Singleton, Meredith, and Lisa Meloncon. “A Social Media Primer for Technical Communicators.” Intercom,June 2011, 7-9.
Porter, Alan J. “Tweet Me This…” Intercom, June 2011, 10-13.
Molisani, Jack. “Creating a 3d Model of the Content Management Lifecycle.” Intercom, June 2011, 14-18.
Singleton and Meloncon’s article, “A Social Media Primer for Technical Communicators” focuses on how social media is relevant for technical communicators. Indeed, they argue that “information can no longer only be provided as downloadable, static documents . . . and should now include forums, email options, and opportunities to message a help technician” (7). This reminds me of how the UNT Library page has recently been updated to include several of these options. Because of social media, the method and medium of communicating information is changing rapidly and technical communicators need to be up-to-date on how to adapt. Singleton and Meloncon address this challenge by instructing technical communicators to 1) understand the social media landscape, 2) build a strategy, and 3) know your audience’s preferences, 4) interact, and 5) evaluate and adjust.
Focusing specifically on Twitter as a communication tool, Alan Porter defines Twitter as “a communication tool of the moment,” and emphasizes that “as professional communicators, we should . . . be in a position to use it to communicate not only among ourselves but also . . . with our customers” (10). Porter defends Twitter use as a means of communication in a way that can influence a person’s profile in a particular community as well as help share information and knowledge (11). However, Porter does emphasize that there are appropriate ways for communicating via Twitter. Some of these recommendations include having separate accounts for work and private use, make decisions ahead of time about content that you will or will not ever discuss on Twitter, and to remember that it is not a requirement to follow everyone on Twitter who follows you. He emphasizes that “it’s what you post and the way you interact that is important” (12). I also appreciated how Porter mentions the responsibility of participating on Twitter that include being a gatekeeper, being responsive, and being friendly.
Molisani’s article took a different spin from the first two as he discusses the process of developing a diagram of the content management lifecycle. The beginning of his article reminded me of the “feedback” aspect discussed from the previous two articles in regards to his initial steps of developing the diagram. Though he began with a very basic model of two adjoining lifecycles, the final result was a far more complex 3D model of a coffee pot to depict input and output (coffee beans to a coffee beverage); the stages of planning, developing, and deploying (layers of the pot); strategic planning and project management (coffee pot handle); and various localized content (coffee mugs) (18). He emphasizes that the journey into social media needs this level of forethought – that good technical communicators need to “respond to market changes by asking . . . customers what they wanted and changing” to meet those needs (18).
All three authors reminded me of the complexity of learning to operate in the realm of social media. It is easy for me to simply wave social media away as being a time-waster, a replacement for real-life relationships, the reason why people have such short attention spans, or yet another example of information-overload at its finest. However, these articles brought up some key aspects of social media in terms of practical, helpful, and ethical applications with which I need to familiarize myself.
On the flip side, I also couldn’t help but wonder if there is a downside to investing so much time and energy into social media. We’ve discussed in class how appealing to audience is a tricky line to walk, namely because we risk insulting the audience by attempting to appeal to a specific demographic. Therefore, it is possible that appealing to audience needs through social media could backfire? Or is this truly the direction we should take in order to stay current with customers?