So much media, so little social

Ok so here’s my point: there are too many social media services promising social interaction and there’s too little meaningful interaction going on.

I want to use this post to ask why this might be and what we might do to change the pattern – if in fact there is a pattern at work.

Let me ask you a question: when you sign up to a new service and you get to the bit where you have to select the option that best describes your reason for being there,

– to make friends
– to network
– to find a partner

what is it you’re really looking for?

Perhaps it is in fact to make friends, to network or to find a partner.

But perhaps it’s also to maximise your brand’s impact or to find new customers.

Perhaps it’s to connect with your friends who keep talking about the site and you don’t want to miss out on the party.

Perhaps it’s out of curiosity to try something new.

Perhaps you want to share your interests with like-minded people.

At the root of each of these examples is the desire for interaction. A signal and a response. The search for feedback in one form or another.

But all too often that desire isn’t met. Why? Because interaction takes time and effort. It takes passion and devotion.

If you find yourself going through the motions of signing up for a new service; doing it for the sake of it; looking for a quick return on a minimal investment, then you’re a million miles from experiencing any form of meaningful interaction.

I write this having just been caught up in this very trap. I found myself installing Disqus comments on this blog for no other reason than the promise of more interaction. I found myself signing up to Google+ and Vimeo in pursuit of that same promise.

So what’s the solution? Well I’m hoping you’ll tell me. But in the meantime here are at least 2 things that come to mind:

1. Don’t create content for the sake of generating a response. Create content that you feel strongly about and that itself will stand a good chance of stimulating interaction.

2. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Limit yourself to those networks on which you really feel you have a voice. It’s not just about speaking though, it’s about being able to listen too. We have to be ready to listen if we want to engage in any form of meaningful interaction.

Let’s put social interaction into practice right here. You tell me what you’re looking for in social media. I promise to listen. Then I’ll let you know what I think.

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About the Author: Will Ellington

Originally from the UK, I currently live in Osaka, Japan, where I work in higher education. I’ve been a WordPress user since 2004 and have developed numerous projects with it over the years. Wpliving is a place to share things i've learnt along the way, and to explore innovations in WordPress too.

2 Comments

  1. Hello William,

    in the front i`m looking for interaction with my friends and interesting, new contacts, also is an important point for me is to find new customers.

    I use Twitter for fast information and fast communication, Facebook is slower and more personal for me.
    Also i´m using Google+ but this is for me mainly for SEO.

    Sorry for my sparse english, but i think you understand what i mean.

    1. Hi Jurgen,

      Thanks for your response.

      I find the points about speed and mode of communication very interesting. In one sense it’s obviously a consequence of the form and parameters of each platform. But from that, each platform develops its own culture.

      Personally, I find it difficult to distinguish as clearly as you do between platforms and functions. I see no real borders for example between Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Pundits talk about the Walled Garden effect of Facebook, but my experience as a user is very fluid.

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