There’s No Social In Your Media

One of the lines in the Bush song, “Everything Zen” says there’s no sex in your violence.

I’ve been thinking that a lot while watching the content that people have been posting to Google+, except the version I’ve been thinking is that there’s no social in your media.

One of the opportunities we have online is to demonstrate how similar we are to each other. That’s a valid and worthwhile pursuit, but at the same time, you want to show how different you are as well.

This isn’t so obvious in the world of Twitter, for instance.. You can only be so creative with 140 characters. Adding the incessant flood of Twitter posts into the equation, it’s very easy for people not to notice that they’re all posting the exact same thing.

Nobody’s actually checking to see if the shortlink they posted is the same one that was posted 10 minutes ago, which is the same one that was posted 20 minutes ago, which is the same one that was posted 23 minutes ago, which is the same one that was posted an hour ago, which is the same one that was posted yesterday and the day before that.

Welcome To The New World, Neo

On Google+, this is painfully obvious, as you look at your stream (or a particular circle you’re browsing) and you see the exact same bird shove the exact same OTHER BIRD into the garbage can in an animated .GIF file. (if you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a very short, embeddable movie with no audio).

Empire Strikes Cat
um… The Empire Strikes….. Cat? :/

Not only are these things regurgitated 24 hours a day, but they’re posted verbatim. There is ZERO value added by the poster to the viewer’s experience of seeing the bird kick the other bird off the ledge again.

I found this behavior relatively strange, until I read a reply from reader “Hakim” the other day, who likened the phenomenon to those early-morning joke emails people used to send out before they discovered Facebook and Twitter… or even MYSPACE, for that matter! 😛

Thinking about it that way, at least it makes sense at the lowest common denominator of being social. “Oh.. That’s a funny movie of the bird kicking the other bird into the trash.. Let me share it with my friends, so they can get the same laugh I did! :D”

Sometimes, that style backfires on you, though, and you end up telling a joke several days after it already made its rounds, so now, not only do you NOT look original, but you simultaneously look neither CURRENT nor RELEVANT.

If that’s not your goal, however.. being memorable.. then, what *I’M* currently saying to you ISN’T RELEVANT! 😀

I suppose the question is whether you want to be a news-MAKER or a news-REPORTER.

There are people who make entire blogs and entire web shows (and entire television shows) out of being reporters. That’s their job. It’s what they do for a living… What’s *YOUR* benefit in being a reporter? o_O

Mind you, I’m not talking about a journalist.. Someone that actually writes down their own opinion about something or at least researches a topic to write an article… Like, what’s your WIN in being the 31st person to repost the bird-kicking .gif?

Is it just that it’s easy to do and doesn’t require you to think or type? o_O How about next time you’re thinking about reposting a funny movie, instead, you just type “Happy [Monday], Everybody! :D”?

How about that?.. It probably takes just as long as sending the picture, and you can send out a personal message to people that distinguishes you from the rest of the picture-posters.

Is it better to be someone submerged in a crowd or someone that stands out in a crowd?

LULZ FTW!!!

ok.. So you insist on posting pictures as a demonstration of your ability to socialize… How about posting DIFFERENT pictures?… Why not start posting pictures of your pet lizard? People would notice you, then. There would be like 80,000,000,000 cat pictures and then your *ONE* picture of a cute lizard. You can even type something cutesy on the picture, like “I CAN HAZ CHAMELEON? :P”

So let’s say you take one step forward and start posting links to articles. That’s nice. How’s about now you add your own opinion before you press “Send”? Did you read the article yourself? Did you get anything out of it? Did it make you think? Why not share what you thought about with your readers so you can distinguish yourself as a thinker?… perhaps, even… a READER!!! :O

I mean, seriously, folks.. What do you think would happen IRL (in real life) if you walked up to someone at a party, you both smiled at each other and then you traded showing each other cat pictures on your smarphones instead of actually saying anything to each other? haha First of all, you’d get kicked out of the party for being weirdos. Second, you’d walk away from that exchange feeling all warm and fuzzy from all the cats you just saw and shared, but you wouldn’t have any new and valuable information about the person you SUPPOSEDLY just socialized with, and they wouldn’t know anything new or useful about you, either.

At least, those old-ass email jokes are something you might actually have said to someone when you ran into them at the water cooler at your job, or if you got stuck in an elevator with them.

In fact, what you would do if you ran into someone at a party is you would SPEAK. TO. THEM., because that’s how humans roll.

Even if you have nothing to say off the bat, SOME of your friends and acquaintances are posting how they feel about things or talking about something they liked or disliked. Why not jump in on one of those conversations? Let them know you agree or disagree and take your chances on building or destroying a relationship with them. At the end of the day, you might have more or fewer friends than you had this morning, but even if you’re losing, you’re at least INVOLVED in the game. 🙂

The Business Of Social?

This advice would also come in handy for businesspeople. Feel free to actually have a.. Well.. Feel free to at least FAKE having a real conversation with someone about something so that every time you open your mouth, people don’t go “Here comes that shill again, trying to convince me of something that’s in *their* best interest. :/”

How about selecting a customer at random and beginning a dialogue with them?.. Can’t do that much? How about commenting on a post they wrote or linked or a picture they shared of their son in the football game? How about doing *ANYTHING* that might POSSIBLY, REMOTELY be perceived as SOCIAL instead of acting like a hunter in a target-rich environment?

I can’t ask the pictures-at-a-party question to shills, because, yes… YES, they WOULD come up to you at a party and have NOTHING to say to you except things that benefit their business or company. I met a gal at a birthday party.. a BIRTHDAY PARTY, that told me to my face that the only reason she was there was to meet people that might be useful in helping her promote her book.

She didn’t say more than that, but she was basically like “**** the birthday-person.. I’m not here to celebrate jack-****. I’m here to make some business contacts and be out.

If that actually works for your company (and your social life), more power to ya. 🙂 Good Luck with that! 😀

The way I see it, there are only so many hours in each day. You can spend your time being regular, or you can attempt to stand out in the crowd. You can play it safe with the number of “friends” you currently have, or you can take a chance by selecting what’s behind curtain #3.

I’ve already met some new and interesting people on Google+.. Either because they stepped out in front of the crowd, or because I did.

This is your opportunity to be creative and progressive. You’re no longer limited to 140 characters, although I already see some people that wish they were, so they could continue to act like their creativity is being stifled by the designated Twitter limitations, when, in fact, it’s the other way around and Twitter makes them look good, while Google+ exposes their true limitations by removing their restrictions.

If you’re going to take that 20 seconds to find and post an animated .gif, why not skip that and instead, take 40 seconds to come up with a short, original, thoughtful statement or question that might make you THE NEWS instead of THE NEWSCASTER? 😀

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8 Comments

  1. Dang Bill, you’ve done it again. So much to think about from this post. This is why I have been relatively silent on Google+ – don’t want to post just to say I posted, and I’ve not read all the “Why do I need to use Google+” material everyone has posted.

    1. Thanks, Calandra. 🙂

      The funny thing is that you can tell which systems people came from (Tumblr, Twitter) by how they share on Google+.

      It’s like “You can say anything you want now.. Share anything you want.. Link anything you want..” and they’re still incessantly posting the 2011 equivalent of morning email jokes.

      A lot of people that are rather vocal on other sites are going to refuse to be involved in G+ at all because they recognize how they’re going to look when they’re unleashed from the 140-character limit and they still have nothing of value to contribute.

  2. Having an original thought is the new arena of google Plus. It does seem to un-mask many, but it also elevates many more.

    Great to see you taking the lead in showing what Social Media is really about Billy. Yup Yup™

    1. Yazzir, YogiFish. 🙂

      This is the thing.. It’s easy to be elevated for regurgitating someone else’s material. In fact, even mainstream media relies upon it, as many of the articles can be traced back to the AP (Associated Press). AP drops and confirms the information. The newspaper takes the article and adds opinion or other facts and offers that to their customers for a price. In fact, if we all monitored the AP feed, we’d all have the same information without needing any of the newspapers for curation/additions.

      So, since Google+ makes it so obvious when people are regurgitating without adding value, people are being unmasked, because they now have unlimited opportunity to express themselves and *STILL* all they can come up with is 140-character blurbs and pictures.

      People who do that are elevated in terms of numbers of people following them, but they’re being followed because they can be relied upon for the news of the day, not because they’re seen as valuable independent content creators.

      Also, if people who do that attempt to switch topics, they’re finished. Nobody actually cares what THEY have to say. It’s the particular information they’re providing in their current stream that earns them followers. It’s like taking a basketball player that ISN’T Michael Joran and putting him on a baseball team. Nobody cares.

      The people who contribute original content and original ideas will be elevated by Google+ on a peronal level, not only a content-based level. Same thing for the people that actually interact with their audience and join in in their comment threads.

      Social Media is a conversation, not a lecture. Google+ makes the conversation obvious, and exposes those who try to get credit for pointing people to the same content that everybody else is pointing to. They’ll definitely get credit as a source of the latest news, but that doesn’t place them in any sort of elite category… In fact, with a limit of 5,000 people that you can have in your circles (you’re following their content) on G+, the regurgitators, news reporters and .GIF posters will most likely be the first to go in order to make room for adding progressive thinkers who are bringing something different and valuable to the table.

  3. I am an exceptionally social person, always happy to hear from one of my friends, except when it’s a forkin forward about how the asterisk angel is going to eat my feet if I don’t forward this to ten people I love. I feel like it’s more an act of love to refrain from sending someone elses “creativity” along to ten people. If I want to holler at ten people, I will actually say something. possibly nothing relevant or of importance, but something that came from my mind. Then, of course, I realize that I don’t get on the internet to be entertained. I get on it to give and receive attention, interest, information, encouragement…actual social bonding goes on. But I still get the fricken forwards from all my friends who aren’t as gifted with conversation starting abilities. I so know what you mean…

    1. Right, Rebecca. 🙂

      I’ll forward things if I ask myself “Would I enjoy seeing/reading this if someone sent it to me? o_O” and I agree that I’d rather see it twice (if any of our mutual friends already posted it) than miss it entirely.

      Other than that, I like to either add value to posts with my own opinion about what’s happening in it, or create original content.. whether that’s a sound bite or an original article that it took me a few hours to write.

      You can gain fans and followers by using other people’s material, and it looks nice on paper, but you community isn’t really worth anything because they followed you for the ‘wrong’ reasons.

      A friend of mine’s finding that out right now, in a different sort of way… Her content was always based on using T&A to get guys to click on her videos. Creating titles that implied sexual content. Making sure she always wore low-cut tops, bras, whatever, in the still frame representing the video…

      She has virtually ZERO PRESENCE on Google+. She has no content. She has nothing to offer. She never had to have any content, because the value of videos is determined by “plays”, not the actual topics or the reasons why someone clicked on that particular still image.

      People who are morning-email-joke-senders are going to be obvious on G+ and will be relegated to circles specifically created for their brand of slight entertainment.

      Meanwhile, original thinkers and people that interact with their viewers/readers are going to advance and prosper in an environment that allows us to ‘go freestyle’.

  4. This is hands down one the best articles regarding not using “Social Media” for Spam! I see this OVER AND OVER IN REAL ESTATE! Posting your “Please like my page”, “Look at my cool new Facebook banner my title company made”, and my favorite “Here is my new listing posted 9 times to my different pages” does NOT make you social….. You can’t fix stupid.

    1. Thanks much, Danielle. 🙂

      This is an excellent point you’re bringing up. People asking for “like”s without there actually being anything to LIKE about their page or content. 😀

      This happens in the video realm as well, when people say “Rate, Comment & Subscribe”… Um… If someone likes your content, they’ll subscribe. If someone thinks it’s good, they’ll rate it. If they have something to say, they’ll comment.

      If you have to PROMPT SOMEONE to comment on your “social” media, you haven’t done it properly! 😉

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