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There's an I in Twitter and a ME in Social

By Brian Solis, blogger at and principal of FutureWorks, Author of the new book
Engage!, Co-Author, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and Now Is Gone

As we've learned time and time again, there is no "I" in team. Instead of focusing
exclusively on "what's in it for me," we're encouraged to contribute to the greater
collective of groups in order to accomplish wonderful things - those usually
unattainable by any one person.

Of course, this headline is a play on those words, but it also opens the door to an
interesting conversation - one that explores a global network of connections

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weaved from both relations and relationships and bound through action and

I recently asked aloud who's the me in social media as a way of escalating the
discussion around the importance of what we do and say online and also what we
don't do or say and how these seemingly innocuous deeds contribute to the
establishment of our Web identity.

Indeed, we cast digital shadows...

However, with all we know about social media, we are ambivalent to its
possibilities and its perils. Instead, we are seduced by the capacity to channel our
inner-celebrity and as such, we're intoxicated by the responses and relationships
we earn by willfully sharing in public what was once deemed and coveted as
private. The allure of becoming Internet Famous is not necessarily the aspiration
of those who engage in social networks, but it is something that manifests either
intentionally or unintentionally, almost becoming our certification for tweeting,
commenting, posting, and sharing.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating observations that I've documented and
something that continues to receive a significant focus of my attention, is the idea
that through social media, we are creating a global society of digital extroverts,
rich with individuals who are gaining confidence online and ultimately offline, by
saying and sharing the very things that they might not have otherwise voiced in
real life.

It's almost a form of healthy self expression, combined with validation and a
touch of self-actualization...

I Tweet, therefore I am...

I pay attention to the work of Dan Zarrella, a friend of mine who is also a social
scientist of sorts. Most recently, I analyzed and shared his work in which he
dissected the behavior and defining characteristics of retweets.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

His most recent study examines how social behavior affects relationships on
Twitter and certain activities contribute to the state of those who follow us.

Even though an "I" is absent from team, a "me" readily apparent. I believe that as
social media evolves and matures, we need to focus less on the "me" in social
media and more on the "we" in the social Web.

Now we have the data to prove it...

Zarrella drew a parallel connection between social language and followers. Using
inclusive words such as "you" and "we" usually ties to a greater number of

Ultimately, it's how we value and in turn, continually invest in relationships that
define who we are in the long term. The net result is that accounts with a greater
number of followers tended to use social language more frequently than those
who focus on the "I" in Twitter.

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Concurrently, Zarrella also surveyed the relationship between narcissism and

Those who tend to talk about themselves also possess a propensity to repel
legions of prospective followers.

Emotions also play a role in how individuals form and cultivate relationships.
Zarrella documented that people who share updates that are rooted in negative
sentiment, such as sadness, aggression, derogatory commentary, etc., will find it
difficult to increase their audience and their connections.

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Sometimes we need to realize that inner monologue is a gift worth embracing...

We each possess an inherent and unique ability to make decisions governed by a

moral compass. These decisions are now challenged by real-time architectures
that entice us to say what we think, before we think it through. What we publish
online says more about us than we know or we may realize. In an era where
common sense may prove uncommon, an updated form of social psychology is
necessary to learn and consequently teach netizens how to create their own
destiny, centered by a relevant and meaningful social compass.

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In a recent discussion with Dr. Drew Pinksey, he advocated a deep understanding
of the importance of relationships in the real world in order to foster and
cultivate meaningful connections online.

As much of this is so new, we are literally learning as we go. We share what

moves us with an audience of people we know, those we wish to know, and those
who desire to know us. Part of acting of course, is reacting, and it's through those

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reactions that we learn the rules of engagement as well as the content and
activities that engender reactions.

In many ways, the "me" in social media contributes to a stage of participation

that at first blush, resembles an ecosystem of vanity, or something that I refer to
as the egosystem. But it is this egosystem that has empowered each one of us to
construct something truly significant.

The true latency of social media lies in our ability to continually connect meaning
and relevance over time. After all, we are all in this together. The ability to
publish information nowadays is not our true opportunity to gain prominence.
Recognition and reciprocity are among the strongest forms of currency in the
social Web and as such, we are measured by our actions and our words.

Never forget to pay it forward, it's how you got here and it defines where you're

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Please consider reading my brand new book, Engage!

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Get Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and The Conversation Prism:

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Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of most prominent thought leaders and
published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has
influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing,
communications, and publishing. He is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning New
Media agency in Silicon Valley, and has led interactive and social programs for Fortune
500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. is ranked
among the top of world's leading business and marketing online resources.

Solis is the author of Engage! The complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate and
measure success in the new Web.

In 2009, Brian Solis, along with Deirdre Breakenridge, released, Putting the Public back
in Public Relations.

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