Don’t Just Share, Give It Context

ContextTo Share Is Human; To Give Context, Divine. 

We live in a world of abbreviated communications. In place of extended conversation we have text messages, 140 character tweets, and emoticons. While these shortcuts provide velocity to communications it’s often at the expense of understanding.

Recently this link popped up in my twitter stream:

German Scientists Prove There is Life After Death (?) |

Ok. For a second there you thought this was real, right? Come on. Just for a second.

This is clearly satire, but I saw this in my Twitter stream with merely a (?) as explanation.

It’s not enough just to share. You need to add context. Maybe your first reaction was because you wanted it to be true, or because you trusted the source (me). Did you look at the website to get a clue? If it had said Reuters or WSJ would that have given you pause?

Decoding Shared Content

When I see content like this my mind goes through a series of questions. Remember when you were first learning how to read? How did you figure out the meaning of a word you didn’t know? If you remember (or you remember teaching your kids), you were probably told to look for context clues. You had to look in the sentence or paragraph to be able to make an educated guess as to the meaning of the unknown word. The same holds true when I see content shared without explanation.

Where Do I Look?

With the volume and variety of media, communications and content available to us it’s often difficult to even know where to start. Forget seeing the forest for the trees or the trees for the forest, what about a single leaf? The details get lost in the shuffle. A single leaf may provide all the significance or value you need. The challenge is to capture that leaf — that single point of interest — and put it in context to give value to others.

From Broadcast To Conversation

We have an ever increasing sprawl of content out there. That could be a burden or it can be an opportunity. When I talked about the 3 essential skills for the 21st century, I emphasized that curation was a key skill for individuals. The same goes for brands. Mid-market businesses may not be able to compete with big business marketing budgets, but becoming a trusted resource for content can be a great differentiator in building an engaged community. I see and hear organizations talk about going beyond customer service, sales and marketing to a more holistic view of building “community” around their brand. I see many move beyond broadcast marketing by listening and engaging in conversations. The next step? Become a resource for your customers. Carefully select and share content that will bring value to that community. And take it a step further by explaining why it’s important. Do your part to help us make sense of it all.

Don’t just share. Give context.

To Share Is Human; To Give Context, Divine. 

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This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit  IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

  • Stanley Berkson

    My preference may be overkill, but I like to enhance my writings with images that reinforce the message.

  • Rick Misrok

    The difficult part is straddling the line between too much information and not enough information.

    • Alan Berkson

      Rick,
      In a word, yes. :)