Know Nothing, Share Everything: The Sad but Useful State of Social Media Psychology

June 3, 2014 by

How to grasp the seven personas of social media sharing to improve your tweets, posts, and content marketing social strategy.

The confluence of three minor events in the past 48 hours reignited my passion to understand what drives people and why, culturally, we do what we do, especially when it comes to social. The events include: 

1)   Talking to two girls at a bar

2)   A New York Times article

3)   An online video class on social brand management

I’m going to work in reverse order and save the best for last, starting with the online class.

1) As I do most every Sunday morning, I read a little mainstream media (will get to that) and watch a class or two on my own Online Marketing Institute. In this instance, I happened to pick a short 22-minute class on “Managing Your Brand on Social Media.” It was particularly acute as I am diving back into reinvigorating our blog and driving the social shares and social proof for SEO. So getting back into the planning process of such was key.

What I was reminded of and lost total sight of was building posts, shares, and tweets that are directed to the user persona and psychological mindset of why that person shares on social. No-brainer, I know. But we all too often forget that we are sharing to people, not sharing for the sake of sharing. So learning about the seven personas and why they share was great. Here’s the recap of the class.

Connectors: These are the folks who like to share the deal or discount; something that makes them feel like they are helping folks in a small way.

Altruists: These are the do-gooders who find content that will be useful to themselves and others, answering the question of, does it solve a problem?

Careerists: For me, this was the most relevant archetype, and leans toward folks wanting to solve a business challenge and to answer the question, could that tweet become its own whitepaper or infographic?

Bonus: For these folks, reminding or asking for input and encouraging them to share is key.

Boomerangs: This group keys in on the emotional response, or something that lights a fire. You have to be sure that you and your brand are OK with that and the excitement or anger it can cause. A good way to activate shares is asking, “what do you think?” or “what would you do?”

Selectives: The most critical of any audience, they have a high bar and are usually the most influential group. Basically, you need to make sure the post will pass the muster and be both easy to understand and content they would share as their own.

Lurkers: No sharing here. A ton of folks who are important to you are seeing this and not sharing, so don’t let the sharers drive all your social brand decisions.

Hipsters: Always a favorite topic du jour for all who are not hipsters (myself included). This group is more focused on a new trend or a new store, and want to be credited as “the first to know.” It’s important to remind them to share to maximize their engagement.

Now you have the good marketing stuff that all us social media and content marketers love. If so willing, let’s test your reading skills and move to point two.

NOTE: Feel free to drop off here after the scan of the seven personas and just share this.

2) Career advice alert on social media: stop saying you like social media if you want a job in digital marketing.

The topic of hipsters is a great transition for this, as I will use my recent conversation at a local bar here in San Francisco with two young 20-something girls (ladies, if you prefer). In essence, the conversation boiled down to a career move of “I’m not loving my job in sports marketing as an account manager. I want to do something more in social media marketing and get paid better.” So we chatted, I shared some ideas, and after a few laughs the question became, “Well, how do I differentiate from all the others out there to get my ideal job.” And after many interviews myself with interns to marketing directors, I replied instinctively, “Stop saying you like social media, and start talking about your skills, such as being a good writer (aka content marketer), a good relationship manager, etc.” Everyone under 25 years old both likes social media and thinks they are or could be good at it. Almost none are, and your hiring manager already knows that.

Tying this back to our social personas, if you are looking for a job that is in digital, social media, or content marketing, you should be able to have an intelligent conversation about basic marketing like creating the personas above, or content/journalism skills like what makes a good blog post. And yes, you should be able to prove those skills by showing initiative in classes, workshops, or even the novel idea of on-demand videos (hint, hint).

This brings me to my final point and the reason why I am writing such a long post. The art of long copy is dying and reading it is already dead.

3) A New York Times article this past Sunday talked about how everyone is an expert on nothing. Meaning they are skimming headlines, absorbing a handful of posts and tweets, but not actually reading the article, book, or even watching the movie they have an opinion on or tweet about.

For us marketers, we can key into this Hipster/Boomerangs/Connector societal trend and ensure that the tweet and post itself looks worth sharing and not post unless it connects with the needs of these audiences.

As a side note, I feel obliged to say that only fools talk about subjects they know nothing about. Only fools wastes their time on surface-level skimming void of any meaningful thought. Only fools tweet, retweet, post, or share something that everyone else does. I think there should be some sort of virtual online Facebook/Twitter cliff for all those who do, to follow straight off like the online lemurs they’ve become. How’s that for emotive?

And therein lies the opportunity for those of us who are in the know, who read, explore, and go deeper. We become the experts, the smartest guy/gal in the room, and can hold court, hell, even lecture (as I have for a decade) on the items we spend a little time on. And for my hipster friends at the bar, do this and your career trajectory will skyrocket. Because now you are not just like everyone with a hot-aired opinion; you are confidently in the know and will drive strategy and direction for your team before you know it.

This takes me back to my favorite theme, “Learn more, do less.” In this case, stop retweeting the 20 headlines you know nothing about and read just one of those articles. If you’ve made it this far, retweet: “I read the whole article @AaronKahlow. #LearnDigital”

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