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The Value of Online Conversations by Brian Solis

The Value of Online Conversations by Brian Solis

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Published by Brian Solis
Indeed, the barrier to entry has been lowered to a point where new user-generated content is only going to increase in volume and frequency and not necessarily in value along the way. But, for those who pay close attention to the shift in the behavior of adoption, creation, and consumption of media in all forms, it is also blinding with insight.
Indeed, the barrier to entry has been lowered to a point where new user-generated content is only going to increase in volume and frequency and not necessarily in value along the way. But, for those who pay close attention to the shift in the behavior of adoption, creation, and consumption of media in all forms, it is also blinding with insight.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Brian Solis on Mar 23, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Value of Online Conversations

By Brian Solis, blogger at PR 2.0 and principal of FutureWorks PR, Co-Author Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and Now Is Gone

No, blogs are not dying. No, blogs are not going away. Blogs will continue to serve as one of the driving forces for the democratization of how content is created, shared, and also internalized. All forms of user-generated content will continue to excel...maybe to a fault. In conjunction with how blogs are continuing to influence the evolution of online conversations, micromedia is also inspiring new forms content creation and in turn, contributing to the spike of mostly irrelevant conversations. Steve Rubel recently accused bloggers of contributing to the “lazysphere” by simply glomming on to other “me too” conversations rather than creating new ideas or penning thoughtful, "deep" essays. In a side discussion with Steve, he also added that it’s not about length either, it’s simply about good content. He's right. Indeed, the barrier to entry has been lowered to a point where new user-generated content is only going to increase in volume and frequency and not necessarily in value along the way. But, for those who pay close attention to the shift in the behavior of adoption, creation, and consumption of media in all forms, it is also blinding with insight.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

Creating content is just one part of the conversation. Regardless of format or distribution channel, it’s still only a one-way street until someone responds, trackback, bookmark, comment, etc. And this is the part where I think we need to focus in order to positively impact and nurture the future of online conversations. It’s not just about the source, it’s about the dialog that ensues and the ideas and discoveries that emerge along the way. This goes beyond the original premise that anyone with an important idea or thought will simply blog it. In my experience, the most enlightening part of any topic is always the conversation…and in the world of Social Media, that conversation is in the form of the very actions that are triggered by the original topic. If you took the time, whether as a reader or a writer, to read the comments of a favorite blog post for example, you’d find brilliance, perspective, and new opinions that allow a topic to genuinely flourish. At the same time, you can also find a series of comments that are completely pointless and distracting that can take away from the value of the conversation. Again, content is increasing in production to the point where it’s almost impossible to navigate through the static. Instead of honing on and strengthening relevant signals, we jump from place to place and from conversation to conversation, contributing most of our time to sharing less important content than the very ideas that can help empower the value of each online communitywhere we engage. We move too quickly. Concurrently, we’re groomed to think that older posts are also aging in context and relevance. Unfortunately, rather than continuing to live, breath, and evolve, these discussions are often buried by new content often to be recreated from scratch elsewhere. How quickly we move away from what could become timeless masterpieces.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

We’re also not conditioned to contribute productively, therefore, most posts wither away into the history books (aka deeper and deeper into search results). Commenting has so far is mostly representative of either applause, reaffirmation, trackbacks, and dart throwing mixed in with new ideas, thoughts, and content. Most of the time, the value is buried and eventually lost, but it should be elevated as a way of inspiring and reenergizing the conversation.

What if we spent less time cranking out posts and more time joining, spotlighting and promoting the conversations that take place in the comments section, forums, and across social networks? It’s an interesting thought…but at the moment, the architecture of many social platforms are designed to spotlight the stage of the initial thought/article and not necessarily the ensuing conversation. Depending on the outlet, you may have to sift through 95% garbage in order to find valuable insight and perspective. There isn't a filter for expertise other than your time and effort. In order for conversations to flourish online, the architecture of social platforms needs to evolve. It is also the key to inspiring more meaningful dialog. It all comes back to the notion that “participation is marketing.” And, participation doesn’t

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

require the consistent spark of new articles or posts, only the interjection of new ideas, aspects, angles, and thoughts – especially into ongoing threads. The hierarchy of Social Media isn’t spotlighting the conversation, only the original thought. In order for an individual to spotlight their ideas they have to take the discussion elsewhere. In 2008, I'd like to see people consciously contribute to their online reputation and brand by assuming everything they write, whether posts, comments or updates, is searchable. What if we spent less time throwing our hat into the rings of every relevant or peripheral discussion and spent more time contributing to and grooming our knowledge pedigree? And, what if those contributions were aggregated, ranked and showcased in a more prevalent way? Channeling all of the Easter Eggs that we strategically place in comments, updates and forums across the Web into one discoverable basket could change everything. I’m talking about tracking, contributing to and measuring an online reputation based on how and what we contribute. The focus should be on encapsulating and representing expertise, contribution, and insight as a way of promoting a new, active, and more invested form of meaningful conversations, giving way to a new dimension of conversational marketing. Really, what are the incentives, and most importantly, the metrics for engagement today other than referring traffic? This is about empowering conversations where conversations take place and showcasing them in a more balanced format. It's a shift from simply "showing up" to the party and contributing to the festivities. It boosts the value of the content, extends the lifespan of great ideas, and also contributes to the Social Capital of all those who engage.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

It's people rank versus page rank evolving the democratization of content by giving people a shared voice and platform exactly where the conversations are taking place. I'd like to extend this conversation throughout 2008 to all of those who wish to contribute. Blogger doesn't offer the best comments section out there. In fact, you have to click to a different page in order to leave and read comments here. It's a removed process, so, if you'd like to include your thoughts in this post, I will feature them as updates organized by topics. You can either email me or leave your thoughts in the existing comments section and I'll add the highlights. I would also love to hear from and spotlight the thoughts and statements of the very "social architects" who are also laying the foundation for and defining the infrastructure of online conversations.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

Brian Solis is globally recognized for his views and insights on the convergence of PR, Traditional Media and Social Media. He actively contributes his thoughts and experiences through speaking appearances, books, articles and essays as a way of helping the marketing industry understand and embrace the new dynamics fueling new communications, marketing, and content creation. Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning PR agency in Silicon Valley. Solis blogs at PR2.0, bub.blicio.us, TechCrunch, and BrandWeek. Solis is cofounder of the Social Media Club and is a founding member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup. Solis has been actively writing about new PR since the mid 90s to discuss how the Web was redefining the communications industry – he coined PR 2.0 along the way. Solis is considered an expert in traditional PR, media relations, and Social Media. He has dedicated his free time to helping PR professionals adapt to the new fusion of PR, Web marketing, and community relations. PR 2.0 has earned a position of authority in the Technorati blog directory and currently resides in the top 1.5% of indexed blogs. BrianSolis.com is also ranked among the most influential blogs in the Ad Age Power 150 listing of leading marketing bloggers. Working with Geoff Livingston, Solis was co-author of “Now is Gone,” a new book that helps businesses learn how to engage in Social Media. He has also written several ebooks on the subjects of Social Media, New PR, and Blogger Relations. His next book, co-authored with Deirdre Breakenridge, “Putting the Public back in Public Relations,” is now available from FT press. Connect with Solis on: Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, Plurk, Identi.ca, BackType, Social Median, or Facebook --Subscribe to the PR 2.0 RSS Feed

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

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