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November 19, 2009

Sticks & Stones May Break Your Bones But Ignoring the Online Convo May Crush You

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Conferences are a hub of learning, growth and progress in the SEO industry. They’re part of the glue that connects members of the community, offering a cherished opportunity for forging relationships and friendship.

And no matter how many conferences they’ve been to, most attendees almost always walk away from a conference with new professional knowledge in their head or with new business connections stored in the BlackBerry.

Twitter heckling bird

But if there’s a lesson in human nature to be learned from time spent at a conference, it’s that when interacting with an audience there are two channels to pay attention to today. Forget the fact that you’re interacting face to face, because there’s also a conversation happening right behind your back.

In a blog post for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Marc Parry writes about tweckling, or heckling a speaker on Twitter. It was during a higher education conference last month that one episode of tweckling lit up Twitter like a Christmas tree, the episode becoming the poster child for the dangers of disgruntled audience. Scratch that. The audience didn’t even have cause to be disgruntled. They were just bored.

Bored and looking for entertainment with other sympathetic or tortured audience members on Twitter.

The incident was enough to make conference organizers consider new ways to integrate the Twitter stream into the event.

Steven W. Tally, a strategic marketing consultant at the university, points out that people are accustomed to commenting about articles they read online. Now they want to comment in real time about speakers, too.

“We’re going to have to get used to the fact that you’re not speaking to a group now — you’re really leading a conversation,” Mr. Tally says. “And if you’re not listening to the other people who are participating in that conversation, it’s not going to have a good outcome for you.”

Now take a trip with me over to the Econsultancy blog for their analysis of Razorfish’s Digital Brand Experience Report. After surveying a thousand Internet users about how they engage with brands, the findings showed what we all could have guessed: digital interactions matter.

According to the study, 65 percent of participants said they made a first purchase from a brand due to an online interaction. And a whopping 97 percent said that their decision to buy or not by a product has been influenced by an experience online.

Mosey over to Marketing Pilgrim to read up on PostRank’s blog reader engagement study. The gist is that on-site engagement is dropping off while off-site engagement continues to climb. Brands may have enjoyed the measure of control afforded by keeping the conversation on-site, but that’s not really up to them anymore.

child crying outside
CC BY-ND

Learn the lesson taught by poor Mr. Galper at the higher-education conference. No, not whatever he was sharing in his keynote presentation that day. I’m talking about the lesson being acted upon by the conference organizers in the fallout of that infamous presentation. In planning for future conferences, some organizers would like to see Twitter feeds broadcast on the screen as the speaker talks. Not only would it lessen the chance of snarky anonymous Twitter commenters bashing the event, it could prompt speaker-audience interactions.

There’s no ignoring the online channels, and why would you want to? At best, you gain customers, visibility and brand credibility. At worst, you become the laughing stock of the playground. And there’s little consolation in the fact that you didn’t know they were calling you names in the first place.

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One response to “Sticks & Stones May Break Your Bones But Ignoring the Online Convo May Crush You”

  1. Tessa Carroll writes:

    Rude, anonymous comments are a sad fact of life with the advent of social media. Regardless of what business you’re in, everyone is susceptible to bad word of mouth that’s going to travel quickly. The true measure of man comes with how you respond to those comments.

    Tessa Carroll
    http://www.blogs.vbpoutsourcing.com



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