16/4/20082

Social bookmarking for social media.

A while back I asked why Digg did not have a category for social media. It seemed ironic that the most popular social bookmarking site did not cater for its own ilk.

While I received a couple of positive comments on the blog it was a completely different matter on Digg itself; I was essentially lambasted for even making such a suggestion - a typical example of the negative posting and burying that people have been critical of recently.

It appears that a shift away from Digg is occurring in certain circles and, as this new blog has more of a focus on social media I felt it was time to make a move myself.

Where to go?

It is very much flavour of the month to create just another Digg clone so finding other alternatives seemed a challenge.

One site I have been using for a while is Sphinn which is solely devoted to the sharing and rating of social media based content. Users have been complaining of spam recently but the quality content far outweighs the dross.

There has been quite a buzz forming around Mixx with reports emerging that the site has a good atmosphere without any of the snobbery that occurs on Digg. It also comes highly recommended by bloggers like SarahMatthew and Corvida. I signed up.

I has also become disillusioned with the Sphere "related content" system. I don't know if its a question of the depth of its indexed content but it is very rare that I have found anything useful through it. This was highlighted yesterday when looking for specific content but getting back results purely because they had a word buried somewhere within the post - there seems to be context checking.

I had stopped using it (perhaps due to the issue that Scoble was discussing) but I am now making a conscious effort to make better use if FriendFeed as a way to find, share and comment on new content.

Changes

All of this means that there have been a few changes to the post footer on the blog. I had to recently removed the link to Twit This as the site appears to be down. Now, gone are Digg and Sphere, in their place are Mixx and Sphinn and the order has been adjusted.

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Social bookmarking for social media.

Social influence, or "not preaching to the choir".Comments

Social influence is among the current topics of conversation and again, bloggers are treading similar waters and their combined thoughts creating something that is greater than the some of its parts.

What is influence?

Talk in the past has revolved around what an influencer actually is. Do the A-List bloggers have more influence? Are they still relevant? From my perspective anyone can be an influencer, it all comes down to the scope of your own individual influence.

There are no hard and fast rules, although measuring social influence may give us guidelines. What may influence one person may not influence another so, to use advertising as an example, you either have multiple methods (TV, radio, magazines) or go for the most bang for your buck based on market research. It comes down to working out the best way to influence any given demographic and, conversely, realising how your target demographic is actually influenced.

The web has changed the nature of influence with the introduction of obscure, viral campaigns which get people talking and trying to figure out what it's all about before the big reveal; the problem is that this type of influence only affects a portion of the population - those who are already clued up, web savvy and most likely to jump in with both feet.

The question being asked now is: how do we go beyond those who "get it" and start to teach those who don't or those who have not even been exposed to the thing to "get"? We're talking about niche products and services going mainstream and new ideas becoming a part of the global consciousness.

Shey Smith calls for us all to become social media interpreters rather than evangelists. Instead of harping on about how great services are we really need to begin breaking them down and really explaining the benefits that they can provide, using simple language to explain how and, more importantly, why things work to those who may not readily understand.

Mark Dykeman of the Broadcasting Brain followed up on my post "Life by social media rules" and went on to discuss the nature of role models and the part they play. Role models are perfect examples of influencers in action; kids will always emulate their favourite sports star, dress like a pop star and buy products advertised by film stars - it's all part of the learning experience and the road to becoming your own person. The twist with mark's post, however, is that he argues the existence of different types of role model based on the method of exposure and sphere of influence.

The Role Model 3.0 - as he calls it - is a result of the boom in social media (blogs included). They are the big voices, the people we all follow on Twitter, the ones with the creative personalities and the big ideas. The idea, however, should only be the beginning.

Value

The real value is in the discussion, one post, thought or service may be the catalyst but it’s what comes after that counts. The old saying goes that two heads are better than one but what about ten heads, a thousand, a million? The more people that can be engaged the better and if those people are from different walks of life, cultures, mindsets etc. then better still. The geek echo chamber will normally just go round in circles but when you get someone in from the outside with a totally different view it stirs things up and can get people thinking in ways that hadn’t previously considered.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and throughout history some of the finest ideas have come from challenges both for survival and to the intellect. We too need to be challenged to take the conversation further, be forced to come up with new ideas and re-address those we already subscribe to. What better way than by forcing ourselves to explain what we do and why we do it to those who don't know.

Just think about when you tell a child something and they just say "why?" - that's the position we're in now with those who don't use social media and the answer "because" won't cut it.

Following on from what I said previously about pushing ourselves in to new areas and connecting with people, why not bring those people back with us so that they can do things that they didn't consider? In this way we can all be role models.

What will you do?

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Social influence, or "not preaching to the choir".