What and how to Share on Facebook and Twitter

What and how to Share on Facebook and TwitterAs I predicted in Web 2.0 Adoption Curve, 2009-2015, a media backlash against social networks is beginning because most people do not know how to use the networks effectively nor how to integrate their activity on social networks with their other activities. The use of social networks is in its infancy and is easy to criticize.

Last week, I took the New York Times’ Facebook Exodus to task as an exceptionally lame example, and here I’ll offer a briefer treatment of a Wall Street Journal article, How Facebook Can Ruin Relationships. Unfortunately, but very predictably, the journalists and editors that are responsible for these articles are not terribly knowledgeable about social networks. Take this into account when reading.

This backlash will discredit social networks in the short term, and you can use this to your advantage by continuing to use them in your business while others are napping. Social networks will remake society because they change the economics of communication and relationships. Those who use them will create a significant advantage for themselves.

Complaints about Social Network Communications

The Wall Street Journal article complained about the banal, inane nature of some of the updates onFacebook and Twitter. Some people constantly share what some people consider to be boring details about their day. We have all read tweets that didn’t add value, and we have all written a few.

The author didn’t appreciate the context of the situation. Nothing that humans do is interesting to everyone, and tweets and Facebook updates are no exception. Yes, people need to learn to consider their readers more.

However, Web 2.0 (many-to-many social networking sites) offers dramatically different ways to express oneself, and, although Web 2.0 communications may resemble pre-Web 2.0 interaction in certain ways, they are creating a fundamentally different environment. It’s a new social context with new rules. I don’t think anyone can say that s/he’s figured out the “proper” way to communicate in these environments, so there will continue to be extensive experimentation. As Chris Anderson points out inThe Long Tail, when something approaches free, there is extensive waste and experimentation, and we are in that period now.

How to Consider the Reader

What and how to Share on Facebook and Twitter: step by stepWhen considering what to write, it always comes back to whom you are trying to engage. Ask yourself what their conduct and expectations are. Of course, if you have a large network in Facebook, best practice calls for using Friend Lists and segregating content based on what groups of friends like. When posting to the Wall, discretion is gold, but so is variety. If you have a very serious group of friends, hide your Wall from them and communicate with them using Notes. My wish for Facebook is multiple Walls! ,^)

In Twitter, it is easy and free to create different accounts to reach different audiences, but I do not recommend this unless you are an experienced Twitter user and understand the commitment. Use Value Vectors to create your content strategy for Twitter because this will help you to explicitly address the interests and needs of the people you care about.

Not every tweet or update has to be brilliant, but if most are on target, people will value reading you. Not everything we say to everyone has a lot of value, and we only get in trouble when most of what we say is lackluster.

One thing that everyone will come to appreciate about these environments is that they have delayed mirroring. As the WSJ article pointed out, body language is absent. When we write things that might be off base, a friend’s arched eyebrow would help us get back on track offline, but online, it’s in front of hundreds, instantly.

Parting Shots

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