The Secret Life Of Social Media


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The Secret Life Of Social Media

  1. 1. NASW Annual Meeting<br />October 17, 2009<br />Austin, Texas<br />David Harris<br />Symmetry magazine,<br />SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory<br />The Secret Life of Social Media<br />
  2. 2. Outline<br />Principles of social media<br />Why understand how social media works?<br />New ways people get/share information<br />How we can use this knowledge<br />How social media really works<br />Examples of social sharing sites<br />
  3. 3. Why understand social media?<br />As science writers, our trade is information<br />Information is increasingly flowing in new ways<br />We all need to really know how these mechanisms work if we are to take advantage of them (whether journalists, writers, or PIOs) <br />It gives us new ways to think about what we do<br />
  4. 4. Getting information: the old way<br />Read/watch the standard sources (local/national newspaper/TV news/magazines)<br />Discuss those topics with friends and colleagues, relying on commonality of sources (Water cooler conversations, pub conversations)<br />Repeat<br />
  5. 5. Getting information: the new way<br />“If the news is that important, it will find me.” – Anonymous college student in a focus groupNew York Times, March 27, 2008<br />“This micro-knowledge of others has been termed ‘ambient awareness’ by sociologists, a new kind of social proprioception or ethereal limb, and I learned to flex it with ease.” (Referring to the world of Facebook status updates)New York Magazine, April 5, 2009 <br />
  6. 6. Getting information: the new way<br />Converse with your friends and colleagues, A LOT!(in person, phone, email, txt msg, Facebook status, FriendFeed, tweet, LinkedIn update, etc.)<br />Let your trust of others guide you<br />Pick up on some of it and surf/search it further<br />Contribute to public discussions<br />Repeat<br />This is not an ideal, but an observation.<br />
  7. 7. How we can use this knowledge<br />Changing information ecosystem Old: Authority relationships New: Trust relationships<br />Journalists: We can’t rely solely on the authoritativeness of our publications. Now we need to develop trust relationships with readers. How?<br />PIOs: We no longer just want to rely on the news media to reach audiences for us, but need to be active in developing relationships with other audiences ourselves. How?<br />
  8. 8. Examples of social sharing sites<br />Many user-vote-driven sites seem to present the “best” stories, which rise to the top as people vote for them.<br />For digg, slashdot, reddit, stumbleupon, and facebook<br />What the site looks like<br />How stories really get to the top of the charts<br />A typical story’s traffic<br />An analogy<br />
  9. 9. digg<br />
  10. 10. digg traffic<br />
  11. 11. digg is like…a gang<br />Strong but organic hierarchy<br />Dominance of an idea depends on who it comes from<br />Leaders cultivate support from underlings by offering links and help up rankings<br />Loyalty to the leader is key<br />Identity is defined by the role in the group<br />For success: Be in with the leaders, don’t cross the leaders<br />
  12. 12. slashdot<br />
  13. 13. slashdot traffic<br />
  14. 14. slashdot is like…organized crime<br />Small tight group controls the flow of information<br />Outsiders are treated with some suspicion<br />Once you’re part of the family and know the people behind the curtain, you can get things done<br />/.’s “karma” system compared with OC status<br />Leaders still have absolute power<br />For success: Post good stuff to gain positive attention of the admins, cultivate their good graces<br />
  15. 15. reddit<br />
  16. 16. reddit traffic<br />
  17. 17. reddit is like…an ADHD direct democracy<br />Any idea can get to the top BUT...<br />Many people need to respond positively to an idea rapidly or it will be forgotten<br />For success: Post things lots of people will like and can easily see the appeal of from the headline<br />
  18. 18. stumbleupon<br />
  19. 19. stumbleupon traffic<br />
  20. 20. stumbleupon is like…a book club<br />Ideas don’t need to be fresh<br />Topics keep coming back for attention/discussion<br />Demographic trends older and female<br />People rate quality after reflection on the work<br />For success: High quality content<br />
  21. 21. facebook<br />
  22. 22. facebook traffic<br />Occurs too rapidly to show day by day<br />Most in the first few minutes/hours, some residual over following days<br />Adds a steady amount of traffic to our site<br />Twitter is similar<br />Facebook+twitter send about 15% of traffic<br />
  23. 23. facebook is like…a clique<br />Information circulates within peer groups<br />Information can spread to other groups through overlap, and ideas can revive and seem new again<br />For success: Have lots of friends and know what they like<br />
  24. 24. Conclusion<br />Social media both drives and reflects a changing information ecosystem—it has new rules<br />Things are not always what they seem, so dig(g) a little deeper and never trust what anybody says about social media (not even me)<br />If you’re not playing the game enough to know the rules, you’re not going win in the future<br />