Conversations Over Clicks

When I attended my first meeting as a member of the social media marketing committee for Vera House I learned of our team’s call to action. We were to guide the larger, influential steering committee in their effort to get the word out and create “awareness” about the White Ribbon campaign (and the march to end domestic and sexual violence).


Awareness in social tech is typically counted in clicks, likes and shares. But domestic and sexual violence are cultural blemishes not corporate brands and a product marketing approach of meaningless measures won’t do.

Let’s be honest, everyone gets moved a little when someone likes or shares their content online but this is only for a moment and then the emotion is gone at the speed of the Internet. Ask yourself, what have you “liked” or shared of someone else’s content that you actually remember? Or more importantly led you to think or behave differently? I’d argue that when you put fingers to the keyboard and type a response to engage in additional online dialog it is memorable. It’s memorable and closer to behavior change because it’s done often with careful thought and a more sustained emotional connection to the individual(s) and the content.

So rather than count vanity metrics, we aim to share to start conversations. Drawing on a mantra of mine that “knowledge doesn’t exist within us but between us, in our conversations“, we look to meaningful dialog as being much closer to behavior change than the simple, fleeting click of an icon. We know full well too that we will have far fewer conversations than likes but this is about quality and not quantity.

Over the next few months we’ll be working to help the broader White Ribbon Campaign Steering Committee find and share relevant content, add meaningful context and prompt as well as engage in dialog. We will monitor the types of conversations happening and if, through them, we see new understandings and reactions emerge we’ll feel a bit closer to deeper awareness and maybe closer to bettering society.

Let’s Be Honest

I heard a short story on a local radio program this morning discussing the use of Traditional Media and Social Media. The story is not the part that caught my attention though. I got hung up on the use of the term “traditional” to define newsprint, television, radio, billboards, etc. I find it interesting (but not surprising) that the word “traditional” was used in particular by a medium that would use such an approach to market.

I’ve been intrigued by the terms we use and the meanings behind them and how that changes in different contexts ever since I read a wonderful book called Don’t Think of an Elephant by Cognitive Linguist George Lakoff.  Words conjure images and feelings and depending on the listener (or reader), “Traditional” can mean things like Old and Stodgy or it can mean Stable, Secure, and Comfortable.   Likewise “Social” can imply Frivolous and Silly but can also mean Heartfelt, Human, and Conversational.

Considering the source, I think the station was implying stable and secure but in doing so they undermined (intentionally or not) the meaning of “Social”.

These forms of media (“traditional and social”) really lend themselves to better terms or categories, ones more aligned to how they actually interface with people.  Might we be better served to steal terms from L&D where we speak of learning as being Push or Pull?  In learning we often tag events that are created, marketed, and mandated as “Push” and learning that is more open, available and self selected as “Pull”. The former is driven by others, the latter driven by oneself.

Radio, TV, Billboards, Direct Mail, etc are Pushed on us.  Interactions, conversations, and sharing Pull us in.

The terms may not be any better at placing a connotation in one’s mind but I think they are at least more honest.