Tuesday, 28 July 2015

What's the next big thing for #socialmedia? Let's consider going back to basics....

Is it me, or has the content on social media channels lost its freshness and edge?

As an early adopter I remember the days when we shared punchy, out-of-the-box content. I remember the days when we had full-fledged conversations on social media. I remember the days when we cherished the affordances of the various channels and used them for different purposes. I remember the days that we shared more from our heart than our head. I remember the days when social media channels were more SOCIAL than media.

In reading Twitter's blogpost  "Introducing event targeting", I could not but smile at the statement "if it’s happening in the world, it’s happening on Twitter”. It is now conventional wisdom that Twitter’s strength is “providing as-it-happens coverage and commentary on live events”.

To prove this point,  I checked the live Twitter feed from an event which was taking place at that moment. I was stunned by how we may have ran out of creativity and as a result the messages and content seem to have lost their punchiness and sound and look all the same. Scanning the feed made me realize that we may be living under the false impression that we've outsmarted Twitter's technological affordance.

We seem to have forgotten that Twitter was born to convey messages in 140 characters or less. We've forgotten the mantra "If you can't explain it in 140 characters, your idea is too complicated!"  We seem to have forgotten why Twitter is at its best during live events. We seem to have forgotten that while maintaining a professional tone, what travels well is a message from the heart.

No doubt that a picture is worth more than 1000 words and we all agree that it is great to add a photo in your tweet highlighting what is happening in that very moment. This said, I am not sure, whether it is cool to add  photos jam packed with text to outsmart  the 140 character limit.

In the good old days we conveyed a message with 140 characters or less. This meant we spent more time to craft a punchy, meaningful, relevant and engaging content which had the potential of going viral.

We seem to have forgotten the wonderful and unique affordances of the various social media channels. We seem to have forgotten that social media networks are supposed to connect PEOPLE and as such, in sharing content, we need to talk WITH people, and not AT them. We seem to have forgotten that the key to success on social media is engagement.

This brings me to content curation – which I believe to be an art and something that we should do more of. The key to success is walking a fine line between delivering relevant and timely social engaging content without this being “contaminated” with our own bias and/or interest, without it being a megaphone or in the worst case scenario end up being propaganda.

In scanning the various social media channels, I longed for the conversational tone, I looked high and low to find a piece content that I could engage with, a soundbite from the heart. What I found was more of the same. I wonder if the lack of punchy and engaging content is to avoid getting into trouble? And if so, this is probably one of the reasons we are seeing less and less  viral content.

How can we go back to create conversational and real content, content that touches both hearts and minds and goes viral.

Think about it, when was the last time you shared a piece of content? Why did you do it? Probably because it was something that touched your heart, meant something to you and your community. It may have been counterintuitive and controversial, it may have been simply fun and something out of the ordinary.

As an avid follower of Simon Sinek, recently I've been pondering whether we've lost sight of the WHY of social media and are exclusively focusing on the WHAT and HOW.

So, is all lost…. or have we reached a point where we need to think of what's the next big thing for social media? Maybe it is time to find our way back to the beginnings of social media – to the WHY.

Maybe we need to come to terms with the fact that the next big thing is social media is to go back to the original affordances and uniqueness of the various technologies.

Maybe we need to go back to basics. Let's be less of an emulator and more of an innovator. 

Join the conversation.... @rsamii


Toby Beresford said...

I think a key challenge for us all is to learn how to convert shallow social media engagements into real life engagement.

Luis Suarez said...

Hi Roxanna, thanks a lot for the ping on Twitter about this absolutely wonderful blog post! Greatly appreciated. It reminds me of another blog post I put together myself in 2012 under "Twitter is where conversations go to die" in which I pretty much reflected on the same issues you bring up. As a result of that blog post I shared back then I decided to transform entirely the method in which I'd make use of Twitter leaving behind the broadcasting more from others and look for the real engagement: a conversation.

Alas, vast majority of folks nowadays can only talk about themselves and how cool they are and the cool things they are NOT doing (which is why they promote someone else's work to catch their attention as link bait). If you look into it, and we go back over 20 years it's the same problem we had back then with KM, where people would keep protecting and hoarding their knowledge because they felt it was their unique competitive advantage and therefore wouldn't want to hand it over to others. Fast forward to 2015 and we have exactly the very same problem. People nowadays are more focused on sharing useless content, but keep up with their presence, than relevant, gorgeous tidbits we can all benefit from.

Yes, we need to go back to basics, but basics to me is to have each and everyone of us who wants to have a different experience to challenge the useless junk we get exposed to and stop following those who share it. I remember the days when I used to share across plenty of curated items from people in my networks, only to discover most of that content was garbage. Nowadays, instead, I only keep sharing those items I know I have benefited from myself, even as a learning experience. That's why I no longer share listicles, productivity articles, marketing junk, etc. etc.

We need to be more focused, even if that means we are not going to constantly be there. There is a reason why no-one reads Twitter / tweets anymore. Why should we if we are only broadcasting me, me, me messages? We need to smarten up, and focus on what we really want to get out of our social engagement and Toby above has pretty much hit the nail on the head: from shallow into real life engagement. One piece of great content at a time.

One conversation at a time :-D

Thanks much for entertaining this wonderful conversation! Looking forward to the dialogue ...

Bonnie Koenig said...

Yes, thank you, Roxy, for starting and encouraging this conversation! Social media is definitely changing but I believe it’s an evolution as we learn what ‘works’ and what doesn’t vis a vis true engagement, using new tools I don’t think there will be a next ‘big thing’ but I do think there will be a reevaluation of how we get value from social media (which is here to stay :) that will combine many of the factors you raise – curation, engagement and bringing together thought with feeling (heart & mind). I am not sure which platforms will take hold going forward (my crystal ball is a bit cloudy :) but I do find some of the continued experimentation interesting including newcomers like https://this.cm/ which is based on the idea that you can only share one article a day (curation),and the interactive platforms many conferences are setting up to combine in-person discussions with online discussion. Here’s to continuing to explore together, keeping the thought (why?) and the heart (interactive engagement) together!