Monday, January 18, 2010

Re# (ReHash) - Rehashing old great posts on Twitter

The real-time nature of Twitter, blogs, and social media in general is fascinating, and much has been written about how this real-time nature changes how we discover and consume information. Interestingly, however, this real-time nature has a unintended side effect in that anything older than a few days is deemed to be “old news” and can’t be discussed.

Many of the topics we wrestle with however, as B2B marketing professionals, are less transient than this. Frameworks for thinking about problems, key questions to ask providers, case studies, and best practices to implement are all relevant over a much longer timeframe – quarters or even years. The interesting challenge with blogging is that it is oriented to be a real-time discipline where a recent post buries a past post. This metaphor works well for current events and other time-sensitive discussions, but not so well for conveying the deep content that is of relevance for an audience in a specialty field.

Unless they do deep searches, or dig for specific information, this real-time nature of social media, blogging, and Twitter results in an interested audience not being able to easily discover potentially very valuable information just by the fact that it was not written in the past week.

Why am I writing this? Because I’m interested in performing an experiment. I’m going to restart the conversation (via Twitter) around a few old posts that I feel are still timely, interesting, and relevant today. Each one will be quite old, many of them from the earlier days of this blog when it was virtually unknown, and of a topic that I would gladly write about again today. I’m interested to see the reaction to the posts, and whether these posts have the same effect and pickup in the market that I would expect for a brand new post.

Any tweets about these posts will be tagged with Re# (ReHash) so there’s no mistaking the fact that they have been brought back to life from times past.

What are your thoughts? Is this experiment going to work? Or is it as bad of an idea as the Auto-DM?

Is there a reason that the real-time nature of the discussions on Twitter should be left to solely real-time conversations? What have you found with social media and content timeliness? Is it the content itself, or the medium it’s discussed in that determines whether the content is still relevant? I would love to hear everyone's perspectives on this - and I'll report back the outcomes of the experiments.
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
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Dave J. said...

You could do the same thing with blog posts. Psychicly, somehow unless the topic is on the mind of the writer, I suspect the readers won't react. It's why TV shows usually won't tell you its a re-rerun.

Discussion forms seem to struggle with this. If a new member posts "I think Spock loved Kirk", the rest of the board either ignores them or points them to a thread from five years ago...even if the new guy is bringing something original to consider.

Good luck!

Patrick J Woods said...

I think the relevance and timelessness of your content combined with the rapidly expanding number new Eloqua users active on Twitter will result in revitalized conversation around the topics.

The number of Eloqua-related tweets in the past 6 or 7 months has increased significantly (especially since EE09), so I think the content will connect with these folks. Not to mention all the non-Eloqua-related followers you have.

One thing to consider (if this is possible on the Blogger platform) is to remove the dateline from interior pages. So when you link to a post that's a few years old, no one will notice its age. This is a great way to re purpose aging content without the psychological stigma sometimes associated with a older date.

Steven Woods said...

Dave, Patrick,
Thanks for the comments... it's an interesting challenge. I'll redo a few of the good posts, and see what happens.

It's an interesting question on whether the age of the content should be disguised or not. I'm pretty hesitant on that just for full disclosure, but I agree with both of your points on the psychology.

Patrick J Woods said...

Regarding the disclosure of a post's age, an anecdote...

There's a fine dining place here in town that I do the web and email work for on the side. The other day we were talking about their soups, which are really tasty.

Somehow it came up that the soup you eat on any given night was probably made 2 or 3 nights previous. The soups, it turns out, usually improves after a few days of all the flavor marrying.

Now, do they disclose to the people who are paying $12 for that soup that they're essentially eating reheated leftovers?


If they were asked about the age, of course they'd be honest, but what value would there be for anyone in adding a line to the menu that said "this is yesterday's soup"?

The soup is awesome regardless of age. Less-than-full discolure simply lowers the barrier of entry for otherwise skeptical consumers.

Steven Woods said...

I like the analogy. It will be interesting to see where the line falls on this one in social media. It seems that age is in a different category of disclosure than sponsorship/affiliation.

webjock said...

Love this idea, I'm adding 'Re#' to my twexicon, hopefully it will catch on.