I ran into James Governor at SAP’s Influencer Summit this week. As he points out in the comments on my inaugural post, James was the chief hassler to get me started on this blog. In the interim, he’s been both wildly supportive and correctly critical.
Not surprisingly, we had an engaging and fascinating conversation about the future of technology, the potential for bloggers to help create a new market category, and a host of green issues. I’m not sure whether it was the conversation or the volume of shrimp that I consumed but my head was buzzing with blog ideas by the time I made it back to my hotel room. However, rather than capturing any of my thoughts, I got entwined in my email and didn’t get to sleep until far too late. By the time I came up for air the next day, my recollection of the conversation had waned. And by the following morning, the opportunity had passed.
As evidenced by the scarcity of recent posts, this isn’t the first time in the last two months this has happened to me. Therefore it should be no surprise that readership for November was the lowest since April. Since frequency of posting and number of views are both KPIs that I track, my blogging credentials are clearly taking a hit.
On the flight back from Boston, I remembered another part of the conversation with James. He encouraged me to use Twitter and I confessed I wasn’t tweeting because I had seen little value in it so far. But Twitter might address this problem. The barrier to tweeting is clearly lower than blogging which increases the likelihood that I might do it in the moment, rather than trying to reconstruct my thoughts afterwards. The rapid burst of thought might have been enough to capture the essence of the idea for whomever was interested.
It’s an intriguing idea but I wonder if Twitter is only a commentary appetizer that leaves anyone interested in deep content hungry for a real meal. On the other hand, my assumptions about deep insight may not match the world’s expectations for tidbits and sound bites. Maybe I’m not a modern blogger.
What do you think: Morsels or meals?
Well James has a wonderful, if irritating habit of deconstructing order. It’s worth doing and one reality you will be facing is that your blog is not a tool of execution right now – it’s a marketing sideline – and where you work is somewhere that is built around order. Where things get interesting is when you start to crumble some of the order – it can feel scary and it’s uncomfortable but it’s the only way to see the real potential of social media, including blogs etc, to create new structures that are, in essence, unstructured.
For my team, our blog is now the main way in which we articulate strategy and draw together the people we need. It’s a sales tool – ahead of a meeting we will use it to set out our position, so you usually find meeting 1 becomes meeting 2. A follow on blog creates a public statement of intent, which means those you met follow up more directly and urgently and can demonstrate to colleagues that momentum is in place, without having to explain everything. For me, it’s part of an embrace of editorial style writing in business itself, something that is quite new outside of the dreaded ‘newsletter’. It’s a format that people understand and is more interesting than reading reports or, worse, group emails.
Email is now used more like instant messaging in our business – short ideas or questions often with content underneath. Most of our plans and outputs are shared via the blog or via Google Docs. Powerpoint is almost history – why do it? Basically anything that does not sit somewhere public or easily accessible to anyone we want to share it with is work that has no ongoing value. It’s dead content, dead analysis. A blog replaces Powerpoint because you get people to read it before a meeting, so the meeting is a much richer follow on discussion.
I’ve not taken to Twitter but I see its value. We’re examining it for Akvo as a way of transforming how status details are reported in repositories as part of our Really Simple Reporting (RSR) methodology for development banks. James has much bigger visions for it, which I’d love to see pan out.
140 characters can carry a lot of weight. you could announce a dead president
Seriously though – twitter can get instant feedback, then you use that to feed into your broader research and delivery agenda. i get meat from twitter. i also get sauce, potatoes and vegetables. but to your point capturing the essence in broad, 140 character strokes, can be a really useful exercise – even improving your writing skills, which then feeds back into the blog and general communications.
I just want to hear you say “Ich Bin Ein Blogger”.
Dialogue. Gotta love it. To me the debate is between commentary and content. James and Mark are heavy into the realm of commentary so short bursts work well for them as lead-ins to more detailed analysis. My claim to fame — or rather the only reason that people will listen to me — is heavily skewed to content. Especially since this blog is not entirely sanctioned by my employer.
Regardless, I agree with the general idea: fewer words are better as long as they capture the thought.
What’s with all of the president references on this post?
Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy… Perhaps W or Clinton will add a comment.