track of my project without having to pay close attention. I will look around to see what other, new, mechanisms are available, and there are a lot of them. It will be very interesting to see how this project has evolved by the end of summer and the start of a new school year at University of the West.