What’s the best response to the Why Blogging/Twitter/Facebook is asinine: “Oh its just what you had for lunch” Frame? The argument occurs again and again and its not clear what the response should be, especially since I do sometimes tweet what I eat, as do Chris, Raven (he now has a dedicated Raven Eats feed) and others. When I talk to people for any length of time they’re going to find out I am a foodie- its one of the things that makes tick. People that know me well, business contacts or otherwise, know stuff like that. Its part of the conversation.
I was thinking about real communications, that is, conversational communication- the kind when your synapses start firing… when my synapses started firing. I might have even been watching Studio60 when it came to me. Real conversations don’t stay on topic. They can’t. “Lack of focus” doesn’t make conversations less compelling. On the contrary it makes them bearable: the human brain is quite capable of getting on with background task processing while doing something else. Boredom is one of the quickest routes to poor productivity. Repetition can be great if it engenders flow (the Tao). Boredom, not so much.
How many business meetings have you gone to, or called into, that were completely pointless, even though they were merciless “on topic”. Quite a few I should think. Business language also tends to be pretty sterile, and doesn’t favor narrative flow.
Will I really learn more from reading a white paper, or a newspaper article, than from talking to people about something? I don’t think so. The best learning experiences are personal.
Some of this feels like duh – its called the Cluetrain, dummy. But then I keep running into people that haven’t ever read the Manifesto.
The Cluetrain Manifesto should definitely be on all journalism classes.
The Cluetrain Manifesto should also be a core aspect of any Tech Marketing course.
After posting some related thoughts Friday it was great to come in this morning and read James McGovern’s When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation? He riffs off a blog I wrote a while ago If Markets Are Conversations Then Twitter is Money.
“It is sad, as I have been so heads down on my current activities that I truly haven’t had a meaningful face-to-face conversation in the last several weeks. Now is the time that many folks in large enterprises are preparing for their 2008 budget and get consumed by tweaking numbers, creating over-hyped sales pitches, flooding each other with emails and otherwise forgetting about the human on the other end.
There are lots of benefits to face-to-face conversations. While they take longer and most certain put pressure on the elusive work-life balance, it does help reduce the headache of managing your email inbox, especially if your shop institutes mailbox size quotas. Now I know why I am always in mail jail…” [Italics mine]
That’s the basic point I am trying to make. A business focused conversation is not more meaningful than a “normal” conversation, which is a shame because the market for something to believe in is infinite. The most successful businesses increasingly have conversations with all kinds of stakeholders. Social media can accelerate those conversations.
Let me just finish with one of the reasons I like Twitter so much- you might call it Twitter as social glue. We are all busy people at RedMonk (all three of us) and we live in different time zones. We’re always traveling and we don’t get much time to catch up face to face (almost never happens). But I don’t only want to know What Stephen and Cote Are Working On. Rather I want to know How They Are Doing. Good managers take a view of their people that goes far beyond the tasks they assign. Twitter helps to keep us all in the loop.
update: talking of meaningful conversations the Aloof Architect has some really interesting thoughts on enterprise architecture, pedagogy, and social media, riffing off McGovern.
Do we find ourselves using ‘skip-level’ influence to overcome obstacles to adoption? If so, are there communication mediums we could be using to reach deeper into organizations, touching a wider range of alpha geeks/influencers? Would our effectiveness as leaders improve if we were capitalizing on those mediums?
further updates- I made a very dangerous assumption on this post, which I would like to correct. The assumption – that everyone knows Hugh MacLeod, he of GapingVoid fame. Hugh is a friend of mine, and draws cartoons on the back of business cards (see above). He may well be the best wine marketer in the world. He is certainly the most innovative. These days he into Facebook and Twitter. Blogging- not so much.