Recently, I became engaged in a debate about whether blogging is really a conversation – or just correspondence. (Splitting hairs? Perhaps.) My counterpart seemed troubled by the definition of blogging (the verb) being a conversation, especially how it relates to business and their customers.
A few of his points:
- Blogging is not done in real-time
- Blogging is not face-to-face
- Blogging is without voice inflection
His strongest point may have been with regard to a company blogging. Is conversation too big and bold of a term? Would it scare them off?
His argument was that business blogging may be like going on a first date. Your date asks you how many kids you’d like to have? Your instant reaction may be, "Hold the phone, this is our first date – and we’re already getting to marriage talk? I’m not ready for that yet."
To a business, if having a conversation with your customer is too big of a commitment, maybe you shouldn’t
be in business be blogging. Of course, maybe your competition will be ready to make such a commitment, but that’s a chance we all take in business and dating.
As for the definition of blogging being a conversation, it is – in my opinion – very much a conversation. In its tone. In its intention. In its interaction. Becoming a good conversationalist is another matter (and a future post, I’m sure).
Some definitions and use in action:
- Wikipedia: "Blogging has developed a specialized vocabulary that has evolved into almost seemingly casual conversations between acquaintances, and has even found its way into some schools. See List of blogging terms.
- In Mirriam-Webster’s, the first definition of "converse" as a noun is the archaic: social interaction, the second is: conversation. Among the definitions for "converse" as a verb is: to carry on an exchange similar to a conversation (as with a computer)
- Earlier this year, Nancy White shared a few Mind Maps about Blog Conversations (check these out)
- Amy Gahran breaks down What a Cross-Blog Conversation Looks Like in a great post, then proceeds to carry on a conversation within the comments.
- And, as my good friend Mike Wagner often says within his comments, "Thanks for adding to the conversation."
Back in my AOL days, I read a wonderful business novel, Virtual Leadership (Amazon still shows my last purchase of this book in May 2000). In it, a wonderful story about King Arthur and how he communicated with his Knights – constantly battling enemies of geography, isolation and history.
As an online community specialist and now a blogging evangelist, I’ve witnessed how we’ve already overcome geography and isolation. History is still something businesses battle daily. A new history must be clearly communicated. One speed bump may be the languaging.
But as I said to my counterpart: If conversation is too big of a term, if developing that kind of relationship with their is too much of a commitment for a business to take on – maybe it’s best they realize that commitment prior to launching a blog.
To not realize the commitment would prove negative for the company – and for blogging.