Social Media and the New Culture of Sharing

This morning as I was running, I listened to Episode 99 of the Catalyst Podcast. It was an interview that Brad Lomenick did with Charlene Li, author of the new book, Open Leadership.

Two Twin Sisters Drinking from the Same Glass with Different Straws - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #13312193

Photo courtesy of ©

One thing in particular grabbed my attention. Brad asked her what has changed in the last two to three years in terms of social media. She said,

What has happened over the last three years is that we now have a culture of sharing that didn’t exist three years ago … Now we think and act very differently because of these technologies. The societal change that has happened is that we share more.”

I think this is exactly right. I have watched the shift in myself, my family, and my friends. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe that social media promotes narcissism. It certainly doesn’t reward it.

I am sure there are exceptions, but people who are “takers” are not successful at attracting followers, fans, or readers. Instead, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs reward “givers”—people who are generous and share.

The implication of this cultural shift is that the more generous you are, the more you will succeed online. In other words, the more you share:

  • the more followers you will attract
  • the more people you will influence
  • and the more conversations you will lead

Here are four quick ways you can share more meaningfully with others in your social media channels:

  1. Share recommendations. Provide links to the things you find most insightful or meaningful. This can include blogs, news articles, books, music, and movies. Increasingly, “search” is becoming personalized. People are letting their social media networks do the filtering.
  2. Share your expertise. Whether you realize it or not, you are an expert in some field. You have knowledge and experience that you likely take for granted. But your expertise could be a big help to others. Your followers will appreciate it.
  3. Share your contacts. The days of holding these close to your vest are gone. If you don’t know the answer or don’t feel like you can help someone, try to connect them to someone who can. This makes the concept of “six steps of separation” practical and more useful than ever.
  4. Share your empathy. Sometimes people just need your empathy. You can remind people that they are not alone. All by itself, this is an act of generosity. My brother-in-law recently found himself in Intensive Care. Gail and I shared it with our social networks. We experienced an amazing outpouring of love and prayer.

This is just the tip of the iceberg I am sure. Other people willingly share their resources, encouragement, and even humor. What about you?

Question: Do you think that social media are shifting our culture?