The Realtime Gratification Gap

I wrote my last post about a per­son­al con­tent strat­e­gy months ago. I don’t even know how many times I’ve tweet­ed over that time. Giz­mo­do asked its read­ers if they still main­tain per­son­al blogs, acknowl­edg­ing all the ways oth­er ser­vices have filled the space blogs once monop­o­lized. It’s a ques­tion that fills me with dread.

I mourn the loss of a vibrant per­son­al blog­ging com­mu­ni­ty, but then again, every­one I used to fol­low got jobs blog­ging. And while I find real­time com­mu­ni­ca­tion fun, there’s a grat­i­fi­ca­tion gap between tweet­ing and long­form per­son­al writ­ing for me. I find writ­ing to be a cathar­tic expe­ri­ence and I used to draw inspi­ra­tion from my favorite blog­gers that drove me to write in a way that was dif­fer­ent than read­ing the news­pa­per or a mag­a­zine. I bet I’m not alone in that, but most of my peers quit their per­son­al blogs, too.

When I say grat­i­fi­ca­tion gap, I’m talk­ing about how blog com­ments showed more appre­ci­a­tion for the work than a fave or retweet. Grant­ed, reach has explod­ed with those real­time social expe­ri­ences, but it’s also divorced the work from painstak­ing­ly build­ing an audi­ence that looks for­ward to a piece of writ­ing. I used to be so encour­aged by those expe­ri­ences. In fact, I still find myself thank­ing friends who take the time to write. I miss root­ing for my writ­ing friends as much as I miss them root­ing for me.

Do you still write your per­son­al blog? Where do you draw inspi­ra­tion? If not, do you miss blog­ging, or is this just nos­tal­gia for, um, 2003?

Why You Need a Personal Content Strategy

Scoble’s post on scal­able liv­ing offers some inter­est­ing insight into how peo­ple use social plat­forms to com­mu­ni­cate with audi­ences. What I find most inter­est­ing are his views on the role of Face­book in how he shares con­tent. Here’s a key pas­sage from what he wrote:

So, what role does a blog have in this new world. It cer­tain­ly is NOT cen­tral­iz­ing my life. Face­book is — by far — the best place to do that. This morn­ing alone I lis­tened to sev­er­al songs in the car. Do you real­ly want me to post every time that hap­pens here? No way. But on Face­book that’s eas­i­ly dealt with. Even bet­ter Face­book usu­al­ly fil­ters that stuff out and Face­book gets bet­ter over time at fig­ur­ing out what you want to engage with and what you don’t. If you saw every­thing I did on my pro­file come through on your home feed you would unfol­low with­in an hour. Instead 330,000 new peo­ple in the past year alone have sub­scribed to me on Face­book. Why? It’s scal­able liv­ing and hav­ing great inbound makes life more interesting.

Now, Scoble is an edge case, to put it mild­ly. Few of us com­mu­ni­cate on social plat­forms with even a frac­tion of the peo­ple who fol­low him. But how many of us would even con­sid­er using Face­book to share con­tent that’s relat­ed to our work as social media pro­fes­sion­als? Would your friends be inter­est­ed in your views on Google+? I doubt it. I know mine wouldn’t.

Most of what Scoble dis­cuss­es is how we share and con­sume infor­ma­tion. He notes that Face­book’s algo­rithm helps you make choic­es about what you see and what you don’t. That’s not true of oth­er plat­forms and if you’re like me, you don’t mind infor­ma­tion over­load. But have you giv­en much thought to how you share content?

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Why You Need a Per­son­al Con­tent Strategy”

How I Share Links

I rarely share links. When I do it hap­pens in spurts while I’m rac­ing through Google Read­er or Flip­board. I gen­er­al­ly don’t share much. I don’t real­ly retweet that much either, and I think I know why.

I don’t like “viral” content.

There. I’ve said it. In my years as a music crit­ic and edi­tor I was frus­trat­ed when I the same sto­ries and angles every­where. But that was just a func­tion of the news cycle and part of the mat­u­ra­tion of the news out­lets we came to know as blogs. Viral con­tent does the same thing, but fric­tion­less shar­ing enables an alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent kind of expo­sure to the iden­ti­cal piece of con­tent, most­ly with­out com­ment. There’s no avoid­ing it. It infil­trates every chan­nel, social or oth­er­wise. If you spend any time on the Inter­net, you’re haunt­ed by meme after meme. It’s awe­some and fun the first time, but then it quick­ly becomes that pop song you can’t escape all summer.

Yet those pieces of con­tent are what you’re expect­ed to share because as much as any­thing else, when you share a link you’re let­ting peo­ple know you’re in on the joke. It’s the lat­est end­point in the ongo­ing Inter­net phe­nom­e­non of “firsties,” which is dif­fer­ent from, say, a “scoop” because there’s no report­ing involved.

See, to me, link shar­ing is noth­ing more than con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion. Ele­vat­ing it to “cura­tion” is just a joke. When you share a link, all you’re real­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ing is “look what I’ve seen.” To me, this is like invit­ing peo­ple to your dorm room to wow them with your music or books. Chances are, plen­ty of peo­ple have those albums or books, just like lots of peo­ple will see a link to a par­tic­u­lar piece of con­tent. There’s noth­ing espe­cial­ly cura­to­r­i­al to it. “Cura­tion” is sim­ply a func­tion of reach or author­i­ty and the leisure time to read and share. It does­n’t mat­ter if you cre­at­ed the piece of con­tent, or if you were even the first to share it. What mat­ters is that peo­ple per­ceive you as the first per­son to share it, there­by cement­ing your sta­tus as a curator.

But that’s not even the worst part of cura­tion. The worst is when you find your­self being tricked into read­ing arti­cles in famil­iar sources. Sure, some of it is a piece of clever copy with a good call-to-action. No shame in that; it’s a lost art. But when most of what’s being shared is in obscure pub­li­ca­tions like the New York Times, well, then, how exact­ly are you curat­ing one of the best edit­ed pub­li­ca­tions in the world?

Increas­ing­ly though that skill, name­ly, get­ting peo­ple to click on links, is online cur­ren­cy, mea­sured by ser­vices like Klout and Kred. Pub­lish­ers and con­tent cre­ators should rejoice; nev­er before in the his­to­ry of the web have peo­ple been so incen­tivized to share con­tent online. But the prob­lem is we’re gam­i­fy­ing a prac­tice that reduces us all to click­bots cir­cu­lat­ing the same con­tent in 24 hour shifts.

When I read the web, I want to read and look at things that were shared thought­ful­ly and mean­ing­ful­ly about a vari­ety of top­ics, not just some­one opti­miz­ing their social pro­file by shar­ing the most pop­u­lar item of the day. To me the vari­ety of con­tent is what makes read­ing the web spe­cial. I’d hate to see that sort of con­tent dec­i­mat­ed by the push for pageviews.

Now I’ll share a link that express­es very clear­ly how I feel about cura­tion. I LOVED this arti­cle over at The Awl, espe­cial­ly the part about “ ‘peo­ple who are real­ly picky with what they share on Facebook.’ ”

The Problem of Platform Proliferation

What’s your Pin­ter­est strat­e­gy? Don’t have one? Panic!

If you spend time scan­ning the social web, you’ve prob­a­bly read this sen­ti­ment some­where. You see it every time a new plat­form launch­es. The ser­vice goes live and a throng of social media experts rush to judg­ment, assur­ing you that your busi­ness is doomed if you don’t stand up a pres­ence and take advan­tage of the lat­est craze.

Don’t believe them? Do so at your peril!

OK, that may be a bit extreme. If you’re a social media pro­fes­sion­al, you’re famil­iar with this sto­ry. It’s con­fus­ing! You prob­a­bly want the brand you rep­re­sent to be on the cut­ting edge of the social space, but how do you make your case? Will it be worth the effort and resources? Will you lose your mind try­ing to pub­lish to every­thing? What if peo­ple think your brand pres­ence is, um, lame?

Take a deep breath. Use your judg­ment and fig­ure out what works best for you. Chances are you’re the per­son respon­si­ble for mak­ing deci­sions. It needs to be the right fit for your function.

What if the right Pin­ter­est strat­e­gy is none at all? Adri­enne Rhodes sug­gests that may be the right answer for your brand over at Social Media Today.

See? It’s pos­si­ble to say that the best strat­e­gy is none at all.

Most impor­tant things to ask your­self when eval­u­at­ing new platforms.

  • Fit. Does it make sense for your brand?
  • Lev­el of effort. Can you par­tic­i­pate effec­tive­ly in the com­mu­ni­ty you’re joining?
  • Return on invest­ment. Ask your­self what you’re get­ting out of it. Trust me, if you don’t, your key stake­hold­ers will. And do bet­ter than just ask your­self. Mea­sure, mea­sure, measure!

So the next time you see sto­ries about the new plat­form gold rush, don’t wor­ry if you’re not first to stake your claim. Focus your resources on the plat­forms that are most impor­tant to your busi­ness first before spread­ing your­self (and your con­tent) too thin across the social web.