Get it All

Among my very favourite reads on the Internet, AddThis always has something worth reading:

Tip 6: Freshen Up Your Feed

Brainstorm new types of content you haven’t tried in the past as a way to drive more engagement and reach new users via your social channels.

Here are some ideas to freshen your feed and boost engagement:&hellips;

I’d like to expand on this excellent bit of advice. Yes, you need to find ways to spark new creativity into your daily content. But let me suggest that another “feed” you need to refresh: the feed you feed your head. Spring is a great time to make sure that the things that are supposed to be inspiring you actually are:

RSS Feeds

This is a dying avenue, I know. But for those of you who, like me, cannot quite let go of your well-honed RSS feeds, now is the moment to undertake the grim work of seeing who’s news feeds have gone silent while you’ve been sleeping.

Other sites simply do not contribute the quality of content they once did. Just page after page of uninteresting promotions and grants. Gone is the excitement of the latest discovery. Even the discoveries aren’t written of with any enthusiasm.

Twitter Lists

Among the Eureka moments in my career as a social media personality was the moment I discovered the power of Twitter’s lists. Creating lists of accounts that you see as having a common bond – local feeds, topic feeds, influencer feeds – is a great way to survey an important component of your social network in-context. It is this ability to interact with your networks in such specific ways that I maintain is why content on Twitter is consistently better quality – even as compared to other social feeds of the same agent.

But people move on and feeds become less relevant than they promised to be. It’s not personal: yours may not be so hot, either. But spring may be time to start taking a long look at those accounts that are just taking up space on your lists.

The “Daily Scroll”:

We’ve all got one: that list of websites that, even when we know there won’t be more content, we still end up checking in bored moments throughout the day. Is yours working for you, or can you add some new stuff?

I’ve recently become fascinated by one of the most cerebral science news and thoughts sites I’ve ever read, Nautilus:

Could these people’s immune systems be converging because their microbiomes are adapting to their shared environment? The immune system must maintain a relationship with friendly microbes to keep them straight from the bad ones, so if partners are exposed to similar bacteria and viruses, that exposure could make their populations of immune cells more similar. The researchers point out that it’s already known that couples who live together have more similar microbiomes than strangers do, perhaps because they swap bacteria with each other or share lifestyle choices like smoking or drinking. “Some of these factors are likely to be even more shared after children,” says Adrian Liston, the senior author and a professor at University of Leuven in Belgium. “For example, children are likely to increase the exchange of gut bacteria by reducing the sterility of the household (to put it nicely).”

On top of fabulously-gross biology articles such as this one, Nautilus continues to surprise in it’s ability to describe the cutting edge of science in an understandable and engaging way without pandering to simple “wisdom.”

But other sites with whom I have “frequent flier miles” aren’t as inspiring right now. Maybe the core content has strayed from its mission, or just isn’t as sharp as it used to be. It may be time to move on.

It’s not personal, it’s inspiration:

A big part of me worries when I stop following someone. It’s silly, but it’s true. I know my support is just one set of eyeballs, but when content gets stale and I decide I need to move on, it feels like I’m letting someone down. Self-important, much?

But losing audience members has never been the end of the road for my writing career. It hurts, but only because you know you’re not inspiring people like you once did. But the answer to that is not to look on your former viewers with disappointment, but to look on their departure as a signal. The signal is: it’s time to get relevant, again.

If you needed any more reason to believe that Twitter and social networking are important to defining your business – and that being the first to do so is critical – you need look no further than the shambolic mess that is the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Their marketing team was late out of the gate to get their social media campaign started in the first place.

Then when the problems hit, they were flat-footed with a response to the deluge of reporter complaints on Twitter. Those complaints became the stuff of Internet gold, and so the @SochiProblems Twitter account was created. That’s the way humor goes on Twitter. But now this:

With all of the negative attention, it’s probably no surprise that a parody Twitter account is making waves. What might be surprising is just how polite – and popular – the account is.

The @SochiProblems Twitter account has amassed a whopping 343,000 followers, just a week after launching.

Fortunately enough, the account is nowhere near as vitriolic as some other parody accounts have been. Still, the impact of the SochiProblems account highlights what happens when you allow social networks to define you in your own absence.

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In order for you to see my stuff on Google+, you have to have me in a circle and I have to be posting to a circle with you in it.

As a wise denizen of Google+ recently pointed out, Google+ is a “project,” not yet a “product.” It still has miles to go before its complete and features are yet to be added, I am sure. But at first blush, the nacent social network looks promising and I’m certainly on-board with it as a means of personal communication.

But as a means of branding? Of the kind of public blogging persona I have built over years on my blog, FaceBook and Twitter? I’m not so sure.

On the one hand, the fact that I can cleave my stream into multiple “Circles,” targeting content to specific audiences, means the potential of significantly simplifying and enhancing my social experience. I can create a circle for this blog, one for my political blog and one even for my creative writing and musical experimentation. Then only the people I wish to see my content can tune in to those specific facets of what I’m doing.

But isn’t that exactly backwards, as a marketing tool? Don’t I want to put out different channels of content and let the audience decide what they see? Yes, of course I do. I don’t want to have to be responsible for saying, “this person shall only see my computer stuff,” because if they feel like checking out my music, I’d be happy to let them. Also, the onus is on me to know what they do and do not want to see, which I can hardly be expected to know beyond my immediate circle of friends.

And now we come to an even bigger worry: the Double-Blind Circle. In the Double-Blind Circle, I’ve added people to a Circle that aren’t actually interested in what I have to say. They don’t have me in any of their Circles, or worse yet, they have me in a Circle for jerks (see what I did there?) that they never look at. Now I’m spending my time and going to the trouble of developing content specifically for a Circle that is completely useless. Its Double-Blind, get it?

Yes, click-throughs will tell me who clicks on content; comments and Plus1’s will tell me who is interacting. But headline readers and lurkers abound. Just because a person on Twitter isn’t retweeting, commenting or clicking on my headlines in no way means they’re not engaged and reading. How do I know if the same is true or not on Google+?

I only ask these questions because I’m actually quite excited about G+ and am itching something fierce to get at the API once its released. But in the meanwhile, its worth asking the questions, especially since so many of my friends and connections in the world of Social Media are doing the same types of promotion and marketing that I am.