I’ve just come across the term “blind social sharing”. It was coined, as far as I can tell, by the people at AddToAny, a social media sharing tool, during the course of a study that showed people have a tendency to blindly post or retweet content without really a) adding any personal comments to the link or b) reading the content they’re retweeting.
It’s an interesting phenomenon and one that I am guilty of perpetuating.
Writing on Mashable, David Spark looks more closely at blind social sharing and the way in which it can affect your online credibility.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the effect of blind sharing can be seen on two tiers:
Strong influencers – those who are recognised as credible sources of information; industry experts, if you will.
Plebs – not the technical term for ordinary folks trying to carve out an online identity by interacting, however superficially, on various social networking platforms.
Influencers benefit from blind links, which is a simple tweet or share of a story headline and the link. AddToAny found that influencers get a 400% clickthrough rate. But, adding some commentary pushes that up to 500%.
Blind sharing, on the other hand is slightly more dangerous. This is when you retweet or share a story without reading. You look at the title and you look at who posted it and you think ‘hey, this shouldn’t be too bad’. The aim of this kind of sharing is to try and boost your social presence and maybe, just maybe, bolster your online reputation. After all, if you’re reweeting a power user, you must also have some kind of credibility by association, right?
Because once again we have a two tier system. Power users or influencers can get away with blind sharing, but ordinary folk are unlikely to see any benefits. This is according to AddToAny. AddToAny’s founder, Pat Diven, equates it to shouting in a vacuum.
However, Joe Fernandez, who is CEO of Klout, which specialises in measuring online influencer ratings, says that people can increase their brand through sharing.
So, who is right?
It seems that the two findings are mutually exclusive; you can’t boost your online brand or credibility while not boosting your online brand or credibility.
But what if the two aren’t mutually exclusive? What if there is a middle road?
Blind social sharing is not all bad. It’s not bad when you absolutely trust the source. And blind links are not all bad if the title is pretty descriptive and you’re in a hurry and you don’t do it all the time.
If you’re not entirely sure of the source of something that appears to be interesting, click the link. It won’t take more than a few seconds to find out whether it delivers on its promise or is, in fact, absolute twaddle.
Mix up blind links with links that add a personal opinion or two. It doesn’t have to be massively insightful, but if you pose an interesting question or have a contrary view, you might be surprised at the interaction you generate. Of course this only works if you’ve read the story you’re posting.
The moral of the story is to treat blind links and blind sharing with circumspection. Even power users can share the occasional spammy link and by retweeting or sharing it you’ll be the one who looks a right fool. Blindly sharing spam will cost you more than it will power users.
So, take the time to have a quick squiz at content before you share. And, wherever possible, add a quick word or two on what you think.
It may seem like a chore when you’re trying to keep your head above social waters while still doing your day job, but it’s worth it in the end.