I had an interesting exchange on Twitter today. I used the term SoMe as a short way to refer to social media and was instantly informed by Twitter friend @mdurwin that he was grateful that the term he invented was finally catching on.
Wow, cool to be the person who came up with “SoMe.” Not that I ever would have known that as I’ve seen the shorthand used by dozens if not hundreds of people on Twitter for a couple of years anyway. When I told Michael that it seemed an odd thing to take credit for, he informed me that it was OK, as he rarely gets acknowledged for his many innovations. I ended our exchange with the suggestion that maybe seeking credit is the last way to actually get it.
Michael may well deserve the credit he never got. But it got me thinking about the motives behind what any of us do in social media. Sure there are lots of folks screaming for attention. There’s no shortage of self-promotion and streams that show little or no interaction, even from individuals who claim to know something about the space.
But the folks who seem the most valued by their communities (@benkunz, @stuartfoster, @malbonnington, @thaz7, @mikearauz, @lenkendall, @armano, @jonathanfields, @thebeancast, @ambercadabra, @conversationage, @schneidermike to name but a few who come to mind as I type this) rarely ask for acknowledgment. They just give stuff away. They share advice, post their content for all to access, answer questions, and engage openly with rookies, neophytes, peers and even competitors.
Sure there is a protocol; we try and give a nod to someone whenever we use a quote or find our own thinking inspired by someone else. But the fact is it’s pretty hard to remember who said what after a while. Great ideas simply blend into the vernacular.
As far as I’m concerned, that should be all the credit or praise that any of us ever need. After all, the social community is like a one big bank of ideas. We make deposits. We make withdrawals. Maybe it comes out even. Maybe it doesn’t. But that’s sort of what makes it SoMe so great.