How Are You Using Your Social Media Super Powers?

By Posted in - Social Media for Writers on July 16th, 2011 14 Comments

I was attending a conference of the International Society for the Study of Time in Asilomar a few years ago when one of the learned speakers predicted that content curation would be the big business of the internet’s future.

How right he was.

Last week I accepted an invitation to Google+ from Rebecca Woodhead (more of that in a later post) and the first thing that struck me was the way it was being used. Or underused. It’s a clean, beautiful, empty canvas for the sharing of information, but most users are filling their streams with posts about the way the site works, tasteless gifs, and pictures of cats. As cute as cats are (and I have two Bengal cats so I really mean that), I don’t think it’s the best use of the site’s potential for reaching a massive audience and being reshared at viral level. Surely we should encourage the posting of real information or content that enriches our lives beyond a momentary “awwww…”?

With that in mind, here are a few sites that I find a lot of curious and interesting information from. None of it too heavy. All of it entertaining. Just not banal.

They reflect my personal interests, so even when I’m not directly talking about myself or my writing, they still give followers an insight into who I am. Thanks to the tireless creation of a few of the Internet’s treasure troves, we now have collections of archival material that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. Social networks are sharing more information than any other media or form of communication. It is up to you what you share there. It’s your own personal magazine or newspaper. So consider the content you’re sharing. Up your game. Then maybe social media won’t feel like such a useless time suck.

Storify,, and Pearltrees are all arriving at a moment when the web is hungry for curation and the tools to power curation.

Which sites would you include?

Why not create your own list of your favourites to mine for gems worth sharing?



(14) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Michael - Reply

    July 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Hey Lia,

    Most of the sites you mentioned I wasn't even aware of. Thanks for the recommendations!

    I'm addicted to TED so I would definitely include many of those videos in my curation, but I have yet to receive a Google+ invite. 🙁 I agree with you though that content curation is the future (maybe even current state) of the Internet. And how you utilize your social media superpowers is more important than looking fancy in blue spandex and a red cape.

    I haven't gotten a chance to play around with Google+ myself so it's interesting that what you describe here as best usage of Google+ is exactly what Tumblr has been for a while now. I've been doing my content curation on Tumblr. And through Tumblr's wide community I've managed to befriend a number of potential readers…who are not writers themselves (important distinction).

    Someone I follow in Tumblr (and who's opinion I respect) also posted this today:

    "Much of what people love Google+ for has existed in various forms for years. One thing I have seen people laud repeatedly is that this is a social idea stream (like Twitter) that allows comment, reflection and discussion in combination with real-time distribution and sharing with broad audiences. It’s a combination meal of the river of information and some of the two-way information flow of a blog.

    … this is what many of us have been doing on sites like Tumblr … for some time. I think there’s a lack of outside knowledge that sites like Tumblr do exactly this … they are real-time social streams that make the content part of the experience instead of a series of links. While it lacks the privacy controls and group separations of Google+ (and many other Google+ features), this upgraded rich info stream is not a new idea and I don’t think this is even the best example of it. "

    Link to the rest:

    But I'm certainly not here to promote Tumblr or bash Google+. I'm looking forward to jumping in to Google+ as soon as I get an invite or whenever it goes public. It will most likely be a great addition to all the other social stuff that's around. I'm always one to jump into a shiny new thing early (if only to steal my url before someone else does lol).

    But it means nothing if you're not utilizing it for all its worth, which is essentially what you said in your post, and I totally agree with.


  • LiaKeyes - Reply

    July 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Michael, I really appreciate your thoughtful, articulate comment! I'm a big fan of Tumblr myself and will definitely follow yours. I've just sent you an invite to Google, so look for it in your gmail inbox – check the junk box if you don't find it. Come back and let me know what you think when you've had a chance to play with it for a couple of weeks! You can find my G+ profile at – let's connect there!

  • Michael - Reply

    July 17, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Thanks for sending me the invite! So far I'm having fun building circles. I'll continue to play around with it for a few days and I'll let you know what I think. 🙂

    • LiaKeyes - Reply

      July 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

      My pleasure, Michael. Enjoy poking around and see what you think once you've found your bearings there. By the way, I'm not sure where your wonderful comment went! I exported the whole blog to Blogger (just in case that becomes a smart move later, and will be mirrroring the WordPress posts there, but somehow during the transition your disappeared. So upsetting! Especially at some godawful hour of the morning. Apologies!

      • Michael - Reply

        July 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

        Hey Lia,

        I'm not to bothered by the disappearing comment act. It happens, and it's not your fault. Besides, here's a shiny new comment to replace it.

        My assessment of Google+ (so far):

        Ever since the Great MySpace Exodus, I've curbed my enthusiasm when it comes to brand new social networks. I purposely refrained from using Google+ in epic fanboy fashion: "Ooooh, something shiny and new! So exciting!" My approach was much more subdued this go round.

        Over this past week, I tried to be as mundane in my usage as possible because that's were you can really assess the environment of a social site objectively. You can really tell how you feel about a new toy after that initial shininess wears off. Look how often kids toss the fancy, talking and blinking thingawhatsit9000 into a corner only to play with the cardboard box it came in.

        So, what do I think of Google+? It's cheese pizza.

        There's nothing wrong with cheese pizza. I love cheese pizza, but I've been eating cheese pizza from other shops already. Thin crust, deep dish, I've had it all and they were equally as delicious as is this new Google version of cheese pizza. But right now, as much as I'm enjoying it, it's still just cheese pizza. Nothing to go wild and crazy over.

        What I love most about G+ is the community. It's like a more mature version of Tumblr in that respect. Tumblr has a great community, but depending on who you follow, your dashboard could fill up with lol gifs and Tom Felton mania pretty fast. Nothing wrong with any of that of course. I'm a fan of all those things (including Tom Felton), but the more cultured environment of the G+ community is welcome change of pace. Both communities can coexist in the same arena as far as I'm concerned. Nobody has to die.

        I gotta be honest though, I've sat there and built a bunch of intricate circles, only to not even utilize them because I don't have the time or the inclination to keep track of who's in them. Yes, they're labeled, but oftentimes, the things I post or reshare can be shared with multiple circles or everybody. So, I end up just sharing with everybody anyway. Circle schmirkle. If you don't like what I'm sharing, that's really no ones fault. No one should be punished or scolded for something so trivial in the grand scheme of life. Not that this has ever happened to me. It hasn't. But the circles, although useful, are not as useful as they might want to be.

        Overall, Google+ is great. But so are all the other social networks. I'm having a ton of fun playing around with G+. But I'm having fun elsewhere too. And too much fun means not enough writing. That serves the social networking site creators well, and it pleases the souls of the zealots who champion them, but it's not good for me. Beyond a certain threshold, it all becomes noise.

        I don't require Google+ to be a Facebook/Twitter killer. (What is with our obsession with inanimate deaths anyway? What's that about?) I dare even ask, do I really need G+? Possibly. That question could be asked of any social network, frankly. Humans have already survived socially for hundreds of thousands of years without them.

        But if I do need G+, I'll be okay with that. More cheese pizza for me. If I don't need it, I won't be bothered by that either. Google isn't the only one in town who makes cheese pizza. And that's what makes our world so beautiful.

  • LK Hunt - Reply

    July 17, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Hi Lia,
    Great post, and rather interesting. My issue with Google+ is the time drain that I already spend on social media. But now that I have read your post, I'm wondering if I have been doing it right.
    Perhaps G+ is the perfect and ideal way to start fresh with a targeted approach?
    No idea. I'll just keep tapping away at it for the moment… and see how I go.

    • LiaKeyes - Reply

      July 17, 2011 at 11:32 am

      I think that's all any of us can do, Leigh. It's fun to have new (perhaps improved) options, but it does throw us into a quandary about which to choose. We can't maintain them all, not well, anyway.

  • Robert Sloan - Reply

    July 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Great post! Actually I'm glad so many people are into posting cute pictures of their cats – cat fantasy is one of my genres! That and I think Sabertooth is going to be a big hit among cat lovers. It's what their best friend dreams about while watching Walking with Beasts…

  • Robert Sloan - Reply

    July 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    G+ is a lot of fun though, glad it's expanding. It's a little easier than Facebook and runs so fast.

    • LiaKeyes - Reply

      July 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

      I enjoy the immediate gratification and easy sharing. It's visually more airy and spacious, too. Nice for creative types!

      And you can post cat pictures any time you like. I'm a huge cat lover. It's just that's ALL some people post. Variety is the spice of life, so they say… 🙂

      • Robert Sloan - Reply

        July 28, 2011 at 12:29 am

        Purr thanks! LOL – at least some of mine have very big teeth and are also writing comments! I don't think I fall into just cat gushing, though I do adore my Ari.

  • Michelle Fayard - Reply

    July 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    One of my concerns about Google+ or any other new social media is how do our followers keep up with us if we're at so many different places? Because I don't know who is looking at what, I find myself putting the news on my blog, FB profile and fan pages, and Twitter, but for some that becomes repetition. I'm glad you did a post about this, Lia.


    P.S. I'm glad to be a new follower!

    • LiaKeyes - Reply

      July 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

      Michelle, I think this will only be a problem in the short term. In the next year or so we'll know how G+ is shaping up, and how users are responding. There'll be demographic surveys done. We'll start to get a clearer picture of where we should be focusing our efforts.

      If other people find G+ as rewarding as I'm finding it (faster, and more interaction from a broader and larger spectrum of people), then I think Facebook will start to fade from prominence. For me, as a writer with books to sell at some point, I suspect that G+ works best for me. I may convert my Facebook page to a fan page (which doesn't take as much time as you can't comment on personal profiles unless you have a personal profile (another thing I don't like about Facebook) and focus my attention on G+.

      I barely use Twitter as it is. Although I have a ton of followers, they rarely speak directly to me, seeming to prefer to broadcast rather than interact.

      So once we've seen what other goodies Google has in store for us (Google Blogs is one to watch), and G+ users find more and more of their friends appearing on G+, they'll feel safer about dropping at least one of the other networks, if not both. I know I can't do it all.

      Update: A week further into Google+ and I'm beginning to think that different networks are going to appeal to different demographics. I see older people staying with Facebook and younger ones enjoying the airy feel and fast pace of Google+. It's like Twitter, but with threaded comments and real words (no truncated words in an effort to squeeze meaning into 140 characters).

  • Pawan Deshpande - Reply

    August 3, 2011 at 11:19 am

    When it comes to diving into the world of any new social outlet, there are a lot of questions as to whether or not it will be successful. With over 20 million people checking into Google+ in only a few weeks, there is an explosion of information on all fronts because everyone is so excited to be part of such a new thing.

    The question, really, is what happens once the hype dies down. Once a few months have passed and everyone has settled in, will we still be asking these questions? Facebook is going to be the top dog for a long time because, when it comes to a head start, they have years and years and years of direct social networking experience, so I'm excited to see Google combat that.

    Who knows what we'll see next.

    Pawan Deshpande
    CEO, HiveFire (creators of content curation solution Curata)

Please leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.