Monday, March 29, 2010

We’re All Smug B@stards Now

There’s an unwritten rule among people who write jokes. If I tell you an original joke, you are free to retell it. The first three times, it’s only polite to mention where you got it. But after that, drive it like you stole it.

Over at Marketing with Meaning, Bob Gilbreath is giving us the rundown on the sights, sounds and lessons of SXSWi10. As I didn’t get to make the trip this year, I’m grateful for the vicarious education.

In his most recent installment (at least as I write this) Bob shares some thoughts from Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody.

The central thesis of the lesson is this:

… all sharing is not created equal. While all forms of sharing can bring positive feelings, different types come at different costs.

Just go read it. I’ll wait.

It’s all true: We’re programmed to share. In addition to the cost of sharing there are the personal benefits of sharing that play an important role. Mostly those benefits are, well … social. There’s status in being the first to discover a new band, new restaurant, latest joke. Sharing is how we get credit for the discovery.

What’s new with SocMed technology is the ability to document your firstness (or at least early discovery) and track the conversation. That social status of being the bearer of useful (or at least interesting) information is not new.

Ever watch two guys give somebody directions at the same time?

Ever notice the expression on a friend’s face when he realizes you’ve heard the joke before?

Shareable information – a joke, an image, a new link – makes us feel connected. The same is true for having the beta version of the latest game or the scoop on a new product launch.

It makes us feel plugged in. Give your audience something they not only can share but gain status from sharing and you’ve made a friend. Make enough friends and you’ve got an army. Raise a large enough army and … well, y’know.

So the challenge is this: What do you have that the audience of your audience wants?

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