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December 22, 2011

Oversharing is not honesty

Just today I came across Pamela Mayer's TED talk on How To Spot A Liar. Apart from taking away some interesting tips, this one quote made an impact on me- "Oversharing is not honesty".

I suppose each one of us has to deal with friends who overshare on social networks or may be we are one of those people who overshare but add this aspect to brand marketing on social networks and the picture isn't any different.

Some brands are downright annoying with auto news feeds crowding your stream/timeline. These can be updates from Twitter that are duplicated on Facebook (vice/versa), retweets/reshared material from other sources (usually big news items) that most of us have already read, frequent irrelevant updates etc. 

Social media has blessed humanity with its amazing function of bringing the world closer but at the same time it is notorious for making people believe that transparency=sharing+over sharing+manic sharing! There's information everywhere you look, endless loops of conversations that can make it impossible for a person to judge the intentions, the integrity behind words. As I have understood from Pamela Mayer's talk, this then means that we are adding to the lie, as honesty somehow does get lost behind this noisy information bombarded around every second.

Respectable businesses understand that honesty is indeed the best policy, so why not take this same approach online? 

If you google this simple question-"Why do people unlike brand pages?", you get taken to a bunch of articles all explaining the same issue i.e. "Frequent updates", "Irrelevant updates", "No updates"!  Search Engine Watch has some information from a DDB Paris and OpinionWay research carried out recently that provides a look at some of the reasons that drive fans to unfollow brands.

Social media is built on our need to relate as a collective. I personally think that overshared information somehow takes the seriousness away, the process starts to appear mechanical as opposed to emotional. I don't know how to judge the ethical values of a business that chooses to constantly throw information at me, it makes me feel as though I have no value as a consumer. If social engagement is the motive, I don't see that happening with oversharing.

Furthermore, another issue that pops out of oversharing is the one of auto feeds i.e. automation versus optimization. From looking at my Facebook stream, I've assumed most businesses post information that they probably don't even read. I stumbled upon this explanation by the brilliant Jure Klepic (@jkcallas) where in he highlights the process of optimizing auto posting. He stresses on the importance of using an application like BufferApp, where one can read the posts and then time them to be delivered for when the readers are most likely to be active thereby getting the greatest value from the content. 

May be this proves that social media cannot be taken lightly. You can't just hire a student to work part-time as your social media expert to populate your page, nor can you dump this activity in the hands of an outside agency and forget about it. Keeping a track of your progress is important from day 1 whether social media is practiced in-house or on contract. I always believe, what works for me in life is trial and error. It is definitely hard to find that balance between what will work for you and your fans but if done with honesty and sincerity, you will end up gaining some true supporters. 

Although the world will never be an ideal place, this rapid technological revolution needs support from a moral society. Building authentic relationships requires authentic transparency that comes from a place of honesty.

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