By Speider Schneider
I caught a disease from social media and I don’t know if it’s “tweetable” by modern medicine. I am fully vested in all the important social sites; LinkedIn for business, Facebook for friends, old business coworkers and a few “must know” people registered for the big time waster. I even have a fan page. I have a couple of blogs, write for some blogs that aren’t mine, I tweet, I Plaxo, Spock and other social sites I’ve long since deleted the bookmarks. I was one of the first people to discover social media. Not a pat on the back – just a testament to my ability to keep my sanity.
In speaking to some design students, answering how I got started in the business, I told them I slept my way to the top. They didn’t fall for it but they stood silent for a good, long time. As I laughed and explained how I got started in the days before the internet, dodging velociraptors and flowing hot lava, I quickly realized they had no idea of traditional marketing techniques.
They weren’t tied to business sites as of yet, but in going over the wealth of free exposure one can easily use these days, it struck me about how I forked over thousands of dollars to source books and directories, waiting a year for them to be distributed to art directors and other practitioners during those dark days of the Inquisition. Sending postcard mailers was also the norm and art directors routinely threw away dozens each day, as opposed to now, when art directors call me and relay that I’m the only one who sends cards and they adorn their bulletin boards. How times have changed.
When I started sending e-advertisements in 1993, simple jpegs and animated gifs attached to regular e-mails, people went nuts! When I was asked what it cost, I would reply, “not a penny.” They were blown away at the possibilities. Shows you how far we have come in just a few years.
But, I always knew it was important to keep up with the cutting edge of technology and think I lost it when I got too comfortable with the ease and availability of the interface tools out there on social media sites. Drag and drop, point and click, drool a little less, etc. It’s like the guys on the bridge of the Enterprise (Star Trek) and their rapid-fire button pushing to program the computer to go forward. In reality, in the future, there will be a go and stop button with a simple joystick. Our machinery is getting smarter than we are. Just in time!
He/She Who Has the Most Friends Wins!
So, from my early days on the now ridiculous MySpace, being member number 46,384, fighting flame wars with others who suddenly had worldwide voice and safety behind the keyboard, to emailing my department at work to tell them of something called “LinkedIn,” and finding many old, dear friends on Facebook…then deleting them, I have seen my share of the joy and the horror. Social media is a jungle and this, is your commando training!
Some people believe it is still relevant but who knows because the member counter doesn’t count people who have given up. There are 329 people active on MySpace.
Cost: free (they can’t give it away. At least Rupert Murdock lost or didn’t make billions on it). Dirty Secret: I was the one who started the web rumor that Tom was dead and his family was suing for the pain of being reminded of him every time there was a post from “Tom.”
I can’t fault the ability to reconnect with people from my past, as well as filling my future with new friends. Sure, things got a little heated with posts during the 2008 election, but it will never happen again for another two years…less. Yay!
If I’m invited to join someone’s mob or hear about their farm one more time, I’m burying their mob on the farm and then burning it to the ground. Watch the clubs, games, and other third party applications and set your privacy to “friends.” There’s no “just psychos” option except for choosing “public.”
Facebook, like all sites have odd rules on privacy, which often has FB in the news. The ownership of work uploaded is something every creative must consider. Otherwise, I was sucked in and my fan page is doing well, so I have few complaints outside an election year.
Cost: despite tons of threatening spam and the morons who quickly panic and post it on their profiles, it is – FREE! They make their money in the slave and drug trade.
Dirty secret: despite the constant announcements that you have the option of privacy, FB keeps spewing your personal information all over the net while using pictures of your significant other for sleazy dating site ads… and that’s the GOOD part! Every time you give a third party permission to access your account and that of your friends, a flood of addresses, phone numbers and emails get sucked into cyber space. Kim Jong Il may be trying to date your girlfriend online and he has her cell number!
The number one business network on the net with rules drafted by Evita Peron and Orwellian compliance by Big Brother. There are many twists and turns with this site. Another great site for finding long lost friends and colleagues, making new friends and finding the worst characters the business world has yet to scrape from the bottom of its digital shoe.
Sign in and fill out your profile somewhat like a résumé and boast. You can get recommendations from coworkers and supervisors, link to your blog, slide show and lots of apps for making this one great business tool. Of course, the human side of LI sucks your blood.
There is a function on LI where you can ask a question on anything business and answer other people’s questions. Experts say that joining groups and the discussions on those groups, or answering questions is good for visibility. I have visibility and want to get rid of it.
For a while, I listed myself as a “LION” (LinkedIn Open Networker). By the rules, I was bound to accept every invitation I received. My connection list grew, as did my spam via LI. It was fairly easy to edit my LION status out and weed out the spammers but the visibility on groups and answers brought weekly “opportunities” that involved me doing free work with logic such as:
1. “There will be lots of money later, when the company is successful.”
2. “This is an opportunity to get in on a great company” and will, “be the ‘main guy’ when the company’s rolling.”
3. I “should be helping a fellow LinkedIn member” because “we are all here for business and to help each other.”
4. They “don’t have much money.”
5. They will “get an art student to do it if (I) turn down the great opportunity (they) are handing (me).”
6. Could I “suggest someone on LinkedIn who would do the work?”
7. I’m “not being helpful.”
8. They never received the emails discussing fees but why aren’t I finished?
9. “It’ll be exposure for (my) work.” I point them to my profile and they agree it was my global experience that caught their attention.
10. They are related to me.
Being out there has its drawbacks and visibility is one of them.
One of my pet peeves on LinkedIn is the default invitation.
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
If we were at a networking event and you threw a card at me while you walked by and yelled, “HERE!” chances are I would let it bounce off me and fall to the ground or pretend I was wiping my ass with it so people would laugh as you walked away. Seriously, even online, professional is professional. Manners are of the utmost importance.
Cost: Free but can pay to upgrade to a level that allows you to message other members and loosely see who’s viewed your profile, so it’s really worth nothing at all.
Dirty secret: they are complete tyrants about other people turning you in for the odd rules infractions and the kill button on each and every post and line in your profile. It’s a great way to turn in your neighbor anonymously and get them banned until they can convince customer service to unfreeze your account, not that any human would lie and be vicious. It takes forever unless you are on it right away and become persistent. It works faster if you are a paying member.
Be on it so you don’t seem lame but only post a maximum of once a day and try to make it something of interest. Beyond that, anything under 90,000 followers is just bottom feeding.
Cost: free. Sure…try charging to do pointless posting. Dirty secret: it has so many. Where to start?
WordPress, Blogger, Ning and the Rest of Blogdom.
Thanks to free blogs, every nutcase in the universe has the ability to discredit any politician, law, and disaster or put up the cutest kitten picture you have ever seen! Beyond that, the 32 million Star Wars fan blogs must be destroyed.
Cost: your immortal soul. Dirty secret: they are the tool of demonic phishers and spammers.
Plaxo, Spock and other “business sites.”
Forget them. If there’s a specific site for your profession you might want to join it but what will you do aside from do that fake Hollywood Oscars kissing up or fight with other people. It’s worse than art school.
Cost: free but who cares. Some cost, but nobody joins. Dirty secret: they are just taking up precious bandwidth.
Where do I start? It’s like a street gang. You’re going to get sucked in and keep spending money on drugs…apps…drugs and you can never escape.
Cost: Oh, you bet and once you’re hooked, they just keep raising the cost of the drugs… service. Dirty secret: the bodies will be found one day. Until then, Google employees, enjoy the pool and ping-pong and gourmet coffee and chip implants and the halfwit clones of you that are growing in the basement and will one day replace you for 10¢ on the dollar.
Like an Internet Dating Site, People Are Not Who They Say They Are
People list themselves as Vice President of a company and you find out they were fired six years ago. So much for trying to cozy up to them for some work thrown your way. Your date is 40 years older than her photo…and she’s a guy. Your new Facebook friend is a registered sex offender.
The web moves fast and our brains cannot process the information quickly or thoroughly. We are pulled into an unnatural multitasking and inability to focus on peripheral tasks. Matt Richtel writes in a New York Times article,
“scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.”
If I had any advice, I would say to be everywhere you can keep up with updating the information so nothing gets stale. Caveat emptor where work and money are concerned, watch your connections for odd offers of requests and don’t forget that clients and friends are real and sometimes they need a real birthday card or letter or a call or even a heartfelt message. We are so driven to put our lives out to those faceless people in cyber space, we tend to forget those around is in our lives. And don’t forget to tie your cell phone into every social media outlet because that’s just smart business.
Speider Schneider is a former member of The Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine, “among other professional embarrassments and failures.” He currently writes for local newspapers, blogs and other web content and has designed products for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. Speider is a former member of the board for the Graphic Artists Guild, co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee and a former board member of the Society of Illustrators. He also continues to speak at art schools across the United States on business and professional practices. Follow him on Twitter @speider.