Yesterday I was teaching a “Social Media in Real Estate” class in Denver. At the end of the class, one of the participants asked why some people (like myself) use the “@” symbol in front of people’s names when addressing them on social networks that are NOT Twitter. She wondered how these social networks were interconnected and how that “@” symbol on ONE network affected that person on another network.
I told her that it didn’t.
“Then WHY would someone use that, if there was no connection?” Good Question.
Simply put, the connection is PEOPLE – All the PEOPLE who are using all these different social networks … But it got me thinking (which can be dangerous if you know me …).
I recalled the fact that I use the “@” symbol when addressing people on Facebook, and even in emails.
I recalled the fact that I have an inner 140-character-Twitter- limit sensor that usurps the 160-character-texting-limit in my mind.
I recalled the fact that, when hanging out with other Twitter users IRL, I will actually SAY “Hashtag [insert witty phrase here]” to emphasize/categorize something I just said. Dorky? Yes. Absolutely. But all my Twitter friends “get” it and that makes it fun …. and relevant to our conversation.
I recalled the fact that when I turn on my computer or pick up my phone, I tend to check Twitter before any other social network.
People are the connections between all these different social networks … But like in the OFFLINE world, we all communicate slightly different, based on where we are from … our HOMES … thus reflecting a different DIALECT.
Social Media Dialects
Everyone who participates in online communities generally has ONE community where they feel more at HOME – the place where they tend to gravitate … spend more time.Yes, many of us can be found in many networks, but there is usually that “one” place where we call HOME.
Because of this, we tend to integrate the social norms of that community into who we are and those tendencies, those Social Media Cultural differences tend to leak into our other activities… and our other social network interactions.
So I started paying a bit more attention to the social media dialects of my friends.
- One friend speaks in third person. On Twitter, they tend to ineffectively keep their comments to less than 140 characters. They have a lot to say about what everyone else is saying. They love online games and quizzes. They use the term “friend me” when asking to connect with someone… regardless of the network.
These are all traits of a person who speaks with a Facebook dialect.
- Another friend is always sharing videos. On Facebook, many of their messages are in the form of an actual video – personal or shared.
These are traits of someone who speaks in a YouTube dialect.
- There is my friend who t@lk$ l!k3 +h!$ and has an infatuation with sharing internet bumper stickers and animated GIF’s.
These are the traits of someone who speaks with a MySpace dialect.
- Then there is my friend who LOVES to share photos. They upload and link all kinds of photos for any occassion. They are the first ones to respond whenever I also post a picture.
These are the traits of someone who speaks with a Flickr dialect.
- And of course, there are the people like me: We have become quite effective at sharing a HUGE idea with very little verbiage. We use “#” (hashtags) for emphasis, side comments and categorization. We insert the “@” symbol in front of a person’s name to indicate we are addressing them. We are forever fearful of platform-specific Direct Message options (DMFail). We use the term “follow me” when wanting to connect with someone… regardless of the platform. We are also the ones who know each other BETTER by our Twitter names than our “regular” names. [I am @mizzle]
We are the people who speak with a Twitter dialect.
And the interesting thing is that these traits transcend the community they come from and become a part of all the communities each person participates in.
Interesting Read: Seth Godin Asks “What Sort of Accent do You Have?“
That is Entertaining and All, But Who Cares?
Like offline, if you know where someone is coming from, you can have a much better understanding if who they are, what is important to them and how to effectively interact with them.
- If I befriend someone who has a Facebook dialect, I may want to make sure that I write on their wall and “like” one of their updates on Facebook.
- If I befriend someone who has a Flickr dialect, I could totally strengthen our friendship by acknowledging and favoriting some of their pictures on Flickr.
- If I become friends with someone with a YouTube dialect, leaving video comments on their Facebook wall and sharing their YouTube videos with my other friends may be a great idea.
Basically, understanding the different social media dialects gives you the opportunity to consciously connect with other people on their turf – taking an interest in where THEY call HOME.
In the land of ever-increasing social media popularity, understanding the different dialects can be a crucial part of your effective online interaction… and a great way to better the friendships that you already have.
I speak Twitter … You?