This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 12.
Am I a social media lurker or a social media socialite? Well, I think I am somewhere in between, but closer to the lurker end of the spectrum. It varies between social media sites and twitter is where I’m most social. I always respond to thank someone if they tweet a link that makes me think “Wow, that’s brilliant”, I’ve attended a few uklibchats where although I’m not particularly vocal I do participate in the conversation and I do occasionally respond to or ask questions on twitter. Blogs I comment on occasionally but not as often as I would like and elsewhere I’m pretty much a lurker. Sometimes my lurking is because when I come across somewhere I want to contribute I think “Oh I’ll think of a good way of writing what I want to say on that later” and either never finding time to do it or finding that someone else gets there first with what I wanted to say. I like to follow and read posts by people from different sectors and different stages of their career, but find it easier and less daunting responding to people in a similar situation to me. I think this is a combination of it being less likely that I have completely missed the point if they’re writing about something I do too, often having met them face-to-face as well as online, worrying that people won’t be interested in the thoughts of mere graduate trainee and, if the person I am responding too works at a certain level, that maybe one day they might interview me for a job and so anything I say now is effectively part of a job application.
However, sometimes my lurking is out of choice. I have different reasons for using social media sites and not all of them are about being social. For example I’ve chosen not to use the social side of LinkedIn for now – it’s just somewhere to (hopefully) direct people googling me to information I would like them to see and for me to store contact information for people I would like to keep in contact with. My main use of twitter is as a current awareness service – when I have less time due to other stuff happening in life the interacting is the first to go. This is because although I get something out of interacting with people on twitter I feel that reading articles other people very kindly tweet is a more valuable use of my time. So really, the only way I would like to become more social at the moment is by commenting on blog posts more – just need a little more confidence.