Extend the Conversation

Talking HeadsThe one message I wanted people to take into and out of the first PodCamp was that these new media tools worked best as a way to “extend the conversation.” By this, I mean that blogging, audio and video podcasting, twitter, second life, and all these other applications give us a chance to reach out to people not in our local area, or to find us relationships hidden otherwise by our day-to-day life. Growing up, I had two choices in life: do what the kids around me did, or do what I wanted to do and be ostracized. I picked a mix of the two.

I did lots of things in private, or with a select bunch of friends, but in the general public, I often blended in, hid what I was passionate about if it didn’t mix with the kids around me. I was a bit of a nerd about things (comic books, Dungeons and Dragons, sci fi, reading), and I didn’t wear that stuff too loud and proud until high school.

But now, with blogging, podcasting, whatever, I can reach people just like me. If I want to go out and find people who really dig Batman, it’d be pretty quick and easy to get done. (Friend in New Zealand who likes Batman: Michael Sampson. Done.)

And yet, that same dislocated community gives me pause. What could I be doing more to highlight the here and now? What could my abilities with blogging/podcasting do for my community? What stories need telling around here? If Silicon Valley and NYC aren’t the newsmakers in my life, who is?

Talking to Ourselves

Read this post, comment, and come back: Top 10 Reasons Why Web 2.0 Sucks.

Read this post, comment, and come back: Superhero, Reveal Yourself.

Charlie tells us we’re talking to ourselves, and I believe this. STRONGLY. I know this because in 2007, I’m still seeing panels at conferences entitled, “Should your company be blogging?” And for a long time, my answer to this was, “Well, duh!” But now it’s not. Now I think some companies shouldn’t be blogging. And yet, there are TONS of people who should be blogging. Oh… get it? People, not companies, write blogs. People we want relationships. Robert Scoble *was* Microsoft to me. Now? Nobody is Microsoft, or Ray Ozzie is, or whatever. But Scoble had the blood.

We’re all just talking to each other, which is swell, but if we want to be relevant, we’ve gotta climb the slippery, shiny, invisible sides of this big bowl we’re all standing in, and we’ve gotta get out there into the crowd. If I had this graphic, I’d post it. The graphic would be a guy throwing a bowl of shiny goldfish into a busy crowd. Think about that a moment. We’re all just goldfish in a bowl until we get there, into the people’s world.

Christopher Penn goes further. He says we should use our powers for good. Get out there. Use your newly minted voice to bring about real live change in the world. Chris practices what he preaches. His Financial Aid Podcast is truly the closest to a white hat financial aid organization out there, in a business that is FULL of black hat practices. Read: scammers. Chris’s show gives you top-shelf financial advice, a little philosophy, and some entertainment. Daily. You want something to hang your hat on? Take his advice to get out there and use your powers for something more than audio and visual masturbation. Make a value to the world.

Extend the Conversation

We NEED to get out there and talk to others, bring more people into the experience. Why? Because we are at a point where we (people who choose to use their voice) are the power. Don’t believe me? Read the fascinating BuzzMachine piece on the obsolescence of the traditional interview.. (Note: when I went to grab this link, I found Jeff Jarvis reporting that NBC has chosen not to air the Presidential debates on the Internet for policy reasons- hummm… OUR Presidential candidates? We can’t hear them because NBC says so?)

Who should you add to the conversation? That’s for you to answer. What are you talking about, and who needs to hear it? I tell you what: you’re not going to find ALL your pertinent audience online already. Lots of folks don’t know how to reach you. Remember, there are lots of Internet dirt roads with lots of blinking neon signs. You’ve gotta go out, hand roadmaps to your new audience, and bring them into the conversation.

Some of this might still have to start face-to-face. Get used to that idea. Show people who aren’t yet aware of your media what it will add to their world. By the way, it’s all about them.

Instant Value Enhancer- Turn Your Blog/Podcast/Whatever Into a “Platform”

The minute you build your experience into a conversation of two-way or more participation, it instantly becomes a stronger value to the community you’re serving. Reach out. Get people to videoblog their contributions. Make THEM part of the show. It’s instant. Reaching out to build your community by giving THEM a voice and a face and a presence is an instant hit. Immediate. It brings more awareness, more attention, new audiences to the experience, because then your newfound stars will bring their friends, family, connections to the conversation.

Know who did this well back in the day and is doing it more now that they’ve relaunched? Scriggity. They’ve understood that it’s all about ME since whenever ago. And YOU, and HER.

Bring more people into the media, energize them, and get the voices moving together.

Many Voices in Chorus vs. Chatter

Gather people to your conversation and combine. Build. Enhance. Make the “show” the “channel” the “network.” Gather all the voices into one powerful, UNIFIED experience that lets your combined audiences feel the larger experience. (But the backwards trick- give us a way to pick and choose, too. I might like some of your shows, but not all. Some of your segments).

A chorus of people approaching something will forever be more powerful than lots of little voices pecking at the same problem. Get together. Join. Gather.

Action

What could you do TODAY to get into this? Here are a few ideas from me. You add some of your own.

  • Identify people in your real world community that you could serve with your blog, podcast, videoblog, whatever.

  • Host a local event at the public library making people aware of social media.
  • Reach out to a similar blog/podcast/video show and work out how to combine efforts. Raise your voice.
  • Start going to local area meetups. They’re out there. Look harder. If not, start one. Meetup.com is a good service for this.
  • Match your passion to your platform. Is text your medium? Why do a radio show? What would your audience want to consume?
  • Educate locals how to use these tools themselves, and start a few blogs/podcasts in your own community.
  • Improve your product. If you text blog, be more concise. Audio? Tighten up. Focus. Video? Get better lighting. Work on your sound. The audience wants TV and Radio quality. Mostly.

Okay, it’s up to you. What will YOU do to add your voice to this? What needs extending in your world? How can we burst through this talking-to-ourselves bubble and reach out to more? Am I wrong? Should we even try to reach out?

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