What Sets Social Media Winners From Social Media Losers?

assorted-color social media signage

Perhaps it’s because I’m slowly reading “You Are Not A Gadget” By Jaron Lanier, but I’m getting more interested in the changes that society may undergo as a result of social media, and in turn, I’m interested in what is held in common by people who are considered the leaders in and on social media — people like Brian Solis, and Seth Godin. These two, and certainly a number of others are followed, quoted, and so often cited that one has to look at what they are doing.

So, here’s the unofficial and unscientific results to figure out what these folks have in common. It has nothing to do with the profundity of what they say, or the depth of their thinking. What it IS about is the ability to coin soundbytes — short phrases, preferably less than 140 characters that sound uber intelligent, and brilliant, and perhaps a little witty also.

Note that I’m not saying that folks like Solis and Godin are NOT brilliant. That is a completely different issue, but what works for them is to be quotable, because it makes what they write “viral”, regardless of whether there’s any meat to hang on the soundbyte bones or not.

On their blogs, it’s similar. Many posts are short, concise and sound like there’s been a lot of thought and research that has gone on before. At least until one actually thinks about what is being said. Then it’s easy to realize that many of the posts (and often the output is prodigious) really suffer from the same problems and superficiality that is commonplace on almost all blogs. No research. No thought, and just a slapdash piece of work designed to “get you” to the blog site.

Are we going further down the trail to a soundbyte society, then? Our other mass media have, and politicians and other communicators know that to be noticed and heard in mass media, you have to be quotable soundbyte emitters.

Of course, the real concern is whether we will forget, as a society, that one cannot distill everything down to a soundbyte. Will we forget to think?

If you subscribe to one linguistic perspective — that language and how we communicate shapes how we think, this might be just around the corner.

What do YOU think? Are social media successes more about being loud and good at crafting soundbytes, OR, about expertise? Let us know in the comments.

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