I consume a fair amount of digital media over the course of an entire week. I skim many headlines and ignore lots of stories (because I over-subscribe, but have gotten very good at quickly determining if something is going to warrant more than a half-second of interest from me). Because of this method, I can skim a lot of content, and get a topical sense of what’s going on in several arenas. For other areas, I dig in. After I read it, I often want to do something with that, and it’s typically share that content. But I share for different reasons. Below I describe a few of those methods.
I share on five main platforms (in no particular order): Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and my own blog.
NB: You can interpret ‘read’ as ‘consume’, since some of the content I take in is audio or video, too.
Useful – I read something, and I think it’s useful in some way, shape, or form to the people that follow me. It might be a list, a how-to article, a case study – something. This is probably my most typical form of sharing, and I suspect that this is what others do most often, too.
Awareness – I read something that I think might be niche to the people that follow me, and I want to bring more light to it. This is similar to useful, but I share in this sense knowing that some people who follow me may have already seen this, but I want to share anyway – intentionally – so it gets more eyeballs.
Discussion – I read something, and it’s either a bit controversial, thought-provoking, or I downright disagree with it. I might share it (typically not on Twitter, by virtue of the medium) and attempt to start a discussion with people.
Funny – I have a varied sense of humor, but part if it is dark, odd, geeky, and non-mainstream. I don’t typically share pictures of cats, but I’ll share an Onion article if it’s offbeat enough.
Bookmark – I use a few services for myself that end up (intentionally) exposing content to others. One service is delicious. I no longer (and haven’t for several years) book mark anything to my PC anymore. Instead, I do so publicly / in the cloud. This is because I can access the bookmarks anywhere, as well as get a few other benefits from it. Recently, I hooked up If This Then That (ifttt.com) to it, and am running a recipe that goes something like this: anytime I bookmark something in delicious publicly, also tweet* out that link. This is a great service, because sometimes I’ll find a link that fits any of the categories above, so instead of sharing it on Twitter, I’ll just bookmark it, and kill two birds with one stone. However, sometimes I bookmark a site that’s a good reference for me for later on. In fact, I might not even read it as I bookmark it (and subsequently share it). It still probably fits into the useful category, but I’m not expert enough on it to enter a discussion.
* I should note here that I use another service that meters the flow of what I share on Twitter (and recently, Facebook). It’s called Buffer (www.bufferapp.com), and you ought to check it out. It’s free to sign up. So instead of sharing all your content at one time, instead it meters it out at a pre-determined schedule (to your design). This is useful if you do mass amounts of reading early in the morning, at lunch, or at night. Instead of sharing 10 things at one time, it adds them to a queue (or buffer J ) and drips it out over the course of a day/multiple days.
Bookmark, v2 – I may bookmark something that I skim and generally already know. But I want to come back to that list some other time. This is more like a ‘read later’ application for me. In this sense, I do know the subject matter, but might not have read the entire piece verbatim.
Because I want others to see – This is the category I share least often, but it’s worth knowing that there’s a specific reason here. If you follow someone online, you might be able to get a decent sense of what they are like based on what they read and share. You also might be able to get a glimpse into their mind based on how and what they are reading and what sort of digital body language they are giving off. I, too, may want to intentionally send a signal to someone, a group, or something to that effect – I want them to know I’m reading something, and perhaps pick up on why. It’s subtle, but the astute observer wins here.
So, that’s why I do what I do when it comes to sharing. I suspect you have a reason for doing what you do as well. Let me know how and why in the comments.
image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_grey/4582294721/