Being a Denver Nuggets fan, I was recently reminded that Mark Cuban has said some off the wall things. Having said that, he often provides some very interesting and thought provoking ideas on the world of social media. His recent post in late May “Who Cares What People Write?” is a good example of the latter.
Cuban shares some interesting ideas around “Outties” (content creators that fit into professional “Outties” as well as amateur “Outties”) and “Innies” (who are “passive consumers of web writings” or consumers who “read watch and listen to the professional “Outties” and ignore the amateur “Outties””). The idea being that professional “Outties” are generally established, branded sites with strong/large readership and amateur “Outties” are people looking for an audience (commenters, retweeters, reposters, etc.) who are creating content to be discovered. Read his post for the full scoop and he closes with a pretty interesting wrap up of the concept…
The moral of the story is that on the internet, volume is not engagement . Traffic is not reach. When you see things written about a person, place or thing you care about, whether its positive or negative, take a very deep breath before thinking that the story means anything to anyone but you.
It was also a concept expanded on by the Progress & Freedom Foundation‘s Senior Fellow and Director, Center of Digital Media Freedom Adam D. Thierer. Adam’s blog does a nice job of framing Cuban’s thoughts and adding some additional parallels to them around Power Laws as well as Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory.
I think the one area that is not captured in either blog is the importance of recognizing the conversation that is happening — whether they are driven by the professional or amateur “Outties.” While I agree with Cuban that volume is not engagement and traffic is not reach, but I also believe that all comments, re-posts, link backs, tweets/re-tweets, blogs expanding on a topic or theme, etc. (like this one) are part of the conversation that is taking place. The collective conversation is the piece that matters for brands.
A simplified example of this would be to search for your brand on Twitter and see what’s being said. One person with 15 followers may be saying something that may be able to be dismissed, but if 10, 20 or 50 people with 15 followers each are saying something, after you take your deep breadth, it may be worth taking a closer look and joining the conversation.
The role of communications is indeed changing and how we think about creating or sharing a message is something that needs to be considered. I think this is one of the key reasons companies are starting to act more like publishers or content providers — to ensure anyone (either professional or amateur) can participate in their story, share it and share their perspectives on it.
Regardless of which outtie you are thinking of or the innie you are trying to reach, always consider the importance of helping foster conversation through your communications initaitives.