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Microblogging, Losing the Conversation and Watching it Explode!

Posted by on April 24, 2008

I attended the panel discussion with Stowe Boyd, Jeremiah Owyag, Gregarios, and Brian Solis, called “Short attention span theater: The birth of microblogging & micromedia.  What made this panel so exciting (apart from the great panelists) was that it included live audience participating via twitter. On the sides of the room giant screens displayed ‘tweets’ that were sent to @micromedia2 live during the session, eventually folks outside of the conference room began participating and adding in their own comments as well. This made for quite an interesting panel discussion indeed.

If you are a twitter user than I’m sure you can understand how this may have been a little distracting. It was as if everyone in the audience suddenly came down with ADD. Some of the tweets that were thrown up included:

  • “the guy next to me smells”
  • “Im humping your pixels”
  • “thank god @scobleizer isn’t here (robert scoble), oh wait” he actually was in the audience
  • “I don’t get twitter”
  • “How do you monetize twitter”
  • etc.

Here is a screen shot from “twist” that shows some of the other conversation taking place

@micromedia2 twitter tweets

As you can see the conversations were being taken in all sorts of directions. This made it a bit distracting for the audience and tough bit for the panelists to answer questions. However this definitely made for an entertaining panel.

At one point an audience member said “I know what twitter is, I just don’t get it.” To which Stowe Boyd replied something to the tune of, “I have explained twitter so many times that I can’t do it anymore. You just have to learn, like a baby who is told not to touch the hot iron. All I can say is, try twitter for a few weeks and then you will understand.”

I think the key take away from this panel is to notice what happened with twitter, and how the conversation spread. The panelists introduced a way for the audience to participate and then lost control of the conversation. This is not a bad thing, it just goes to show that creating a social media strategy which tries to control or limit participation is not going to happen, a very valuable tidbit in my opinion. You can’t make everyone say only good things or bad things about you, your brand, or your company. You are going to get good, bad, and a bit of off topic conversation, which is ok. The most important thing that anyone can do is listen. I will repeat that because it is so important and crucial. The most important thing anyone can do is listen.

Another key take away is to notice the spread of conversation. At first a few sporadic tweets were posted. Over time as followers of those twitter users began seeing their tweets, they also joined the conversation. This caused the conversation to expand beyond the conference room and beyond the confounds of the web 2.0 expo. Take a look at the graph below to see how the conversation exploded over time.

graph of expanding conversation on twitter

As you can see the conversation really took off, keep in mind that all of this happened within 45 minutes. Notice how quickly it took off and also how quickly it died off.

Overall I though this was the best session of the day. It was entertaining and proved to a real life twitter case study of how easy it is to lose control of the conversation and how the conversation can quickly spread.

Thanks for reading everyone and if you are not following me on twitter already please do so, and I look forward to connecting with all of you online and more importantly OFFLINE!