Where Do Conversations Live?

60's Conversation

Where do you hear a joke first?

Is it from your friend? A relative? A co-worker? Online? Or from an actual comedian?

Maybe you were lucky enough to hear it in the original writing session.

Most of the time it won’t matter. However, the medium through which the joke is received (and its make-up) will alter the listener’s reaction.

Complexity and proliferation of channels has ensured that most of us will never be at the original telling of that joke.

Does this matter?

Purists say yes. After all, that’s when the message is undiluted. Now apply this lens to a brand message. Does your perception change or remain the same?

My guess is that it shifts. Purists and marketers are thought of as an oxymoron (despite our best efforts). After all, our content doesn’t always lend itself to easy conversation or an emotional response. In fact, this is the very reason that most of us (marketers) are hired in the first place.

How else could a conversation about shoes become a story about happiness?* Or a conversation about food becomes one about community? We try and take a brand’s essence and distill it down into a singular emotion that is both easy to grasp and synonymous with the consumer experience.

Why then are some of us so fearful of someone taking the simplicity of the message and re-purposing it?

Simple: It’s a matter of credit.

Engagement is now a metric. It’s a measure of success that we are judged upon. However, the current tools with which we measure product conversation are still in their infancy. They are platform dependent in a platform agnostic world.

Conversation operates in cells of influence, much like Al-Qaeda. The hierarchy is disparate, confusing and the sheer volume makes it almost impossible to analyze the true reach of a campaign or program.

We are at a creative crossroads: do we embrace the remix or do we adhere to the tradition of message crafting? The answer is obvious. The way in which we measure our success is not.

Don’t ask where a conversation should live, think about where it can spread from.

*This was all Zappos. Just want to be clear about that.

Image Source: Dave Gilbert

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