When social media stifle discussion

What a paradox. Social media were supposed to promote and foster discussion, not stifle it, right?

In recent days I’ve more than once participated in a discussion on Twitter that attracts more and more people as it progresses. Excellent! Looks like a universally interesting topic. Lots of great contributions and mind-expanding opinion.

Then we come to a point where there are so many participants that most of Twitter’s 140-character space is taken up by the participants’ @usernames. There’s less and less space for the discussion itself. In the end, the whole conversation stalls when the remaining 30 characters are too little for any sensible comment.

It wasn’t supposed to go like this.

How could we solve this problem? Here are some attempts:

One group ricocheted off to Facebook and created a group there. The group proved popular, with more than 50 members in a couple of days. A problem soon emerged, though—some of the original discussion participants are not on Facebook and didn’t want to join just for the group.

A second group talked about setting up a Google Plus community for continuing their discussion. I’m sensing the same problem as with the Facebook group: some of the original commentators don’t have a Google account, which is required to participate in a Google Plus community. So we’re hitting the same wall again. Do we want to join yet another social media forum? Not forgetting that for those not previously familiar with it have a learning curve ahead.

A third suggestion was to create a hashtag on Twitter. It’s a workable solution, yes, but not without problems. Who’s to create the hashtag? What hashtag? Who has the energy to follow the hashtag when the discussion has been treading water with comments about a dozen characters long for some time already? How to maintain some kind of logic in which reply belongs to which comment?

A fourth solution was suggested: to create a Storify story with wide access. That would be good, because the original tweets would be in chronological order. This otherwise good idea will collapse because it requires that someone goes through the trouble of digging up all the relevant tweets from the firehose and create the story. Who wants to waste that time? And with Storify accounts being personal ones, do the participants want to contribute to someone else’s search ranking?

A fifth alternative might be that somebody starts an open blog, for example on a free blogging platform like WordPress.com or Blogger. You guessed it, problems ahead. How should the blog be set up to enable everyone to participate who is interested in the topic? Who will be the admins of the blog? How to begin a blog post in a way that gives enough background for comments?

Maybe we just have to accept that, especially on Twitter, “discussion” is not much more than a flash in the pan. A short burst that is soon forgotten.

That would be really a pity.

That’s why I’m throwing the ball to you who are more social media savvy than I am. When a Twitter discussion blows up from the original two or three participants, what is a good forum for continuing? Taking into account that:

  • The tweet chain that already exists may be pretty long and should be included somehow
  • Nobody should hit a prohibitively steep learning curve
  • Many people are averse to joining a new social platform
  • There may be some jealousy about who’s going to be the administrator of the continuation solution

I haven’t found the answer yet. Help me! Write your comments and suggestions down there. I’ll summarise them on Twitter to help everyone else with the same problem.

Selling me softly with his song

One of the most enchanting moments in traveling the web is when you find a blog you’ve never seen before. Many times it happens when you’re reading comments on someone else’s blog, find a commenter who says something interesting and head over to her blog to find out what else there might be.

I know research confirms that you should do this, but I still don’t get it: Continue Reading…

LinkedIn coward, why are you afraid of showing your face?

Out of curiosity, I like to check from time to time who’s viewed my LinkedIn profile. It helps me determine whether I’m really talking to the people I can genuinely help, and from a purely personal viewpoint, it’s just interesting.

Then I see something like the picture here. And it makes me think. Continue Reading…

In defence of low B2B social media adoption

B2B companies are often criticised for their low social media adoption rate. A case in point is a blog post entitled B2B Marketers Need To Wake Up and Get Social. It points to an Accenture report and tells us, for example, that

  • Only 8% of B2B companies are heavily leveraging social media today despite the fact that almost 2 in 3 consider social media an important channel for customer engagement.
  • Only 5% reported a strong link between social media and strategy.
  • Just 11% reported having the systems and tools required to be effective.
  • Almost 20% of executives did not trust their companies’ ability to make the right social media investments.

In this light, it is certainly justified to talk about B2B social media adoption being hopelessly low. But the question you very seldom hear asked is “WHY should they use social media?Continue Reading…

Social media reciprocity is much overrated

Okay, so you’re following someone but that someone is not following you back?

Horrors. I’m not worthy? I’m not popular? I’m rejected?

Out of curiosity, I just checked whom I’m following who are not following me back. A total of 100 people, it seems.


Hmm. Robert Scoble. Walt Mossberg. Chris Brogan. Jill Konrath. John Jantsch. Joe Pulizzi. Pete Cashmore. The list continues.

Now I should be bursting into tears, right?

Ahh, you’ve got better things to do with your life than fret over things like this. If you find someone worth your attention, it doesn’t automatically have to mean they should be enthused about you.

Let’s face it, we’re all nobodies to some people. Yet, they might have something to give us. And you did follow them because you wanted to learn from them, to get to know them and their views better, right? Not like those who wish to “engage” with someone famous to get backlinks or comments to have their ego stroked the right way?

In my case, the people I’m following but who don’t follow me back make up about one-sixth of those I follow. Come on, that’s 15 percent. I can easily live with that. Especially when these folks (mostly) know what they’re talking about and act as my unknowing mentors.

Then there are those people who appear in your followers list one day, only to disappear from there after a couple of days or weeks.

Don’t worry about them, either. They’ve most probably signed up with an automated “get 1,000 Twitter followers a week” scheme and, disappointed when it doesn’t work in your case, drop you. That’s only good.

While it is good manners to follow people back, there’s a caveat. Just following you doesn’t automatically make them worthy of your attention. If they’re outside your sphere of interest, you don’t need to have any qualms ignoring them.

How do you feel about non-followers?

Hey you, why are you leaving your poop in my blog?

More and more messages like this have begun to appear in my blog comments:

“Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is not that great – -“

“If you’re serious about making money with your website, watch this free video about – -“

Funny that I should be receiving this crap because a) I’m optimising my on-page SEO like hell, and b) I’m not using my blog for monetisation, it’s more informative/educational.

As it’s obvious these comments are not genuine but pure, unadulterated spam, I would like to ask their senders: What are you trying to achieve with these spam comments? You must know that most bloggers trap comments in a moderation thread for review before they’re published, and most bloggers have all kinds of suspicious-link-snoopers in place.

What if someone stupid enough clicks on those spammy links of yours? Will you immediately send them a virus, or are you just peddling some pathetic, no-use application of yours? (I wouldn’t know because your messages travel the shortest way into the rubbish bin. Without exceptions.)

One spammer took his (?) spamming really seriously. The comment included 67, yes, sixty-seven, links. This person seemed to have copied a Chinese “antique” shop’s entire product catalogue plus added a couple of software and health insurance links for good measure. I laughed aloud at this dedication, but, alas, trashed the piece anyway.

Go get a life. I’m sure you have better things to do with your existence than throwing poop my way that you must know will be instantly cleaned away.

So WHY? Is someone paying you for sending this stuff, or are you expecting some personal gain?

Hey, I’m really interested. Now, for once, write a real comment and enlighten me!

Google+ trumps Facebook for multilingual users


If your circles of friends, acquaintances and business contacts include people speaking different languages, Google Plus is your friend.

Because Facebook only allows one account per person, your communication with your friends (I’m using “friends” as a collective term for all of those three groups of people) will inevitably make a mess out of your Wall. If your friends don’t speak each others’ languages, you will end up littering your stream with lots of messages that are incomprehensible to some of your friends, and if you’re trying to deliver the same message to all your friends in all languages, you will have to repeat it in all those languages.

Google+ Circles circumvent this problem.

You can add people in different Circles based on any criteria you choose. You can even include the same person in a number of circles, if you wish.

Because Google+ allows you to decide to which individual person or which circle you’re sending your message, you can easily keep your languages separate, just as you can your close friends and business acquaintances, for example.

I’m only starting to build my community in Google+ but will report on new findings.

(BIG thanks to Chris Brogan, who kindly extended an invitation to allow me to join Google+!)