“The global village that was once the internet was has been replaced by digital islands of isolation that are drifting further apart each day.”
– Your Filter Bubble is Destroying Democracy, Wired magazine
Since the U.S. Presidential election on November 9th, talk of echo chambers and filter bubbles has exploded. As more and more people get their news from sites like Facebook and Twitter, articles shared by like-minded social media friends tend to reinforce our already-held opinions. The end result is echo chambers of homogenous thought, where the same points of view get repeated over and over without any dissenting views.
What does this mean for social media monitoring and how can you use this phenomenon to enhance your social media strategy?
1. Put social media conversations into context.
Get an inside look at an echo chamber by digging in and understanding what’s beyond the surface -- what’s the insight behind that single Tweet or that trending hashtag? Imagine that you’ve discovered an emerging topic of conversation that is critical of your organization. How do you know when it’s time to sound the alarm? To answer that in 2 words, it depends. It depends on the origin of the echo chamber.
For example, in politics, you may not be very concerned to find your opponent’s ardent supporters criticizing you, but it’s an entirely different story if your own supporters change their tune and turn against you.
Or, if your competitor just launched a new product that is getting a lot of love on social media, it's a lot more concerning if that love is coming from your some of your staunchest fans than from your competitor’s.
The point is that just understanding “what” is being said is not enough, you have to understand “who” is talking. Identify the biggest voices, check out their profiles, understand their influential power, this will give you a sense of who is driving the conversation.
2. Identify and monitor echo chambers that are relevant to your interests.
You may miss some of the most important conversations taking place if you aren't listening to the right echo chambers. Major headlines of the day may get the most attention from social media users at large, but it may not be relevant to what your supporters are talking about. If all you do is monitor your own mentions, you’ll miss out on the stories that are resonating with your most important groups.
Instead, keep a running list of the groups or echo chambers that matter the most to you, and check in regularly on what they're talking about. You also don’t want to miss out on what your competition is saying. If you’re Coca-Cola, you need to monitor PepsiCo to understand the other side of the competition. Whether it’s commercial, political, or everything in between, you need to step out of your comfort zone and into the shoes of your target audience.
3. Embrace the opportunity to interact with your social media audience.
Also known as carpe diem. Echo chambers are not just a challenge, they’re an opportunity. The true power of social media has always been much more than the ability to reach a wide audience. What truly sets social media apart is the ability to interact with large numbers of people in ways that are tailored to your audiences.
As you keep tabs on what your most important echo chambers are talking about, use that information to drive content strategies.
- Talk about the things that they care about
- Respond to key conversations to advance your talking points
- Use the hashtags that they use and mention the key participants that you've identified
If you can successfully resonate with echo chambers, you can shape the reverberations echoing about in the social media space, bolstering your social media strategy with an advantage over others.