Monday, September 12, 2011

Social Media Half Life & A 50th Anniversary...

My parents will be celebrating their golden (50th) anniversary next week.  It's quite an accomplishment for anyone who makes it this far because marriage requires a lot of hard work.  I'm biased, of course, but my parents make it seem rather easy breezy.  Here's how I think they do that:
  • They like each other.
  • They celebrate each other's strengths and complement the other stuff.
  • They respect each other.
  • They listen to each other.
  • They enjoy each other's company.
  • They can spend some time apart.
  • They appreciate one another.
  • They compromise.
  • They apologize.
In other words, they are in constant pursuit of a life together that's well lived and meaningful on their terms.  They share the good times with each other and try to forget the bad ones.

What of Social Media?

Our friends at Hubspot published this blog post last week covering's research on the relative "half life" of a shared link across social media platforms.  The gory details are as follows:
  • The mean half life of a Twitter link is 2.8 hours.
  • For Facebook, it's 3.2 hours.
  • It's 3.4 hours if delivered via email or instant messaging.
  • On YouTube, it's a whopping 7.4 hours.
The research goes on to conclude that it's not where you decide to share the content but it's the quality of the content in and of itself that matters.  Hooray!

If a social media tree falls in a forest...

and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?  Look, I'm happy that the research shows that it's not where but what it is that gets shared...  So, whatever channel you choose to receive information is no less worthy than another channel.  However, I find it depressing that a link only lives for a few hours until the next bon mot type of link comes along because we're all fighting for share of eyeballs.

The replacement rate of all of this quality content boggles the mind.  It's not that I doubt the quality, it's just that it's impossible to appreciate the quality truly and it makes me wonder:  
  • If it is true that it's quality that rises to the top, why do we need so much of the quality all the time?  
  • What do we miss when the mean half life of a link is only a few hours?
  • What's the opportunity cost of this short period of time?  
  • What if the best people to read what you share aren't online that day?

What does this have to do with an anniversary?

Relationships last because we take the time to celebrate the details and intricacies of one another.  We remember favorite things, eye colors and bucket lists.  We talk, we ask questions and yes, sometimes we even bicker.  All of these things take time to appreciate truly.  All of these things are, though small, not fleeting. 

Instead of fighting for share of eyeballs, let's fight for share of mind or even share of thought.  I realize it's a romantic notion and I might look a little foolish for suggesting it.  But, given the amount of information overload these days, it may just be that what I'm asking for is not so silly after all.

What's your take on the social media half life?

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

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