Radio silence on social media

I think one invisible hurdle that proves to be difficult for everyone who puts content out online is the silence you can often get on social media. You think something will get a lot of likes, comments, or shares and it falls flat for one reason or another.

If nobody interacts with your post at all, you’ll quickly assume you said something wrong or that people don’t like what you posted. It can actually feel uncomfortable, you just put yourself out there and nobody is reciprocating. It causes many people to delete their post altogether after only 5 minutes of silence. I know because I did it before. The more work you put into the post, the more uncomfortable the lack of interaction is. This applies for all digital interactions too, anywhere you expect a response: text messages, emails, DMs, comments, etc.

I put up a video on Facebook the other day with a lengthy description of why my friend is an important part of the community. I spent an hour thinking about, wording, and rewording the post and was pretty sure it would gain a bit of traction right away. And despite having over 400 friends who are often interested in what I post, I received absolutely no likes for 17 long minutes until my dad gave me a like. (Thanks pops!)

edit: now that I have distance from when this was originally written, I believe much of the discomfort originated from my expectation that it would be a post that gets a lot of likes amongst my small group of Facebook friends.

I think this pain associated with silence and has to do with the need to be liked and socially accepted. It’s the source of where all these terrible social media strategies come from too. People will buy thousands of fake followers, they’ll give likes only so they can get likes, and comment on YouTube videos of people they subscribed to asking for a “sub” back. They’re being selfish givers. They want to trick people into liking them and thinking they’re famous. But a high follower count doesn’t actually equal being valued to those people. Are a good fraction of those followers actually real people in real places who share your stuff and talk about it to their friends or family? Would they buy a product from you?

Back to the pain of silence: Seth Godin made an important point in an interview about a concept he calls Unlimited Bowling.

When we were kids, my mom, fully exasperated, would survive a day when school was closed by dropping a bunch of us off at Sheridan Lanes for a few hours of bowling.

You only had a certain amount of money to spend, and each game (and the snacks) cost, so we knew that one could only play a few games. Which meant that every single roll mattered. Don't waste one.

Unlimited bowling is a whole different concept. As many games as you want. Roll to your heart's content.

When you're doing unlimited bowling, you can practice various shots. You can work on the risky splits. You can bowl without remorse.

As you've guessed, the fat pipes of the internet bring the idea of unlimited bowling to much of what we do. [...] It's a special kind of freedom, we shouldn't waste it

This post was originally written and published on my website on July 6th, 2016.

P.S. I’m willypgh on Snapchat.