Twitter has been described as the world’s largest cocktail party. I think that’s a great description. But with that comes the sheer volume of information that goes 24 hours per day. Managing that flow of information can be hard.
To help manage it, the phrase “Follow easily. Unfollow even more easily,” gets thrown around. Here’s what I think is wrong with that.
When I engage with someone on social media, I’m starting a conversation. When I follow someone, it’s my way of saying “Hi. What you do looks interesting to me. I don’t follow a lot of people, but I am willing to follow you, because of what I’ve seen from you so far.” The person may, if they don’t have many followers, reply back to say hi, and that they appreciate the follow. Maybe they’ll follow me back. Maybe they’ll look at my profile. That’s typically all the effort anyone puts in. And why should they put in more?
What no one is doing today is tracking conversations and engagement. For instance, say I meet someone in person at an event. They seem interesting, we connect and see that we share similar ideas. I connect with them on LinkedIn, and follow them on Twitter. Great! 2 months go by. That person posts something I think is objectionable. Or maybe someone on LinkedIn asks me how I know them. At that point, I realize I have no idea who they are. We haven’t spoken since our initial meeting. I’ve met people in between then and now, worked on different projects, and in general moved on with my life.
Often I start following someone interesting online, and we even have a conversation about something – a book, a link, or a blog post. A month goes by, and maybe we start up a new conversation. Does anyone say “wait a second. Have I engaged with this person before? What did we talk about last time? How can I use this conversation to grow our relationship into something meaningful?” I’ll tell you right now that NO ONE is doing this. Twitter makes it extremely hard to track these types of conversations over the long term, unless the conversation continues in the same thread as before. There’s no easy way to see all your interactions with a particular person.
Companies are really the ones who NEED to do this. I might reach out to a company with an issue or a complaint. They’ll respond, and we’ll discuss the issue. Two months later – same problem. I reach out again. Does anyone say “Wait a second! This is the 2nd time Daniel has reached out to us about this!” No. To them, I’m a new complaint all over again. And that’s a great way to really isolate a person.
On this site, I give ideas away for free. Here’s one: make an app that is cross-platform – mobile and desktop. Every time you follow someone or connect with them, you have to answer ONE question.
1. Why are you engaging with this person?
The app will have a multiple choice field so you don’t have to type a lot, as well as free-form space so you can enter anything. It’ll have options like “I find this person physically attractive”, “I like their message”, or “They follow/engage with someone I know and trust – ______ “(with a space for you to enter who that is), or “They are local to me”, or “I could potentially buy what they are offering”. The app will record the date/time of when you started following/engaging with them, where you were, as well as a screenshot of what you were looking at when you made that decision. It could have been a blog post, it could have been a video, it could have been a song playing in the store you were shopping in.
The things people aren’t doing with social media, I could write a book on. And I will.