One of my favorite things about social media is getting to know people not just by what they say, but also by following along to see what interests them. The things that interest you make you interesting to me.
Some people will tell you to grow your social graph (people you follow/friend/subscribe to) because if you do that you get better signals about what matters. And I guess if you are Robert Scoble and your job is to identify macro trends there is some merit to that argument. But…
The vast majority of us are not Scoble. We are building relationships, not a macro trend radar. If I want a macro trend radar… I can get that by following Scoble.
So for the rest of us context matters. We need to locate those we find interesting – and what better way to do that than by following conversations around particular topics, subjects or events (i.e., context). Because we already find the context interesting there is a much higher likely-hood that we will find people discussing that context interesting.
Call it the cocktail party principle – you engage in the conversations (i.e., context) that interest you. Sometimes you meet someone new in that conversation (context) and continue the relationship outside the party/conversation (context). This is how relationships work in the real world. Why should it be different online?
What you wouldn’t do is walk in to a cocktail party and run from conversation to conversation listening for the length of one comment and passing out relationship invitations. Why – because it would be weird. But this is exactly how many people approach Social Media and building their social graph.
This simple notion – that context matters and is the best way to build your social graph – is exactly why I’m so excited about JustSignal and the problems we are solving. As a concrete example I’m adding a JustSignal widget to this post and the About Page on my blog. It will constantly track everything said on Twitter about the topics/subjects/events I’m interested in right now. The content will change as my interests change… because I’ll update the context.
You want to know what is interesting to me… right now – check out the widget.