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The “Other” Social Dilemma; What to do when there are too many social media?


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All my friends are on Facebook. All my customers are on Instagram.

All my peers are moving over to the Post. Twitter is for rubber-necking these days.

TikTok is cool, even though I have no account.

Reddit is great for getting the real scoop.

LinkedIn is for business. YouTube for learning and entertainment.

Books and magazines are for reading and escaping them all.  

And the Rocky Mountains for exploring.

 

There is a real dilemma of being tracked, monitored, and manipulated by the tech industry, as the dire warnings in the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma portrays. It doesn’t change the fact that we will continue to use social media no matter how many chips they follow us with.

Being the manager for all of Yellow Scene Magazine’s (YS) social media, I have often found myself in the dilemma of how many accounts I can actually run and which ones do I really need.

I do not like to work on my phone. I use my laptop for almost everything. I like having  20 open tabs at my fingertips. Plus, I have fat fingers and am super hyper, so I hate texting. There are days I think, “dump it all,” but of course, that is not a reality for a local publisher. Why don’t I hire someone to handle social media for us? I did say we are an independent, hyper-local print and digital publication still adhering to journalism standards, right? In other words, not in the budget.

Let’s see, there is Facebook (FB). It’s the oldest social media account I have, and most of my friends are still on it. It is the place to connect to the local community and friends far more than any other platform – at least in my life. I manage both the YS account and my personal account. However, all of Facebook’s manipulations have rendered it almost useless for local businesses these days. I used to get a lot more exposure and engagement on my business page, but now you have to pay for a “boost” to be seen. However, even boosting is becoming out of reach for local businesses as FB is increasingly requiring more and more money just to be seen. Active Groups are solid on Facebook, so that still gives a local business some opportunity to connect to the community, and they are also nice for connecting with neighbors as a resident. My personal page is quite active, but while I have a fairly large friend circle, my personal account is locked down to only them. I really get to connect with my friends on FB, so that original purpose is still applicable, no matter how much FB is trying to f*ck that up. 

Surprisingly, NextDoor (ND) has actually gotten better and is quickly becoming one of the places to connect with neighbors, which was the original intention. It went off the rails with trolling, but ever since they added more moderators, it’s improved dramatically. ND has typically not been a space for deep discussions, but it is a good space for sharing local information. With the new moderation component, it looks promising for engaging in local dialogue. It is not the space for memes. I also do not have a business account on ND in spite of how pushy they are about making one. They even made one for me, which I requested be disabled. ND does not seem like the space to have a brand account, at least for this hyper-local, Indie.

I like Instagram (IG) now, I hated it at first. I think much of my resistance was around having to add one more god-damn social media platform to my list. Why did I need Instagram? Doesn’t Facebook do the same thing and more? While it is true many people moved to IG, I question if it is really reaching the numbers people think. I’ve heard a lot of business owners quip, “it’s where all the young people are.” Sure, maybe before Facebook bought it and before TikTok, but in my view, it is also where a LOT of the businesses are. I even had a shoe store tell me, “you gotta be on Insta.” I enjoy the more positive nature that Instagram delivers. I have not gotten into Reels because I still suck at video editing. I often scroll on mute because the constant noise can be overwhelming. I don’t know if this makes me old and cranky or if constantly shoving Reels at us is simply not necessary, no matter how much Instagram wants to keep up with TikTok. I have a business account on IG, but I do not use the personal one FB/IG also made for me. I should probably delete it.

While I enjoy all the fun videos from TikTok, I simply can not add it as another platform to manage. I have resigned myself to enjoying TikTok when shared but not diving in myself. I appreciate there is a lot of subculture action on it, but I don’t think I would be talking to my community there. YS is a hyper-local resource that covers politics and culture. While we do take on a lot of national topics, our focus is on how these topics impact us locally. I don’t see how the TikTok crowd is going to connect me to the area enough to spend my already stretched resources there. Plus, since I really suck at editing videos, I guess I have to forego my cool factor on that one.

I know a few associates who are using LinkedIn for business connections and sharing news stories, but they tend to be more national businesses. However, it is a good resource for making professional connections. I do share articles as I can, but it often sits forgotten because I only have so much time. (Sorry, Alignable, I clearly have no time for you either.)

I am not a Redditor, but I do love Reddit. They could even be cooler than TikTok. It’s also a great source for reaching many subcultures and is absolutely bomb for getting the inside scoop on what people are saying. I have never had the bandwidth to Reddit myself, although my son is a Redditor.

Twitter is nothing more than a shitshow at this point. Our account was never big, it was grossly ignored by us for the first 14 years and quite possibly shadow-banned based on the number of views. It was fun to follow “my people” when I did finally get active in 2020. The newsmakers, journalists, politicians, and activists ensured it was up-to-the-second news. It is quite amazing to watch how in just six weeks, one person has been able to destroy it. After Musk took over, we just trolled for a couple of weeks. Our Yellow Scene account lost over 100 followers, and for a small account, that was a lot. It seemed pointless even to try and tweet sincerely. But trolling got boring quickly. I admire the folks still in there fighting the disinformation hub that Twitter has become, but I only have the energy to poke in a couple of times a day. I had a personal account that was even smaller than our YS account, but I disabled it when he took over. I have left the Yellow Scene account active at this time. It’s like watching a train wreck, I suppose. 

This leads me to the Post and Mastadon. I have not created a Mastadon account yet because I established one in the Post. You can guess why, I don’t think I can manage adding two new platforms at the same time. It’s a lot of work to build an account, actually. Besides, I am really getting into the Post. I can get lost for hours reading in there. 

I am struggling with identity, though. I probably should make a personal profile as the publisher, but in our 22 years, I have never branded myself. I have never wanted to be a public “persona” in spite of “knowing everyone in town.” I used to tell my staff, “people don’t know me, they know the magazine,” to which they would scoff. I have lived here for 32 years and had YS for going on 23 now, so I do know a lot of people. I have only put my picture in the magazine two times. I would rather be behind the camera than in front of it. I love talking to everyone, but the spotlight is not for me. This can be difficult because, in spite of my denial, I am the damn publisher. My only desire is to create a space for writers to publish important stories. It’s not me they are reading, it’s YS, so why do I have to do all this personal branding shit?

The social dilemma I am experiencing as the voice behind our social media is that I can’t keep adding more accounts. This adds a layer of complexity while engaging with others on social media. Do I speak in ‘we’ or ‘I’? Is it possible to be both a person and a business? (After all, corporations are people.) Can a magazine platform still engage in dank memes?

Where does all this “analysis” take us? How do you choose? As soon as we build our audience on one, it dies. I understand the pain people are feeling watching Twitter be demolished by an egotistical, greedy billionaire. I have watched newspapers be gutted for 30 years by Hedge Funds. Who knows, by the time I finally learn Reels, they might just be passe by that point. 

The best advice I have after three + decades in print media (and now digital as well) is: Content is King, and the Audience matters. 

But the truly time-tested tactic for reaching the local community that never fails? Feet-on-the-street. 

On that note, I am headed outside to enjoy the Colorado Rocky Mountain life and meet with my client face-to-face because it’s the deadline, and we have a magazine to print.

Author

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Shavonne Blades grew up on the West Coast but moved to Colorado in High School. She left for California after school and returned to Colorado in 1990. She got her start in media at the age of 21 in Santa Cruz, California as an advertising sales rep. Having no experience and nothing more than a couple of years as an art college attendee she felt the bug to work in media at a young age. She learned that by helping her customers with design and marketing, their campaigns would be far more successful and has made a 30+ year career in design, copywriting, and marketing for her clients. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPy4MMdcfLg. She has always chosen to work in Independent Media and believes deeply in the need for true, authentic Community Journalism. She is proud that YS has never compromised journalism standards in its 20+ history and continues to print YS on paper monthly while also expanding web coverage. She has worked at 3 Alternative Weeklies and founded Yellow Scene Magazine in 2000. You can learn more about Shavonne's adventures in the YS 20th Anniversary issue: https://yellowscene.com/2020/10/08/the-yellow-scenes-red-tornado/

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