Aside

It’s Tribes Not Herds

Twitter lets people find nuggets of ideas, gather and share sentiment, and –most importantly – helps people to find one another. It’s become customary to do “Follow Fridays” (in twitter language that gets reduced down to #FF) to help each other.

I’m afraid I will sound a bit marmish in making this observation, but I am consistently surprised when I see #FF as a laundry list of seemingly random people. Apparently, the creators don’t want to “waste” a tweet by listing just one person or the reason why they matter. Instead, they do this:

I’m guessing there’s a golf linkage but does this laundry list tell you enough to make you want to follow these people? Likely not.

Follow-Friday can be a real gift of serendipity. I love being included in the custom, and participating. The people who first started the tradition (who was it?) deserve a round of applause. But I think we’ve lost something along the way in our enthusiasm to include more good folks. The reality is that it doesn’t cost much to create a new tweet. Another 20 seconds of time to create 140 characters (or less) of why someone is worth following creates all-important meaning, and tells us something about your story as well. We learn what matters to you.

Maybe in all the hoopla around social media, we forget a key word and this is about social stuff. It is, isn’t it? If you were say, having a party at your home, would you just say “hey everybody, here’s everybody”. You wouldn’t do that, right? Or would you say something personal, as I recently witness at my stepdaughter’s bridal shower where each person was personally connected like this: “I want you two to meet Sue, the mother of the bride, and an artist…”? It’s inherently personal, expressing context and a reason for why people might connect.

Online, it is the difference between this:


And this:

Or this:

Social is personal. Social is not mass. I’m fairly sure it is not a laundry list. Social is personal, perhaps even with a capital “P”.  Just as we want to find a tribe like us, we don’t want to be part of a herd. Helping each other find our respective tribes we connect with — that is the thing we’re doing if we’re doing this right for one another. It’s the thing that Google + is aiming to do. It what great social networks do, and the way in which we help one another.

I hope I didn’t sound marmish in this post. If I did, I am sorry. I just think we’re missing out when we do #FF as a laundry list. Let me just say…thanks to all the people who help create discoverability amongst people and tribes. You, too, Ken Homer. You help me find many #hiddengems of people and ideas. Which helps us all connect and create, meaningfully. And for that I am not at all marmish, I am only grateful.

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3 Responses:

  1. Ken Homer. September 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm  |  

    Thanks for making an excellent point. I admit that I was lazy and simply clicking the reply arrow in several of my tweetdeck columns to add people to my (very infrequent) #FF list.

    I am chastised, but still remain a fan, because as I said above, I #FF @nilofer for her brains and her humor, not to mention the perspectives and insights that she consistently provides.

    The next time I’m in a #FF mood, I’ll provide a little more context.

    @ken_homer

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. September 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm  |  

      No, you were helping me illustrate a point. ;-)

      Reply
  2. steve. September 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm  |  

    precisely. nice point of view, as usual.

    Reply

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