The rise and rise of social media over the last few years has had a huge impact on my life – both professionally and personally. Professionally, it has transformed the art of public relations. At Tangerine (and our sister, social media specialist agency, Juice Digital) we’ve embraced it wholeheartedly and have won several clients and awards on the back of our work in this area.
And personally, it has also brought many changes. Prior to my Twitter addiction (I fear that’s what it has become), life fell into a fairly predictable pattern. A typical work day would be just that: work. Yes, it would be interspersed with office banter and chat, but personal issues were left behind where they should be – at home. Then you have the ‘flexible period’ immediately following the official end of the working day which might become an extension of the working day or, often for me, some business-related event or meeting. Then, finally, home when the shoes get well and truly kicked off – a good book, telly or even, if I’m lucky, out to dinner with the hubby or friends.
Then you have the weekend. As a business owner this has always been a flexible period and work issues have always been a part of it, but, largely, work contacts were primarily internal to Tangerine at the weekend.
Social media has totally interrupted this rhythm.
During the working day, as focussed as I might want to be, my Twitter friends don’t allow me to ignore them. And if they want to discuss a non-work topic, so be it. Social media is a two way street - to get what you want from it you have to accept that other people may have a different style or reason to be using it to yourself. Not better or worse, just different. So if I can help a Twitter stranger find a decent Chinese restaurant in Manchester I will. Or if you want my opinion on a book I’ve read, you can have it. I don’t consider this an ‘intrusion’ into my working day or ‘time-wasting’; but a necessary (and enjoyable) part of getting what I, in turn, want out of social media.
But an even bigger change is in my time away from the office; so called ‘home time’. Previously I might be dealing with some work emails or occasional calls, but primarily, communication with the outside world (other than close friends and family) would largely cease. All that has changed.
I now spend many hours of these periods ‘networking’ on social media. And this networking knows no boundaries between professional and personal life. I am as likely to be discussing a crap movie or TV programme with a friend as I am a professional topic with a business contact. I arrange nights out with friends and business meetings alike from my sofa, vodka and diet coke in hand.
This of course, extends throughout the weekend and, often, even follows me on holiday.
I’m now connected, social media-wise, to the majority of my clients and professional contacts. So they know me, warts, 24YO cat, awful TV viewing habits and all. Much more than they ever would have prior to social media.
So, good thing or bad thing? I guess I’m always ‘on’ now. Always available for contact. Somehow it is easier to ignore an email at 10pm than it is a DM on Twitter. And I have to watch my Ps & Qs a little – knowing the world is listening as I babble on about my beloved Man U or have a rant about Britain’s Got Talent’s latest idiotic performance.
But overall my experience is a good one. I’d say I have gained hugely, both personally and professionally, from social media; its advantages far outweighing its downsides.
Do you feel the same? I would love to hear your views.