I love questions. Perhaps it is because they make me think, or because I really like to try and find answers to them. One of the first ways we social media people start to create a social space online is to ask more questions. So I do this. Actually, I do this a lot. I ask questions on Facebook with almost everything I post related to Oberlin. Sounds good, right? Ask a question. Get an answer. Start a conversation.
Well, no. It's not. Because for as many questions as I ask and get some answers (fabulously beautiful answers, might I say), the rest of the questions just sit there. That makes me extremely ill at ease. First of all, there are questions, just hanging out! Waiting to be answered! Begging to be answered! Second of all, they look like no one knows how to closely read, that no one cares, and that our content is very lonely.
I know these questions have answers because I have an answer and I bet if I asked my close friends, they would have an answer, too, either completely in line with me or completely disparate, and maybe they would even have more than one answer. There's a joke that drifts around communities of Obies that if you get 100 Obies in a room, you'll get 150 opinions, and I believe that extends to answering questions, too. Social media really shouldn't be any different than that, but it is. Terribly, completely, and much to the dismay of the people like me who do this as a part of their job.
The most basic ways to make media more social — considered an easy A, dip-your-toe-in-the-water-before-you-dive-in approach to getting started — is not foolproof. And this is a very significant thing to me: what is considered to work for someone will not have the desired results for everyone. Similarly, this sort of approach that is consider to be good at making people more social doesn't always scale, or sometimes our audience is interested in different things or just don't want to put themselves out there online. Why would they talk to us, the faceless Oberlin, when they could just take that question and ask it of someone else later in the day? This goes back to my previous thoughts on measuring engagement and success when doing anything in the social sphere: I can say a lot of things, as myself and as Oberlin, but there's no compelling reason to continue talking if no one else is, nor is what happens online a way to gauge if something is actually "creating conversation" in the ways that we have hoped.
Obies ask a lot of questions. We are constantly wondering, pondering, probing, inquiring, anything to make us think more (or have more fodder for debate). I'm glad my position allows me to ask a lot of questions, but right now, I'm sitting on a cross-street with some to a lot of traffic, waving at everyone that waves at me and shouting at all of them about this really cool thing that I think needs to be share. I've become that person sitting and talking to herself (that's okay, actually, because I think I give myself some pretty good advice sometimes), but unfortunately, I'm doing that on a very public street corner, and I'm pretty sure most people are averting their eyes from that mumbling bundle of enthusiasm lurking over there.
Summer's a good time to rethink and readjust, but truth be told, I'm doing it all the time. People change with the seasons, and social media is changing all the time, so, I, too, must change. Perhaps it'll be my clothes, or I'll try some silly voices, or try out some new signs.