Know Nothing, Share Everything: The Sad but Useful State of Social Media Psychology

The confluence of three minor events in the past 48 hours reignited my passion to understand what drives people and why, culturally, we do what we do, especially when it comes to social. They were:

  1. Two girls at a bar
  2. A New York Times article
  3. A video class online on social brand management

I’m going to work in reverse order and save the best for last, starting with the online class.

Most every Sunday morning, I read a little mainstream media (will get to that) and watch a class or two on my own Online Marketing Institute. In this instance, I happened to pick a short 22-minute class on “Managing Your Brand on Social Media.” It was particularly acute as I am diving back into reinvigorating our blog and driving the social shares and social proof for SEO. So getting back into the planning process of such was key.

What I was reminded of and lost total sight of was building posts, shares, and tweets that are directed to the user persona and psychological mindset of why that person shares on social. No brainer, I know. But we all too often forget, we are sharing to people, not sharing for the sake of sharing. So learning about the seven personas and why they share was great. Here’s that recap of the class:

Connectors: These are the folks that like to share the deal, a discount, or something that makes them feel like they are helping folks in a small way.

Altruist: The do-gooders that find content that will be useful to themselves and others, typically answering the question of, does it solve a problem?

Careerist: For me, this was the most relevant archetype, and leans toward folks wanting to solve a business challenge; to answer the question of could that tweet become its own white paper or infographic.

Bonus: For these folks, reminding or asking for input and encouraging them to share is key.

Boomerang: This is keying in on the emotional response; something that lights a fire. You need to be sure you and your brand are OK with that, and the excitement or anger it can cause. A good way to activate shares is asking, “What do you think?” or “What would you do?”

Selectives: The most critical of any audience, these people have a high bar and are usually the most influential. Basically, you need to make sure the post will pass muster and is both easy to understand and content they would share as their own.

Lurkers: No sharing here. Just remember a ton of folks that are important to you are seeing this and not sharing, so don’t let the sharers drive all your social brand decisions.

Hipsters: Always a favorite topic du jour for all those who not hipsters (self included). This group is more focused on a new trend or a new store and being credited as the “first to know.” It’s important to remind them to share to maximize their engagement.

OK, now you have the good marketing stuff that all we social media and content marketers love. Now, if you’re so willing, let’s test your reading skills and move to point two.

NOTE: Feel free to drop off here after the scan of the seven personas and JUST SHARE THIS.

Career Advice Alert on Social Media: Stop saying you like social media if you want a job in digital marketing.

Hipsters is a great transition for this, as I will use my recent conversation at a local bar here in San Francisco with two young 20-something girls (ladies, if you prefer) to make my point.

In essence, the conversation boiled down to a career move of “I’m not loving my job in sports marketing as an account manager; I want to do something more in social media marketing and get paid better.” So we chatted, I shared some ideas, and after a few laughs the question became, “Well, how do I differentiate from all the others out there to get my ideal job?” And after many interviews myself with everyone from interns to marketing directors, I replied instinctively, “Stop saying you like social media and start talking about your skills like you are good writer (aka content marketer), a good relationship manager, etc.” Everyone less than 25 years old both likes social media and thinks they are or could be good at it. Almost none are. And your hiring manager already knows that.

Tying this back to our social personas, if you are looking for a job that is in digital, social media, or content marketing, you should be able to have an intelligent conversation about basic marketing like the creating personas above or what content/journalism skills are required for a good blog post. And yes, prove those skills with showing initiative in classes, workshops, or even, the novel idea, of on-demand videos (hint hint).

Which brings me to my final point and why I am writing such a long post. The art of long copy is dying and reading it is already dead.

The New York Times article this past Sunday talked about how everyone is an expert on nothing, meaning they are skimming headlines and absorbing a handful of posts and tweets but not actually reading the article, book, or even watching the movie they have an opinion or tweet about.

For us marketers, we can use this larger Hipster/Boomeranger/Connector societal trend and ensure that the tweet and post itself is worthy of sharing and not post unless the post itself connects with the needs of the audience (aka, don’t make them click on the link or read it to want to share it or retweet it).

A side note: I feel obliged to comment, if for no other reason than to appeal to my Boomerang audience, and say it’s just a damn shame. Only fools talk about subjects they know nothing about. Only the fool wastes his or her time on surface-level skimming to which the brain stays empty and void of any meaningful thought and only the fool, tweets, retweets, posts, or shares something that everyone else does. I think there should be some sort of virtual online Facebook/Twitter cliff for all those that do, to follow straight off like the online lemurs you’ve become. How’s that for emotive?

And there lies the opportunity for those of us who are in the know, who read, explore, and go deeper. We become the experts, the smartest guy/gal (lady, if you will) in the room and can hold court…hell lecture (as I have for a decade) on the items we spend a little time on. And back to my Hipster friends at the bar, do this and your career trajectory will skyrocket. Because now you are not like everyone with a hot-aired opinion; you are confidently in the know and will drive strategy and direction for your team before you know it.

Which takes me back to my favorite theme, “Learn more, do less.” In this case, stop retweeting the 20 headlines you know nothing about and read just one of those articles. If you’d made it this far, RT: “I read the whole article @AaronKahlow. #LearnDigital.”

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