Photo by dhammza.
Most people think that social media sites are only useful for finding what the latest news is. While that is one of the main functions of these sites, many times a pretty creative thought or article lands on the homepage.
People don’t want to talk, argue, or debate about a boring topic. They won’t vote for something that’s uninteresting or dumb. A community doesn’t exist around content that isn’t inspiring.
What’s popular isn’t necessarily news. Sometimes what’s on these social media sites is excellent content. Content that has been carefully crafted, with a unique angle or creative slant. Social media communities are built around information that inspires.
So how do we find the inspiration?
View it as a filter
The key difference between social media sites and search engines is that humans are making the recommendations. Some of them may even be your friends. This is why using social media as a “filter” for news and inspiration is a fantastic idea.
Instead of letting a piece of software or an algorithm decide what I’m looking for, I can use a friend (or group of friends) to filter the information for me. There are certain people on Twitter who post relevant links and information that I almost always find useful.
You can even customize your filter at many social sites like Friendfeed to ensure that you’re only seeing the information that’s relevant to you. For example, I love the Code Junkies room at Friendfeed.
Frequently popular sites are usually places of inspiration
If a site is continuously on the front page of social media sites, you can bet that your bottom dollar that the writer is doing one of two things:
- an awesome writer
- using creative, interesting titles
Great writers ooze creativity
If a writer consistently lands on the home pages of social news sites, the smart money says he or she is an excellent writer. It’s not an easy task to make it to the homepage with boring content. Successful social writers know how to use creative concepts and ideas to write. If you’re needing inspiration, look no further than a great writer.
Let’s say that a massively-crappy article manages to make it to the homepage of one of the social media websites. The article must have had a killer title. Even if nothing can be gleaned from the body of the article, the fact that the writer could craft a title that good and entice enough people to vote for it is a lot of inspiration in itself.
Sometimes the creativity isn’t found in the article, but rather in the title.
Searching for Creativity
Sometimes Google isn’t the best place to find creative solutions or ideas. Sometimes the best place to search is through the archives of sites like Delicious or Reddit or Friendfeed. These sites have information that has been thoughtfully submitted (not scraped from the web) on interesting web sites or topics. The difference between a search engine and social news or bookmarking site is that people filter the results.
For example, Delicious is oftentimes my first choice for search engine when I’m looking for a tutorial or an explanation on how to do something in web development. If I’m looking for something very specific, Delicious is a great place to start. Why? Because there are usually less irrelevant results. Real people took the time to bookmark these sites, and if they’re bookmarked multiple times, you know the resource is valid.
You can save a lot of wasted clicks by searching through social sites.
There’s no shortage of creativity to be found at social news and bookmarking sites. While they’re usually seen as time sinks, often they’ll give great results for finding something very specific. A general rule of thumb is this: If people take the time to bookmark, submit or vote on a story, it’s more than likely to be a better resource.