Sometimes I want to talk with people in person about how we talk with people on the Internet. I know I can get very “meta”– I mean, look at my website, where I sometimes blog about blogging—but I think it’s very important that we take some time to talk about how we’re talking. When I say “blogging” and “talking” I’m talking about any kind of media that you share with people on the Internet. Whatever you put out there, you are in effect “talking” to people. When you write comments, fave or “Like” something, rate something, etc., you’re talking to people. You produce and consume enough of these social media (photos, videos, stories, updates, links, comments, etc.), and you’re talking with people. But you’re not talking with them in real life, and you’re not even talking with them in real time. The communication is abstracted and asynchronous.
This evening, I went out with my husband Andy to a local brewery for something called #evfn, or East Valley Friday Night. As the description says, “Some folks calls it a tweetup. I calls it an #evfn. Remember the agenda: no agenda. Have fun. Meet people. Party on!” I’ve been to several of these, well, I calls ’em Tweetups, and sometimes they can get pretty meta about social media. How do we share updates? Photos? Videos? Personal stuff? Work stuff? What kinds of relationships are made, bettered, or broken online? How do we bring those online relationships offline and vice versa? I love talking about that kind of stuff. In fact, no matter what I’m doing at the moment, I have an intense need to talk about it with others who are doing the same thing and are willing to talk it all out.
“Remember the agenda: no agenda.” I can accept that. I know that some of these people work in social media and Internet industries, so they might be tired of talking about their work. I understand that. People need loosely structured milieux where they can just relax, mingle, and–in the words of Auntie Mame–“Circulate, Patrick, circulate.” And sometimes, sometimes, to “circulate” is just what I want to do. But other times I want a rap group– a structured, moderated discussion. That’s what I wanted tonight.
I did get a bit of what I wanted. When I first got there, we sat around a table and talked about various things including employment, health care, spousal benefits, and how unfair it is that I have to pay a “Domestic Partnership Offset Tax” to keep Andy on my health care plan. We all talked for a while at that one table, and somehow the conversation got around to social media, though I don’t remember whether I steered it in that direction or not. People talked a bit about whether they feed their updates to Facebook from Twitter, whether they share personal updates on Facebook or keep it acceptable for business associates, whether to have a separate Twitter account for protected tweets, etc.
Then I brought up my dilemma about the photo I asked the waiter to take of us (shown above). I said, “Nowadays I could post every bit of media I create to so many channels that I sit there with something for a few minutes thinking, ‘should I post it to my Facebook personal profile, my Facebook Page, Flickr, Twitpic…??'” One person gave an answer in the form of, “This is what you do…” and I felt like it was a move to lay the question to rest. Then more people showed up and the conversation got dropped. I tried to pick it up again and the person who had answered before gave me a card and wrote on it “Read [with three underlines] convinceandconvert.com Jay Baer.” That was the end of the conversation. I felt shut down. I really can’t complain, though. I was probably “holding them hostage” on a topic they no longer wanted to talk about. I was probably the one who was out of order, trying to create an agenda when there was no agenda.
I get that people want the freedom to talk about whatever they want to talk about with whoever they want to talk about it with. I have no problem with it. What I do have a problem with is that I read and read and read but I don’t get a chance talk and talk and talk.
I need a forum for discussion– a structured, moderated, real life, real time conversation about social media. I need to listen to people’s personal experiences with social media and I need to talk about mine. I don’t want the conversation to be about how to “drive traffic” and “target markets” and “strengthen your brand.” I just want to sit around with people who create and share a lot of stuff on the Internet not because they want to make money but just because they want to share. The question for me is: how do we share things with other people. I don’t think that reading another article or attending a social media lecture or listening to a panel discussion is going to satisfy me. I want a rap group with an agenda. Anybody know of one?
As I was saying, anybody know of a real life, real time rap group about social media? What ways do you find to have meaningful and satisfying conversations with people who are doing what you are doing and learning to do it well? Can you give me an example of how one of these conversations changed you and made your life easier?