In Social Media, Motives Are Not Always the Same

People who write comments, share photos, upload videos, and contribute to blogs have different motives for participating online, sometimes surprising their audiences.

And don’t assume those motives are all the same, warned Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody” and keynote speaker at Search Engine Strategies San Jose, on Tuesday. He analyzed the technology and behavioral trends that are changing the way that people connect with each other — and attempted to dispel assumptions about what motivates people to participate.

Take, for instance, the blogger who posted exclusive reports and photos about a coup in Thailand. “She’s not a journalist, but she commits an act of journalism,” Shirky said, adding that those reports earned her a following.

But when the same blogger wrote about her wish for a pink Hello Kitty mobile phone, some followers complained that she was going off topic.

How did the blogger respond to her critics? “She did something that most traditional journalists would not do. “She told those readers to buzz off,” Shirky said, making the case that people who participate in social channels are not always motivated by the same reasons. “She’s doing this because she’s operating from intrinsic motivations.”

Bottom line: “Amateurs are not sloppy professionals. They do things in different ways,” he said.

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