Disclaimer: A part of me loathes the fact that I am writing an article about Social Media. Please, don't judge me too harshly; I still write daily with my fountain pen and fine paper. While I adore the old school, Social Media is here to stay, thus we should learn to use it properly and exploit its power whenever possible.
While Social Media tends to get a bad rap from the various personal productivity experts, I approach the topic with a neutral approach. Yes, Social Media can be a massive distraction and highly addictive when used unwisely, however, it can also be a fantastic tool when used with a clear purpose, specific goals, and a heavy dose of self-discipline. Similar to many tools in life, it can be used for good or can be a significant roadblock to success and personal productivity. While I am not here today to advocate for Social Media use as a worthwhile or worthless endeavor, I will highlight the good, and specifically, an area where we vastly underutilize its potential as a tool for said good. The topic I tackle today is the "like vs. retweet" features on Twitter, and one could apply the same approach to "likes vs. shares" on Facebook as well. As Twitter is my Social Media tool of choice, I will focus mainly on the topic of "likes vs. retweets."
In short, we like far too many tweets and retweet far too little. We are missing an opportunity to use Twitter as a productive tool, instead falling into a trap where so many users of Social Media fail; our narcissistic tendencies and the never ending quest for a quick hit of dopamine (likes) trump the ability to virally spread important messages to the masses (retweet). A "like" provides little value; to desire likes is nothing more than an ego-driven quest for higher and higher numbers, as the more likes we get the better we feel about our self-worth as humans. It is quite sad, indeed. A retweet, by comparison, allows us to share (hopefully virally), information and content that we think would be beneficial to others. And it is in the retweet that Twitter becomes more than a Social Media platform, it becomes a massively powerful communication tool used to spread ideas, knowledge, and "stuff people need to know" in general. To like someone's tweet is to massage their ego; to retweet valuable content is to change the world (or at the very least educate the masses). It is on retweets we should focus, not likes.
Three recent examples highlight the above points, and they come close to angering me in a way - I want to shout: "more retweets!!!" To those who chose to only like the following tweets:
In the first example, we'll look at two separate tweets concerning Liberty's recent jump from FCS to FBS football. FBS football was a dream of this university since our founding in 1971, as from the start our goal was not to be another small bible college, no, the dream was to be a top national university, a "Triple A" school if you will, with top national Academics, Arts, and Athletics, all while maintaining a Christ-centered focus. The move to FBS football was the absolute biggest news, the single biggest event, to ever happen to this university from an athletic standpoint, in our entire history. This news sent ripples across the national college football landscape, and for Liberty, it was a long-time dream come true. Given the gravity of the event, one would think the Social Media response would be fitting; sadly, it was not.
The original Liberty Flames Twitter handle tweet is below, with 315 retweets and 370 likes. My question is to the 55 users who chose to like the news but declined to retweet said news...what were they thinking? Again, this was and is the single biggest news, the single biggest event, to ever happen to Liberty athletics, and 55 users "liked" the tweet but failed to see the value in spreading the word. And so it is, there are myriad people out there who still do not know we did in fact, move up to FBS football.
The second tweet was again from Liberty Flames, with 360 likes, but only 146 retweets. Quite sad, indeed.
In the second example, the news of the construction of our new Natatorium here at @LUSwimDive is easily the biggest, most important event in the young history of our swimming & diving program. The Facebook post on our swimming & diving fan page announcing the facility garnered an impressive 386 likes, but only 69 shares. If you are a Liberty Flames fan and you "liked" the news but did not choose to share it... The post is below:
And so it is, similar to FBS football, there are a plethora of people out there that do not yet know we are building the best on-campus swimming & diving facility on the entire East Coast, and a top-10 facility nationwide. For our growth as a program, this is news worth sharing, not just liking. We want more people to know - but what of the 317 who liked but did not share? Do they not care if more people know about our new facility?
And the list goes on and on. I could post countless examples of Liberty Flames fans liking tweets but not retweeting, and the same for Facebook posts in regards to likes and shares. I should note - I am not suggesting that we blindly retweet every post we read. The world would be a better place with fewer grumpy cat or bae tweets in circulation...but the big news or great articles should certainly deserve a retweet or a share if you care about the success of your institution, if using the university example, or the impact that important thoughts have on the collective in regards to great articles. Consider one of the latest from Bill Gates, who specifically states his tweet is worth sharing:
The article, which highlights how a program started by President Bush in 2005 saved over 2 million African children from Malaria, earned him 1,990 retweets compared to 8,343 likes. The richest man in the world is suggesting those who read the tweet share it...retweet it...yet still four times as many people "liked" the tweet vs. retweeted it. Astonishing.
And thus, we need more retweets and fewer likes. A like is slightly better than pointless in my humble opinion and does little to spread the news of big events and thought-provoking articles. A like makes little impact, while a share or retweet helps to spread great news and important thoughts. In the case of Liberty, FBS football, and Natatorium news, it is the retweets we want, not the likes. Ideally, the news goes viral; I don't particularly care how many people "like" that we are building a pool. I certainly do want every swimmer and club/high school coach in the country to know we are building a pool (and going FBS in football). Are you a Liberty fan? You should want the same if you desire success for our athletic programs and our university as a whole. A retweet will help us spread the word...a like, while it "feels good," does little to raise our profile on the national level. Our egos are not fragile - it is not likes we need - retweets preferred!