The whirling universe of social media seems to have slowed down lately. With Facebook gone public, Google+ creeping toward rigor mortis, and Twitter degrading to a boring barrage of promotions, the old excitement just isn’t there.
There are a million reasons for this. The channels themselves are limited. While large followings are admired, the more updates in your stream, the less likely you are to see any particular person’s messages. How can relationships take root? All of us in the sandbox together does not mean we’re actually relating. Maybe we’re just getting in one another’s way.
Each social network asks for the whole story: bio, contact info, picture, work history, and all your lists of friends. The more we upload to one site, the less we’re likely to want to move all that data to another site. I may not adore Facebook, but that doesn’t mean I’d be quick to replace it with a competitor.
Twitter’s my favorite, and yet it’s far from realizing its full potential. Why are relatively few people using this marvelous tool for inter-connectivity? It could be connecting citizens, and instead it’s become merely a revolving billboard.
Has social media failed us? Have we failed it?
Ran across a post today that reinforced my deepest faith in Twitter. How a Tweeting Town Can Revive a Community, by Brittany Botti, described in thrilling detail how the author set up and monitors a hometown-based twitter account.
You can probably picture it easily: a stream of tweets tracking the real time life of your town. What could be more natural?
Botti suggests using Twitter searches to discover what peeps are tweeting about your town, being helpful, posting tons of photos, and a few other tremendously useful tips.
From my point of view, this is what it’s really all about: a community of people in constant real-time communication; an improved system of messaging so that community is continuously reinforced. When the community is defined geographically, I believe the results can be awesome.
For example, I live in a rural location in the south. To say I disagree politically with the majority of my fellow county residents would be to put it mildly. But surely we have a great deal in common nonetheless, as residents of the same area. Sharing based on our common location could lead to breakthroughs in cooperative understanding.
Twitter’s a no-brainer, one would think, for communities everywhere.
Most of us have ambitions, things we want to do or create. But there’s also a ton that the outside world wants us to do. Sometimes it’s not easy to know which motivations are truly yours and which are pressures from without.
Accepting social media and incorporating it into your business rides that fine line between something you really want to do and something the world around is requesting that you do.
Examples: we’ve felt pressured to join Google+, create fancy Facebook tabs, collect a million Twitter followers. Then after a bit of time rolls by, Google+ deflates, FB tabs are replaced by the Timeline, and your million followers have proven entirely useless to you.
Our (positive, growth-oriented) gut-driven drives should be acted upon quickly, but much in life actually does not require the immediate response that may be implied by the times, a seller, fashion, or other impinging force. Much of the time, we’ll fare far better by waiting to see what happens.
Maturity is marked by such an ability to wait. Maturity is knowing when to wait-and-see, and to do so with calm control.
Maybe we can develop a wiser culture on the internet, less hyper, better linked.
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?
I’m sad to write this post. Not long ago, I proclaimed the wonders of a new blogging resource called triberr.com. And indeed, the app served me very well for several months. But now, because of a condition of Twitter’s Terms of Service, Triberr no longer “automagically” re-tweets the posts of tribe members. Suddenly, RTs must be manually triggered.
Okay, so the Triberr site remains a central location for viewing the posts of my tribe fellows, but the main point was to easily gain visibility for my blog in a mutually trusting, profitable way with a select group of like-minded souls. I was benefiting from the rubber stamp of a very small group to amplify my voice, and likewise to amplify theirs, with no extra effort on my part.
That capability no longer exists.
No, I did not read every post I re-tweeted, but I was well-prepared to defend its author. I don’t have to know every Yeats poem to know every work of his is worth reading.
TOS. Bah. Another lovely opportunity turned sour because of abuse and over-use. The app developers are promising all kinds of value-adds, but somehow the thrill is gone. The future? Well, we’ll see …
We had a great time presenting a marketing-your-business-online seminar to local small businesses recently. “We” was a foursome of internet groupies, volleying knowledge of best practices in a team effort to enrapture the student crowd. To our amazement, they were so willing that our task was easy. And this in a community that has heretofore been resistant to the cyber age at best, hostile to it as a norm.
I’ve been taking a lot of pleasure in watching the internet’s magic take hold. I proclaimed before the class that the web is their future. The most amazing part is that I truly believe that. I hanker for the day when my neighbors will all be looped in from their rural abodes around where I live. Can’t wait to tweet with my town. That’s not happening much, as yet. You peeps in San Francisco, Chicago, NYC have no idea. Lotsa places, tweeting can be lonely.
But maybe those sad moments of looking for nearby, meetup-able people on Twitter are on the way to obsolescence. Maybe I’ll soon be able to connect with the farmer down the road, the entrepreneur in the nearby big city, as well as the cosmopolitan in London.
“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.
Long ago, when I was working in arts administration, we were constantly writing PSAs – public service announcements. These were the listings such as one saw in newspaper calendars of cultural events. Just the facts, m’am, with a one-sentence zinger-of-a-description.
It occurs to me that Twitter has become our PSA center. It’s where you go for news, right?
“All the news that’s fit to tweet.”
A connection tweeted this morning: “I <heart> twitter. #thatisall.” I know what she means. But why do we love it so much?
Some say Twitter is just a time-suck. A handy way to avoid working.
Or maybe it’s the vessel that takes me to work. It gives me connection, ideas, conversations. It shows me what’s next.
Yes, that’s what I said. Twitter shows me what’s next. In life, in my life, in our lives.
There may be a better model than Twitter to provide this level of guidance. But we’re still getting to know the prototype. Is it hive mind à la Star Trek’s Borg? Or is it divine inspiration?
I love Twitter for its potential more than for what it has become so far. Feels like a Great Adventure, a trip to outer space!
Okay, I admit it. When between projects, I check TweetDeck. I see what links others are suggesting and check them out. I read the posts voraciously and aimlessly, building knowledge and benefiting no one in particular.
From one point of view, I waste a lot of time with Twitter. From another, since I’m an internet specialist, staying abreast of Twitter conversations is critical.
There’s a deeper motivation for checking in with Twitter, as well. This week, for instance, when the ground trembled underneath me, I saw at once that others were hollering “Earthquake!” on Twitter, and I instantly knew what was happening. Keeping tabs with your Twitter streams keeps you in touch with the scene, in your location, your field, in your circle, or your interest areas.
The recent headlines said it all on CNN: the British government is dropping the idea of suppressing online networks as a reaction to rioting in several cities. Attempts to censor or curtail communications are futile. As a species, by now we know better than that.
You don’t get paid for being connected, but being connected gives you the power to keep going. You can see where you fit in, how you can help.
I have a love/hate attitude towards Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid. As a genius of sorts, he surely elicits different reactions from everyone. To me, it seems that he nails it 90% of the time, and misses by a mile the other 10%.
Yesterday, Hugh announced on Facebook and Twitter that he was quitting those venues. His main reason seems to be that he’s offended by the social media networks’ ownership of all the content you contribute. The brilliant quips you share on Twitter, for example, don’t accrue to your estate the way your blog does. So why waste your time there?
There are solid logical ways to refute this argument. Social media is about sharing, not hoarding.
He also suggests that social networks make blogging too easy, letting people blog about inconsequential things, causing “… something magical (to be) lost, or at least, diluted.” His reasoning on this point is murky and smacks of cronyism, but we can give him that. He was an internet pioneer and indeed perhaps the web was more exciting back then.
My biggest problem with Hugh’s decision is that he was one of the more worthwhile people to follow on Twitter. I’m gonna miss him.