Social Media and the Disconnected Flow of Communication

Social media is a broad term that covers everything from collaborative websites like Wikipedia to massive online universes like Second Life. All of the top 20 websites on, excluding search engines, are social media sites. Perhaps the most popular social media sites at the moment are Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, but social media has permeated nearly all websites to some extent, and it has become an expectation of website visitors to be given at least some interactive features.

The growth of social media is so prevalent that, for some, it has become the primary means of communication. On the whole, this is not necessarily a negative thing. Some people who would not have otherwise communicated with each other at all – old high school buddies, for example – can now keep in touch, even if only at a superficial level. But when it comes to business, the distribution of news, and making deeper personal connections, social media presents some obstacles that can leave people with a disconnected flow of communication.

Defining Social Boundaries

According to the managed server company, social media can be divided into five categories:

1. Collaboration: wikis, open content, social bookmarking, and social news

2. Communication: blogs, micro-blogging, and social networking

3. Multimedia: photo, video, and music sharing

4. Reviews and opinions: product and employer/educator reviews

5. Entertainment: virtual worlds and social gaming

In almost every case, social media venues offer two forms of communication: public and private. It is up to the users to decide what information they will make public and what information will be reserved only for certain people. On social networking sites like Facebook, for example, a person who posts a public message on his friend’s wall might be likened to two people meeting at a party and talking openly. In some cases, other people may even join the conversation with comments or the very impersonal “Like” button.

Just like real life, however, some people may not be at the party. This is particularly true of Twitter, where thousands of tweets may come across a person’s sphere of friends and followers, but that user will only view the portion of those tweets sent while she is online. While it is possible to browse through history and even scour archives of conversations anywhere on the web, most people do not have time for it, and as a result, the information that is most widely conveyed at the social “party” comes from the person who figuratively shouts the loudest.

Disconnected Flow

Social Media SignalsAs we stated, there is not necessarily anything wrong with the “party” style of communication. It has worked for real world networking for generations, both in social and business environments. The problem arises from situations that may warrant closer, more direct communication, but which are relegated to disconnected social media experiences.

As an example, let’s suppose that someone named Alicia is having an emotional crisis. She is so accustomed to announcing the events of her life on Twitter and Facebook, that she does not even think to ask a friend directly. In fact, it may even be more comfortable for her to call for help in such a fashion. In many cases, one of her friends might happen to see her latest status and will contact her in private, but there is also the possibility that no one sees it or that the people who do, only make general supportive comments. As a result, Alicia feels ignored when it may not have been anyone’s intent to ignore her.

Ideally, at least one person will pick up an important piece of information and then pass it on to numerous other people, but in many cases, this only happens for controversial issues or high profile amusements.

Forming Communication Circles

In the early days of blogging, one of the most critical tools for bloggers and blog readers was RSS (really simple syndication). With it, users could decide which blogs were important enough to read regularly and have those posts delivered to their RSS program or user account on a feed harvesting service. Many of these programs and services allow users to filter their feeds, organize them according to subject matter, and even share them.

Unfortunately, RSS has never become widely adopted, and most people who use the web tend to wander through it, much like the way people might randomly flip through the channels on television rather than scheduling programs they like with their DVRs.

For social media sites that lack a true RSS feature, it is necessary to form social media circles – smaller spheres of communication within their larger list of friends or followers. Some of the sites have tools that make this easier, allowing users to subscribe to other users, create smaller groups of special friends or colleagues, and track some friends more closely than others.

As social media continues to expand and become an increasingly dominant part of the online experience, keeping the flow of communication connected and relevant will become critical. At this point, it is not something that will happen automatically, and social media users will have to learn to cater their communication channels to meet their needs, or risk missing the information they actually intended to receive. With close family and friends, business partners, and even political figures now often using social media to communicate, the future of communication may very well depend on it.

Tavis J. Hampton is a librarian and writer with a decade of experience in information technology, web hosting, and Linux system administration. He currently works for LanternTorch.Net, which offers writing, editing, tech training, and information architecture services.

Youtube-eBay-Amazon Mashup Results and Thoughts

Ever since I started using Mark’s script for a Youtube eBay Amazon Mashup site, I’ve been meaning to do this post. I don’t have much for results, but I do have my share of thoughts. If you were a reader when I started using it, you’ll know that I modified the script to display Adsense’s Youtube video spots instead of just random Youtube spots. (You can Download that version of the YouTube eBay Amazon Mashup script)

The only true stats that I can give you are the stats on those spots. In the roughly 3 months that I’ve been running the script, I’ve managed less than 10 clicks on just over 2000 views. For those of you that are as mathematically challenged as I am, that’s a CTR% of about .42%. Not exactly a stellar performance. While I don’t track the eBay and Amazon hits from these sites, I’m fairly certain that I haven’t made any sales through those sites. Again, not exactly stellar.

In all fairness to the script, I haven’t done any sort of marketing for these sites. I have no intention of leaving them with this script and would like to develop them into sites at some point, but just haven’t had the time. I threw the script up as a “holder” that hopefully will help them get indexed easier and quicker when I do develop them. And it does work pretty well for that. They certainly haven’t attained hundreds of links in the search engines but each has somewhere between 10 and 20. That’s pretty good. Especially for what is essentially a parked domain. And it isn’t nearly as spammy as those ad scraping parking pages that you see elsewhere. I like that.

Overall, I’m happy with the script. It’s accomplished the goals I set for it. Mark did a wonderful job of making it really easy to implement, and the script itself is easy enough to understand that I was able to modify it to add the YouTube Adsense spots. If you’re looking for a “parking” spot for your unused domains, you can do much worse than the YouTube eBay Adsense mashup script.

YouTube Adsense for 45n5’s YEA Mashup Script

After some pondering that resulted from a conversation about landing/holding pages for undeveloped domains and Mark’s sharing of a $99 commission from a site running his YouTube, Ebay, Amazon mashup site script, I decided it was time to give it a try. It really is as easy to use as Mark makes it out to be. And what a great way to get your keywords into a holding page while developing the site!  The hardest part was getting the developer ids if you don’t already have them. I had the eBay one, and had to get the YouTube and Amazon ones.

After setting up the ids, you simply change a few things to set options and upload. That easy. Only one thing stuck out to me. The eBay auctions use your affiliate codes for the auctions, so you get affiliate earnings from them. Same goes for the Amazon listings. The YouTube video, on the other hand earns you nothing except embedded video on the cheap.

Being the tinkerer that I am, I decided to try and integrate the Adsense YouTube units instead of the normal YouTube units. The idea being that the video will then be monetized. And we like monetization! So, after a bit of tinkering last night and some coding this morning, I got it to work. And I’m going to share it with you!

If you’ve used Mark’s script before, you’ll notice a few slight changes. The code that calls the YouTube video has changed slightly, but you shouldn’t have to make any further changes. What you will have to do, is go and get the script code for the Adsense YouTube and put it into the stufftochange.php file. You’ll see where. I’ve taken the liberty of throwing in a true/false flag so that you can turn off the Adsense YouTube units if you choose and go back to the regular units. Simply change the flag from a 1 to a 0. Simple, no?

If you haven’t used the script before, you obviously won’t notice any changes. But there aren’t any instructions included in the download, so you’ll want to go over to and watch the tutorial video for the script that Mark put together.

So, without further adieu, Download the YouTube Ebay Amazon (YEA) script! The licensing still belongs to Mark, so it’s still his link in the footer that you have to leave there.  Small price to pay for a great script.  Thanks Mark!

Oh, if you want to see some examples of this modified script in action, check out the following sites: