18 December 2013

What is the creative business of social media?

In a recent live chat hosted by the Institute of Design at Stanford (d.school), IDEO Founder and co-author of the book, Creative Confidence  - David Kelley - shared the anecdote that in the Tibetan language there's no word that directly translates the word "creative" - the closest association is the word "natural". He states, "You want to be more creative, be natural."

Keeping this in mind, Kelley's insight becomes very relevant when applied to understanding the purpose of social media today. What should be the business of social media? Those of us behind the scenes should be exploring ways to be more creative, to be more natural. There are people looking for quality, for a good online conversation. There are humans behind the tweets, shares, likes, and even those sometimes misleading profile avatars a.k.a. automatic RT bots.

I had the chance to discuss my role as C2MTL's Social Media architect in a recent interview with Beverly Macy, the host of Social Media Radio, where I shared what a privilege it is to be part of the team that curates the content and establishes the strategies deployed to creatively buzz about the business conference, Commerce + Creativity Montréal (C2MTL).

Beverly Macy asked me to share a bit about myself and my role as Social Media architect, but this wasn't the first time I had been asked to verbalize my current profession. When I'm asked what I do for living, I say, "I'm an architectural designer that renovates old buildings with my husband (also a practicing architect) and I do social media for a business conference." People often reply, "Wow, they are very different professions. Do you do social media as a hobby?" The first few times I responded with a generic answer, but then - in recent months - I started to really reflect why I do what I do. Is there a relationship between these two disciplines?

And the answer I came up with is a very affirmitive YES! I became fascinated with analzying the human element in both the physical "habitable world" and the virtual world. What if we start to imagine the social media ecosystem as a home? The different social media platforms as the different rooms in your apartment or house? Think about your bathroom, bedroom, garage, kitchen etc. All of these spaces invite us to act a certain way because of the layout, furniture, and functions each room fascilitates. Now think of the social media platforms as these different rooms: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram etc. They each have individual characteristics and functions that invite us to behave in a very specific way, due to the layout and tools provided by the designers behind these platforms. Think about it...

This analysis is ongoing and I look forward to observing and listening more closely to our behaviour, and how it is influenced by the social media trends continously changing everyday.

The essential common link is the human element. We live in both physical and virtual spaces simultaneously with the undeniable fact that the virtual world is becoming too much with not enough substance for many. The need to "unplug" is not a passing trend, but a definitive action already taken by many.

I will conclude with a quote from a recent interview featured in Australian magazine, Dumbo Feather of Virtual Reality inventor Jaron Lanier, "If you don't treat people as special, if you don't create some sort of a special zone for humans - especially when you're designing technology - you'll end up dehumanising the world. You'll turn people into some giant, stupid information system, which is what I think we're doing."

You can listen to my interview with Beverly Macy below.

New Entrepreneur Internet Radio with Beverly Macy on BlogTalkRadio

Photo Credits: (left) Jaron Lanier via Dumbo Feather (right) Detail of my desk at C2MTL by Sacha Cohen


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