As social media matures, it becomes more generic and predictable. Which is not necessarily a good thing.
It’s natural for any system to level out to a low-key commonality eventually. But predictability is the enemy of marketing. In that split second of recognition that tells me I’ve seen this before, I tune your message out.
How many of the updates on your Facebook stream do you gloss over because they fit a recognizable formula? How many posts from given people or organizations do you generally ignore because you know what they’ll say? How many tweets do you skip because they’re from certain people or they follow a formula?
I have noticed that tweets without links tend to pull my attention. If there’s no link, it must be an original statement of some kind. This is refreshing and welcome. Your referrals are great, but I love reading your thoughts.
The increasingly sophisticated world of social media suggests that messages must become more attractive in one way or another. It’s not good enough to suggest cool sites and link to your own. You must devise an overarching strategy that builds a compelling ubër message with every post.
And every post must tantalize.
Of course, I don’t like the new Facebook timeline design. It would be un-American to accept it unconditionally! But it truly does seem cluttered and hard to read.
I remember, maybe 15 years ago, my boss handed me a print-out of an email exchange. The thing looked so oddly formatted and full of techno-speak that I couldn’t take it seriously. Not knowing what it was, I tossed it. Peeved my boss, no doubt.
My point: new technologies require extensive assimilation time. This is why all Facebook innovations are met with immediate disgust.
And then eventually we all get used to it.
Yes, the Behemoth can count on commanding the crowd, despite complaints. Its creative license is boundless.
I suspect future FB innovations will simplify the home page while retaining the life-long perspective. As long as your entire history is there, you’re not likely to abandon the account, eh? The “too-big-to-fail” syndrome takes on mind-boggling proportions.
All this doesn’t bother me. The data is harmless enough. Much more to the point: how do we protect the integrity of this online system? How can it sustain viability as a market square/neighborhood café and avoid dissolving into useless graffiti and offensive marketing blasts?
Let’s talk Twitter for a minute. Though it’s still my staple check-in several times daily, I must scrape more vigorously for stimulating content than in the past, it seems. Or maybe my closest follows have bred my contempt through mere familiarity. Either way, I’m looking for new follows. Tired of tech talk, social media blah-blah, business advice from 25-year-old gurus.
I want to use Twitter for remarkable purposes. For poetry and adventure, inspiration, and electrifying connections. I’m adding such peeps as @arjunbasu and @duhism to the already extraordinarily delightful @dcagle and @gapingvoid. Arjun Basu’s 140-character stories are perhaps my favorite: such a productive use of the channel, to entertain, establish trust, and hone skills at the same time.
Not that all tweets have to be entertaining. You could certainly become just as beloved and successful by posting regular instructional tweets about US history or designing websites or car engine maintenance.
No links. No quotes. No RTs. Just straight-out daily offerings of original bits of stories and data. Surely this is how Twitter was first conceived, as an exchange of individual ideas. Today’s clamorous feeds look far too much like classified ads. It’s supposed to be more than that, isn’t it?
In the few weeks since I joined scoop.it, I’ve been trying to figure out why I like it so much.
Scoop.it gives me a slider that sits in my blog sidebar and displays articles I recommend, with title and image.
Every morning I check out Twitter, catch the best links and read them, post some to my handy little scoop.it bookmark sitting up in my bookmarks bar. Make sure I like the image, include posting to Twitter or Facebook if I want, and dispatch the lot to my slider widget.
Anyone visiting my site will see the web content I’m reading today, the level and type of my involvement, a measure of my character through the choices I make.
I prefer the app as a widget rather than the newspaper layout like paper.li. Somehow the sidebar widget is a wholly different and very fun thing. I like that it’s not a social media update; you don’t have to click to get to it. It’s just there when you’re on my site. I like that it collects and displays my readings so simply. It shows seven of my latest reads, but my account on scoop.it archives them all.
One word. Coolness.
I’m visiting LA and rented a car for the duration of my stay. It’s a bit more upscale than my own vehicle. What that means, mostly, is that you better buckle your seat belt or that alarm will never stop. You better close the door or that beeper will make you crazy. You better start it up every day or so or the battery will drain, because the car uses energy whether or not you’re driving it. Even cars, it seems, protect us from ourselves these days.
And now Congress wants to censor the internet. It’s not easy to get a grip on exactly what the congressional bills involve, but the mere idea of control by that oh-so-out-of-touch agency is insupportable.
The internet has often been compared to the wild West, but unlike that long-ago phenomenon, the internet should never be tamed. To attempt to strap it down is like trying to control the ocean. Any effort in that direction is bound to result in nothing more than injustice and oppression.
Piracy, like shit, happens. It need not destroy, as long as we are individually vigilant. Let’s invest in individual education and wisdom, and stop shrinking our world through paranoia.
Inkling Media posted today about unexpected places where a small business can find topics for a blog. It’s certainly true that blogging regularly is the biggest challenge inbound marketing presents to the small business owner. I’ve written about this often. That’s why Rachel Minihan’s solution at Blog Joggers is so impressive to me.
Basically, BlogJoggers sends you a weekly list of questions pertinent to small businesses. You can pick one or two of the questions and write your weekly post in response to it. You can be assured that your post will be relevant, at least to a portion of your market. The prompt quite simply removes the threat of writer’s block, by supplying topics endlessly to satisfy your community.
At $18 a month, the weekly emailing is well worth it for a large number of small businesses I know. How wonderful it is that we truly do not lack content, we only lack a well-placed question, a hint, a nudge in the right direction!
In view of this marvelous tool, consider how effective questions can be in a more general sense. Using questions in public communications, management communiqués, and your growth initiatives is an excellent way to guarantee progress.
In a previous life – some 25 years ago – I studied improvisation for theater. Performed it some, too, though I was awful at it and quickly migrated to directing. Nonetheless, I learned the fascinating basics. The fundamentals of performance improv are as universally applicable as teachings of the ancients.
One of the first lessons in improvisation is the best and quickest way to make yourself look good is to make the other guy look good.
Personal assimilation of this truth is life-changing.
On the stage doing improv, you play the scene most satisfactorily when you work to make your fellow actors shine. The play’s the thing, not your status within it.
In life and business, as well, no matter what your goal, if you approach it from the viewpoint of other people, your success will increase. Make the other guy look good, as the improvisors say, and that makes you look good.
Social media gives us ample opportunities to exercise this reflexive rule. The web itself is about making connections, and linking, and referrals.
How much of your commentary on the networks is reflexive, pinging the profiles and pages of others? How might you benefit by being more inclusive?
A close friend was recently dragged, at long last, screaming and kicking, into Facebook. Once there, she set up her profile for only a limited number of people to see. Extremely limited. Her kids have access, and that’s it. And no profile picture.
Sigh. Such a response to social media’s invitation to share shoots its own foot.
But then my friend is the sort who metes out her comments like favors to her intimates. ‘You get to know this;’ ‘he knows this, doesn’t know that;’ ‘please don’t tell anyone, but … ‘
She chooses to spend her time balancing social accounts.
She’s fearful of invasion, theft, voyeurism. She allows such threats to dominate her choices and actions. Facebook’s advancing predilection for stripping away our privacy represents sheer terror to her.
Thing is, if you asked her to dissect her fears I’d bet she’d see there’s nothing there. My friend is mature and smart: she’d get past her conditioning if she ever seriously thought about it.
Defensive living, like being afraid, or bean-counting your interactions with other sentient beings is not at all what online social networking is about. Social media assumes openness and sharing.
Social media is founded in generosity.
Although my followers on Twitters number less than 2,000, I have become quite picky about whom I do or do not follow back. Twitter is a source of information and entertainment, to be certain; but mainly it is of use to life and business because it allows us to connect with one another in immediate and efficient ways. It’s a platform for individual expression.
I want to connect with real people on Twitter, not brand names. I want to see your picture, not your logo. I want to read tweets that reference many different things besides your biz. I want to know you are something besides a marketer. And, God help me, I want to receive more than simply a string of quotations. Which is the main theme of this post: can we please quit the quote abuse?
I appreciate a fine quote as much as anyone, but when you use an automated service of any kind to populate your Twitter stream, you are cheating. If you think by tweeting endless quotes you appear to be wise and helpful, think again. I want you, the real you, in all your contradictory uniqueness. Nothing less merits the tweet it’s written in.
A recent Quora question asked: Should every business have a blog?
Currently, I’m hoarding all commentary about blogging because I have a community college class to teach this spring, centering on inbound marketing with a special focus on blogging. So the Query (Quory?) was pertinent.
But I was amazed that the answers (before my input) were all effusively in the affirmative, with the top vote-getter claiming that doing without a blog is okay if “you don’t actually sell to humans,” but de rigueur otherwise.
How insular we can be in the vastness of cyberspace! How proud, forgetting that the vast majority of humankind has no inkling of blogging or anything of the sort. What blind arrogance to suggest that every manicurist and bagel joint will fail without an online presence.
The point is not that every business needs to have a blog. Blogging must be guided by the top minds, the recognized leaders and the challengers to leadership; the innovators, reporters, and socialites.
No, every business does not need to produce a blog. But every business, sooner or later, will need to read blogs, to stay current with their market and peers. Blogging isn’t mandatory, but respect for blogging is.