I’ve had some discussions with architect friends and engineers alike on social media: is it worth it? There is Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (just to name the major players). I have a Facebook account to share photos and jokes with friends and family; purely for fun. I started a LinkedIn account at the suggestion of a civil engineer friend. I was asked to start tweeting for the AIA at the San Francisco convention this past spring. I think 8 months is a fair shake.
Facebook: It can be “fun” but also a huge waste of time, such as the game Mafia Wars for one (some friends/colleagues have blocked access to the site from their place of business). I’d say this makes sense. I set up a group (Tribe Artemis Circle) to discuss women in professional occupations (e.g., architects, engineers) and the challenges that may be unique to women and how we can share ideas/thoughts to a) work better, b) have fun, and c) have a life. I’m living this topic so it blurs the line between “work” and “not work.” However, I have an architect/friend who set up the firm as a group and has a page specifically for the office; this is in addition to a very well done web site. I don’t really understand the “how” or “so what” to this application; unless you consider the interface with Twitter.
Verdict: It's just for fun.
Twitter: Twitter has some new cross-overs to others such as Facebook, allowing someone to mobile post to both locations. More of the same I think. My friend did explain to me that he can pose questions with special markers which his followers and groups of followers can see and possibly give him a speedy response (e.g., if you’re looking for a specific kind of insulation material). This makes sense, especially when our work environments may be becoming decentralized or isolated.
Verdict: It's useful if you work their system.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn offers professional resources; most folks don’t post personal items, which is fairly good. My direct experience is my updates get read by my connections; I get lots of comments, some of which are offers to help—but typically when I already have a relationship with the person (e.g., allied professionals who met because our kids to go school together). I did spend some time to sign up for groups or organizations and have made great use of posing questions and getting a wide variety of responses. I especially like the ability to tailor how/when I get what kinds of newsletters and updates. LinkedIn has been very helpful to my practice.
Verdict: a keeper.
So, I’m wondering if I’m in left field with this analysis or if you folks are finding the same results. I can’t help but think of a quote I heard a while ago (Glenn Beck, I think) on blogging, “Never in the history of man have so many people said so much in less words to so many people who aren’t listening." Blog on, dudes.
—Lisa Stacholy, AIA