Reading the twitter stream yesterday from BISG's Making Information Pay (#mip) made me anxious. I've spoken before at many conferences but things are different now. With heads bowed, tapping away there is out there a phalanx of twittering critics passing immediate judgement on any presenter. Well, maybe that's what an 'audience' is and like a school of fish they can suddenly turn unexpectedly from positive and engaged to "WTF am I doing here." Even today many speakers are probably happily unaware of the twittering audience phenomena, like Marcus Leaver (President, Sterling) who, in an otherwise interesting and engaging performance yesterday, happened to mention that he tried Twitter, didn't like it and some how ended up with a Twitter "body double". That's not playing fair.
Many people will know Mike Hyatt (CEO, Thomas Nelson) is an avid social network user. Why? Because he sees social networking as an important aspect of his job as CEO, and not just to spout off whimsically about this and that but to actively and meaningfully engage both his employees and customers. There would be no chance he would engage a body double twit. Mike often plays first line customer service rep on Twitter which is where his activity is significant. If he sees an item having to do with TN he will step in directly and engage with the person or persons who are either seeking help or complaining about something. A body double CEO can never do the same thing in the same way.
Played for laughs, Leaver went even further down the 'we're getting it wrong in social networking' road by telling us that the guy twit responsible for twittering on all things pregnancy - for their Good Expectations titles - recently got a response from someone that read, "I'm having Braxton Hicks contractions right now, what do I do?" It was amusing, but am I laughing because I'm imagining the helplessness of the twit or because I can't believe they've got this so wrong? If you are going to bother using social networking, be like Mike and make it real.