May 30th, 2008 by Bob Bly
Social media evangelists are in love with Twitter, Facebook, and their ilk because these networks enable continuous “naked” conversations.
Robert Scoble, I believe, has stated that his goal is to have at least one naked conversation a day.
When I started in the corporate world in the late 1970s, we too had naked conversations — in the cafeteria, at the coffee machine, and at the bar after work.
But if we spent too much time having conversations during working hours, the boss would break us up … and send us back to our desks, to do the work we were being paid to do.
That’s good advice: if you are spending endless hours reading posts, comments, and messages online, those are hours you are not spending on the tasks for which you are paid a salary — or in the case of the self-employed, on billable work.
Naked conversation advocates will tell me that, without these never-ending online gossip sessions, they would not be able to keep their finger on the pulse of the marketplace.
I disagree, and suggest these alternatives:
* Become a people watcher. Observe them in restaurants, stores, and at the bowling alley.
* Read a daily newspaper.
* Watch TV news and listen to talk radio.
* Talk with the person sitting next to you at the lunch counter or standing next to you in line at the bank.
* Read the Letters to the Editor in your industry trade publications.
If your only exposure is to people who are as obsessed with blogs, Twitter, and Facebook as you are, I would argue that you are talking with a limited (albeit large) cross section of the marketplace, and in a limited (online only) way.
My suggestions above allow you to participate in the conversation during your free time, not your work time. As a result, you get more work done … and make more money.
Yes, social media gives you more of a voice than the newspaper or radio. But in conversation, you always learn more when you listen than when you talk.