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This conversation has been extremely common nowadays, more so even than in the not-to-distant past. At this point, I think I ought to weigh in on the subject, for it does bring us to an interesting point of view. I will first detail my thoughts on this, and I will then elaborate on several quotes from influencers to illustrate my point.

My Interaction With The Wider Community

In true style, I have all of my posts syndicated to other social media outlets; primarily to Twitter, and Micro.blog, and I prefer interactions from the latter, simply due to the fact that there are no likes, only conversations. I have quickly found that when interacting with people from MB, the conversation is a lot more elegant and bright; words are meaningful, whereas, when a post of mine gets interacted with on Twitter, it’s most often just a like or two. Likes don’t really matter, though there is that awareness for me that a post at least resonates with the liker … unless it’s a bot, which we will get to in a minute.

WordPress Interactions

As of late, I have discovered more of what I hope are actual people on WordPress.com taking a liking to the content I provide, yet I am finding it more difficult than not to tell whether those interacting with me are actual humans. I know that I have griped in the past about having to prove you are human to do things like sign up for a silo, but I am wondering whether or not it wouldn’t be a bad idea in some social settings, at least those that are supposed to be from actual people. Of course, there is no possible way of curbing all spam, for the management that would take would get overwhelming rather quickly. We wouldn’t have enough actual people to catch everything, and so I am more concerned that the interaction I am getting on WordPress is just spam. On occasion, I will actually look at the blog of the liker and at times, might find something mildly interesting, but nothing that peaks my interest all the way. The fact though that I find something here and there is a point in their favour, at least.

Experts Weigh In

Denis Xiao reached out to a few people in this industry, including Elena Salazar, the Social Media Program Manager at VMware:

is Elena’s take on how social media influences her, and how she thinks we can improve our engagement levels on various platforms. In some ways, she’s right. For some, likes become a reason for posting, rather than the quality of content, which opens up social media platforms to shitposting, flame wars, and so on. Irony is good, memes are good, but use them in the right context, the point that gets missed way too often nowadays.

Another thing to consider in order to gain value from your social media following? Follow people, not bots, unless you know what the bots do. Elena puts it thus:

In my opinion, Likes are just a vanity metric and distract from focusing on more valuable KPIs.

People can also get strongly attached to their Likes and feel like they are under-performing if they don’t get the number of Likes they were expecting. Likes do not necessarily correlate with conversions or sales, and can be a false indicator of post success — especially since a lot of Likes are from bots.

Exactly. as previously mentioned; those WordPress community likes and shares I have been getting on my posts of late? Do I have any way to tell that they are legitimate? Not really, unless there is a tool that I don’t know about or haven’t yet discovered, which can assist in finding the true identity of a user? (Maybe an itch for the indieweb, though how we could ever develop something like that without having to have people agree to submit their information, while the objective is, for most of us, at least, tracking users, is something to be avoided, except in particular circumstances. Not to mention, how could we do that without having to involve CAPTCHAs? Something that everybody hates, I am pretty sure.)

dennis then asks Amberly Dressler, the Brand Communications Manager at Episerver:

I like the spirit of it – lessening the impact Likes have on people’s (particularly young people’s) self-esteem and self-worth – but it will have business impacts.

Most savvy social media managers have become more sophisticated than using vanity metrics, but it could potentially change newsfeed algorithms once again.

If Likes are not used to measure a brand’s engagement, metrics such as shares or comments will likely be used.

It is likely business visibility in the newsfeed could be impacted. From a user perspective, that might not be a bad thing, but businesses will need to tweak their strategies to fit a Like-less world.

definitely. From the business prospective, something like this will be harder to achieve, though on a personal level, it does make sense. I, personally don’t care as much about the number of likes a post of mine gets as much as I care about the actual interactions; comments, shares, and so on, that it gets. Example. I have a YouTube post, published about seven or so years ago on my old Dell inspiron 1525, which didn’t make the YouTube community all that happy; instead of focusing on my content, they constantly focused on the horrible quality of the video, which has now made me have to disclose my blindness on each video I do to eliminate the majority of that, but that’s another post for another day; I could go on and on. That is an example of what not to see on social media, yet it persists anyway. Either way, my point? Use Metrics for what they were intended for, not as a measurement of self worth. Teens and young adults, I’m talking to you. Read dennis’s full article.

Wilmington, MA

32 °F Snowing

In light of recent events, I have been thinking a lot about the web, what I would like to get out of it, as well as some of the problems with the current landscape. I will say right now, many, particularly those in the space, will probably and more than likely disagree with some of my proposals, and that’s okay. (one of the biggest things these days is the fact that many on the internet think that their keyboard and screen shield them from needing to be a worthy participant in society, and that they can be somebody different as long as they aren’t looking at their target’s face.) In other words, Gods help you if you disagree. I don’t follow that mentality, and nor will I ever.

Current Problems

As a citizen of the open web, I will not be the first to declare that there are definitely some problems with our current situation. Most of which revolve around closed ecosystems, APIs that are rapidly becoming closed-off entities behind a paywall (I get it, everyone needs to make money to survive, but if you’re going to charge for the API, don’t litter the service with ads, or charge for the service and leave the API free, as Manton Reese does. Twitter, looking at you right now. But that, I can deal with.

People, Stop Complaining!

The second problem is one that is probably in everybody’s life right now; depressing and misleading news reports and stories. Yes, those are gfreaking everywhere, but no, they do not have to take over your life, and you can get rid of them without getting rid of your social media accounts, because, let’s face it. As bad as some of these companies are; Facebook, Twitter, and so on, most people are there, and businesses, of course, are always going to use the big tech giants first, so until there is a wider shift in our culture, social media is here to stay. I definitely respect the decisions of those choosing not to partake anymore, but I will present my strategy for how I stay on and remain happy.

  • Only follow pages, businesses, and people I care about: This one is easy. Stay away from news outlets, unless you know the source, and focus on the people and things you actually will pay attention to.
  • Limit time spent on social media sites: Use something like RescueTime to help you monitor how much time you spend on such corners of the internet, and adjust your habits accordingly. I can tell you … I do, and having productivity goals for which I get reminders helps … immensely.
  • Post useful content of your own that will spark conversations from genuine people interested in your field of study/hobby/interest. I only post things that I want people to respond to, so if you think of it as a place to interact, not as a firehose of information, then you’re much more likely to generate a healthy environment and not a dumpster fire. What I have been doing for years.
  • Create Accounts on the decentralized social web, also called the fediverse, and cross-post to mainstream social media. I find that people on the fediverse tend to respond more readily, and conversations last longer; my theory is that since most of the instances on the fediverse are smaller, they have fewer people, so the folks responding have less irrelevant information to wade through.

Metrics Aren’t The Issue, People Are

I don’t mean to be this harsh, and normally I’m not, but this has been a complete thorn in my tall side lately. I will be the first to shamefully admit that I fell into this trap too, particularly when I was in college and shortly after graduation, where I tried to get as many followers on the various silos as possible. Those are the people who need to get rid of metrics, and work on their narcist views. At this point, since I’m a member of several communities, I have to keep track of the various metrics in order to tell how the groups are doing. Otherwise, we currently have no way to do so. I take the same approach with my personal account; I will look at follower counts, but if I lose a follower here or there, that’s excepted. People’s interests change, new things come up, so if I’m not interesting to everyone, then, I’m not going to change, either. It doesn’t mean I’m boring, it just means that something else has cropped up in that person’s life. More folks should take this approach; life is much better when you’re not worrying about how popular you are; it’s a delicate balance between popularity and enjoyment.