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Social Media Experiment on Cooperative Writing

I’m going to layout the background of the experiment and it is rather long, if you would rather just skip to the guidelines and start having fun.

Background

Yesterday was a fun day for me on the Internet (not so much in real life, but that’s another story for another time.) I got a chance to participate in a round table discussion radio show on “how to be found on the Internet”. The show is a weekly show hosted by Bill Boorman and it’s called READY FOR LIFT OFF! covering various subjects related to careers, recruiting and such. I’ve participated in online radio shows before, in fact I participate rather regularly on the Recruiting Animal Show with my friend the Recruiting Animal (@animal on Twitter.) Bill has an altogether different style of hosting than Animal, but the show was still quite enjoyable.

One statement that Bill made during the show, as we were discussing blogs, really bugged me. Even though I didn’t say anything at the time, I guess it bubbled down into my subconscious mind. I say that because it bubbled up about the time I was ready for bed. The statement that Bill made was that he felt that the best blogs are the ones that have the most comments on them (or something similar to that maybe not in those exact words), the blogs that are controversial. I thought to myself ‘poppycock’ – the number of comments on a blog has nothing to do with whether or not it is enjoyed by the reader, useful, well written, or heavily trafficked. So that thought jut stayed with me.

Later in the day I ready a tweet by Stephanie Lloyd (@StehanieALloyd who happens to also live in Atlanta) about a blog contest that she has a post entered in. Her post is “Just stop it. You don’t get to use Twitter anymore.” I don’t know all the rules of the contest, but from Stephanie’s tweet I gather the winner is going to be the one that has the most comments.

There it was again, someone who was attributing ‘value’ or ‘worthiness’ to the number of comments that a post has. So I started thinking what if I could show these people with whom I completely disagree, that there yardstick for measuring a post’s value was wrong. It flashed through my mind that I could make any number of controversial posts that would whip the audience into a frenzy. I could post about the healthcare reform bill, Obama’s choice of radicals, socialists, and communists as ‘Czars’ or special advisers. I could post about the soaring national debt, the economic down-turn, the inefficacy of the stimulus package or the TARP fund. Any of those subjects would definitely draw attention and more than likely cause heated debate – since the country and my audience are probably split down the middle on either side of any and all of those issues. But my intention wasn’t to start a big brew-ha-ha, I wanted to do something positive. I also thought it would be cool if I could leverage social media while doing it.

Purpose

That’s when it came to me, why not run a social media experiment that would be positive & cooperative and at the same time try to do something that would generate hundreds (and maybe multiple hundreds) of comments.

So here’s the idea let’s write a story, using the guidelines below. When we are finished we should have a very interesting story, written cooperatively by hundreds of people. I hope that it will be fun and very entertaining. I also hope that it creates lots of new friendships and deepens relationships. The fact that it will generate lots and lots of comments (at least I hope that it will, otherwise I’ll have egg on my face) is not what will bring the value to the post, but the positiveness of it. And the resulting, entertaining, wild roller-coaster ride of a story that will undoubtedly come out of it. so the experiment should show that value is not in the number of comments, the the community that is built by them and the conversation that occurs during them. Much better than starting a shouting match, don’t you think? check out the guidelines below and get commenting.

Guidelines

1) First commentor starts us off – write the beginning of a story (any subject, setting, characters, etc all your choice) with one sentence, no longer than 50 words.

2) Next commentor, copies comment above, adds another sentence, no longer than 50 words.

3) Next commentor, repeats the process.

3.5) You may comment multiple times, but not consecutively.

4) You may include hyperlinks (which will be active and indexable since I use ‘Do Follow’ – read more about ‘Do Follow’)

5) If the story gets to long to fit in the comments section, I’ll makes some accommodations to keep things going.

At some point in the future, after we have all had lots of fun, I’ll publish the full story along with some stats as the ‘results’ of the experiment.

Hope this sounds like fun and that you will participate. Let’s see how many people we can get to participate, how many comments we can generate, and what a great story we can write together. So go ahead and comment below.

PS – feel free to use the ‘Share this button’ to Digg the story or share it with friends by email.

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