Social Media Smoke & Mirrors

Bill & PaparazziOne of the things I find laughable about Social Media is that it’s sold to people that don’t know anything about Social Media.

This makes it possible for people who are ABSOLUTE GARBAGE at creating and maintaining their own online presence to make money telling other people how THEY should represent themselves or their companies online.

I’m not the type of person to knock the next man’s hustle, but that’s exactly what it is.. A HUSTLE. Smoke & Mirrors.

There are LOTS of people who are legitimate and present great solutions to their clients, but some people are just embarrassingly horrible at Social Media and still they’re heralded as gurus amongst their fans. Continue reading “Social Media Smoke & Mirrors”

Talkin’ Loud (or just A LOT) and Sayin’ Nothin’!

2008 is going to be the year when “Live” becomes a MAJOR player as far as video on the internet. IMO, Qik is the frontrunner right now, with live mobile. The first person I was aware of running around town with a Nokia N-Series phone was Steve Garfield. Eventually, I became aware of Rupert Howe over in “Jolly Old”, filming, editing and uploading from his Nokia. At the time, it was quaint. At this point, it’s turned into a fad, and more and more people are “going live”. Not that what Steve or Rupert were doing was live video, but it was as close as you could get at the time.

Meanwhile, status update sites became all the rage. Now, whenever you want, you can broadcast to your “followers” what you’d like them to know. You can also receive information from people before it makes MSM headlines, like some bridge falling down in some town nobody’s paying attention to. As long as SOMEBODY sees it and twitters it (or pownce, jaiku…), relatively immediately, we know in New York City what’s going on in the sticks.

Unfortunately, all this new “look at me” media doesn’t come with a manual. πŸ˜€ It shouldn’t come with a manual, because that way, all the new people flooding in don’t mentally restrict themselves to the purported use of the site or app. However, for people that don’t understand how media works, they could end up broadcasting things they didn’t intend to, such as their lack of relevance and/or interesting things to say, and in the worst-case scenario… that they just don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing wrong with that, but people need to be aware that they’re doing this to themselves.

This post isn’t for/about people that frivolously post text/audio/video on the internet as something to do. This is for people trying to make a name for themselves as knowledgeable people within their particular echo chamber.

There’s a difference between demonstrating that you own something and demonstrating that you truly understand what it is, how it works and how to utilize it. There’s a difference between demonstrating that you know ABOUT something and demonstrating that you’re someone knowledgeable and/or respected in that field. The more you go “Look at me!!! Here I am!!! Over here!!!”, the more opportunities you’re giving people to assess what you’re bringing to the table. If what you’re bringing is usually GARBAGE, you’re better off sparing yourself so much quantity and focusing on your quality.

Let’s say, for instance, that I told you I was going to the Yankees game, and I was going to text blog what was going on. Then, during the game, you start seeing this in my twitter stream:

It’s pretty warm today, considering it’s the Ides of March
Here we GO! The Yankees are warming up
Turns out that it didn’t rain as they predicted
The other team’s taking the field, sonnnnnn
I think I’ll buy some food
What a hit! :O
Seventh Inning Stretch!
I think that’s Stacey Dash! :O
Great game! Leaving the stadium to meet up with friends

Now… The FIRST thing that’s going to come to mind is “THAT WAS THE *WORST* ACCOUNT OF A BASEBALL GAME, EVER!” The second is going to be “Remind me not to hire that guy to blog ANYTHING”. The third is going to be “That was a tremendous waste of bandwidth”… Etc etc etc… Nothing positive. The only good things derived from something like this might be “He owns a cell phone”, “He knows how to connect twitter to his phone”, “He goes to Yankees games” and “He got to see Stacey Dash in person”.

Meanwhile, you STILL didn’t get the information. So then, let’s say you asked me directly what happened during the game, and I told you this:

The Yankees were there
The other team showed up too
People in the stands had a good time
There were some pitches and some hits
A couple of guys struck out
At the end, everyone left the stadium

Do you see how RIDICULOUS that account is? You would think that I was either avoiding talking about the game on purpose or that I really didn’t go to the game AT ALL. I didn’t tell you ONE SPECIFIC INSTANCE of anything that happened at the game. I didn’t tell you what happened TO anyone in the game, pro or con. I didn’t tell you what *I* thought about what happened during the game.

So, while I thought I was being clever and technological, all I was doing was demonstrating that either I was being purposefully evasive or I can attend and watch an event without understanding what happened right in front of my face… OR that I can understand what happened, but can’t properly articulate my thoughts. NONE. OF. THOSE. ARE. GOOD. THINGS! πŸ˜€

What you say is important. What you DON’T say is also important. WHEN you say those things counts as well. If your goal is to become a credible and respected source of information for people, you need to be RELEVANT, CURRENT, KNOWLEDGEABLE and CONSISTENT.

If you can’t do that, save your text/audio/video until you have something useful to contribute.

Community vs. Territory

I watched a video just now by Laura “Pistachio” Fitton that clarified for me a distinction I wanted to make, but that previously wasn’t coming together properly for me.

“sxsw seesmic junkies dinner” [permalink]
Now, that was a table FILLED with people that I’m either in direct contact with or follow on social sites: Laura Fitton, Jane Quigley, Jim Long, Phil Campbell, Steve Garfield, Christian Payne (“Documentally”), Patty Hartwell, Shannon Newton, Cathy Brooks

Around 4 minutes 30 seconds, Cathy mentions “community”. By the smiles on the participants’ faces and the fellowship, you can tell that they are all part of a community. What made this post finally possible for me is that while they became a community because of Seesmic, they weren’t interacting via Seesmic. They were IRL, having dinner together, chatting and having a good time. Somehow, what I wanted to talk about clicked after Cathy’s speech and seeing ‘community’ exist in a totally different environment.

There’s a difference between Community and Territory.

The word ‘community’ is often used to indicate ‘territory’… Like they might have a housing project named “Chicago Community”. In fact, those houses are territory. What makes them a community is how people interact with each other WITHIN that territory. You can live near someone and have NOTHING to do with them, not even to say hello as you pass in the street. You can live far from someone and talk to them every day and spend a lot of time with them, virtually on the net or by other means.

Having this feeling of community can easily give one the feeling of dominion over a territory. This is a false feeling, with no standing or merit… UNLESS members of said community are ACTUALLY owners of the territory, appointed agents of those owners, or members of the community that are willing to stand up and accept leadership of that group, lay down laws and enforce them. When there’s nobody in charge, there ARE no rules definable by the community. There are rules definable by THE OWNERS OF THE TERRITORY, which must be followed by all inhabitants of the territory, whether they’re a part of the community or not.

Thus, as popular as *A* community might be, without authority, anything they say regarding the territory is a SUGGESTION, not a MANDATE. It carries ZERO weight, except amongst the people of THAT particular community who are willing to follow the lead of whomever stood up and decided to make a rule… such as “How people SHOULD use this site” “What’s good etiquette on this site” “What new people need to know about this site” “How long posts should be on this site” “How you have to act after you post to this site”…. etc etc etc. It’s all hogwash and trivial banter to anyone that doesn’t subscribe to the community in which this so-called leader has chosen to lay down some laws.

Now… You ask “But, what if there’s only ONE community? Doesn’t that mean community=territory?”

No. πŸ˜€

Even if there’s only one group of people in a territory that calls themselves a community, or in some cases, THE community (like THE HIP HOP VIOLINIST :/), without connection to or authority from the owners of the territory, they have ZERO say in what happens to that territory. Do they have say over their community? Absolutely. Community exists in the ‘heart’ and mind. Inside or outside of the territory, the community thrives as long as there are still people that believe in that community. Dominion over one’s community FEELS LIKE dominion over the territory that community’s sitting on when there’s nobody else there. πŸ˜€

When nobody else has access to become a member of the territory, there’s no turnover. It’s like having the air conditioning circulate air inside your house without bringing in fresh air from the outside. It’s cold, and it feels good, but it’s only representative of a tiny subset of the actual air available inside your house and outside. As soon as others are given access to the territory, strictly by definition, “the” community will shrink drastically in the percentage of the territory in which it can hold court.

As soon as you double the number of currently active participants, assuming that “the” community doesn’t welcome and absorb these new people “into the fold” and assuming everyone contributes an equal amount of posts, the visibility of “the” community is AT LEAST split in half, and they now occupy 50% of the territory. So now, there are at least TWO communities, even if they’re “the originals” and “the newjacks”. Even if the new territory members don’t form a formal community, they’re meeting each other and making connections and having conversations and adding each other to their friends lists and following and replying to their contacts’ posts. Depending on frequency of posting and replying to popular newjack threads, looking at the front page of a site, the presence of the original community (which, of course, was dominion by default, being that nobody else was there) won’t be seen as any stronger or relevant than the new territory members. As a matter of fact, “the originals” will be completely indistinguishable from “the newjacks”. This is only when you merely DOUBLE the number of active participants…..

The ‘solution’ to this is to enjoy COMMUNITY without feeling ENTITLEMENT. If you have constructive comments for people joining the territory that your community has occupied by default up until now, that’s great! πŸ˜€ If you have rules and laws and crabby things to say, “Save it for David”. What you have to say is meaningless without authority. The laws will be handed down by the owners & appointed rulers. In most cases, those are found in the ToS (Terms of Service). There’s no point in trying to defend a territory that you never owned in the first place. There’s no point in trying to maintain “market share” when eventually, ten times the number of people in your community will be “outsiders” occupying the same territory.

What you DO HAVE is YOUR COMMUNITY. You have your friends that you’ve made and socialized with and had good times with. You have the relationships you’ve fostered and the feeling of goodwill that flows between your community members. Nurture that and Enjoy It. πŸ˜€