Technical Communications & Social Media: Digital Frenemies

I don’t remember the first time I heard the term “frenemy” used in conversation, but I do know that I immediately took a liking to it and could instantly apply its meaning to several people and aspects of my life.  Frenemies are the people you love to hate; the coworker that has great ideas but poor execution; the friend that loves to party with you but doesn’t invite you to the next event. Frenemies are sweet and sour; you’re not a fan of either part of them yet you still give them your time anyway.

Social media itself is a lot like a frenemy.  You spend a huge portion of your time posting statuses, pictures, videos, and stalking your ex from high school, only to be reminded that the dude who bullied you in middle school is now making six figures and drives a Cadillac.  You get mad, jealous, green with envy and yet you keep scrolling, posting, and soaking up all of the negative vibes in your newsfeed.

Yet, you are a consumer just like the rest of us, and you utilize social media because “everyone” is on it.  Businesses owners, media outlets, musicians, artists, politicians – you name it – realize that the majority of people are not taking the time to search websites, but rather click on links posted through their social media newsfeeds.  Writers are then employed to master the art of social media writing in order to compete for the attention of consumers.

On their off days, those same writers check their social media profiles to be faced with the same information that they are paid to flood into social networks.  They are more conscious of the pitfalls of social media and thus “play it safe” when posting to their own social media profiles.  Even though they regularly utilize social media in their daily lives, they realize the devastating things that could happen if the wrong material was seen by the wrong person at the wrong time.

This good/bad dichotomy between writing and social media is what creates the Frenemy Effect.  Communication between consumers and companies/entities has never been easier and more direct since the emergence of social media .  However, companies have never been under so much close scrutiny since the emergence of social media and consumers have never been more invaded with advertorial content.  Social media does not create a clear line between “editorial” and “advertisement” content; there is no sense of what is honest communication and what is an attempt for consumer attention.

It will be interesting to follow social media trends to see if these lines between advertising and honest communication continue to be blurred or clear distinctions and honest intentions shine through on social media.  For now, I will remain a cautious, yet avid user of social media.

Posted on September 13, 2014, in Social Media, Society and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Excellent use of frenemy! When we read the Keen v Weinberger debate http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB118460229729267677 you’ll see a lot of the same push and pull.

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