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Social media can amplify your voice but how come it doesn't happen very often?

You probably heard hundreds of times already about how social media can help you make your voice heard. One of the examples mentioned to prove this is the “United breaks guitar” video, which had 150,000 views in one day and 10 million in less than 6 months. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Breaks_Guitars

I know that there are thousands of examples, but considering that there are billions of Facebook posts and tweets every day, the number of the stories actually being amplified is insignificant.

Which made me think: how does this happen? Is it random? Do you need to have man followers, which will share your posts to their followers and so on? Should you post sensitive or controversial topics, which are more likely to make others share? Does it help to be aggressive and share the same post repeatedly on several social media platforms?

Topics: social media
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    May 27 2013: While I don't have a solution to make posts go viral, what I can tell you is that popularity for anything, social media or media obeys the power law.

    I however have a slightly different view about "amplification" which you refer to.
    I'll give you an example using sound.
    To amplify is to increase intensity of sound, and this can be achieved in two ways.
    Add a whole lot more speakers so the amount of sound is increased and you hit everyone in sight.
    OR
    Distribute wireless headphones to the few people who need to hear the message, and tune the crowd out. In both cases, your listeners will hear a loud message but in the latter you just save a whole lot of inconsequential onlookers the pain of listening to your music.

    To relate this back to your topic, One way you can use social media is to find the few people who really matter, and use a facebook page, or twitter or whatever means necessary to amplify your voice to them. They will take your message to few more people who matter.
    What you will have is a smaller more loyal crowd who will sustain your message instead of a high powered viral spread that has a shorter life span.
  • Jun 11 2013: Social media is an enabler. It enables people to communicate. The advantage being that is much more accessible than other communication technologies. Reducing the economic restrains on the communicators. But if you don't have a communication strategy you won't communicate much. The democratizing nature of Internet provides people with the means. But not with the ideas, know how or capabilities.
    • Jun 11 2013: Very well put, Guido.

      Social media offer an opportunity, not a certainty, to amplify your voice. The viral nature of the internet can allow for random messages, videos, etc. to reach a huge audience, but the random viral sensation is rare. In order to have an impact on a social network, you must create an engaged following, consistently curate interesting information, and ultimately find a way to stand out in a crowded sea of voices.
      • Jun 11 2013: Right. Current success stories were possible thanks to a group of people - who had already identified an objective, which choose social networks as their tool. For example the late events on Egypt. Seems to me we could find two different stages which responded to different objectives. First it was local organization through social networks. And later on it was the exposure of the situation to international public opinion. The orchestrators of these events had developed a strategy - independently of its formality.
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    May 27 2013: Well, it looks like music gets the largest number of hits. Is this right, Questions, should music be the most popular thing in the universe?
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      May 27 2013: This might seem a strange association, but string theory suggests that the entire universe is nothing but a symphony of musical notes.

      I've often wondered if this fundamental association of frequencies of the universe manifested in our inexplicable draw towards music and its hypnotic effect when the music is just right!
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        May 28 2013: well, Arun, can't you differentiate between ideas and music? For example, if you watch a TED talk, doesn't it strike you as more intellectual than music? That is my question, should intellectual topics get more importance than music?
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          May 28 2013: Instead of competing with music, maybe an ideal way to get an idea to spread is to sing it!

          In MJ's words, "heal the world..." An idea, intellectual and addictive. If only we could sing about everything!
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        May 28 2013: well, Arun, you may be right, but one might ask why most people talk rather than sing most of the time? Even a professional singer spends most of their time talking, they sing when they are on stage, but when they are with their family, friends, business associates, they mostly talk. Would this indicate that talking comes more naturally to us than singing?
        • May 29 2013: Of course, speaking is the most obvious form of communication we have. We don't live in a musical! I agree with Arun, though, that the two need not cancel each other out. Can't you imagine a world, Greg, where music is a natural, integrated part of our existence, instead of a replacement for other natural aspects? It doesn't have to be one or the other, does it?
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      May 29 2013: not necessarily. do you know the "Jesus Loves Kit Kat" story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCNu--fecco? or the Qantas campaign that backfired http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/fail-qantas-red-faced-after-twitter-campaign-backfires/story-e6frfq80-1226202445747?
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    Jun 19 2013: Putting an idea to social media does not make it worthy, just like having a loudspeaker doesn't make you prime minister/president. People are less likely to respond to something aggressive and over-numerous, but quantity does count.

    If you want to identify patterns - look at what you and your friends have shared. Those are the topics that have garnered your attention, and hence your voice.
  • Jun 17 2013: Social Media is a fun-house mirror that amplifies the subset of society that chooses to engage in it. As such we are attempting to listen to a single voice in a cacophony that inevitably becomes an echo-chamber because of the people we "follow" and those that "follow" us.
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    Jun 11 2013: i think that hidden in your question is a kind of an answer - all that seems to be driving towards the old 15 minutes of fame.

    if you are aiming to sell something, then you need to know your audience and aim at them. this is, in my opinion, an arse-backwards way of going about creating any kind of content, but I guess that once you have the content, then you need to figure out who you're aiming at and so how to present the content.

    Personally, I don't think social networks are as fantastic as everyone seems to be suggesting. They are the 21st century version of gossip over the tea-cups only it's possible that there may be several million peeping toms looking through the window and eaves-dropping..
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    Jun 3 2013: Been offline for a bit and hadn't responded back to Lizanne's query re my last. Which in part said,
    "To me there will be an evolutionary process whereby there will be a categorisation of internet inputs via niche interests of groups. In this regard, the cream will always rise to the top!"

    So this isn't something I'm working on, however more an inkling for how I think things will pan out.

    For something to STAND OUT, it needs to break free from the wallpapering constraints of mediocrity. It is when they do STAND OUT, that they then draw a lot of attention as it is obvious to all that they are interesting enough for others to want to be a part of it.

    In my view, over time, there would be a crowd/group sourced repoitoire of MUST SEES, which would be subdivided into rough categories. In their own right, they would be a form of entertainment to watch, much as they are now.

    The kicker I think is that technology will evolve so that, your habits and internet likes will be automatically sifted/sorted for you ( a bit like predictive text) and made as recommendations for you.
    Likely that an autobot would speak to you and may follow something like,
    Autobot:"Hello XYZ, what do you feel like doing now?"
    User:"Oh, have a bit of a laugh"
    Autobot:"Any particular preferences?"
    User:"How about short comedy pieces?"
    Autobot:"Okay sequencing flash run of comedy snippet samples"
    User: "Give me 30 minutes worth"
    Autobot:" Running samples, computating USER pupil dilation ratios to sort 30 minutes of short comedy pieces."

    Further to this, a random input of comedy that was not to the usual tastes of the USER would be inserted to facilitate variety and potential offshoot interests that may have been unknown or thought of previously by the USER.

    This is the development of Artificial Intelligence. Hopefully I haven't strayed too far off topic here! :D
    • Jun 10 2013: Hi TT!
      Sorry for the late reply - I didn't receive a notification!
      Which is very much in tune with your comment - artificial intelligence gives me the heebie jeebies.

      Oh, marketing advertisers are so clever these days! I mention a name brand in a post, and suddenly I am enticed to 'like' that brand's page. I purchase a product online, so I need to see ads for that same product on every website I stumble upon. I am a 30-something female, so I MUST want to see ads for flowery summer dresses and pumps. This trend is degrading, it shows that I am not smart enough to find the things I want, because I don't know what I want, so the autobot will find it for me.
      Your concept of the helpful autobot would be great - but the current predictions are so underhanded and sneaky, I feel like I'm being stalked.

      Tying this back into the topic at hand, my voice is no longer being amplified, it's being silenced!
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    Jun 2 2013: Are you talking about going viral or building a presence?
    There are no real guides for going viral (I've researched it somewhat) but there are elements that increase your chance, using animals, babies and old people have a really high viral score. you can find half guides if you Google it.

    Now building a presence is totally doable but as with any marketing you have to give people what they want and you have to spend your time in the right way. There are a gazillion guides out there just Google it and you'll know what to do after some days reading ;)

    But really it's quite simple and very hard, you need to CONNECT with people, that's it!
    Have a TEDxTalk on the topic: Bobby Umar - The 5 C's of connection

    *Edit: forgot to add link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piKHZWhzTYU
    • Jun 15 2013: Thanks Jimmy. I'll listen to Umar.I'm doing fictional models of steady state economics so am trying to build a platform. I found that sticking to subject matter to establish expertise and credibility is fundamental. I like your difference between going viral and building a presence. As a student of complex systems, it reminds me that the market would love to know what makes something go viral. After years at it, the conclusion probably rests with the fact that complex systems have several sources of unpredictability and amplification is one of them.
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    May 28 2013: I think social media is a storm in a teacup.

    It's the 15 minutes of fame predicted by Warhol and reduced to a nano-sized version.

    You either have pointless voices ("here's a HD photo of my dinner") or, in the case of businesses and bands, you get all the fake elements of advertising and the temptation to be another layer removed from your supporters.

    It is still all about personal connection.

    For my band, we use facebook like a 21st century poster-run. It's okay for covering a certain aspect of promotion but, as you say, it's like bit like a looking for a diode in an e-waste landfill ;)
    • May 29 2013: Indeed, Scott.
      To be honest, I truly wonder if 'going viral' has any real lasting effect, at the end of the day. 15 minutes is, after all, 15 minutes. Is going viral the equivalent to a 'one hit wonder', only minus the royalties?

      I truly agree personal connection is essential, which is that much harder to achieve when all we're given to work with are emoticons. Everyone has something to say, but much of it is still superficial.
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    May 27 2013: I think you are right that catching the interested attention of people who have lots of social media followers is probably the most effective strategy, but your actual idea would need to be compelling to them.

    Seth Godin, a very well known marketing specialist and TED speaker, often emphasizes the importance of addressing your message and delivering it in a tailored way to a niche of people who might be interested rather than trying to aim your message indiscriminately to the whole world. He has a blog with advice on getting your message heard. If you check it out, you may notice he presumes you have a high quality offering that people would find reason to share by word of mouth.

    You might also check out our talks by Derek Sivers. One is specifically about the importance of first followers.
  • Jun 17 2013: I believe in two things; one is purpose and other is seeding...the principle that supports my results are what you sow that you reap and well supported by the story of evolution...

    So taking the things together: is my purpose is to create a number count or spreading something of a purpose? If purpose trees always take better time than a plant...

    Be on your purpose...the spread is bound to speed till you are spreading...I have observed that Sun is seen when risen but it travels all the night...it may be the story of many fast spreads we have seen or acquainted...

    Nature teaches every principle and they are unchangeable...

    With regards
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    Jun 17 2013: I've never been able to 'get' social media. I just don't see the 'what-for' of it! I remember back in the 1990's I put up a couple of web sites and tried to get some 'hits' to cover/view what I had produced. Not much luck there. "Hit Counters" were really big on web sites. Every web site seemed to have one. And I thought that was really cool . . .

    But those hit counters taught me something important. I put a hit counter on my web site(s) and would check the counter once a week or so. I remember one week the hit counter read: "000004". I remember thinking, "Well, 4 is better than zero!" But then I realized: I had visited my site 4 times earlier that same week. So my visits to my site were ALL that were recorded by the "Hit Counter."

    Ever wonder why social media does not put "hit counters" on their pages anymore? I'll be that's why! All your friends spend more time looking at their own Facebook pages, than they ever have looking at YOURS! Social media? Maybe more like Asocial media!

    I am privileged to have a small circle of friends whom I respect and who respect me. That means a lot. But 'social media?' Yeah, it's big. It gets a lot of attention. For a handful of celebrities, social media can help sustain their fame and their fortunes. But for the rest of us? It looks like a scam.

    Teenagers and college students might have a different (better) view of this. After all, today I am even OLDER than my grandfather was when I was born! That was several years ago and I am still trying to wrap my head around that one!
  • Jun 15 2013: I love seeing People thrive on social media that will instill positive change in the world, I came across a request from a friend just recently about his Daughter starting up a web based business and I felt committed to help her out achieve some success.
    Here is the page: www.e-vaporize.co.uk
    this is not my page, but definitely if you can stop and visit that may make another little success story out there.

    the good ones should be paid attention and brought above , is a constant fight between the irrelevant and the worthy not from the commercial side but from the synergic and for that the World will change.
    Although social media is inundated is also our responsibility to promote that which is good and positive in any way.
  • Jun 6 2013: I invite you to check in with the discussion on the debate section about whether the Internet is a facilitator or basically a pacifier. You may find we have a lot in common in wondering why things aren't much more productive than they are. The problem with so-called "social media" is that it is a product of pure opportunism which reflects no comprehension of social evolution. It merely gives you functionality to store stuff and calls itself a social medium. Just like forums, it offers a new form of entertainment that is quite engaging in that you get to interact with strangers and knock stuff around, but it is beholden to commercialism as its business model and therefore so centered on facilitating it's funding sources that it seems to have little if any want of anything but profit for itself. And when they went public, they showed they are mostly profiteers with no social or political interest. They are the establishment in revolutionary clothing.

    IMO they have done no service to call themselves "social media" and sell people's information to advertisers, or "own" rights to it themselves. A real visionary social media product should cost some money and not be free of charge where the money comes from undercutting the user and benefiting corporate exploitation. It has to be understood that it's not "free" no matter what and that people are paying prices they don't understand. A social network should be 100% value-centric on the user community, not on the back end of some scheme to make a few billion dollars. I don't think you can "serve two masters" and that's why FaceBook is impotent. Twitter has some potential but again, it's the same business model of seemingly free functionality with a commercial objective its users don't contract into. And Twitter is elitist--it does not facilitate any vision of change itself. It just offers this new wrinkle on communications for it own enrichment. A "value renaissance" must be triggered by new players.
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    Jun 2 2013: And it does amplify our voice we've never been this connected globally before, we simply reach more people when using social media. Now everyone doesn't become a rock star but that's not really possible either.
    Every story is amplified when shared or commented.
    How many voices do you amplify everyday? not billions i suspect? Maybe hundreds, and the reason you chose these are? the same reasons most other chose them therefore the not so good/nice/fun things get lost in the sea and we just save the most precious gems we can.
  • Jun 2 2013: To have any social media material go viral,you must create an interest by presenting content that is fair,pleasing or seductive which can generate a persuasive urge for people to share it with others.
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    May 30 2013: First of all to amplify your voice or to make someone hear you , it is not necessary that you make controversial posts.Today social media has been playing a key role in the society..Everyone are being active in social networking sites. To amplify your voice you must actively participate in different fields like posting your views about the current situations,etc. People always listen to one who makes sensible comments. And its obvious you need to make as many friends as possible and just be active in different groups, express yourself now and then , reply to others posts which may help others feel your presence. And last but not the least your post must really possess some content then your post will surely reach a remarkable mark!
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    May 29 2013: Here's a video that makes me happy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
    These things happen in life. And most of the time, somebody gets away with it.

    My dear, dear, AI -- these things ARE quite random. Furthermore, if someone could manage to create this phenomena intentionally, they would. Some major corporation (like a rental car company, or potato chip company) would create a social media storm about once a year. They would then ride that unearned fame to Billions of euros in profit!

    Fancy that!
  • May 28 2013: Hey there, QF!
    Wow, as a struggling musician, I sure wish I knew the answer to your question!

    Have you seen Alex Day's talk, "The Future of Music"? I just posted it on another conversation, but it seems relevant to this one too:
    http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-Future-of-Music-Alex-Day-at
    Alex describes how he managed to become the first unsigned artist to hit the number 1 spot in the UK Christmas chart in the shortest amount of time - 30 days to be exact. How he did it, was how a lot of folks do it. He chased his dream, was surrounded by support and believers, he could visualize his goal and found an unorthodox way to make it happen, despite the odds being against him.
    He also had a tremendous, loyal following to begin with.
    Another good example of how someone used social media to amplify their voice is Amanda Palmer, who also found an unusual path to success paved by the support of her loyal fanbase:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking.html

    I think 'gong viral' has everything to do with luck and a loyal fanbase. The amount of 'likes' you may accumulate mean nothing if they are not genuine.
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    May 28 2013: i think it mainly depends on the producer's view on the subject and what they choose to expose on their broadcsating systems.
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    May 28 2013: The person who can answer why a tweet, or a video goes viral correctly, will be a mllionaire in no time.

    If i knew it i will be tweeting away to glory.

    I assume no body knows it exactly.

    If some body claims to know it than let him produce a tweet or a video which will go viral.
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    May 28 2013: I so just had to come here. The irony of your question compared to 4 responses was just such a contradiction. Look Fritzie has as usual smashed the answer, he is spot on. Tho that said, in all the hype surrounding something going viral it does start with your innovator/ first to market group who in turn lead others to a trend which then becomes mainstream.

    Like minds it seems tend to think alike and more often than not I find Fritzie posts wherever I also go. In this respect I would postulate that he is one of the innovators and at a guess he probably has people who will follow him and also then contribute.

    To go viral I think, you need to resonate with your audience, your message needs to be compelling. By this I mean truly funny, or talented or riveting. It needs to cut thru the ordinary and mundane. Achieve these milestones and I think you will get social media penetration. The reason it doesn't happen very often, is probably because it needs to be extraordinary.... whether it be in looks, talent, uniqueness or whatever other special differentiator! :D
    • May 29 2013: Hey TT,
      I think you're right, that your message needs to "cut thru the ordinary and mundane". Unfortunately, in my opinion, many people interpret this as coming up with a 'gimmick'. Presenting yourself in the most bizarre way possible in order to stick out is to me the opposite of genuine, but it is often what attracts the most attention.
      I can only imagine the amount of truly extraordinary talent out there, that just never reaches the surface...
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        May 30 2013: And you are right. people are going to further extremes to get themselves noticed, often with dire consequences.
        The internet is really quite new. It is going to take a while for things to settle down.
        What do I mean by this?
        To me there will be an evolutionary process whereby there will be a categorisation of internet inputs via niche interests of groups. In this regard, the cream will always rise to the top!
        Mark my words.... I'm the time traveller!
        :D
        • May 30 2013: That is such a good point, TT - the internet is indeed still relatively new! We've seen such an evolution already over the past decade or so, and it's only the beginning...

          Is this idea something you are working on? Sounds like a great idea!