Thursday, July 31, 2008

participating in social media networks

We, in knowing ourselves, must examine our participation in Twitter, Jaiku, FriendFeed, Pownce, Plurk,, Facebook, MySpaceMusic,,, flickr, Tumblr, and other social media sites.

Internet as hose

If you see the internet as a hose, and the web as the sprayer-gun, you're using it as a conduit, a pipe, a delivery system for sales, friendship, shopping, collaboration, self-expression.

The worst extreme of internet-as-hose is the exploitation of social media members as targets clustered in a friend network. The commercial entity thinks the network users are sitting ducks for hype, sales messages, and propaganda. Internet-as-hose is all push mentality: push content to push traffic to an ecommerce site pushing product sales, or a marketing site loaded with ads to push product sales.

Internet-as-hose translates into suck and spew. Suck content unlawfully from other sites, or legitimately from a content provider, spew it into your blog, suck cash from visitors as they click on ads surrounding the content-as-lure.

Your plagiarized or purchased web content, and user-generated content (such as comments on your blog) are simply a means to attract people to ads, seminars, books, and other products. The center is sales, not community.

Web as real estate

However, if you see the internet as a continent, and the web as an assembly of real estate, you're using it as a home, with your profile content acting as a digital surrogate, a virtual customized representation of self or company, for communication and socializing.

Social media networks and tools are communities, not commodities.

People join social networks for friendship, collaboration, news, gossip, valuable links to relevant information or functionalities, asking questions, helping others, learning from others, and interacting with others.

People don't join social networks to receive hype, sales messages, or corporate PR.

They may listen to your side of the story, if you've been listening to their problems and needs, if you've been behaving like a normal, regular community member, i.e., by authentic communications, transparency, altruism, free sharing of expertise, and minimal self-promotion.

Internet as location, where things grow and evolve via freedom of thought and unfiltered communications.

Websites as real estate, where curb appeal means more than hidden vaults of jewels. Home pages the front door to the place where you and your colleagues and peers feel safe and reap great benefit from link sharing and illuminating. inspiration, or entertaining conversations and personality revelations.

Increasingly, your social network avatar, your blog journal, and your website are you. Your internet presence is your public facing reality. With soaring gas prices, loss of jobs, and mortage crisis as key factors, individuals and business will rely far more on their online transactions and constructions.

How to participate in online communities

Be more personal, human, and other-centric, sharing with and helping visitors to your websites and fellow social media community members.

Share expertise, NOT exploit vulnerabilities.

Listen to needs and problems, NOT push product.

Think of product as solution, NOT product as money-maker.

Help people, NOT hype people.

Push benevolence, NOT corporate agendas.

Be visible and approachable, NOT aloof and secretive.

Social media community members practice online equality on an even playing field. Don't blow it by trying in vain to import the old fashioned command and control mentality to this new virtual land of adamant democracy.

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