Going into 2012, I’m thinking that we are very responsible to consider what we publish and curate as media channels, should attention, platform-building, and better community relationships be our goal. In thinking about all your various uses of social networks, if you are working with the mindset that they are all tied together as a larger media property for yourself, it becomes important to think about what you’re putting through those channels. Attention is a currency, and if we spend too much of other people’s attention on frivolous posts and shares, we risk losing that attention.
This is a Fork in the Road Situation
As with all matters, you can choose not to view your efforts in blogging and social media as anything more than self expression and personal communication. That’s perfectly fine. If that’s your goal, then this post isn’t for you. If you want to think about what your media making can do for your professional pursuits, then read a bit further.
Our Responsibility as Media Channels
You are creating information every time you post something on your blog, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Twitter, on FourSquare, and everywhere else. You might not think of it that way, but you are. You’re also sending a singal: “Here’s something new. Here I am poking at your attention.” You are also creating or missing the creation of an opportunity, such as whether to take a further action, or whether to elicit a response, etc. You are also contributing to, or detracting from the interests of a community, even if that community is fluid or overlapping. You are also blessed with the opportunity to entertain, educate, and maybe even compel someone. What if you look at this as your responsibility? What if you looked at all we just outlined with an eye towards making something bigger than just noise?
- I have created information. What was my purpose in sharing it?
- I have sent a signal. What do I want that signal to be?
- I have or haven’t created an opportunity. What is it, or why not?
- I am contributing to or detracting from my community. Which is it?
- I am entertaining, educating, or compelling with my information. Which is it?
Look at your last three Facebook posts, your last five tweets, your last few entries into Google+ and Foursquare. How would you answer the above questions?
You Are a Magazine and a TV Station
I’ve already written about this in the past. We are a world of fledgling TV stations. That means we need to think about our programming. We have to think about our audience. We have to think about what we’re hoping to achieve. Up until now, MANY of us look at our creations on the social web as temporary things that fly by and not a body of work. We think of them as quick messages and blips and not some collection of materials. Like I said, there’s a fork in the road. You can keep doing that for sure. But I think the extended business benefits of using the social web go away rather soon for those people who use their channels too loosely.
I’ll say that again: the quality and value of your efforts on the social web will dry up this year (2012), as more and more saturation take us to the point where we can’t even bother to read tweets any longer.
Preparing for the New Media World
First, typing “new media” makes me laugh, because we’ve been talking about new media since the late 90s, and I’ve been writing about it since maybe 2005 or so. By “new,” in this case, I just mean our new approach to using it in a more concerted way. The ‘gee whiz’ has worn off, and now, if you’re looking to build professional value from this whole jumble of the social web, it’s important to start thinking like a TV station and a magazine and start building out content that takes advantage of that.
What’s first? Your mission as it applies to your community. And let’s use the term “community” loosely, because maybe you haven’t yet formed a community large enough to reach your goals. But let’s grow into that. Your mission, of course, is to serve that community. Whatever way you answer that question, phrase it that way. Your mission isn’t to grow rich by making amazing webinars that sell your crap. Your mission is to create useful information that enhances the lives and efforts of the community you are fortunate to serve. No matter WHAT your role and no matter WHAT industry you’re in, that’s the mission.
If you’re Christopher Lynn and the team at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston, your mission is to educate your guests and prospective guests on the benefits of staying there, and on the city you serve: Boston. If you’re Chris Zoller at Polar USA, your mission is to educate your fledgling and professional athletes on the world of fitness and health that your products so excellently serve. If you’re Mike Elgan from Elgan Media, your mission is to entertain your readership and make us think (Mike’s already a media company).
Your Responsibility as Consumers of Media
Oh, and we have a new responsibility as consumers of media, too. We can’t just read things, hit the +1, and move on. We can’t just absorb posts, nod a little, then move to the next bite. We can’t buy the latest and greatest business books and get through a handful of chapters, and rush to the next thing. This year, your role and responsibility around the consumption of media is twofold:
- Don’t just consume, absorb. Take it allllll in.
- Share. And don’t just push the stumble, the retweet, etc, but give some value to the share by giving your points, adding your two cents, blogging a piece around it, etc. If you had time to read it, take the time to share it well.
It’s A Choice
You have choices in all of this. You can choose to sink beneath the waves and just enjoy the chitty-chatty web. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But if your goal is to use these tools to improve your business, today is Day 1. Take up your responsibility. Work on it today. Don’t post all over the place today. Instead, observe a day of silence while you rethink matters.
Oh, and you can still have fun and be funny. Just make sure that’s also part of your channel’s intents. It sure is for mine.
What say you? Are you in?
|Chris Brogan is an eleven year veteran of social media using both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals.