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Contribute, don’t regurgitate.

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Imagine you are in a coffee shop full of people who may or may not know you. There is a rack stocked with very well-known newspapers and magazines. Every few minutes, you grab one of these titles, pick a headline, and read it out aloud so that everyone in the coffee shop can hear you.

What do you think the people in the coffee shop will do after about 10 minutes? My guess is the ones not interested will leave while the others will start picking out their own stories from the magazine rack.

Odd behavior isn’t it? You would never do this in real life would you? I am sure not. So why do people do this on Twitter and Facebook all the time? Pick any general subject (e.g. Tech) and look at your twitter feed. Almost everyone will be retweeting from the same four or five well-known sources. Some people seem to spend their entire day retweeting from a few sources. They don’t add an opinion or a perspective or a personal experience. This is akin to the person randomly shouting in the coffee shop. These people are usually the same ones who announce how many followers they gained or lost, or the ones who let everyone know their Klout score. They seem more interested in building a following than actually benefitting their followers.

There is an implicit contract between you (as a person or a brand) and your followers on social media platforms. They are giving you their attention, but in return expect to obtain interesting and relevant information from you. There are scenarios where retweeting/linking is useful: to curate for a specific subject from relatively unknown sources, or to broadcast regional stories to followers in another part of the world, or to highlight original contributions from other members of your network. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and your follower’s time.

So next time you want to retweet or link to a story as-is from a very well-known source, think twice and evaluate whether you can add context or perspective that will make it valuable.

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