With the use of social media exploding the fundamental question people and businesses begin to ask themselves is “how useful is this?” The term “useful” having a definition of: 1. Having a beneficial use; serviceable: 2. Being of practical use: and using these two simply definitions we can determine the difference of being useful vs. useless.
The more people you get “connected with” and the more social tools you use the higher the noise level becomes and noise can distract us and be useless if not filtered properly.
Doc Searls wrote a great post titled: “Screw popularity. Just make yourself useful” in which he says: “That’s the killer lesson of Dave Winer’s new apporach to noise-filtered tweeting. “Friends” and “followers” aren’t what matter. If you want substance, you need useful inputs. Not volume. Not style. Not popularity. Those have their places, just not in your face when you’re looking for useful and interesting stuff.”
“That’s what I want out of Twitter. Not just to be the waist in an hourglass where a pile of god-knows-what flows from Following to Followers.”
“The situation with Twitter reminds me of that silly ad where Verizon workers follow around a cell phone customer like a herd of bison, led by one guy who says nothing. Hey, the customer doesn’t need a shepherd with a flock of techies. He needs somebody to pick up the phone when he calls for support. Don’t tell him to go to some website, or to “listen closely because our menu has changed”, or to navigate a maze of choices, all intended to deflect the call to a recording rather than a human being with a relevant competency. As for “the network”, all he wants is for the damn thing to work. (I’ve used them all, and Verizon’s is the best in the U.S., no doubt about it. Brag on that, Verizon. Use real evidence. Hell, show somebody with an iPhone who can’t find a service. That’ll stick it to both Apple and AT&T.)”
“The result of Dave’s work is a pared-down Twitter stream, reduced to people who Dave knows have substantive things to say. They’re not just naming their socks or reporting that the light just changed. They carry news. They provide links. They make themselves useful.”
How Can You Be Useful?
The answer to this question lies with one’s ability to identify the benefits of the information one shares and the practical uses of the information. Certainly with the daily reports of how to use social technology to create new opportunities or solve old problems there is more than enough information to create practical benefits for those we’re connected to. I often wonder why people think sharing the following could possibly be useful to me or those that follow them. Useless things we see on Twitter and elsewhere like:
- Just woke up and am making coffee
- Waiting for my plane to take off
- Changing my daughters diaper
- Cleaning up dog poop
- Writing my next post
Now don’t get me wrong everyone is involved in personal chatter of no use to some degree but using social technology to extend that kind of chatter is a waste of one’s time and the time of all, or most, that follow you. Maybe we need some new technology that filters out useless chatter or simply unfollow those that create it.
What say you?