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To truly love (or passively like) something on the internet

misfit love. by Ibrahim Iujaz

Saturday, I read Robin Sloan's wonderful Fish: a tap essay and enjoyed it on many levels. Sloan created a  new format (the tap essay) to deliver a "short but heartfelt manifesto about the difference between liking something on the internet and loving something on the internet."

Available as a free iOS app and including pre-set tweetable messages, I love the execution and the message and have returned to it at least four times in the past week.

Sloan argues that we exist in a state of content overload and that the ubiquity of the social gesture has diminished its meaning. A "like" doesn't mean the someone "loves" a piece of content and it certainly doesn't mean "I Recommend this...".

In 2009, I worked on a content marketing pilot of a (then new and in closed beta) DiggAd unit. In that pilot we observed the paradox of the social gesture:

We’ve identified something we call the “Moral Digg”. In our testing of the DiggAd platform, readers often didn’t take the time to read a story about environmental or sustainability efforts. But they apparently felt them worthy of greater exposure and/or wished to reward the sentiment behind the story. This translated into a greater proportion of Diggs than actual click-throughs (in one case, one of the lowest-performing ads from a CTR perspective actually had one of the highest number of Diggs), in direct contrast with other content tested. This effect could be harnessed to great effect for stories where the message in the headline exposure/positioning is of equal or greater importance than the story itself, and also demonstrates that CTRs alone are not a suitable solo metric for DiggAds.

My recent career shift meant changes across my social properties. Fish has me thinking about the content I love vs. the content I like and how that plays out as I share across my social properties.

Here's a look at Content Shares on some of the social networks I use:

Leona Hobbs Content Shares: Likes vs. Loves April 2012

What's missing is context and community. I share content I love in all of my social networks (including the ones that aren't shown in the diagram above — Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn).  More frequently I share what I merely like yet found valuable. That's an active like vs. a passive like. 

More awareness of what social gestures actually "do" in social networks helps. For example, a Facebook Like carries some very specific actions on your profile and in the news feed. The Twitter Favorite alerts the account who created the tweet and creates a visible link from your profile. The "+1" serves your content to people in your network as they use Google services. The passive like doesn't consider the impact of your social gesture on your network. Without this consideration and added commentary, the passive like lacks valuable context.

Inspired by Sloan's essay, it's time for a conscious effort to "Look at my Fish" — to focus on content that is worthy of my attention, to ensure that my shares are quality and suited to the network I select for distribution.

Have you read Fish: a tap essay? What did you think?

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