In my lab

Social media has always been a way for me to share passion. My passion about content, my passion about creativity. Because it’s all about creating stuff that didn’t exist, right? May that be a podcast, a blogpost or a photo for example.

But it’s also always been a laboratory to me. A place where I could experiment, try new things, put in practice my latest discoveries. And the purpose of this lab has always been the same, which brings me back to that first paragraph: to find more efficient ways to share my little creations. Certain things begin to exist when others are aware of them. That’s when the fun begins.

The mad scientist
I don’t publish very extravagant things on the web. Nor do I talk about my very private life. You won’t see stupid pictures of me on flickr or mean comments from me on other people’s blogs. I’m not that type of person anyway. But I like to try all sorts of things to spread the word and see what works best. That’s why I monitor the number of clicks on the short URLs I post via Twitter, FaceBook and other places. If I get two clicks, I learn that I was boring on the message accompanying that URL. So I can experiment and see if this works better than that and so on. The goal is always to share with the highest number of people… and you get very unpredictable results sometimes.

Happy accidents
As experimentation in a real-life laboratory can generate some sparks and explosions, you get pretty much the same with the web. And it’s often when you’ve got no expectations that you get the most powerful reactions. Here I’ll talk about numbers. Not that absolute numbers are important at all but they’ll help me to illustrate what I’m trying to say.

My short URLs get clicked an average of 32 times. Is it good or is it bad considering the number of followers I have on Twitter and friends I have on FaceBook? I don’t know and I don’t care. But I do care abouts sparks (and flops too). My previous highest clicked URL was a joke and was reposted by friends to get an honest 80 clicks. More than twice the average. Not bad.

Cult of personnality?
As I told you, I don’t post about my private life and I rarely put pictures of myself on the web. You still can find my face if you ask Google but it’s mainly pictures of me at events like conferences, PodCamps, PAB or PodMtl. No big deal. And it’s perfect as it is. But this week, I shared a picture of myself on TwitPic with only the words: New Haircut. And Boom! It just exploded. Well, not exactly a nuclear explosion but enough to get more than twice the number of clicks I got from that previous highest-scoring URL. I didn’t expect that at all. And I just didn’t understand at first.

I had quite a few compliments and a few retweets on that very boring and down-to-earth picture. Even the official Twitterer from Québec Solidaire, a provincial political party, complimented and retweeted the URL. But why on earth did my same old face with a fresh haircut matter that much to other people? I finally found out that answering that question was as easy as asking it: because people care about other people. It’s as simple as that. Don’t get me wrong, the whole planet doesn’t care about what I look like with shorter and lighter hair. But considering that my Twitter followers and FaceBook friends are mostly people I’ve met in person or listeners of my podcast, maybe, somehow, they care.

No matter what my efforts have been to create or find valuable content and share it to the crowd, what I understand is that they care more about me than what I may do. A somehow flattering but very humbling experience that puts in perspective all the efforts one may put into the web.

Photo by estherase

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