Conversations? Now They’re Just Sound Bites

When you get a chance go read Jay Baer’s post titled, Is social  conversation a myth? It’s a quick read, well worth it, and got me thinking. You know what’s cool in a weird, sorta, karma like way? Sometimes in the social media bubble, there’s  a confluence of thoughts on the same topic at the same time. This is one of those moments. And it revolves around social media and drum roll please…Conversations. Or the lack thereof.

Joe Jaffe is right. Mitch Joel is right and Jay Baer is right.

Call it the short cut of social media, or the “new reality” of social media,  but it’s as simple as this.

People would rather reap the benefits of social media without putting the effort in.

Initially I wanted to title this post- “SMB’s don’t care about long term strategy in social media”. My thinking and experience has been that SMB’s would prefer the shoot first, aim later methodology. Conversations? Not part of their mix. Frankly, I can’t blame them. My experience is that social media is hard work and has long term benefits that you only start to see after a minimum of 6 months. So why can’t SMB’s or anyone for that matter use social media as an ice breaker or as a warm call, instead of a cold call? They can. You can, in theory use it any way you want. It’s the purist in us that longs for those not so long ago days when we used to talk face to face, use Twitter the “right way”, comment on blogs, and read newspapers…:)

Case in point Erika Napoletano aka Redheadwriting and I were passing each other in the hallways of Twitter and we were both like, “Hey, whats been going on?” It was a quick (of course) long time no talk kind of conversation . You see, Erika and I used to “chat” all the time in the halcyon days of Twitter. We even reminisced about that fact as well. In 140 characters of course. Now we barely have time. Or do we?

Do conversations happen on Twitter? Yes but it’s like trying to have one in a bar during happy hour-Eventually you get tired of trying to yell above all the noise-so you just reduce it to sound bites.

Beth Harte is another “old schooler”. We used to chat it up all the time on a few social platforms but with a twist…We would take the conversations off line and call each other too. For a few of us, its still about the conversation, or it used to be about the conversation, but now its about remembering what it used to be and adapting to what it is now.

We’re an evolutionary type of species and we’re evolving just like everyone else is in the social media world.  It’s all about utility now.

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3 Responses to “Conversations? Now They’re Just Sound Bites”


  1. 1 Jay Baer September 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks very much. I agree that Beth is a great example of really using the medium to engage in a meaningful way. I think the challenge becomes that social media conversations don’t scale in any way. Whether it’s individuals like us, or corporations, as soon as you try to interact with lots and lots of people at once, the “conversational” part of it fall by the wayside somewhat. It just has to, based on the nature of the technology. That’s why call center reps don’t answer 7 phone calls at once.

    As I tried to point out in my post, that isn’t an excuse for using social media like a press release service, but I feel like we should temper the expectations around “social media enables companies to have conversations with their customers”. Because in reality, that’s probably still better done via phone and email.

  2. 2 marc meyer September 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    @Jay There are those that like to take the scenic route and those that prefer to pay to use the turnpike. The purists in us would like to say, it’s about the journey, but the rest who prefer not to talk, but want the results, will say get me there as quick as possible. What was that line about making out on the first date…? The metaphors will flow quickly if I don’t stop!

  3. 3 Daria Steigman September 2, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Marc,

    I’ve been reading these posts as they’ve cropped up in the last couple of days. And trying to figure out what isn’t resonating with me.

    See, I think the conversations are still happening if you want to have them. When you’re at a party with 10 people, you feel like you’ve talked to everyone. When there are 100 or 1,000, you feel like you’re just saying hi and talking to no one. Scaling, as Jay points out, is tough. But I don’t think it’s impossible. It’s just a different type of engagement.

    For those of us for whom conversation matters, we’re still having these conversations online. We’re still trying to reach out and post a comment once in a while rather than just hit “Like.” Or pick up the phone and move the discussion offline.

    The line in your post that really got me thinking about this was “social media is hard work and has long term benefits that you only start to see after a minimum of 6 months.” From a business perspective, this is the competitive differentiator and the difference between just having a wide network (popularity?) and cultivating a deep one.


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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