NEW YORK — Shh... You hear that? ... No? Maybe you were too busy talking about yourself or formulating what you were going to say next. All too often, as evident on Twitter, people are quick to talk and shy to listen. But some of the biggest opportunities come from sitting back and tuning in to what topics are trending and to how people are communicating. Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, a 2009 CRM Influential Leader, and the author of Trust Agents spoke at this week's Web 2.0 Expo about taking advantage of flexible social networks and weaveable social paths.
Brogan said he basically lives in Twitter search. Before arriving at the Web 2.0 Expo at New York's Jacob Javits Center, Brogan spent some time sifting through the #W2E search page. "I watched the w2e tags ... and now I know who talks like a human," he said. "I already have an opinion formed on people I haven't met yet." In the midst of planning his New York trip, Brogan tweeted a question to his network about a cool hotel to stay at in the city. Two of his followers responded "The Roger Smith Hotel." The third @ reply he received was from the Roger Smith Hotel Twitter channel, encouraging him to schedule a stay. Serendipity? Brogan seemed to think so. Obviously the hotel had been monitoring mentions of its brand and because of that, won Brogan's business. "Being on Twitter and just talking about lunch is a great way to start," Brogan said. Start using search and you can run the 'Serendipity Engine.'"
But Brogan admitted that his way of using Twitter isn't like most. In fact he said some people have criticized him, saying he's doing itall wrong. "Eighty percent of my tweets are responses to other people," he said. "You feel seen -- it's a magical difference." Brogan actually greeted the keynote audience with the Zulu word for "I see you" -- Sawubona -- upon arriving on stage. "The difference between audience and community is which way you turn the chairs," he said.
Brogan has broadcasted both in his book and in public speaking engagements the idea of spending 12 times as much time talking about other people than you do yourself. On Twitter, Brogan also tries to follow all of those who follow him so that they will be able to Direct Message him if they so choose. Although it's been tough to sift through the hundreds of spam messages, he said, being able to send direct messages and contact influential people is quite the phenomenon right now. In smaller breakout session following his keynote, Brogan brought up email 25 years ago. Back then, he said, you could email Bill Gates and because it was a new channel, he just might have responded. The same thing is happening now with Twitter. But will it last? He doesn't think so. "This will go away," he said. But right now, these tools - social networks -- allow us to gate jump," Brogan said.
However, as social networks proliferate, it's easy to get caught up in the buzz and lose vision of why it's even helpful. Brogan outlined a set of questions that individuals should ask about their social participation:
- How do we share?
- How do we extend experiences and relationships -- and how to do we take those relationships outside of Twitter and outside of the convention center and into the real world?
- How do we collaborate?
- How do we wire new networks?
- How do we make new distribution?
- How do we develop relationships that yield?
Brogan's afternoon session was entitled ";They shall know us by our dial tone," which he said is a catchy line stolen from technology conference coordinator Jeff Pulver at a recent show. Brogan explained the significance of the phrase. "We had two people running for President," he said. "One of them called my house with a robot recording." Brogan said not only is the landline an ineffective way to reach him, but his household affectionately refers to the house line as the "mess-with-telemarketers phone." "That's crazy to use the landline as a main point of communication," he said. "The other candidate communicated with me on Twitter and Facebook and had my friends texting me."
Reaching out in a Web 2.0 way was only one of the reasons why that one presidential candidate was elected and the other way not. The Obama campaign knew how to use the social graph to its advantage and was able to "gate jump" as Brogan called it.
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