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Communication Internet Social Media & Social Networking Society & Culture

Gimme less network noise and more social media signal!

Who do you trust to deliver relevant, accurate news and information? Friends, right? Thing is, on the social web, a “friend” can be almost anyone. And over the coming months, we’re all going to find out who our real friends are…

Who do you trust to deliver relevant, accurate news and information? Friends, right? Thing is, on the social web, a “friend” can be almost anyone. And over the coming months, we’re all going to find out who our real friends are…

Depending on your take on social media, you’re either going to agree with a stern nod of your head, or angrily shake it, accompanied with much gnashing of teeth.

I know lots of people on the web, via StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook etc. I “know” people, but knowing isn’t the same as “liking”. I have friends. I like them. Why? Because I know them.

However, knowing and liking someone wouldn’t be enough to draw me into a brawl involving them and someone else. If they did wrong, I’d wade in and I pull them apart from the other guy. Later, when the dust settles and the blood is wiped from brow and split lip, I’d tell them what I thought, which they might not appreciate.

So what was the point of that short insight into my working class background? If you send me an article and expect me to just vote for it and then share it within my social network, then you’d be wrong.

I have rules for social media, the same way I have rules for almost everything else in life.

Back in early 2008, I had a need to commit to pixels my social media voting policy, which drew several very clear lines in the sand. Afterwards, some people who’d previously considered me to part of their reserved social network cut me loose. Why? Because I’d made it very clear I’d have no part to play in their without-even-thinking-votes-for-the-sake-of-it clique.

Also, I stopped sending my articles to certain people because I became aware that they weren’t even reading what I’d written. They just voted for and shared without a thought, which is meaningless. To do that trivializes my efforts and is arguably disrespectful. I wouldn’t and don’t do that, and I expect the same in return.

My totally uncompromising rules nearly always rub someone up the wrong way. But it’s a question of trust, and the value of that trust. It’s also about professionalism.

If you just vote up and share anything that comes your way, simply because you were asked to by someone you “know”, what value do you add, apart from nothing? But it gets worse — those articles you’re promoting into your own social network will show up as trusted sources of reading material by the people in that social network, be they friends, acquaintances, or just the people that you “know”.

In the coming months and years, this micro-blogging burping will most likely result in certain people being evicted from many a persons’ social network, because their noise is also your noise.

It’s happening right now. Back in late July, I wrote up my thoughts on this very subject, and within the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen some high profile people begin the process of trimming their friend / follower lists, right back to just those they know personally.

And as people look to refine the mean quality of their social networks even further, those that lower that quality will be the first out of the door.

All those people are doing is adding more network noise at the expense of the social media signal…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

5 replies on “Gimme less network noise and more social media signal!”

This has been long predicted to be the killer of social media sites, but they keep finding ways to market and promote around this. Also, the users don’t seem to mind so much that they are willing to abandon their social media sites yet.

Interesting that you’ve covered this topic – I’ve recently been having a purge on “Facebook friends” and people I follow on Twitter that contribute nothing but noise (spam) to my social media streams.

I prefer to try to maintain the usefulness and fun experience of these social networks.

Less is most definitely more!

“However, knowing and liking someone wouldn’t be enough to draw me into a brawl involving them and someone else. ”

This is right. You should make a disticntion between people you know and people you like, especially if you’re dealing with social network.

“I have rules for social media, the same way I have rules for almost everything else in life.”

Setting rules on how you should conduct in a social network is very important. This only shows that you’re serious with online networking.

“Thing is, on the social web, a “friend” can be almost anyone.”

Social networking sites have become a fad. While it is helpful to meet acquaintances and establish genuine friendships from it, nothing beats face-to-face interactions and relationships.

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