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In praise of disengagement.

In praise of disengagement.

A friend of mine had a video of Deep Purple in concert in California. In a break between songs you can hear one of the band talking to a sound engineer. There’s an issue with the mixing desk. This goes on for a few seconds before another member of the band chimes in so that the whole audience can hear…

Just tell him we want everything louder than everything else.

That, effectively, is the approach that lots of people and companies take to social media.

Pretty much everything can be hooked up to everything else.

One tweet can create an ear-splitting feedback loop across multiple platforms.

One Foursquare check-in sets off a multi-point interference pattern that would be pretty (in the eye of a mathematician beholder) were it not so fucking annoying.

Interfering from multiple social media points is too easy.

Each new platform encourages and enables you to hook it up to all the old ones.

I’ve been guilty of this myself.

In the middle of last year I had a LinkedIn message from an old college friend. I hadn’t heard from him in years.

The tone was warm and friendly but the content sent a mild chill down my spine.

He said something like “Yours are easily the most frequent updates on my LinkedIn homepage. I have nothing to do with marketing but it’s interesting to see what you’re up to.”

That’s what he said.

What I heard was “You’re spamming your LinkedIn connections with gratuitous tweets.”

I had my Twitter account hooked up to LinkedIn such that every tweet was published as a LinkedIn status update.

It was thoughtless.

Too high frequency. Irrelevant to a significant proportion of connections. Repetitive and adding no value to those people with whom I’m connected on both platforms.

Schoolboy error. I advise my clients to always have an answer to the question “why?” and I hadn’t applied the same discipline to myself.

I’m much more selective now. Only tweets that I tag #in are also published to LinkedIn. And these mostly, selfishly, contain links to posts on this blog.

Having every platform connected to every other just because you can is the social media equivalent of a dog licking its balls, just because it can too.

If you automatically broadcast every tweet to LinkedIn and Facebook without thinking, you’re licking your balls just because you can.

If you post every Instagram photo to Facebook and Twitter without thinking, you’re licking your balls just because you can.

If you post every mundane movement from Foursquare to every social nook and every social cranny on the internet without thinking, you’re licking your balls just because you can.

And if you’re licking your balls just because you can, mindlessly putting the same old shit content out through every channel possible, then you force people into making a decision.

In which of those channels am I least irritated by your same old shit content? Because I might as well unfollow you on all of the others if there’s no variation or added value.

I’ve done this to several people who I variously like/respect/admire. I only need to follow/friend/connect with you on one of Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn if all you do is simulcast to all three.

Every social media horse is not for every social media course.

Both brands and people should have a model for how various channels contribute to various personal or commercial objectives.

Which social media means for which ends?

What is the specific, differentiated role of each platform?

How do the various channels complement each other?

When is it appropriate to connect channels?

When to keep them separate?

Under what circumstances is sharing the same content to multiple channels an acceptable or desirable exception to the rule?


Why, for instance, do you want/need loads of followers on Instagram? Is it just Twitter with pictures to you?

It has been interesting to observe the influx of Android users to Instagram. Not because of the ridiculous snobby reaction of a minority of iPhone “veterans”. But because of a clear pattern of early behaviour which suggests that, to most of these “newbies”, getting the follower count up quickly is “strategically” important.


An Android “newbie” chases followers.
And again.

N.B. I’m so not picking on Android users here. I guarantee that an awful lot of new iPhone users do the same thing. It’s just that all the examples of this behaviour right now are on Android devices for obvious reasons.

I also pretty much guarantee that these same people, just like many of their iPhonestagramming cousins, will thoughtlessly broadcast every Brannan-filtered building and every Kelvin-filtered cloud formation from this platform to every other. Because they can.

I urge them not to.

Unhook. Unhitch. Disengage.

Life will be richer, more rewarding and, yes, more engaging if they do.


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