Twitter: The Rant (aka Part II)

Don't mind if I do!

As promised, as there is a break in classes and this is long overdue, I will rant a bit about why I don’t tweet nearly as much as I used to.

First, let me say that there is a time and a place for Twitter. People who use Twitter, tend to do so in order to appraise others of their daily goings on, share information with colleagues or other like-minded individuals, or get the latest scoop on whatever their favorite subject/celeb has to offer. I’m not going to site the resources again (see my first post about Twitter for those), but the point is that there is a time and a place. It is useful.

However, one of the big draws to Twitter is that you can use the internet and social networking to connect to a community (whether it’s geogratphical or topical). The kicker, though, is that people aren’t interested in being a part of a community when they aren’t appreciated, treated fairly, or contributing rather substantially in one way or another. The key here for me, personally, is the former.

I don’t want to be a part of a community that doesn’t value it’s members enough to protect them from each other. A community where one person makes a bad choice and is completely shunned. And another person makes the same choice, but is charismatic, and is cheered as a hero. A community where someone who is honest, and kind, and supportive is dismissed because the person who hurt him is revered. I can not be a part of such a community; I WON’T.

Although Twitter is literally populated with millions of users, in reality, it’s a tiny world where those who know you are GOING to find you whether you want them to read what you’re saying or not. Thank goodness for permissions.

The bottom line for me: If I’m supposed to be able to say whatever is on my mind, and feel safe, I need to know that what I say isn’t going to be used against me in my “IRL” social life. I need to know that I’m not inadvertently giving people fuel for their evil doings. I need to know that when I show up to a “tweetup”, I won’t be subjected to liars, swindlers, and people of an otherwise ill reputed nature. The obvious answer is to stop tweeting; and I have. Or… have I?

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Think Geek: Oh, Trust Me… I DO!

I'm a 'Smart Mass'!

Social validation occurs when we feel as though what we’re doing follows the social norm. When we have the ‘approval’ (implicitly or explicitly) of our peers, we are more likely to want/do/say something. Social validation can work on websites as well. User ratings, comments, and feedback in whatever other form it may take, influences our decisions whether we know it or not. (Weinschenk, 2009)

One website that uses social validation very effectively, is Thinkgeek.com.

A purveyor of all things g33ky, Thinkgeek.com uses several forms of social validation; some that are mentioned by Weinschenk (2009) and some that are not. For example, Thinkgeek.com uses Facebook “liking”, and announces how many people have “liked” each item. They also have customer comments just under the product. Thinkgeek.com also promotes the idea tthat the customers are all a family of sorts; wayward nerds in search of a place to call home, and they’ve provided that home along with our own monkey, Timmy. Following this lead, which not only Thinkgeek.com utilizes for social validation (e.g., Timmy and the staff think you’ll like a Spiderman hoodie, etc.), but the customers also use it in comments (e.g., A Think Geek girl knows when to ‘Bazinga’, etc.).

One very unique social validation technique Thinkgeek.com uses, is that hey actually encourage and promote photos of customers using the products they sell. The call this ‘Customer Action Shots’. On every item’s page, as well as the home page, there are photos that customers have sent in to model the product they’ve purchased from Thinkgeek.com. Weinschenk (2009) notes that the more we feel we know someone, and can relate to them, the more we trust their judgement. She notes that when we don’t have enough information about them, we tend to take their comments and suggestions into consideration less than we would have (2009). How better to “get to know” someone, than to see a picture of them in their natural setting? In addition, encouraging us to take pictures of ourselves using our products, promotes the feeling of family that Thinkgeek.com works so hard to provide.

Knowing that others are buying or using the same products that we are interested in, helps us feel confident in our decisions; particularly as consumers. Thinkgeek.com uses social validation to nearly its full extent. Many of Weinschenk’s suggestions to web designers, for how social validation can be used to promote sales, customer loyaly, and customer satisfaction, can be found here; a notion that Thinkgeek.com would take g33ky pride in.

References:

Thinkgeek.com. (2011). Retrieved from: http://www.thinkgeek.com/

Weinschenk, S. (2009). Neuro web design: What makes them click? Berkeley: New Riders.