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News & Blog

What we do in life echoes in eternity (or at least on the web)

News & Blog

The title of this post comes from a quote from the film Gladiator. It is a phrase that can summarise my experience of social media as I have discovered that what I have written on sites like Twitter can echo for much longer than I originally thought.

I find it astonishing to consider the vast amount of data that gets added to sites like Twitter and Facebook every minute. An interesting fairly recent infographic, Data Never Sleeps, posted by Mashable.com, explains the sheer weight of new traffic on the web.

Facebook users alone share over 680,000 posts in total a minute. Twitter publishes over 100,000 tweets a minute , and an individual event alone such as a speech that Michelle Obama made last month can attract an additional 28,000 tweets per minute. This gives the impression that because of the vast quantities of data added to the network anything that we add is entirely ephemeral. But we would be mistaken if we assume that as soon as we post a message it is automatically lost in the flow of posts.

A small or medium sized company that engages in social media still needs to be very careful about how they use social networks as although individual posts on sites like Twitter can seem insignificant in the scale of things they nevertheless can develop a life of their own and grow very long tails.

This is because when we are interacting with a network like Twitter we are never really addressing the entirety of the Twitter audience only a subset. Just as we are selective about what we read and subscribe to, so other social media consumers discriminate. This is either by filtering whom they follow or by monitoring posts by keyword or hashtag used. For example I may only see 20 or so posts an hour depending how I have restricted the search. This makes some posts far more visible and far more likely to cause a reader to react.

Below you can see a screenshot from the Sage CRM Twitter integration. It shows how a user may monitor not just what an individual account says but what is directed back to that account using the @twittername convention.

Filtering by keyword or user means that posts that were made some time in the past become more likely to be found.

Even the most experienced social media users make mistakes. For example while posting during a recent event I managed to get both the speaker’s name wrong and attach the wrong photograph to the message. If I were to delete this post then it would not necessarily help as my post has already been shared by other users in the network. Thankfully my post was not offensive merely slightly embarrassing but this is an experience from which I intend to learn.

You may think that a message exists only in the social network it was originally posted to but it is worth remembering that monitoring software can convert feeds from social networks into emails and automatic posts that are then entered into other networks. And of course people may just take a photo of the post and add that manually into another network!

I have learnt that what you say can not be unsaid. You can clarify, you can apologise and you can attempt to delete the message but it is better not to have made the mistake in the first place.

But there is a good side to social media’s long tail. And this is the ability to share messages by reposting which can mean a single, simple message is amplified by other users which will benefit your company many times over.

The most beneficial messages for a business are the ones that cause a reader to visit the company website, or one that contains a specific call to action that supports your business objectives.

And if you are engaged in social media there is much you can do to keep control of your messages and to make it more likely that the messages that you want repeating are in fact reshared and repeated and have a long life within the network.

Post at the right time

One of the things that you can do is to post messages at the right time for the audience you want to reach. There are a few software packages that can help a business discover the best time to share. One that I have used in the past is SocialBro, but other people I know use Tweriod.

Pace yourself

I may not tweet or post one day to the next, but then I may be at an event and I shall tweet in bursts, adding lots of posts in a short time.

Content is Key

It is worth looking at the Sage CRM official twitter account, @wwwsagecrmcom, as the team creates a consistent level of activity. This includes reposting older tweets and messages. Reposting or retweeting your own messages is entirely appropriate when the link being shared is to a website article that has a long shelf life. By that I mean, articles that have a substantial business or technical content which keep their relevance over time and bear repeating.

It is the quality of the content that you share which is going to be the determining factor on whether another user will retweet or share your message. If it has helped them, it may help others and so will be repeated.