Digital Sharecropping and Why Twitter Feeds Blogging

Digital Sharecropping
Due to work in five different industries from financial service, health care, IT infrastructure, chemical manufacturing/distribution, and more eCommerce-driven CPGs and beauty and fascion retail to highly nimble firms like tech startups, small UXD and social business agencies, private and public entities, I have developed a solid appetite for research and a reading list to match it.

Since I have about 1,440 minutes per day just like you, when transitioning from one line of business to another I shed many – yet not all – of my readings to start incorporating other subject areas and resources into my daily content consumption.

As is the case for the books I read, the blogs and sites I keep in my feed and read are those that help me see things from a different perspective. Learning by example is a great way to accelerate skill building.

Reading at the intersection of disciplines

Convergence is here to stay. Since 2006, this blog has been covering the intersection of business, technology, and media.

In recent years due to opportunities to help both International MBA students and young entrepreneurs build business strategies and marketing plans I developed a solid list of tech start up-related resources.

Blogs are my main go-to resource these days. I enjoy single author blogs that have a distinct point of view. One quality post per month is often worth tens of tweets and social posts anywhere else.

If I want signal, Taylor Davidson# delivers in spades. Lately Mark Suster's Both Sides of the Table#, Ben Thompson Stratechery#, Danah Boyd's Apophenia#, and Fred Wilson's AVC have been at the top of my list.

It was a post at AVC that inspired this one.

A few thoughts on the rest of social media activities

Wilson wrote a few thoughts on tweeting vs. blogging# and concludes that he sees blogging as fodder for his Twitter activity. Indeed, Twitter is an excellent barometer for a quick check-in on a slice of blog readership/audience after a talk.

So it makes sense – start a thread and conversation on a blog where you can define a topic in a bit more space, then build on it on Twitter to get feedback. I should add the AVC community is quite active in the comments box as well (156 comments to the post).

Without getting too much into how and when the comments box was active at this blog, my Twitter activity has mostly been fodder for this blog, not the other way around.

For example:

Of course, other social networks have greater scale, though I am not quite sure what 253,891 views on G+ means just yet.

This blog has more than 1.8 million lifetime page views without me using gimmicks and on a fairly difficult platform to build traffic on. The number does not contain information about the relationships developed as a result of posts, the additional exchanges by email or in person, and so on.

Lately I am also thinking more about O2O or online to offline.

Digital sharecropping

Although social networks may provide greater reach, the fleeting nature of some, like Twitter, and the uncertain results in others, like Facebook, still convince me that putting the best foot forward on your own URL is the way to go.

As I wrote at the time of the demise of a social network I really liked, FriendFeed, social media is like sharecropping:

There's a lesson in Friendfeed's sale for all of us who spend time with social media, interact with customers online, or guide corporate digital outreach. Here it is: We are playing in somebody else's yard. And we can be told to go home at any time.
That API your team just wrote an application for? It can be changed overnight – or disappear entirely. Maybe you've spent months developing a customer base on some promising service. A quick weekend deal, and that service is gone. Just business, of course. Companies don't run on promises and rainbows forever, and cash is king in a tough economy. Things can change in the blink of an eye.
In a way, businesses working social media channels are sharecroppers. So are all the users. They labor on the services, both creating and receiving value. But they don't own the fields they cultivate, and can be put off the land whenever it suits the landlord. That's fine, if one can afford to leave crops rotting in the field. It's not so cool if you have to explain why a media line item has suddenly come to grief.

All major social networks are in the business of growing their services and base, and not there to support specifically your blog or site.

My take is to mix them in as appropriate as a way to reach out to audience segments and build on topics, etc. and create, aggregate, and curate on your own sites.

I am noticing a strong wave of influencer outreach programs. Too often I will get either a direct or public tweet, an email through Facebook, or an email pitch from a total stranger.

Throwing a message over the fence may be a time saver, it is definitely unremarkable and shows laziness. You want something, you work for it, and you do it starting with value from the point of view of the person with whom you want to connect.

The best way to connect with a blogger is still to be active in the comment box to their posts.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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