• What Bores Us Silly on Social Media?

    March 20, 2017 | Vicki
  • One of the great gifts of the Internet is that we are able to solicit ideas, input and advice from a wide range of sources. It’s called crowdsourcing.

    Crowdsourcing is defined as ‘the practice of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet.’

    Preparing for this article, for example, I did a little crowdsourcing on Facebook, asking friends and followers what topics they would love to read about. This led to a discussion flowing from a response by blogger, social media maven, and cookbook author, Rebecca Coleman.

    Coleman teaches Social Media for the British Columbia Institute of Technology and the University of British Columbia. Rebecca’s response to my quest for ideas was simple. She said: How to not be boring on social media.

    I decided to do some further crowdsourcing and asked my Facebook community this: What bores you out of your mind on social media?

    Let the rants begin. Seriously.

    At the top of the list were rants. These are soapbox style posts that are typically self-righteous walls of text that go on and on, either never getting to the point or just repeating the same point over and over.

    Interestingly, several people ranted about rants (insert winky-face emoji here).

    Running a close second were the posts that urge us to copy and share in order to prove that we are against cancer, stand up for mental health, or support other worthy causes. Usually these posts exhort us to read through to the end, and suggest we are somehow deficit if we fail to share them.  I’m not a fan of condescension, even less so online (does that sound condescending?) and, like most people, I don’t like being told what to do.

    Pictures of kittens, babies, puppies, and food seem to be generally considered boring, and a personal peeve, vaguebooking – posting partial information usually about some kind of personal drama that prompts people to ask what is going on – also made the list.

    Sadly, this stuff often works. Even though popular opinion declares it boring and irritating, metrics indicate that this kind of content gets comments, likes and shares in impressive numbers.

    We humans can be shockingly easy to entertain, and more than boring, this kind of content strategy is just plain lazy.  There’s a hucksterism to it that smacks of manipulation, not just of our sympathetic feelings, but a gaming of the back-end algorithms that govern social media feeds as well.

    Says Coleman, “Social media needs to be interactive and engaging.” Going further, I’d say the engagement also needs to be authentic, and offer real value to fans and followers. Coleman cautions against businesses doing nothing but nothing but talking about themselves all the time.

    She says, “You wouldn’t go on a second date with someone who did nothing but talk about themselves all the time, would you? Try to create real conversations and generate interactions.”

    This is wise advice. There’s more of it at rebeccacoleman.ca

    Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. She is the founder and president of Main Street Communications Ltd. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at www.vickimcleod.com.

    Rebecca Coleman and Vicki McLeod will both be presenters at Social Media Camp, Canada’s largest social media conference May 3, 4, 2017. This article was first published in Vicki’s biweekly column #Untrending, in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.