Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Social Media Content Cocktail Party

I’ll bet you wouldn’t have a hard time responding if I asked you to list out some common posts on Social Media that drive you crazy: vague emotional statements, random requests for money, irrelevant family photos, miscellaneous cats chasing lasers, and on and on. So the Big Question is: what can we do to improve the quality of the posts we are contributing and receiving?

I think it comes down to two key things: contributing to the conversation, and targeting the right audience. Let’s go to a cocktail party, shall we?
  • Imagine you’re in a medium sized room filled comfortably with a group of diverse people - some are close friends, some are colleagues, while others are friends of friends. After about 5 minutes one of the folks you’re not familiar with stands up on a coffee table, holds up some hors d'oeuvres for one and all to see, and proclaims in a loud voice, “So awesome! – nom, nom, nom.”

Anyone feeling a touch awkward right about now? And yet this type of scenario is played out (thankfully virtually) many, many times a day in our Social Media communities. Here’s what we can do to change it:

Content creators – you have something to say, and that’s great. I would offer that with a little forethought to your content and organizational skills, your contribution would be much more appreciated. I’ve often used this example: I don’t care if you just had the best grilled-cheese sandwich in your life; however, if you can tell me that AND where you got it, now we’re talking.

Likewise, the group of people you are sharing this information with is equally important. Using the previous example, there’s a big difference between sharing this grilled-cheese information with your global contacts versus a pared down list of locals who might actually be able to go and get said sandwich. Conversely, you might be a member of a forum for awesome sandwiches around the world, and this is completely relevant.

*** A word about groups and filters – you probably don’t use them enough. Most of the popular SM sites have many ways you can create subsets of your overall audience. A few of the most common are Facebook Lists and Groups, as well as Twitter Lists and Collections. Some are incoming and outgoing (FB) while others are just incoming (T). And of course you can self-filter by joining groups and forums where the specific subject matter, and sub-topics, are known.

Content digesters – simply put: you get what you ask for, and with the advent of big data curation, plus a whole lot more courtesy of your friends at the various SM sites. The point here is that the more selective and organized you are, the better the SM experience you can expect.  It starts with who you follow / friend, and then afterwards it’s up to you to organize them into relevant groups as outlined above. I take this a step further and bookmark these groups so I can go quickly to them and avoid the chatter. 

And finally, it’s OK to delete / hide input you don’t want to receive. I’ve even had to temporarily turn off content from sources I value when they go into live update mode I’m not interested in, or barrage me with marketing info. It’s your call.
  • Now let’s go back to our cocktail party. Instead of the cringe-worthy example I proposed, instead imagine this scenario: after about 5 minutes that same person walks over to the 2 hosts, plate in hand, and tells them that these hors d'oeuvres are some of the best they have ever had, and thanks them sincerely (and definitely leaves out the “nom, nom, nom” part!). A few others close by hear this, and they are appreciative as well. Appropriate contribution accomplished.

Creating and digesting meaningful content is not only possible; it should be your online goal.  All it takes is a little thought and organization on both ends – go make it so. Ciao for now, we’ll talk again soon – Cb…

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