I have just started playing ‘Words with Friends’ on my iPhone. My first opponent is an old colleague from London who is currently whipping my arse at wordplay whilst feeding her twin girls through the night in Brighton, England. I like it. It’s nice we can share a game together after not seeing each other for years and living on the other side of the world, chatting about the fact that ‘taxi’ was a lazy word choice. It is one of those cool little things make me love even more what technology has enabled us to do. We can now share so much more of our lives and our experiences than ever before. I think that is a good thing.
When I was 19 I went to New York. I had wanted to go as long as I could remember. I was like an excited child on the plane with the anticipation of seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. The mistake I made, as I so often have, was I went on my own and when I saw her I felt sad – because it was such a big moment for me and there was no-one to tell. I realised right then that experiences are just never as good without someone to share them with. If I’d had my iPhone back then, I could have tweeted/facebooked my sighting and had comments back from all other the world in an instant. (Time zone dependant) I could have shared my story, and then had a conversation with people who were interested all over the world.
Sharing stuff feels good, it makes you feel like you have something to say, and it feels even better when someone appreciates and converses with you on the thing you have shared, because that might just mean they find you a little bit interesting!
A few weeks ago I was trying to find some golden gem of research that would prove a point to one of my clients that creating and generating content was king. However, in trying to answer that question Lauren Cassar sent me a link to a blog that made me re-think my approach.
In my mind – he is right, it is conversation and the connection to others that is special – to share something with another makes us happy and now we can share, even when we are alone. But it is the conversation that is key, that’s where we get the real hit of self actualization through our interaction with others.
So, bearing that in mind, could there be a science to being successfully social, even with your own friends? Are there some people who are simply better at it than others? I have recently watched which of my friends stimulate the most conversation with their posts. on facebook and twitter
More often than not – the things that generate the most appeal is the happy stuff. Where the creator has told a good story in words, pictures or video, asked an interesting question or shared something awesome or funny. Something people can get involved in or have an opinion seems to be an extra special magic ingredient. (Because that means they get to share too).
What I also find interesting is that elements of real life socialising that come through, and that they have a similar effect as they do in real life. The people who share too much and the stuff that is quite frankly, just a bit dull or whiney. I am not interested – yes it is fantastic that we all have an audience out there to talk to – but think about what you’re saying. Because you might just find no-one talks back when you ‘share’ your thyroid problems endlessly. (Although I did have a sick fascination with following that girl’s profile for a while…)
This idea that conversing about stuff we share makes us happy seems to be backed up by this article I read online recently from the NYT – they handily have some smart science to back up what I had a hunch about. People like sharing positive stuff.
So… Is there a science to being social? Is there a secret formula?
‘<sharing inspiring positive link> + <asking direct involving question> = <many replies and attention> ∴ = <social success>.’
Who knows? It is something I would like to think about more and I wonder about is if brands can learn from simply watching and monitoring socially successful people?
For now – I do believe that for brands to live credibly in this space they have to create something that will become conversation for people, ideally something that will bring happiness through sharing it. Whether that happiness be a literal smile at receiving it, or a just a feeling you are just a little bit cooler in the perception of your friend because you found it first.