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March 31, 2011


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David, you're so sensitive…except online!

I'll defend the part of Judy's point in which she encourages you to have conversations and to share more than the latest post you wish to hawk.

Would you want someone to walk into your neighborhood bar and shout out, "Hey everybody, stop talking and listen to what I have to say about my latest Huffington Post article"?

Would you like to be conversing with several communicators at a professional development luncheon and have a late-comer throw down her laptop and purse, and cut off the conversation, asking, "Okay, I need a job, who here is hiring"?

We don't appreciate rude, self-serving interuptions of conversational flow, regardless of where they occur.

Yesterday, I tweeted several facts regarding the African-American consumer that I heard in a presentation. Those tweets were forwarded (retweeted) by several people, including Judy.

That gave me an opportunity to add a couple of those people to my "follow" list in Twitter, and to exchange pleasantries with Judy.

You have to keep working on the "social" part of social media.

Tom, I am a writer. I spend every bit of my spare energy trying to organize my interactions into coherent columns and blog posts.

Had I gained some insights that I wanted to share about the African-American consumer, I would have written a blog post (perhaps a short one), and tweeted it.

How is that ruder or more self-serving than simply tweeting the idea straight-up? I guess it involves one more click--but then, my blog post about the African American consumer probably offers a lot more value than your Tweet about the African American consumer.

That way, my idea doesn't go into the ether; it stays right here, in this searchable conversation place I have built.

I'm not anti-social; I'm a humble tavern keeper who likes to have the conversation at his place, and who just doesn't have time to barhop himself.

But I do have to sometimes announce Thursday Night is $2 Pabst Nite.

My Twitter followers choose to follow me; if they find my tweets rude and intrusive, they can unfollow me. They aren't doing it.

I saw the tweet. I thought it was meant to be funny ... nothing more, nothing less. I also thought somebody would say something chiding or negative about it. Score me two for two!

Ah, but Peter, you didn't predict I would post the nattering nabob's negativism here. Always a surprise when you read Writing Boots!

The rude, self-serving behavior is evidenced in the overall interaction and the impression of you that it leaves, not just the single tweet, David.

Let's use your tavern keeper analogy.

If you only talked about the things you wanted to talk about to your patrons ("Here's what I'm serving today, take it or leave it" or "Buy the pickles") and never engaged in their conversations, you would limit your success.

Some current patrons would leave, and you wouldn't attract new customers.

Whatever your number of followers (and that isn't the primary measure of "success" with Twitter), look at how many new followers you get.

In my case, I've had people follow me more often after I've shared useful information, not a link to my latest blog post or podcast. Useful information like the African-American consumer facts.

I agree with you that a blog post about the same topic MAY offer more value, but only if it provides an additional insight that the facts alone don't. Otherwise, it is only bread around the "meat" or the wrapping around the gift. Save us all time and tweet it.

Tweets are not lost in the ether these days. They are aggregated in curation software and linked with blog posts, videos, articles and more on sites such as Storify.

I don't begrudge you for enjoying your tavern, and I know that you work hard in it. I responded to your ridicule of someone who is doing a good job of running her operation, and who was trying to share a business tip with you at a time when you were not receptive.

You poke rightful holes in my tavern-keeper analogy. We could go on, however, with me arguing that I DO talk about what my tavern customers want to talk about: communication, day in and day out. But that would be boring.

More important is this: I make a living elsewhere, Tom--editing Vital Speeches of the Day and its sister magazine and ContentWise, running seminars and awards programs, speaking, etc.

I literally do not have time or brain-space to be sharing stray facts on the African-American consumer. If that means I look like a self-centered "publisher," those are the consequences I'll have to live with, because I'm not going to tell my wife, "Sorry honey, I'm going to give up part of my income so I can spend time making my personal brand appear more 'social.'"

Meanwhile: I'm not ridiculing Judy, I'm engaging with her. This is the way I want to do that: publicly, to involve others in the yak, and playfully, to demonstrate how silly I think much of this conversation is.

Normally I don't choose to engage with Judy, because I don't have the time (her Twitter output is staggering; she tweets enough stray facts for a dozen of us). But as we know, not engaging is bad too.

On my tombstone: "Say What You Will About Him, This Fellow Engaged."

Ok, tavern-keep, thanks for the conversation. I have to stumble back to my day-job now, anyway.

I frequently see conversations like this one in a variety of places - both online and off.

The truth of Twitter - and every other online venue - is that you can CHOOSE to make it whatever you like.

The part of your comments David, that I especially agree with [it's more or less my foundational approach to life] in using Twitter the way you do, is this:

"If that means I look like a self-centered "publisher," those are the consequences I'll have to live with . . ."

As long as someone's cool with the consequences that come from their choices, I say go for it!

Right on, Rid.

As far as my image ... I think of Mark Ragan, who tweets incessantly, 24x7, and it's almost all promoting the work of his writers. Why should I be surprised that Mark acts like a publisher? Mark IS a publisher!

In fact, if I saw Mark putting out a lot of little information Tweets about this or that study or article he's read, I'd start worrying that he was wasting his time, not being strategic.

As a longtime observer of communication issues and a trade editor in this business, I think I ought to be seen in the same basic light.

But of course I can't help how people perceive my social media manners. Luckily, I don't care much, either.

I Twought this post was really enterTwaining. Twanks.

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