Social Media: In the End, It's All About Interaction and Engagement

in engagement •  9 months ago 

I've had a twitter account since January 2008 — so it's coming up on 11 years old. I've also had a Facebook page... as well as "pages" for various businesses and interests... for almost as long as there has been Facebook.

In the meantime, we have this new paradigm called Steemit — or, in the broader sense, blockchain based social platforms.

Whereas we might like to think that our "issues" here are unique, there's generally a common thread across all these venues:

Autumn leaf

ONE: Social sites are all about networking, interaction and engagement. They are about people connecting with people across common interests, needs, goals, objectives, buyer/seller connections, desires for friendship, love, learning and what have you.

TWO: No matter what, there are inevitably a bunch of assflakes who seem to think that it would be cool to try to somehow "automate" the human functions of social sites.

Any of this sounding familiar? It should.

Now, I do recognize that "those who would automate" sincerely believe they are offering an improvement over the original paradigm... even though (of course) they are also looking for ways to profit from their inventiveness.

Many moons ago, I remember a friend of mine from the IT industry who was a rather remarkable programmer/developer — as well as a gamer — who had this remarkable obsession with creating code that would actually play the games he was in for him.

Whereas he was able to do some remarkable things, I always ended up back at the same root question: "What's the f^cking POINT?"

Walking a peaceful path

I mean, if I'm interested enough to get a game and play it... I want to play the game, not have it played for me by some piece of code.

That makes no more sense than really loving to cook... so you develop a robot to do all the cooking.

Now, when we bring this back home to social media and someone says "Yeah, but using some automation and AI allows me to reach THOUSANDS of people daily," I really question the effectiveness-validity of that.

It's like the 300-odd marketing emails I get, every day. They get sent by a bot, I don't ever read them, and the resulting electronic "storm" of stuff flying around pretty much amounts to... nothing.

I work a lot with eBay, as one of my sources of income. I have been asked a number of times by my colleagues in the field of selling rare old postage stamps to collectors, how it is that I seem able to get 5x more activity on my items, and the final auction prices are some of the highest on eBay for that type of item.

Well, when I have something of significance to offer, I hand email my customer list of some 600, letting each person know how what I have for sale relates specifically to what I have learned their particular interest to be. There's no machine that does this, because there's no machine that remembers they got a new kitten, and their wife's birthday, and that their son must have graduated from the PhD program.

That — to me — is what social is about!

Leaves in the evening sun

Of course, many would disagree. But here's something interesting: Even as many lament and complain that Steemit seems to have become all bots and guilds, and there's gloom, doom and despair over the slumping cryptosphere, I've noticed somewhat of an uptick in the actual *human interaction" here in our community... as of late.

I like to occasionally poke around in @penguinpablo's Steemit site stats... and whereas a lot of data shows declines, one thing that has stopped declining and is actually upticking slightly since July of this year is the average number of comments per post. Now, you might think it's because of comments left by bid bots, but remember that the number of bidbots has actually declined considerably since July.

So yeah, I do believe the humans of Steemit are quietly coming back to the realization that it takes PEOPLE to be social!

And frankly? That offers me a glimmer of hope, in all the gloom.

Thanks for reading!

What do YOU think? Do you agree that Social Media is — ultimately — about people? Do you think the people of Steemit can "rescue" this place from itself? Any additional thoughts? Leave a comment-- share your experiences-- be part of the conversation!


(As usual, all text and images by the author, unless otherwise credited. This is original content, created expressly for Steemit)
Created at 181215 11:56 PST

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This was so interesting to read. So atractive. I even can not say - why?
Maybe because i could literally feel the warmness ...of human.
I dont love bots (to say the least)

Posted using Partiko Android

I just enjoy interacting with real people, and I try to write in a way that tries to speak directly to the reader.

I wouldn't be part of this community, were it not for the human factor.

You have certainly found your way to do it.

I’m the first one to admit I’m not a great networker. That even though my fourth or fifth post on Steem was about the need to network and build a tribe.

Something I long didn’t need to do anymore until I joined here. Yet, I can not complain about returns, even if my comments sections aren’t the most active.

At the same time ever since April I have been a daily active mod for Steemhunt and also busy in its discord.

I do get “socializing fatigue” which until HF20, and possibly also the race to zero, had fully kicked in kept me away from my feed.

Guilty as charged.

I loathe noise if there’s only little value.

Amidst all drama about what was all wrong on the platform - the typical echo chambers of doom - it was easy to lose interest and focus on only very, very few. Combined with hunting products to Steemhunt, I did lose some followers and I don’t blame them - except maybe for not understanding how things would evolve.

But now, it feels like a throw back to good older days. My feed is rather void of $hitposts, people seem to read and comment again, and the value to noise ratio seems to have improved.

I wonder if when the prizes go up it will be a repeat. History tells us we aren’t necessarily the smartest species so I will brace myself for al. to rinse and repeat come the day...

Until then... I’m rather enjoying all I see again and it definitely helps quiet INTJ me. Even to focus on writing long form again, as I have recently.

That also because it seems that people finally are starting to understand decentralization. And those are topics I love.

The seemingly returned focus is a good and healthy thing. And knowing one is actually occasionally read is a great drive to socialize again too.

Posted using Steeve, an AI-powered Steem interface

I definitely see the value-to-noise ratio improving. Mostly, it feels like a big storm is blowing through... and the value is stickier than the noise. Which makes sense, given that the "quick buck merchants" would leave as soon as their supply starts to dry up.

I reach the point of "socializing fatigue," too (I'm an INFJ) fairly easily, but for me it's very noise-specific. I don't wear out interacting with interesting people about new things I can learn, or with those who have become friends... A recent post of mine ended up with 65 comments; I can't remember the last time that happened, but I see it as positive, even if the rewards were pretty thin.

Can this community come back? Well, I guess my first question points back to yours: "Have we LEARNED anything?"

I'd like to think the maybe 20-25K "sincerely active" accounts that remain would have the ability to find a place of stability, and then each go out and suggest to maybe two or three real people that this is a cool community with some unique features... true grassroots marketing and we slowly rebuild with actual human beings.

But hey, I'm an idealist...

That is a good way to look at it; if every active user on here could just bring in a couple of new ones. That is all me need to get the snowball rolling down the hill again.

Well, "grassroots" tends to be the most successful approach to creating sustainability. Sure, you can attract millions with huge advertising blasts... but what good is that if 99% of them end up inactive within three months? Better to just hand recruit by referral, directly... helps the retention rate.

Yes agree grassroots is better. But do we have time given all the competition coming our way.

Yeah, the drive for automation even when not needed sucks. Not just here but in all aspects of the web. So many think that automating is good when sometimes it really isn't. I remember when the first autovoter was created on Steemit and people were likeyay, I don't have to worry about missing voting on my favourite authors! the thing is though, they mostly stopped reading them too!

Yeah, I remember those early autovoters... and I remember thinking "There goes the neighborhood!"

It works fine as long as just highly engaged manual curators use them as a back-up, and truly know who they are voting for... but for most, they have turned out to be a way to cast fractional "dust" votes for about 500 people... whose posts (as you suggest) they never actually READ.

Exactly!! And it takes the social out of the the social part. I feel sometimes that the social aspect is being forgotten about in the price panic when solutions are being sought out. For me quite simply, if it's not a social enough network it won't attract users.

I have noticed the rise of the dustvoters more so lately, there is virtually no return on curation the way they are doing it, it's mental!!

The emphasis to growth seems to have always been focused on developing new technologies, rather than trying to grow the user base properly , in my opinion.

The RC system is indicative of where the focus is not . (growing users).
Penalizing users for posting and communicating is beyond any 'customer centric' logic that I've ever come across....

I know, rc's were quite the boo-boo. It just ended up seeming like trying to force people to buy sp to interact.

People want millions of users, they want Steem to go to the moon but it won't if your every day Joe can't join and post shit that they like.

...and then you get some people saying things like 'if they cant afford it'....or...'maybe it's not for them'.... the mind boggles.

Agreed entirely! Everybody mistakenly seems to think the panacea here is sheer numbers... and it is NOT.

I wrote a piece (or maybe I just wrote a draft... I forget) about two YouTubers i know... one has 1.2 million subscribers, and the other under 100,000. And yet, the guy with less than 1/10th the number of subscribers gets about 20X more views per video... because he built his subscriber base around actual human social connections, over a really long time.

And don't get me started on the "resource credits" fiasco...

..just to get you started on the RC'

I cannot see for the life of me, how this place will ever grow without changing the system.

....I used an account I hadn't touched for while, a couple of weeks back ( 18 steem in it, I think).
I made one post upvoted 3 or 4 times, and made a few comments - like3 or 4 - and that was it - I was done!
I had to wait until next day - and then I could only do a few comments...bizarre system to attract users.
'Join steemit, the social media platform - and then we'll penalize you for being social!'

I think the worst thing for Steemit was the boom in crypto. The allure of easy money incentivised people to build bots and spam junk in an effort to get rich quick. The return to lower prices means less of that FOMO BS, and more human interaction.

Agreed! I think Steem would also have been better off if Steemit, Inc. had had the courage to "position" the currency more as a "utility coin" but that's evidently a "bad word" because utility coins tend to be boring and more stable... and not capable of going up 100-fold in 3 weeks.

"Everybody wants a crypto Lambo!"

Lambos are really exciting for a holiday weekend, and become a real pain in the ass when you have to start schlepping kids, and groceries and laundry around. But hey, unicorn sparkles are far more exciting than day-to-day reality...

I'm actually seeing some of that human interaction returning... and it's one of the few things that give me a little hope for the future of this place!

I have a Steemit-funded computer. It's more than I ever expected, to be honest.

Understood. Last year, I bought a set of tires for our truck with Steemit rewards and that was also far more than I ever figured I'd get in rewards.

Yes, I agree! I think that interaction has improved since the slump in steem (and all crypto) because the people left are here to be social, and for the long term, not just here on the promise of a fast buck.


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I'm pretty sure that's a fact... the people who were mostly here to strip all rewards they could aren't getting anything much anymore, so that leaves the rest of us. Or, at least, those who didn't leave in disgust!

I think these websites are great tools to help people from different backgrounds come together and keep in touch with friends/family when it is not possible to meet up in person.

It's the "notification" game that I don't like as these big mega corporations/social media outlets know that people look for the hit whenever they post up random things from their day and chase the "like" so to speak. It's just a case of controlling that dopamine urge.

But ultimately, it should be about people and steemit is just another tool to bring people together - one that I happen to like a lot more as I have found an awesome group in the #steemitbloggers and @travelfeed that have welcomed me in and saved me from leaving this platform :)

Yeah, and organizations like Facebook have an entire department of developers called "retention specialists" whose sole function is to tweak the algorithms of people's feeds... in terms of getting people to stay for that dopamine fix.

Steemit is pretty cool in the way it has given rise to self-organizing communities, and you get to really enjoy being part of them. Like Steemitbloggers (which I am also part of).

I know about the "retention specialists" as have seen enough documentaries/videos on YouTube about them from former employees.

I agree that the community feel on steemit with the hundreds if discord channels gives its own kind of "hit" but that's in a good way as you're helping out fellow members and it's a positive spiral 🙂

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Assflakes, that’s a new one for me. I like it, though. Perhaps the uptick in comments means that the crowd here is being thinned to people who want to read and engage more. Still, I miss the buzz and excitement that there was two years ago. It seems like a lot of people have moved on.

You tend to bring up the social media is all about social interaction long a lot, and you’re absolutely right. I also couldn’t agree more with your automated email statement. As soon as something feels like robo-mail, I lose interest.

I think you're right... a lot of the content-spinning "cash cow" people have moved on. Yeah, the buzz and excitement was kind of infectious... at least when it was still about Steemit potential to be a "game changer" in the social content arena. Then it became more about being a game changer in terms of paying people and lost some of the shine. At least for me... it suggested this was just another microcosm of the BS I was here to get away from.

If this is another microcosm if the things you want to get away from, where are you spending time to get away from this? You haven’t made Weku sound like a great alternative.

I agree and it was my way since day one in steemit (I don’t know how to use bots but I just don’t care) but steemit content and ways to post it didn’t help. Steemit fails at the most important part not being social more than monetary exchange network. I love and miss some of the users (last time I entered was 3 months ago) and also I go back to fb (but considering delete my account each day), I had twitter but left it alongside steemit... I consider start vlogging and youtube seems the way. Any of the steem based platforms can engage me and I get tired of studyng all the “tutorials” to be a proper steemian (I even don’t know how to get my money back but I just don’t care neither! It wasn’t the whole point never!)
Idk... thanks for this fresh air breath, mate...

One of the saving graces, for me, is that there are more and more innovative front ends we can use... I have seriously considered using one of the WordPress extensions and simply having a WordPress blog that also posts to Steemit... that way I have a chance to reach both the outer world, as well as the Steemit community.

Don’t consider it any further. Do it. The additional focus on getting not Steem based traffic is a breath of fresh air. The echo chambers eventually do suffocate.

Oh, and yeah, I’m not on Steemit but enjoying Steeve app. The feed is even better. Sometimes I even let the app spam my comments with its link. But I won’t now, not a second time on the same post.

Pretty much everything of mine you see originates from SteemPeak; I grew very attached to it when it first came out and I could start saving drafts of multiple articles, and insert photos from multiple sources and such.

I'll have to check out the Steeve app sometime.

Very true!

And my latest post is up to 66 comments which is very high for one of my posts

Kinda cool to see this happening... there might actually still be life in this gig!

Congratulations @denmarkguy! This post was selected by the @steemitbloggers community as today's Member Boost Post :) It will also receive a complimentary upvote from @Appreciator throughout the course of the day!

You can find the community announcement on Discord :) and it has also been shared on our Steemit Bloggers FB Page and Twitter feed.

Thanks for the support!

Conversation is the only mean to build a good relation and that is only possible if we regularly interact through different social platform.

Posted using Partiko Android

This post is sponsored by @SteemitBloggers in collaboration with @Appreciator. Just keep up the good work.

I totally agree with you on what Social Media is - the people and the interaction with them. Unfortunately, the Facebook "like" button has become too easy to do and has stopped a lot of engagement. We started out on Facebook and have noticed we rarely get engagement, but everyone pushes the "like" button. Forget the fact that the post was actually one of our videos on YouTube that only had three views when there were 230 likes on the post link and no conversation! It is frustrating.

That is when we found Steem. This community is uber engaging and super encouraging. We now do not have as much interaction with Facebook or YouTube. It's a shame really because hardly anyone on the FB page has noticed our lack of activity either on the personal page or the travel page. Sad, so very, very sad.

Great post and I do love the photos you chose to go with your words. Thanks, it was a pleasure to read.

Yes! Absolutely, 100%

I almost automatically discount auto emails. I can smell them from a mile away. However, I've noticed that not everyone is able to do that. Matthew regularly responds to emails that are ads without realizing they are ads.

The human factor is important, but at the same time, the robots are getting better! :-(

Fantastic post!

During down times, it is easy to start questioning the viability and value of the asset. If you are of the mind that Crypto is here to stay, then you can simply look at the value of the community to decide whether steem is going to persist and flourish. You know where I stand!

Good parallels drawn between traditional/centralized social media platforms and the decentralized ones! Great information.

I remember years ago, when I first started playing WoW, I "heard" people talking in Trade Chat about hiring someone to level characters for you. I had much the same reaction - why the frell would you pay someone to do something that's all part of the game? How well could you then play that character after someone else did all the grinding (aka, becoming familiar with rotations, abilities, etc).

So yeah, I agree that connecting with others in an organic way is the whole point of social media, and bots will always be at a disadvantage. And hey, if Ello (the much hyped Facebook killer from a few years back) managed to stay afloat and thrive, Steemit most assuredly will do the same.

Oh, and...


It is nice to see the bots leave (we have HF20 and crypto crash to thank for that) ; but there is still too little interaction on here at the moment for most people. We need to bring in more real users which is happening at its slowest rate since I have been on the platform. Hopefully as you say if the quality to crap ratio can improve then it will begin to attract new people who want to be part of the community again.


TWO: No matter what, there are inevitably a bunch of assflakes who seem to think that it would be cool to try to somehow "automate" the human functions of social sites.

I think this is crazy thinking to automate.
You made me laugh with the why bother.

This. All of this x1000.

I realize on some level, automation is part of the reason that I'm still on this platform as the support that I've gotten that maintains me on here has been largely the result of it. Still, I recognize that it circumvents the intent of this platform and it bothers me. I told someone on a post just yesterday that I was excited two weeks ago to get a sizeable upvote from a well known curation account, but after getting 800+ votes, it only netted me one comment outside my normal commenters.

So I have to ask myself a question when it comes to my goals with making music. If I'm not promoting to make money but rather to get actual engagement which would drive the things I actually want (like getting my music on labels, increased bookings, gaining fans who actually want to hear my music), is it worth it to sink significant time into this platform when you can't actually gauge real engagement? To be fair, this is something that bothers me on many other platforms as well. Fan buying, Bot Promotion, and things of that nature have killed engagement on many platforms and the incentives to do it here are worse than any of those.

Still, I've got faith in this platform and for the time being, I'll be sticking it out. I think automation can be decent in small amounts. For pretty small and controlled communities, it can be the difference between some one staying on the platform and leaving which is a net positive. But something has to change on here or the hemorrhaging of active users isn't going to slow down.

Thanks for this well worded post and articulating some issues I didn't quite have the words for.

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First off, "assflakes" got me laughing. I don't know why that tickled my funny bone, but it did. So thanks for the laugh.

Secondly, social media is about two things - social and media.

You handled the social part pretty well. If you'll have your bot contact my bot, I'll have my bot explain the media part to your bot and then both our bots will have a clue. ;-)

I thought it was just me @blockurator, but "assflakes" got me too!!

It just sounds funny. :-)

Well said @denmarkguy! I completely agree ... with all of it :) Bots and automation take the social out of social media of any kind.

I absolutely love love love your personalized approach to your e-Bay customers too! The fact that they know and feel that you care enough to know something personal about them, certainly lends to the amount of trust they put in you, so of course, they're willing and eager to buy from you too. It's all about people, trust, and connections ... something that goes a long way in life, but unfortunately, something that many have forgotten.

And lastly, assflakes! I've heard of asshats, assholes, ass...a bunch of other things...but never assflakes :) Love it! Thank you for adding to my vocabulary haha

Yeah, I liked the personalized eBay approach too. It certainly works, but it's time consuming, which is why lazy people look for automated ways of doing things.

Unfortunately, so true.

Sometimes it can get overwhelming to engage, engage, engage... but I rather work on that even if it s a little bit late (like now ;D) then to send out something that doesn't really mean anything.
Now that you mention it, it's true. There are more comments on my posts these days...
Wow on the personal emails you send out to your 600 eBay clients....
that's very commendable
Thank you for sharing these thoughts

Well said, interaction is the key on any social media but I have pruned mine down to one, steemit.