If you are using social media professionally, you really need to be reading Mashable. You will not find heavy research there. You are not going to get exposés of complex algorithms or data that reveals which kinds of Facebook posts generate the most revenue or the best times of day to tweet. Mashable is not the equivalent of MarketingSherpa, a service that aims to help marketers with case studies, research and training.
On Mashable, you will get colorful infographics and posts about now-and-then pictures. It is an easy read, one that is aimed at the everyman rather than the marketing man (or woman).
And yet read both the lines and between the lines on Mashable and you will get two lessons in social media.
First, the articles themselves are interesting. Knowing what kinds of posts are currently trending and what people on the Web are finding interesting is useful information. If a meme is shooting around the Web, then attaching your own posts to it will help you to ride the wave. Mashable’s new design, which gives about half the screen to a column called “What’s Hot” and a central column to “The Next Big Thing” (what is about to be hot) only emphasizes the importance of knowing what is going in social media.
But those articles are not just there for entertainment. Each introduction also shows the number of shares it has received (most will pick up more than a thousand). In writing about trending topics, Mashable is creating its own trending topics and by talking about viral posts Mashable creates viral posts — and shows marketers how they too should be creating posts for clients on Facebook and Twitter that can go viral and drag in new readers and followers.
Mashable is the Web’s Equivalent to Starbucks
And those posts go up constantly. When Kate Morris of SeoMoz wanted to research a post on the what it takes to get a link from Mashable, she found that the site puts out an incredible 2,000 posts a month. That is not just persistence; it is Starbucks-level saturation. Just as Starbucks puts a café on every corner because if there was not a Starbucks there you would go into a different café, so Mashable keeps churning out content to make sure its readers keep coming back, stop by several times a day and have less time to read the posts on TechCrunch or AllThingsD.
When it comes to social media, Mashable shows that regular posts pay off.
But perhaps the most important piece of information that Mashable has to offer social media users is not on its website. It is on the company’s Twitter page. Surf to @mashable and you will not see an avatar showing the website’s logo; you will see a picture and the name of Pete Cashmore, the site’s founder and editor.
That is social media in a nutshell. It is not just about interesting posts or persistent posts. It is about personal posts. It is where companies come to speak with a human face and to build human relationships with their customers and clients.
So for the new year, that is the most important lesson you should be taking away even as you are reading about dogs that play the piano.