Successful Social Media Implementation Comes with Motivations

By: Chris Crum - August 11, 2009

It’s interesting to look at how the web has evolved and continues to do so. Social media (at least in its current incarnation) is still relatively young, yet we have seen a lot of evolution just within this aspect of the web itself. This is highlighted today especially, as we see competition in the real-time search arena really stat to heat up.

Some members of the WebProNews team are out in San Jose at the Search Engine Strategies Conference. This event kicked off with a keynote from Clay Shirky, a writer and educator discussed how communication media has changed over the years, and why and how social media is effective.

Basically what it boils down to according to Shirky, is that "Successful tools today are about channeling existing motivations."

Clay ShirkyClay says that in some cases, paying people to do things kills desire. Things that motivate people in social media are feeling autonomous, feeling competent, and feeling connected. Paying people might kill these motivations, he says.

Clay talked about how we’re living in the middle of "the largest expansion of expression capability in history." This couldn’t be any truer. People are sharing more and more about themselves at an incredible rate, which is why real-time search is such an important part of the equation today.

Things evolve.

Clay talked about how we didn’t always have the "many to many" medium. "Back in the 90’s there were all kinds of stories that email was for the young not the Grandparents.. Then it was found that old people did use email. Now young people think email is just for the old! Once email became normal that’s when significant social changes happened."

He says we’re living in a period of "mass amateurization," and professionals think amateurs are just trying to be mini versions of them.

"The sociology of the users’ motivation is the thing that makes social media tools work, not the tools themselves."

To drive home his point about how successful tools are all about channeling existing motivations, Clay points to the first email messages the founders of Linux and Wikipedia sent to their friends. They went something like:

"Linux" I’m doing a (free operation system (just a hobby) I’d like to know what features most people world want."

"Wikipeida" "Humor me . Go there and add a little article. It will  take all of five or ten minutes."

Twitter’s first message went something like:

"I want to have a dispatch service that connects on our phones using text."

These tools channeled existing motivations. That’s what it takes to achieve success through social media. Don’t use Twitter or Facebook just to use Twitter or Facebook. Use them to serve the purposes your business requires. That’s where the successful implementation will come in.

The web has evolved, and it has given us cutting edge tools to get the job done. But a tool is still just a tool. Without the users, the tools are meaningless, and the user must have specific motivations to use the tools effectively.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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