Recently I stepped away for a digital detox in the month of August. This, in and of itself is not novel. What was different this year was that I stayed away for a month. There were also many events that led up to, and inspired me to make that break.
One of the great things that happens when you step away from anything is that you have an opportunity to clear your head, and examine your priorities. In the case of my digital, social signals…this is even more important.
Just as stepping away from my social signals is nothing new, I’m always looking for opportunities to re-engineer, reconnect, or disconnect the texts, places, and spaces in which I engage online.
I don’t believe in doing things the way that everyone else does…just because everyone else is doing it. I’m have had serious concerns about Facebook, and in some instances Twitter. I’ve thought about leaving them both. I’ll talk about this more in an upcoming post, but for now…everything is on the table.
In this post I was to talk briefly about my social signals, and explain some of my thinking.
While prepping for this post, I did a couple Google searches to see what others were saying about “re-examining social signals” or “multimodal signals.” Strangely, this set of keywords brings up two different (perhaps complimentary) areas of thought.
- Post daily: Keep your brand at the top of social media news feeds.
- Use images: Images greatly increase interaction rates for all social media types.
- Listen: Hear what people are saying about your brand and respond to critique in a constructive and positive way.
- Monitor: There are several free social media marketing apps which track shares, re-tweets, likes and keywords associated with your brand.
- Contests: contests and giveaways are a great way to increase interest in your brand.
- Partnerships: Share links and produce original content with other popular brands.
- Cover all the social media bases: Produce content for all of the top social media sites.
To be honest, this guidance is pretty straightforward, and IMHO kinda boring. The other avenue of thought is a lot more fruitful.
Multimodal Perception of Signals
The other avenue of guidance surrounds the multimodal perception of signals…more directly…mating signals for birds.
This led me to a wormhole in which I spent wayyy too much time reading about “multimodality” as it applies to bird mating signals. You should understand that I use the term (more than any human should) multimodal or multimodality about five times a week in discussions. Multimodality refers to the application of multiple literacies within one medium. In plain English, an example could be this blog post. I’m explaining things to you using text, images, graphs (and I’ll try to shoehorn in a video and GIF).
In an interview with Jen Rowsell, she helped expand my thinking about multimodality and how it doesn’t need to just be in digital formats. Listen to the interview with Rowsell below.
This consideration of the signals from birds is really stretching the point, but it definitely makes sense to me. I know that at this point, many of you are rolling your eyes, but for many of my colleagues…you’re probably still with me.
One piece really caught my interest as I researched “cross-sensory integration” as it relates to my social signals. Apparently there is a two signal-content centered hypotheses as it relates to sending and receiving social signals:
- Multimodal signals are backup signals—the same message (e.g., species identity) is given in multiple sensory modalities and if one channel is blocked, a potential receiver can still receive the intended message.
- Multimodal signals convey multiple messages—simultaneously emitted signal components in multiple modalities contain different information content (e.g., one component conveys species identity and the other the intention to mate).
So now what?
If I were to rewrite the two prompts presented above and relate it to my current interests, I would suggest the following:
- What are the signals you’re giving off?
- What is the response you want to get?
For both of these questions, the current answer for me is…”I don’t know.”
For now, my plan is to get back to blogging on this website. Inspired by Doug Belshaw, I’m engaged in the #100DaystoOffload Challenge. This means that I’ll keep regularly pushing out posts on this website and sending those signals out to my different social spaces to see what resonates. This means fBook, Twitter, LinkedIN, and Mastodon.
I’m doing this primarily as a challenge. The 100 days is just a round number to me, and an arbitrary one at that. I also have questions about what I want to do with these spaces. I don’t believe I truly know until I try things out and use them. This means a lot of just shutting up and writing.
I will continue to write up my weekly newsletter. I planned on making major changes to that as well, but for now I’ll just keep writing and pressing forward. I will slowly tweak things and continually iterate.
For now, the motto of this year is “do the work.” I’ll keep moving forward and see what comes of this. I’ll keep writing myself into being and see who responds to my signals.