Digital Digest: Brett Iredale & Wihan Meerholz on opposing Social Media perspectives.
Social Media. The debate continues – is it beneficial to our lives? Or destructive? The looming question is brought to light more so with the new GDPR laws and the scrutiny Facebook is facing in regards to breaching privacy laws.
A few weeks ago we came across this article, “Delete, Delete, Delete, Potatoes,” written by Brett Iredale. If you’re familiar with recruitment you’d be sure to know him as the CEO of JobAdder and after reading the article I’m sure your first question would be is – how the heck can a CEO not have a mobile phone??! He certainly justifies the bold decision well in his article. Here at Razzbri, we were so intrigued by the “CEO with no phone” notion, we got in touch with Brett to pick his brain over the overarching topic of social media and his perspective.
We thought it would also be interesting to get a pro-social media perspective from a similar individual in the digital industry. We introduce Wihan Meerholz, Senior Digital Creative at DDB New Zealand. He has very open-minded and fluid perspective of social media – how it has been and continues to become a key tool in aiding closed minds and personal choices regarding sexuality and religion. He also touches on the benefits of social media – professionally and personally.
Read on for opposing and contrasting views! Let us know what you think.
How do you personally vs. professionally use social media? Elaborate on certain platforms you use.
Brett: The only social media platform I still use is Twitter. I mainly use this for curated news and industry updates. At JobAdder we use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and are quite heavily engaged on all platforms. We use these platforms for sending out news and product updates to customers, as well as receiving and responding to customer feedback.
Wihan: I enter a different train of thinking depending on which platform I’m on. I like to look at them as different rooms in my house: Facebook is the lounge where I sit back and whoever wants to join me is welcome. We can talk all day about our dogs, our kids and even watch a movie together and talk about it. LinkedIn is like my study where my tone is professional, with short sentences. I engage with people to develop future work opportunities or learn from others.
Instagram is the kitchen that shows me the beautiful things I haven’t tried before, and motivates me to try different things. Twitter is the porch, where I get to listen in on other people’s conversations and if I want to join in all I have to do is look over and raise my voice to grab the attention of some willing listener.
What platforms bring you the most value? Which platforms don’t?
Brett: Twitter brings minimal value to me personally and I rarely use it any more. However that is very likely down to me and the fact that I have not spent enough curating the lists of people I follow. There can be fascinating and often hilarious posts and it is important to invest the time to add quality people and remove those who do not post the sort of updates you want to be reading. I used Facebook for a decade and LinkedIn for 13 years but have closed my accounts on both in the last 12 months. I found both platforms became more noise and distraction for me, rather than a benefit.
Wihan: My two favourites are Instagram and LinkedIn. On LinkedIn I get to be educated by people in my industry. I get to catch up on the latest trends and industry gossip (we’re all thinking it).
Instagram is the one place where a picture is worth a thousand words – I don’t have to be bored by five paragraphs about why someone is right. I get motivated and inspired by seeing what everyone is up to.Snapchat – not so much. I feel a lot of snaps are a bit too excessive in quantity. I really don’t have time to see how many times you have eaten today. But I enjoy seeing how a few brands and media outlets are adapting to the medium.
Why/ Why don’t you think it’s important for people not be on social media?
Brett: I don’t really have an opinion on what other people should or should not do. For me this was part of the problem with social media – everyone has an opinion on what everyone else should and should not do and say. I also think a lot of people are on social media because they feel there is an expectation that they should be. I think this is extremely dangerous and people need to make their own decisions based on what works for them. I got thoroughly sick and tired of reading comments on LinkedIn where people were berating or judging other people for their views. As a business platform it can be brilliant for connecting with other business people, however it also has the potential to damage careers, cause people to second guess themselves and create unnecessary anxiety and stress. For me the reasons I quite were that it consumed a large amount of time, caused anxiety, created a distraction, and returned little or no positive outcomes.
Wihan: Your time is yours to use as you see fit. There are plenty of people online for me to follow. As long as you are following the news and have your own opinion is all I care about. Who and how you share your experiences, and who you share them with, it’s your business. What are you running from is what I ask. Wherever you go people are going to get your data. You have the control over who you want to be targeted by – if at all. I completely respect that people don’t want to be staring at their phone all day but there’s an app to help you with that. Find your social spot you feel comfortable with and like in the real world, be safe and vigilant about what you share, and with whom.
There’s been talks that this year will be the apparent ‘death of Twitter’. What are your thoughts on this?
Brett: I view Twitter in the same way I view RSS feeds and email. It is a tool that needs careful management and the return you get is fairly proportional to the effort you put into setting it up. I only check Twitter once or twice a week now but that is possibly because I need to spend more time curating my content.
Wihan: There are just too many entertaining people out there. Twitter is a new Jerry Springer show where we get to sit back and watch the chairs fly. In the last six months, the earth is flat and money is being replaced with Bitcoin. Twitter should raise a banner that says, “THANK YOU TRUMP”. Twitter has the people but unless the marketers start to find a better way to advertise to users they will end up in the bin next to “myspace”. In the middle of a heated debate why would you hit me with a “lose weight now ad”?
What social media issues do people tend to overlook?
Brett: Social media can cause an enormous amount of anxiety. In a world where most working professionals carry enough stress and anxiety to kill a bullock, I think we all need to look at social media with eyes wide open and understand it for what it is. Worrying about what others are doing, what your competition are up to, what you are missing out on, where other people are and what they are doing…. it is never ending. My discovery has been that when I quit it I instantly had more time in my day, I was more relaxed, sleeping better and have been able focus for longer on deep work.
Wihan: The value of their source. The worst opinion is an uninformed opinion. Users tend to look for a friend that will agree with them and can’t handle the truth. Users need to take a second and read more than one article and not just the one post their friend shared.
Has a social media presence benefitted your career in any way?
Brett: It may have given me or my business more profile, but I am not certain. What I am quite certain of is that it is has not benefited me personally in any way.
Wihan: Definitely, my biggest love is the fact that people can vouch for me. Talking about yourself all the time is vanity when others talk about you it gives clarity. Leave the chest beating to the gorillas.
How do you deal with negative comments or brand reputation crisis on social media?
Brett: Managing your brand on social media is critically important. We monitor and engage in all conversations we see on Twitter or LinkedIn about our brand.Negative comments are far more prevalent on social media because people feel more empowered when anonymous or hiding behind a monitor. It is therefore really important to be able to take all feedback onboard and treat it as an opportunity to improve.
Wihan: The worst thing a brand can do it is to go quiet. Wendy’s has proven the power of good responsive community management. Being prepared for the worst also helps, planned responses are your life jacket.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to develop a larger social media presence?
Brett: For businesses I would say go for it. For individuals I would question why?
My main piece of advice for companies is to separate business and personal engagement. The way you use social media for business is completely different to how you might use it for personal use. The key things we have learned for our business are to always be monitoring, reply quickly to anything where people need help or input, and to be open and genuine at all times.
Wihan: Before you do anything, think of everything. Build all scenarios in your head of the kind of interactions you might have and plan ahead how you would respond. Plan your content ahead and set your pillars. Think about what you want to achieve and stick to the users you want to attract and then commit to it. Stay in the loop of what has failed and what has worked and what tools are available.
Where do you see the world of social media heading, what big trends do you predict?
Brett: I think the current versions of what we call “social media” are early versions, much like ICQ was for internet chat and Netscape was for the browser. They are designed to be addictive and designed for the user to be the product. They masquerade as friendly hangouts or “business networking” sites, whereas they are just cleverly drawing you in so they can sell your eyeballs to advertisers, or your profile to recruiters. I think it is safe to say that we all know that social media platforms are deeply flawed and without doubt there will be newer, greatly improved versions in the not too distant future.
Wihan: Social will become an aid that helps a closed mind become more accepting of other people’s personal choices. We have seen it in the last two years with heartfelt posts about people coming out to their families and announcing their sexual preferences. We’ve seen religions taking on uninformed groups, letting them see that there is not right or wrong, there is your way and mine. Social media is allowing people to be brave and helping self-opinionated see that listening is fine and acceptance is even better. Motion and interaction will be key. We have moved past just looking at an image – we want to see it move. We love touching that little screen for no reason – I love it when something happens when you hold down your finger or when you tap on the left or right of it. The more the user can make something happen with a mere tap, they will be happier.
Check out our previous Digital Digest posts here.