Lessons Learned While Developing a Social Landscape

There’s a tip given to transmedia/crossmedia producers: Start your story in the Profile, and then flesh out different parts of it on different platforms. It’s a good approach to transmedia/crossmedia projects, but it can also help you build an interesting social landscape. For the purposes of this conversation, I’m using the term “social landscape” to refer to blogging, social media, and any social spaces dedicated to posting creative media.

After several months of neglecting everything, I’ve been slowly working on my own social landscape over the last couple of months, trying to shake things up in some ways and smooth them out in others. Because I’ve been at this for a while, I have a lot of spaces and a lot of content online. Trying to process everything has been quite an experience, and an adventurous walk down memory lane. It’s also caused me to question how I ended up managing so many social media and creative repository accounts, but strangely didn’t inspire me to close any of them. Instead, I’m now working on rebuilding each space with a purpose in mind.

If you aren’t a social media manager (working or aspiring) and you don’t want to spend your life on social media (although I honestly don’t spend much time on social media when I’m not cleaning up a space), then I have a few tips on how to build your own social landscape without it becoming a cluttered mess.

  1. Pick a handful of spaces that suit your style and your needs. In this day and age, you probably already have a number of social media accounts. And you probably joined each one because your friends wanted to check it out, so you joined them. Maybe you’re more active on one or two. Maybe you’ve forgotten you ever set up an account. (If you’re a Google user, you may not realize that you automatically have a Google+ account.)For now, focus on the ones you’re actually active on. These are the spaces that appeal to you because you have a community, you feel comfortable posting, and it allows you to share what you want to share. Just keep doing what made it a comfortable, friendly space for you. If you’re looking for a new space, then try to find a space that suits your needs in terms of community, comfort, and usability. You’ll be more likely to keep using those spaces.
  2. For each platform you decide you want to post to and engage with, figure out the strengths and features, and then figure out how to use them to your advantage. As an example, one of my favorite platforms to hang out on is YouTube. Even though I have limited video production skills, I use the Watch Later and Playlists features to organize and keep up with my learning plans. I used to have a similar relationship with Pinterest, but I recently had to rethink my relationship with that site.
  3. Many blogging, social media, and creative repository platforms are being designed to interact with each other, allowing you to do something on one platform and have it push out to other platforms automatically. This is great for you time-wise, but it can lead to having all of your sites saying the exact same thing. If that’s what you’re going for, then you’re good. But if you interact with different groups of people on different sites, you might not want to show each group the same posts. Before you start connecting accounts and pushing content out across all of them, think about who really needs to see what, and build your connections thoughtfully.
  4. If you feel like you’re drowning trying to keep up with everything or find yourself neglecting a space you used to visit and post to all the time, that’s a good sign that the space is no longer fulfilling your needs. In fact, feeling like you’re drowning often leads to avoiding spaces where you feel like you’re drowning. When you realize this is happening, find a way to gracefully remove yourself from the platform. This isn’t the space for dramatic exits. Since you’ve already left mentally, just let your account fade away quietly.

There you go. Four tips to help you build a manageable social landscape. Try them out. See how they work for you.

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