I read this piece and wept. Not because I want to believe it but because I have been wondering for a long time about whether it’s true.
In brief, Mitch Joel believes we have reached a point where there is no longer a conversation going on in social media ;
One of the main tenets of Social Media was the reality that brands could join a conversation (to quote my good friend, Joseph Jaffe), but by the looks of things there aren’t really any conversations happening at all.
Mitch Joel asks what is the point in telling brands to join the conversation, if close examination reveals that there are none going on? And no, posting a blog comment doesn’t count, that’s feedback apparently.
I tend to agree with him because my attempts to engage with various newspapers, magazines and other ‘big’ companies recently have been frustrating. They are quite happy to lap up your praise and might even respond to say thanks, but there is no real dialogue nor any glimmer of hope that one might develop.
So many companies on Twitter are now broadcasting, that it feels as though old power relationships are returning. If a brand you admire ignores you while continuing to pump out shiny tweets about their great products you start to feel like a shmuck. Who is getting used here? What happened to the two-way relationship in which what I say counts?
I know many smart Social Media practitioners who are working hard to educate clients about how to avoid this but maybe so many new users are piling in that the juggernaut of broadcasting will squash us all and we will be the quaint ones in the documentaries, “they used to think it was a conversation ! ha ha !”
Don’t get me wrong I have developed great relationships over time on Twitter. I don’t know how many conversations we have had – perhaps a bit of banter but real connections develop when you share. My breakthroughs have usually involved something more than talk, like a blog swap or a face to face meet or a small favour like an introduction.
Maybe the whole “It’s a conversation” thing was mis-named from the start and it isn’t a conversation at all but something else entirely.
If you believe, as I do, that this is only just the start of the debate, then Joseph Jaffe is going to be rebutting Mitch Joel’s criticisms in a web debate this Friday, check out his blog for more.
And please leave a comment here, it may just be feedback but I’d appreciate it!