Sometimes you just have to ask a question and see where it takes you. Twitter started off with the same premise. What are you doing? Eliciting a variety of responses and prompting a banal moment-by-moment commentary before the community kicked-in and reshaped Twitter's reason for being.
But while I have a great affinity with Twitter,
it is feeling more and more like a broadcast medium every day. Sure
there are some small-scale discussions occurring but they are hardly
conversational. Plurk, on the other hand, have placed conversation right at the heart of their design.
Let's take a look at how a simple question "who really gets social
media?" generated an entire (and wide ranging) conversation with a
range of participants and countless "eavesdroppers". Ann Handley's question resulted in some immediate recommendations ... Sean O'Driscoll, Mack Collier, Valeria Maltoni and Connie Reece were all mentioned.
But then the conversation shifted. It became more personal,
capturing the nuance of a real world conversation -- mixing personal
anecdote with professional discussion. There were clear moments of true
friendship and caring between people who were thousands of miles apart
and then, snap, the conversation moved again and that moment was lost.
Well, not exactly lost -- as it now exists in a form of immediate
historical, hypertext archive.
But the most interesting aspect of all this was the way the
technology played second fiddle to the conversation, and that the
emphasis and energy built over a relatively short time frame. The
threaded discussion feature of Plurk ensured that participants could
jump in at any point to extend, redirect or refocus the discussion.
There was no clicking, chasing, or adding-in new conversationalists as
is required by Twitter -- it was all in plain view.
Increasingly, the tools that loosely fall under the term "web 2.0"
appear to be facilitating the style, manner and emotional resonance of
personal relationships that would otherwise be subject to the tyrannies
of distance and geography. And while these interactions are evanescent,
each participant invests these "social media interactions" with an
emotional resonance that attaches not only to the conversation and its
memory, but also to the social media tool being used. Over time and
with use, tools like Plurk (or its variation) will become loved by its
users. Already Twitter, for example, is well loved. On a larger scale,
so is Google.
So who gets social media? Clearly those who understand that the future of your brand is in micro interactions. And more importantly, those who realise that the smart money relies on the human drive to connect.
By the way, if you want to see another great example of this in action, take a look at this discussion instigated by Mack Collier.
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