Social media is an important part of our lives. Most of us rely on it to receive and relay all sorts of information. But lately it feels like there’s a bit of a social media bubble.

Social Media: Tactic Not Strategy

Social media is rapidly starting to reach over-saturation. Social media is most effective when it’s used as a tactic in a broader communication campaign. It can help amplify an existing communication strategy for commerce, policy advancement or message shaping. But it should be viewed as a means to an end, not as an end in itself.

How Not to Use Social Media

Social media is not the answer to everything. In an effort to look relevant, television programs are jumping on the social media bandwagon and using it in a cheesy, ridiculous ways. The television show “The Voice” takes time out of the show for a special segment devoted to Twitter.

The Me-Too Phenomenon

This is a classic case of me-too appropriation of social media. This segment lets you know how “The Voice” is trending on Twitter, apparently for the sole purpose of letting you know that they’re hip to the whole social media phenomenon. But of course there are going to be a lot of tweets about “The Voice” when it’s airing. It’s a national television show. A lot of people are watching and tweeting but incorporating this into the program seems like an example of meaningless social media use.

Social Media as Marketing Gimmick

If entertainment television is guilty of overhyping their use of social media, television news is just as bad. The fact that the GOP debate in New Hampshire would have a Twitter segment was heavily advertised by CNN. But when the Twitter segment finally arrived it was hard to find anything relevant about it. There were no hard hitting questions and it felt gimmicky. When social media is integrated into a news segment in a way that adds value to the viewer it can be an excellent fit. But the way it’s typically being used in the media often feels more like a marketing ploy than a value enhancer.

Think Before You Tweet

There is a trend as well with social media toward a sort of brainless vapidity. We’re broadcasting and receiving mindless tweets and status updates that weren’t well thought out and are poorly written. It may be that bringing a more thoughtful sensibility to our postmodern social media saturation could provide greater value.

Actually taking time to identify what you’d like to say and spending some time crafting your message instead of breathlessly tweeting the first thought that pops into your brain would be a great start. Ernest Hemingway might be a better social media role model than Lindsey Lohan.

Hail to the Tweet

Politicians aren’t immune to the trend either. The President of the United States recently held a Twitter town hall. Twitter can be an effective way for the White House to advance and promote policy initiatives. But should it really affect our opinion of the President if he’s Twitter-hip or not? Will using Twitter make him a better President? It’s also worthwhile thinking about whether or not a 140 character limit is an appropriate venue for the leader of the free world to be answering questions.

Social Media’s Future

Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon. It’s normal to have some growing pains with any new communication technology. Radio and television took a while to find their stride as well. As the newness wears off, users and consumers of social media will likely find smarter and more relevant ways to use it. And as it begins to be better integrated into other media and the novelty fades away it will continue to enhance and add value for users of social media.