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Jan 27

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Social Media Memory

I “follow” abut 700 people on twitter, with about 1000 following me. At scale like this, the question I often am asked is, “How do you remember all those people?”

* about a hundred don’t tweet often, I would guess
* I already know about 250+, so I have hooks in my memory for them
* there is no social obligation on twitter for tracking all of it (unlike email)
* people @ or DM if they really want me to hear
* I use PeopleBrowsr to sort/group folks and the tags there help me remember
* as a network weaver, people fascinate me – how many sports stats and players does a sports fan track?
* whenever I don’t remember someone (and want to) PeopleBrowsr has lots of ways to dig for info

Part of this seems to be about building social media memory skills. In my years of Omidyar.net community, I seemed to develop strength in that memory muscle. While I was in college I could hardly remember which author wrote which books or held what beliefs, when it came to online community and my connections, I remember tons of details. It can be a fun game with folks – they ask me a question, and I remember who posted wedding photos to Omidyar or who lives in Boston. I think the ability to remember has a lot to do with how important something is to you. To me, my network made of hundreds of brilliant, interesting, inspiring, compassionate people is very important.

And I solidify this by meeting up with folks as I travel so I can really ground myself in their being. Then we when check-in online, I can imagine their posture, gestures, and warmth. I think the optimum number of connections for full rich relationship is much lower than the number I track via social media.
This works in something of a power law form. There are the edge folks – people I have encountered, but the connection has not deepened. Some of these folks are very good at putting enough into the initial connection that the looseness is sticky enough to hold.

How do you “hook” people into your memory?
– I prefer using sensory data, as I am a kinesthetic person – I experience others in my body. ooo, that sounds weird. Let’s just say that 3-d is better for me than voice or visuals.
– Like many others, my memory is often container-based/domain-specific – so meeting them in twitter doesn’t mean I will recognize them in email or at a conference.

What are ways of being “sticky” in other people’s memory?
– At nearly 6 feet with starkly contrasting hair/skin, I am visually pretty easily memorable (not much I can do or did do about that). Now, don’t go get a tattoo or piercing just to be memorable, but do dress in your own fashion and highlight your uniqueness (rather than worrying about whether your uniqueness is attractive or not).
– ask an unusual question – rather than asking “what do you do?” which is soooo typically American, ask “What are you passionate about?” or “Tell me a short story about your greatest adventure.”
– be yourself. If you consume all your brain cycles trying to remember what people know about you or who you were trying to be last time you met them, you won’t remember them and they won’t feel connected to you.
– be curious. The more you bring someone else alive, the more they will remember you.
– be clear about who you are, and get enough info from others that you are clear about at least one dimension of who they are.

What other ways can we be memorable (and positively so)?
How do you keep your social media memory?
What tools do you use to assist you?

Permanent link to this article: http://thrivable.net/2009/01/social-media-memory/