TL;DR: Social Media might not be that effective – are your “friends” actually listening when you post things?
I’m starting to get skeptical about the power of each of us being a publisher. Prizzm (the parent company for Mightbuy.it) was founded on the theory that as each person has broader and broader reach via social media platforms, the impact on businesses will increase from each customer. The theory says tools should be built for customers, for people, that allow them to broadcast more clearly their intentions and opinions when dealing with businesses, and connect to each other based on publishing that way. This theory is built on top of the existing social web. It depends on the fact that we have (mostly) all become publishers.. which you have if you have a blog, fb, or twitter account – or even LinkedIn.
But who’s listening?
I’ve found something uncomfortable, which forces me to write this down, start the discussion. I need something from my friends – TODAY. A vote on Vator Splash for a startup competition. So I published an article about it, on FB, LinkedIn and Twitter.
On FaceBook I have 289 friends, Linked in 500+ professional connections, and Twitter 339 followers. I posted a request on each, explaining I need a vote. I expected the biggest return from FB, as these are my personal friends, and need a favor.
The audience the post is most suited to is LinkedIn – but I know when I post something there people don’t necessarily see it as many don’t log into LinkedIn daily.
I also posted to twitter.
The results: Only 3 votes that I can attribute to these posts over 11 hours. On the other hand, was chatting with a friend on skype, asked him to vote, took less than 30 seconds. The tally, so far:
- personal request: 1
– works, and fast, but requires pinging each person
Social media request: 3 – out of 1800 theoretical .
It’s only been 11 hours since posting, so I will update the tally through the day. But I don’t think it is the outrageous nature of the post, that people need to carefully consider wether they will help me, effort or money which caused it to be totally ineffective.
There could be slight optimizations – I posted on Sunday night.. primetime for me on the social web, but others might not be listening. There are whole startups focused on optimizing publishing times on Social Media, I recommend and use Buffer for that.
So why did nobody vote when I published? It comes from a number of factors. A published, impersonal request, even to your friends suffers the tragedy of the commons, most reading it figure somebody else will do it. Another thing is reach – who actually saw these posts? On FB, I might be able to tell. On LinkedIn, I’d expect very few, at least immediately.
UPDATE: As the comments below show, many people noted the poor usability in the request as an obstacle. If you ask for an action, make sure it is easy.
So it would have been better to post it with some fore warning. On twitter, I don’t expect any followers to actually see my post, or follow a link, or take an action. They barely know me. And in the background, an avalanche of information, the world spewing more bits and bytes and articles every second.. who exactly, is listening when you publish something?
The worrisome part (for me) is that Social Media might just not be that effective in making you a publisher. Sure some see your posts.. anytime I put a picture of my kids on FB I get tons of comments. But requests for help? Not so much. 3 in this case, and we’ll see how the tally goes as the day goes on.