Rethinking Social, Part One: Social Media is Social Sharing

Another great guest article from our old friend Beth Becker! Bonus: look for Part Two in the next couple of days.

Rethinking Social, Part One: Social Media is Social Sharing

By Beth Becker

For the last two years I’ve begun every social media presentation/training I’ve done with the following statement:

“It’s called social media. You have to have the conversation. The internet isn’t just about pushing information out broadcast style, it’s about growing and connecting community. If you’re just going to broadcast, go build a better website.”

While that’s never been more true, a new truth is also emerging within the social networking landscape that we ignore at our own peril. Social media is about Social Sharing. It’s not just about having the conversation, it’s about growing the conversation by inviting those with whom you’re conversing to share the it with their friends.

In recent months we’ve seen an explosion of social sharing from the rise of Pinterest (which I first wrote about here on a few months back) to MoveOn’s “The Daily Share” email to the newest creation from some big names in dot-com, Upworthy. It’s about moving information from its point of origin to others via social networks.

Thinking about social media in this way allows us to reshape some of our big-think strategy in the space:

  1. It really doesn’t matter the size of your immediate audience or direct reach, what matters is the size of THEIR audiences. How far the modern version of telephone will carry your message is an important metric that is often overlooked when measuring success or failure in the social networking realm. I’d much rather have a highly engaged audience of 1000 people with large audiences of their own than have to try to manage a conversation with 100,000 people with smaller audiences.
  2. Targeted engagement is the key. Knowing not just who your audience is but who their audience is allows you to tailor the message and other content you are sending your audience so it will be of interest not just to them, but to their audiences, thus subtly encouraging them to share it on down the line.
  3. Quality content is the number one piece of any social media strategy. There I said it. Likes? Followers? Mentions? Shares? Repins? Clicks? None of it will happen or matter if what you’re asking people to share isn’t of the highest quality. With the rise of social media, there’s no limit to the number of messages that people are being bombarded with. So if you are going to ask people to share your message, you’d better make sure that what you’re asking them to share isn’t just of immediate interest to them, but is also quality: concise, of value and articulated in a manner people will understand.

So there you have it. I’m not saying social media isn’t about being social, but it’s about inviting others to be social as well. It’s about transforming the conversation between you and your audience into a larger conversation that your audience has with itself.

Part Two will examine content for social sharing in more detail.

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Beth Becker
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