After returning from a trip last weekend, I posted some photos to Facebook. The last time I uploaded any photos there was many moons ago, so it’s a notable event. Similarly, though I often post links on Facebook, you won’t see many simply chatty updates from me.
Ah, well, you caught me. I must confess I just wasn’t born that way. Talking about me is definitely not one of my skills. Ask me a question and I’ll respond enthusiastically; but lacking a direct query I’m not likely to pipe up about my life.
Thank goodness so many people do like to share their impulses and off-the-cuffness. Social media would be dull indeed without it!
Before you bust me for a deadbeat, let me point out that being spontaneous and freely sharing is a breeze for me when it comes to commenting on other people’s updates. It’s completely natural for me to participate in discussions that others start. I’m a player and supporter as much as anyone.
Every show requires an audience. There are the extroverted types who lead online, and the introverted types who arbitrate between those leaders. The internet is made up of both speakers and listeners.
Another True Confessions Time.
I belong to multiple groups on LinkedIn, and have set them to email me with summaries of posts. Which they do. But I only glance at about three of the couple-dozen groups. The rest I ignore completely.
On the other hand, I have actually at times resumed reading the posts in some groups that I previously shelved. It all depends on the circumstances.
It’s as if, for instance, I was a gardener and I joined thirty groups who discuss gardening, but I only participate in two or three of them. Then, for whatever reason, a group called Fungus Cultivators surfaces as a useful tool in a project I’m doing currently. So of course I step up my participation there.
When the project’s done, I may slack off again and contribute little for an extended period. This does not at all mean I have dropped the Group from my list. It remains an important resource for me.
So when do you delete a contact or purge an entry from your lists? After ten months of inactivity or three years? How long has it been since you cleaned up your bookmarks? How much useless baggage is lying around?
“The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.” So states Wikipedia. Social interaction is further defined as “… a superset beyond social communication.”
At first, this sounds convoluted. Isn’t communication already defined as interactive dialogue? In what way is social interaction “beyond” social communication?
The definition also says that social media “… allow(s) the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”
Maybe it’s the “content” part that begins to make sense of these new meanings. Traditionally, communication is dialogue. But with the internet, communication becomes both dialogue and document. Perhaps the key to the web’s quantum leap in interactivity is “user-generated content.”
Conversation that becomes content is an asset, a potentially profitable investment. A few examples:
- Twitter’s #blogchat
- blog comments
- Facebook discussions
- niche forums
- webinar discussions
- FAQ pages addressing customer concerns
What about content that becomes conversation? Well, that’s what we’re all shooting for, right? The coveted word of mouth that delivers more than any other method. The buzz, the virus that we pray will take hold.
Communication used to mean dialogue. Now, online, it means dialogue as content. Dialogue as investment.
If you’re in charge of your business’ or your clients’ Facebook pages, recent changes in the way they are set up may have caused in you the same trepidation I’ve been experiencing. Oh, I’ll learn to use iFrames, everything will be fine. But not only is the technology something new to master, it also means that much work done previously had a far shorter shelf-life than we anticipated.
‘Course, we have little heart for bitching at FB. After all, it’s a free, highly valuable service. It can do what it wishes anytime, and we users are privileged to go along for the ride.
This change, though, may have deeper repercussions. Business has greedily consumed FB’s services, and in most commercial cases it has done everything it can think of to turn FB Pages into mini-interactive-websites, with bells and whistles galore, all in the name of selling.
But FB is not primarily interested in helping you sell – at least not directly. FB wants you to talk to your customers. With the recent renovations, cool apps and flashy promos take a back seat to the conversation. It’s your Wall, your updates that count; it’s simple interaction that FB wants to emphasize.