Friday, June 10, 2011

The purpose of messages is to connect us - not to persuade us

I am continually amazed by the number of people who still seem to think 'social media' is all about content and the distribution of messaging.
Their end game is to persuade you, via the gift of influence, to do stuff. This is the exact same model as old school PR and Advertising: Pay us money, we'll persuade folk to do what you want them to do.
Social Media is not a 'do to' medium. It is a 'do with' medium.
Yet few in the persuasion camp will even open the door to allowing their campaign of doing to to be done with the people for whom it is intended. The lip service to peer to peer participation usually paid is simply to use you and I as a channel to distribute.
This is to treat the peer to peer networked environment as if it were simply another broadcast medium - which is to  misunderstand the difference between a network of nodes and a centre-out broadcast mechanic.
The web creates greatest value when it is understood as the best available way for groups (communities of purpose) to self form. Our sharing of messages, perhaps better understood as our expression of metadata, is our way of reaching out to connect with other people who want to solve the same problems we do, right now.
Bringing together people who care about the same things, self forming into groups, is how the energy to make change is generated.
Bring together people who really care about something and they will help you improve it, making it a better fit for themselves. They'll help you make products and services which work better for them, because they matter to them. They'll do with... you.
It's social, its participatory, it's niche, and it's where the purpose of messages (metadata) is to connect us rather than to persuade us.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?