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I was going to write a blog about how much I dislike the "Join the Conversation" links on corporate websites. You know, the ones that get you to go away from the company website and Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Only when you get there you don't get a conversation, instead, you get a stream of ads.
Buy our widgets today!
Don't forget, widgets are a great gift!
Did you know we sell widgets?
I said I was going to write that blog -- this isn't that blog. This blog is about conversation in general. And why corporate "conversations" don't really fit into the real world of conversations.
Yes, "social media" is part of the real world if only because we still have the same basic categories of "conversation" online as offline. If I was going to put conversation in tidy little boxes, I think these are the boxes I'd use...
Water Cooler: The water cooler discussion is never about anything consequential, unless the playoffs or what happens to Snooki matters... And it's amazing how much it matters to some people.
Political Discussion: Always a minefield and kind of a game, talking politics (or religion, which is kind of politics anyhow) is going to either end up with you angry at the world, or each other. Probably both.
Story Time: Sometimes a conversation isn't a conversation so much as a series of, "And this one time, at band camp..." series of stories. You tell your long story, which reminds me of my long story, and we go back and forth until someone passes out from exhaustion.
Girl Talk/Man Talk: We like to bitch about the other gender, no matter what our gender is. And then talk about things that only our gender understands. Sort of a club where your chromosomes get you entry -- sometimes you can visit the other club as a guest, but you're never really going to be a member (there's a bad pun in there that I'll let you figure out on your own).
Flirty/Dirty: And on the subject of gender talk, there's always sex talk. Bars, bedrooms, street corners, water coolers, churches... yes even churches... men and women are proving that they're interested in each other and talking about all the things that interest their pleasure centers, in as many ways and in as graphic detail as they can think of.
So... Let's review. Corporations want to "Join the Conversation" online. But online conversations are going to be about politics, personal history, gender, or sex. Usually sex and politics (I find it interesting that politics is about as popular as sex on Twitter).
Your widgets might work in the "Water Cooler" discussion, but really, let's be honest, corporations have rules against flirty/dirty talk about religious leaders running for political office... Your corporate Social Media stream is going to be like one of the nerds showing up at the frat party -- if you're lucky, you'll be ignored.