Friday, January 18, 2013

Consistency in Social Media


Today I saw a tweet from someone that portrays himself as "technologically with it" and street-smart that ran as follows: 

"How will industries (that produce digital content) make money when people generally want free content?"

This was then subsequently left with no answer…  no conclusion…  no "I'll stick my neck out and offer my opinion" follow-up.  

Putting aside all the immediate things that ran through my head like "Has he not heard of subsidies from advertising?", freemium models to hook people into paying, or "does he not realise that this has been a topic for years that sometimes is successfully concluded and other times not?", I ended up questioning whether a tweet like that from someone who, unlike myself, runs a generally serious-toned twitter stream would have a negative impact on the online perception of such a person.

In my mind, there's (about) four types of twitter account:
1.  The authoritarian ones (Governments, Organisations, Health & Safety, etc).
2.  The commercial ones (companies, online media, etc).
Then there's the "sometimes-blended/sometimes-distinct" accounts: 
3.  The entertainment ones (personal entertainment, jokes, celebrities, etc).
4.  The personal ones (what I had for dinner, my take on current events, picture of my dog, etc)

Whilst I usually consider myself a cross of account types 3 & 4, this other acct was clearly type 2.  As such, you can probably see from the hierarchy that I almost should expect information to trickle out of that twitter account in an informative manner.

But it didn't.  Several hours later, it still hasn't produced any informative narrative, answers or conclusion.

To me, this is a consistency issue that can only be described as the reverse problem of when the Canadian Prime Minister started tweeting to Homer Simpson about bacon recently.  It's almost jarring because you as a subscriber to that twitter stream have an expectation.

Conclusion:  I think it's lost on some people that a social media account that is supposed to be informative shouldn't cross (unless there's really good reason) into an uninformative account type, just like in the same way an authoritarian account should not suddenly become a comedy one.  People have expectations in social media that whatever bar you set when they subscribed is what you will maintain going forward.  After all, if you're attracting followers by doing one thing, why then alienate them by doing something else?  

You wouldn't do it anywhere else, so you shouldn't do it in social media.