Social Media and Ephemerality

“Things do not change; we change.” ― Henry David ThoreauWalden

Years ago during a vacation I bought some sheets of craft foam, and created foam representations of the logos of more than 50 social media networks. The project gave me a significant amount of time to think about each social network and hold its logo in my hands as I created it in tactile form. Today some of those networks are no longer available online, and some have changed drastically.

All content you post online has the potential to be permanent or ephemeral.

Due to the ephemerality of some social networks, our content is also possibly ephemeral. Our content is hosted on a platform that could, some day, disappear. In fact, it's happened to me more than once. I developed a presence on some social networks that were acquired and then shut down. So, why communicate in such an ephemeral space? Why join a new network that hasn’t proven it will be around for a few years?

Social media strategy is more than content. An interaction can have lasting effects.

One example is an experience I had a few years ago. I was participating in a Twitter chat for a conference. The host of the conference mentioned me on Twitter saying that maybe I should submit a proposal to speak at next year’s conference. Well, I did submit a proposal and was chosen to speak at the next year's conference. 

I tell this story because the interaction was memorable. It was thoughtful of the host to reach out. If Twitter weren’t to exist today, and the tweet were somehow deleted, I’d still have the memory of that interaction. If content is ephemeral, does it have lasting value? Yes. 

So, don’t discount Snapchat, whose posts are ephemeral, and don’t be afraid to experiment on new social networks. Whether or not they’ll be around in a year, hopefully your content strategy takes into account relationship strategy. How can you make an impact that someone will remember?