It’s often the stories that are too neat, too good to check, that get a viral amount of social sharing.
At the end of 2013, Luke O’Neil wrote about the “Share first, ask questions later” attitude of the social audience, and the media’s attempt at catering to our needs, by not questioning misleading stories, “What is new is that we’re barely even apologizing for increasingly considering the truth optional. In fact, the mistakes, and the falsehoods, and the hoaxes are a big part of a business plan driven by the belief that big traffic absolves all sins, that success is a primary virtue”.
And it was also noted, by Annalee Newitz, that with web content, complexity impedes virality. As “most of all, we don’t want to say something that we didn’t intend. And that is the danger with any story that falls into the valley of ambiguity. We can’t be sure how people will take it. We don’t want to risk our reputations on a story that can be taken more than one way.”
It’s the same as it ever was.
Jakob Nielsen’s eye-tracking study from 2008 “indicated that less than 20% of the text content is actually read on an average web page.”
So this blog post is just reminder to myself that not all written “content” is for reading, a lot is for signalling, to trigger interaction that promotes social bonding. Sharing before reading has always happened. It’s just that the presentation has changed.
To visibly carry UK tabloid newspaper The Mirror was/is a social signal, it’s not just “big headlines, pictures, analysis”… it’s the “opinion on the stories that matter to you”. The physical tabloid newspaper is a package of opinion, designed for easy sharing.
This blog post was prompted by seeing the Boing Boing blog post, pictured above. As a blog, there’s nothing to physically display, to carry under your arm – but us readers need to share an opinion, still feel the need to define / express ourselves. So the blog cleverly lets its readers scratch that itch by giving them an unambiguous Tweet to share, on social media, where many of our interactions are happening.
In conclusion: If you want your content to be shared, it will help if you have a tone of voice, as you’ll be wanting to display a point of view. And then you should be explicitly packaging these opinions for sharing, as…
Complexity impedes virality: http://t.co/iA1MT6ArGD
— Ciarán Ryan (@ciaranryan) November 14, 2013
Scoop.it’s motto is: “You are the content you publish”