Five Years Too Late

October 7, 2009

Social Media Overlap

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiveyearstoolate @ 6:55 am
Eric Wiesen

Eric Wiesen

It’s probably a sign of both the times and the work that I do at I’m now involved in a good handful of “social media” outlets (despite not being hyper-social in real life. I once joked to a friend that I had 400 friends on Facebook but about 10 actual friends). And as I both produce and consume media in these outlets, it has occurred to me that people are increasingly cross-posting their content from one venue to others, and that I don’t care for it.

I write this blog, and if you are here, presumably you read it. And if you are here reading it (whether you got here from search, because you bookmarked the site, via RSS or through a shortened link), my guess is that you are here to read a specific type of content – in this case longer-form posts largely about technology, venture capital or the other thoughts Stuart and I have on related topics.

If you are one of my roughly 400 friends on Facebook, you are looking for a different type of interaction with me. I view Facebook as the venue for sharing shorter-form, more personal content, and in a greater variety of formats (photo, video, etc…).

If you follow me on Twitter, my perception is that I’m one of a significant number of people in your stream, and that my job is to add interesting (and short, obviously) thoughts, observations and links, that hopefully contribute to an ongoing river of content to which you’ve opted in. I assume if you are following me on Twitter, that we don’t necessarily know each other, and that you’re opted into my content because you get value from it, and that I should try to live up to that (although I’m sure I don’t always do so).

Similarly, if you follow me on tumblr, I’m part of a larger community, and it’s less about reading my content in a linear way (and if you go to my tumblelog you’ll agree that wouldn’t be useful), but rather see me as someone who can add value as you go about trying to curate the internet. I use tumblr primarily for posting interesting things I find on the web, typically quotations from articles that I think those who are like-minded enough to follow me will either enjoy or find edifying.

All of which is a fairly lengthy way of saying – if we’re friends on Facebook, I probably don’t need to see your tweets there. The @replies, check-ins, and other twitter detritus don’t add value to me in the Facebook context. Chances are if we’re friends on Facebook I follow you on Twitter anyway. If you are a tumblr user who is piping out all of your tumblr posts to Twitter, you are probably subtracting value as well. What I get is a garbled few words of some reblog you did followed by shortened URL. While there is a weak user discovery argument to be made, mostly you’re just cluttering up my twitter stream.

I think the only real exception to this observation is putting short pointers to long-form blog content into other networks. And this largely escapes condemnation because the frequency is by nature going to be very low. I recognize that not every person who follows me on Twitter will subscribe to this blog, but the contents of my authoring (and the audiences thereof) are analogous enough that I think the tradeoff in signal/noise is worthwhile for those who might choose to follow the link to the one blog post every few days that I put up. But with this exception aside, I think people do their social graphs a disservice by spraying content across all of their networks. As I interact with the four social networking services in which I regularly participate (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, tumblr), I have a distinct purpose for each and a distinctive graph within each service. They aren’t fungible alternatives to one another, and people who cross-post everywhere are subtracting value and ultimately good will. Which is kind of the point of all of this.

10 Comments »

  1. Eric, I think this is pretty spot on. However, I think the incentives are for companies to push super-sharing. For example, I think David (Karp) told me that they got a 20% bump in traffic when they started pushing to people’s twitter feeds. It’s the same reason why content companies bust up their content into so many pages (particularly annoying for Instapaper readers like myself).

    And I’ve noticed a small bump in traffic since I started bringing my tumblr posts into Facebook. I guess the question is: how particular do you want to be about your audience? For example, the most traffic that I saw from Facebook -> Tumblr was of a photo I posted of myself and some friends. The arty, techie stuff doesn’t draw much of a crowd. I think people are better at self-selecting their interests out of streams than we give them credit for.

    (although I did once personally apologize to Marco when I was an early tumblr user and realized I was clogging up his dashboard with all of my delicious tags).

    Comment by chris m. — October 7, 2009 @ 11:04 am

    • I think you’re right about misaligned incentives, but ultimately that may be an instance of short-term and long-term goals at odds with one another. Excessive “super-sharing” as you put it might create a short-term bump, but if you piss off your users you’re going to increase churn and ultimately damage the brand. I’d personally be very careful pulling those types of levers. – EDW

      Comment by fiveyearstoolate — October 7, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

      • I think the interesting thing is that you usually get irritated at your fellow user, not so much at the service. For example, I’m irritated that Sam Lessin pollutes my tumblr dashboard with his tweets rather than feeling any ill will towards Tumblr or Twitter.

        I think the interesting case study of pulling those levers is going to be Playfish vs. Zynga. And the thing that’s interesting is that Playfish gives the option for the users to curate, which I think is the key, whereas Zynga hides those settings and basically consumes your notifications.

        Comment by chris m. — October 23, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

  2. The audience gets to decide whether they like the author’s use of a particular tool. My personal approach has been to completely separate out blogs and twitter accounts for different topics / audiences, but to use Facebook as an aggregator for those who want to follow me across both because they are interested in me, rather than what I have to say specifically about “tech/startups” or “food/cooking”. That’s what FriendFeed wanted to do of course, but I always found Facebook more effective and I see the acquisition as FB’s attempt to reinforce that (among other reasons *cough twitter*).

    What I don’t entirely understand is one person having a blog, and a twitter account, and a tumblr account. I can see having 2 of the 3, but not all 3. However, it is different if one or more of those is a corporate or multi-author project, which requires a different editorial filter, which is the case with you here at 5 Years.

    Comment by Giff — October 7, 2009 @ 11:23 am

    • I think it depends on how disparate your social graphs are. My Facebook graph is largely family, friends from back home and school and mutual friends I share with my wife. They are not, by and large, a tech industry group of people, so my tweets (which largely concern tech industry issues and questions, as twitter is a work tool for me) are not only uninteresting, they are downright confusing to a lot of my Facebook friends (as many of them told me when I initially did pipe my twitter activity into Facebook).

      As far as having a blog and a tumblelog, there are a few reasons to do it. One is collaborative authorship as you note above, but even without that I think it’s fine to maintain a blog for more “serious”, professional content as we do here and a tumblelog for more personal content and content that’s more varied in its media formats. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures is a good example of this – his tumblelog is largely music, photos and other personal effects for those that want to follow “Fred the guy” as opposed to “Fred the VC”, as evidenced by his popular blog. – EDW

      Comment by fiveyearstoolate — October 7, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  3. […] Social Media Overlap (fiveyearstoolate.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by Money for nothing | Stop4closure.com — October 7, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  4. i’m too busy to update several useful but different social networks. my tweets are a mix of personal and business updates and i have them go directly to facebook. it does sometimes confuse my facebook friends but they all know i’m a geeky tech startup guy anyway so they apply their own filter.

    having one “source of truth” (a term commonly used in enterprise software circles circa 2000) works for me. perhaps the #fb hashtag solves this issue for some but i am perfectly fine with one source of truth for now, even if my social graphs differ across the networks.

    Comment by Vic Singh — November 1, 2009 @ 2:48 am

    • Vic – what you describe is essentially the point of my post. But the point of departure is where you write that your friends are fine with it because you’re a startup guy. The reason I wrote the post in the first place is that for me as a user, I’m not really fine with it. If you were the only guy I knew doing this it would be tolerable, but probably 25% of my facebook friends are people from this world, and if you all do it, it essentially destroys my facebook feed. This leaves me the unpleasant choice of consuming your twitter-intended content on Facebook, where it doesn’t belong (e.g. @replies to people I don’t know) or hide you on Facebook and miss your actual Facebook content. Both of these are poor outcomes, caused by your decision to cross-post all social media across multiple platforms.

      Is this ultimately a big deal? Not really. But it’s value-destructive to those networks where the content is more differentiated.

      Comment by fiveyearstoolate — November 1, 2009 @ 9:09 am

      • i hear you eric and to each his own, but i would argue that while twitter updates to facebook can decrease the signal/noise ratio and slightly disrupt the user’s feed, i don’t think it is value destructive. i think it can actually create value as folks on my facebook social graph get to see a side of me they typically would otherwise not be exposed to (even if noisy) and hence enhance the relationships. i have witnessed this many times when i meet up with friends/family who are seeing my tweets on facebook and it actually stimulates conversation.

        fun debate all around.

        Comment by Vic Singh — November 1, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

  5. i hear you eric and to each his own, but i would argue that while twitter updates to facebook can decrease the signal/noise ratio and slightly disrupt the user’s feed, i don’t think it is value destructive. i think it can actually create value as folks on my facebook social graph get to see a side of me they typically would otherwise not be exposed to (even if noisy) and hence enhance the relationships. i have witnessed this many times when i meet up with friends/family who are seeing my tweets on facebook and it actually stimulates conversation.

    fun debate all around.

    Comment by Vic Singh — November 1, 2009 @ 5:50 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: