People often ask me how I keep on top of all the social media sites and apps, since new things are emerging constantly. The truth is that I wait until I see a new service hit a tipping point at which it either enters the mainstream or starts to pick up momentum with the audiences my clients want to reach before I get invested. Or, if someone I like and respect starts to use or recommend a new service, I’ll go check it out.
I’d been holding off on trying Periscope and Snapchat because they didn’t satisfy any of the above criteria, until suddenly they both did. A friend started broadcasting on Periscope, and Snapchat was in the news for having a larger daily user base than Twitter and posting significant growth among people over 25. And so, I had to download both apps to my phone and try them out. Then I felt 100.
When I first logged in to Periscope, I felt like this:
But after a while, I felt like this:
I don’t know why the lady in the photo is wearing a disguise, but she is making exactly the same face I did after a half hour of trying to watch Periscope, at which time I thought: “I am too old for this! It is stupid! Why is my dumb friend even using it? He is also too old for this, and now he is dragging me into it! Auuuuuurgh!!!”
Fast forward a couple of weeks to my concession to downloading Snapchat and giving it a go. This is a picture of a baby doing a better job using Snapchat than I did:
I watched a tutorial video. I talked to a youngster. I made some progress, but I walked away feeling again like I was over the hill for adapting to new tools. I was an old dog, and I could not learn a new trick.
Then I decided to share this on my blog. Why? Because these are exactly the sentiments others bring me every day about Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, and I assure them that they’ll adapt to the interfaces and communities the more they expose themselves to them– like language immersion, but with new online cultures. I tell people that although technology can seem overwhelming, the potential benefits these amazing tools offer are worth making the effort. I believe in my heart that we are experiencing a kind of miracle by having the technology IN OUR HANDS to reach a global audience IMMEDIATELY for FREE without a middle man’s permission. And if I’m going to spend every day spouting things like this, I have to put my money where my mouth is and adapt.
The first time I ever looked at a blog, in 2005, I was overwhelmed. My friend, Justin, has really streamlined his layout since then, but at the time it was three columns of text and images without distinctions that were totally clear (to me). It literally gave me a headache to look at it, and I could not imagine what the appeal was. Of course, eventually my brain figured out how to interpret what I was seeing on his website, I became intrigued and dedicated the next 11 years of my life to using blogs strategically.
I haven’t experienced that feeling of overwhelm again– until trying to use Persicope and Snapchat. When I felt it in 2005, my reaction had nothing to do with believing I was “too old” to learn how to read or use a blog– I just thought they were weird and creepy. So age probably doesn’t have anything to do with anything now– it’s just resistance, and I can get over that.
In conclusion: I have made enough progress with Snapchat that some of my clients will be getting official recommendations to start incorporating it into their social media strategies soon, although the appeal of Periscope continues to elude me… for now. I will keep on trucking, though, and if I do give up on it, it will be for a better reason than feeling confused.