Is Social Media an Inclusive or Exclusive Club?
We all talk about the “Conversation” as the metaphor for social media. I always felt this was an effort to communicate inclusiveness. Have you ever wondered if social media is inclusive? Do you always feel part of the bigger conversation? I sense for many it’s hard to feel included. I sense many feel it is an exclusive club. I sense many of us live in a bubble of inclusion and forget how the silent majority really feel.
It seems somewhat ironic that the conversation metaphor picked to be all inclusive is perhaps a tad elitist. I suspect really very few outsiders know what it really means. And the insiders keep talking as if it’s inclusive. We keep saying “Conversation” louder and louder so people can hear and join in, but does it really happen?
This post is about finding a model and a place for everyone. I hope it helps. I know writing this has helped me connect a few more dots. It’s helped me frame my big world picture of social media. It made me ask the question is Social Media an Exclusive club?
In Social Media there are people inside the conversation and those outside it. I think this distinction is significant in laying out a framework for how to approach social media. How do we prioritize? This is a question I ask myself constantly. Where’s the value? Where’s the return on attention, relationship, investment? Return on anything is such a hot topic there’s plenty of books and experts talking about the returns on Social Media efforts.
So on with the post. I’m blessed with a creative abstract mind (I connect ideas). To connect my world to reality and to filter my ideas, I use three things:
- Time – Letting an idea rest is a really important filter for me. Does something seem as important a day or a week later?
- Connections – I love asking other people for their input. I hear things they say and they help me connect with the world
- Other people’s content. This let’s my ideas sit in context.
When I do this my efforts get amplified and my ideas get refined and enhanced over time. Here’s the story that leads to my insider/outsider model.
I recently attended a webinar on “The Topology of Influence” by Edelman’s @JonnyBentwood. This slide categorizes 5 types of people in Social Media.
The advice to exclude Commentators and Viewers was also coupled with the advice on what range of Tweet Level score should a person have to warrant your attention. There was the usual focus of focusing on the rising stars. The advice was to leave anybody with too high a score well alone. They are busy and unapproachable. They filter wildly. Edelman’s tool Tweetlevel is actually pretty cool, it’s one of many Influence Tools. This diagram made sense and I saw dots connecting to three distinct ideas from my blogging.
My diagram above connects the following three posts.
- Are You a Natural Born Connector?
- Strategies to Maximize Your Social Space: Power = Content x Community x Engagement.
- The Invisible Third Mindset: Content Creation & Curating Conversations
I’ve mapped all the terms in this diagram
Thoughts on Commentators
I see Commentators as a “Catch all” bucket. Everyone except viewers can comment. ie Curators, Amplifiers and Idea Starters can comment. Clearly some people only comment.
Commentators are composite of people who only comment, as well as Amplifiers, Idea Starters and Curators. To use a McKinseyism, the model is not MECE. Some people are counted twice. There are certainly people who only comment, but in my experience they do not typify the experience. Should we ignore them? I’m not sure I agree. I think they should be encouraged. Social media becomes more effective as more people contribute to the idea pool.
When is a Viewer Not Viewer?
Viewers cease to be viewers if they comment, but our viewer status is blog specific. We don’t contribute everywhere. That would be impossible. We lurk or de-lurk selectively. That’s a crazy level of granularity, but that is the world in which we live. Choice abounds! We are free to express ourselves when the topic connects to us emotionally
This group has many names (Lurkers, Invisible Third, Passive Engagers, Silent Majority). I passionately believe your should write to be heard by viewers and that you should acknowledge their existence. I write to encourage them to become commentators. Viewers are the silent majority and only a fool ignores them. That’s just my view.
Beginning Your Social Journey
People who only comment are really not in the conversation. They have the power to become so, they are simply at the beginning of their social existence. They are beginning to express opinions that they wish to share. Clearly everyone has opinions. Choosing to voice them is a simple, yet significant step. If you read my blog, you’ll know I love lurkers.
My model for social amplification fits into this. It’s now feels more complete. The Edelman Model lets me connect two models I’d been observing and documenting. I’d never before considered them to be connected.
I began with what felt like three random posts, three random topics. Now they are lined up. Neat and tidy. Three ducks in a row. Did the connection make sense to you?
Is Social Media socially inclusive or socially exclusive?
Do you feel it’s hard to immerse yourself. Do you feel glass ceilings. Do you feel welcomed and valued? How do you feel about social media? Do you think it’s inclusive? Do you feel comfortable joining in any conversation? Do you feel included in the conversation?
Image Credit : via aidanmorgan Flickr.com and Creative Commons