If I had named this post “3 Guaranteed Ways to Build Social Media Influence”, I can be almost assured that it would have ended up substantially shared even if the content was mediocre, and certainly far from anything guaranteed.
If you write a post or an article and ask a provocative question in the title and then share that headline on a social network without any additional context, many people are going to respond to the title alone without ever clicking the link to read the post. You’ll find you’ll spend a good deal of effort responding to comments and reactions that are either answered in your writing, off topic entirely, or meant to be provocative in themselves.
It’s an interesting phenomenon, really. People want to be a resource, to build their perceived authority through traffic, links, and “curating” relevant content. So the quantity play often wins; find more things that look relevant, share more stuff, get more people to click, become a more prominent source for similar information, repeat.
We also have an amazing need to be heard, and more importantly, to be heard early if not first. When opinion is a commodity and platforms cheap, the standout move is to be sharpest, loudest, or quickest to respond. The one who’s re-tweetable. The first commenter, not necessarily the most thoughtful. The one with a witty repost that’s sharable with a click, not so much a considered commentary. It’s difficult to be heard or discovered today as a contemplator, then difficult to be taken seriously as one once you’ve given into the machine.
Good information isn’t always simple to write, consume, understand, or share. As we build more context and detail into our learnings, too, the discussions require more depth. Most importantly, real solutions to the challenges we’re encountering today – in business, in our popular culture, in our individual lives – require more than osmosis of a few quick tips in a blog post (though those certainly have their places and uses).
So the question of the day: what’s the antidote to the reaction machine we’re building? Is there one? Should we care? And why?