Don't BlinkSocial Media

Stop Retweeting and Start Content and Thought Generation

BEING on Twitter is easy, but being relevant while there is extremely difficult. That’s certainly not a ground-breaking observation, but it is worth going into, especially if you’re on any social media platform and wondering why you don’t enjoy as many interactions as the people you most admire.

The one tactic that is guaranteed to work is for you to stop playing in the Re-Tweet League and join the Content and Thought Generation Table.

That sounds a little bit like a complaint the Ugandan soccer teams had back in the eighties and nineties, about their coaches and managers.

“At half time those guys just tell us things like, ‘Yongeza mu amaanyi'” (Put in some extra effort) and ‘Genda oteebe goolo!’ (Go and score a goal!), but of course that is what we are trying to do – they just don’t tell us HOW TO!”

No – this will not be one of those pep talks.

It is quite simple, once you get into the groove of things.

First of all, Re-Tweeting or copying and sharing other people’s posts is just not cool. If you make this your biggest contribution to any social media platform then your overall usefulness is questionable.

That’s because anyone can do what you are doing, and you are therefore not an attractive contact. And if there are, say, five of you Re-Tweeting some quotation of the day by some wise, heavily quotable individual, then the timeline of your average follower will quickly clog up with those RTs and you will be automatically registered on the league table labelled ‘irritating’.

But spend a little bit of effort on coming up with your own original ideas and comments and you will be adding a whole lot of value that, with practice, will get you listed on a much more interesting table.

The Premiership of interesting social media posts is clogged with the most erudite or witty, so getting onto that table is a whole different article or pamphlet – but let’s just focus on getting off the bottom-most table or ‘Re-Tweeters’ or ‘Copy and Pasters’.

It would be too harsh to label those characters as generally lazy and unimaginative, because they certainly serve a purpose. Many a time you get to notice a good link, article, issue or comment just because someone somewhere re-tweeted or posted it again.

That is useful. And there are even people we follow specifically because they tend to RT the things that we find useful – which is a good thing.

But it’s not healthy to just be those people, and here’s how to go a step higher on the social media ladder:

First of all, rather than go straight to Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp when you get to your device as you roll out of bed, start off by reading up on your own interest areas using the internet in general. Whether it’s the news or some online magazines or even the newspaper on the corner near your home, first form your own opinion and make your own discoveries.

Find out what is going on in the world and work out what you think or feel about it, and THEN share.

You could read some news or magazine articles, watch a couple of YouTube videos, or even follow up on some issue from the night before by researching into it a little bit. Then talk to a few real-life people, just in case they can also give you a perspective or idea that could make your own even more interesting. Once you’ve done that then you can present your own views and establish yourself as useful, and THEN you will have earned the right to Re-Tweet links and posts by other people without being mentally flipped off.

Social Media platforms are essentially tools for sharing information, but we make them more useful if we populate them with material we ourselves create.

I suspect that the analytics that determine social media value take this into consideration but only because they work out how many actual interactions one engages in and the tone of these interactions.

If you post original content even about an unoriginal issue, you are certainly judged more positively and attract a higher quality of interaction and respect.

Ladies and gentlemen of the social media community who have not yet done so, I beg you: Climb up the table and leave Re-Tweeting for the children.

Photo Credit: XoneCole


Simon Kaheru

Lead Analyst at Media Analyst and Chairman of the ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU). Simon writes about "technology for work and play" and his column for PC Tech is called "Don't Blink".
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