The Desperate Need For Clarity

3061-2382906259_4afb8b9b17_m.jpgOver the last weeks I have attended a number of events/conferences in London, most recently including Jeff Pulver‘s #140Conf, where I got to dine with Jeff the night before with Daren Foysth and few other new friends. The next day, despite the lineup of experienced and innovating speakers, and the crowd of great people, I was mostly disappointed by the content that these speakers shared: there was nothing in it that had any kind of structure that I could take away and use – and it’s been the same at the other conferences too.

Note that these conferences were attended by existing Social Media practitioners – they weren’t entry level. This is important to point out, because some people made the same criticisms about Like Minds. My retort is that Like Minds was aimed at a wide range of skill sets, and had four keynotes to provide value to the range of expertise in the room. Having said that, we’re still working hard at making sure in February we deliver unquestionable value – a conversation you can follow some of over in the comments section at this post on Carl Haggerty’s blog.

Getting back to the issue of the same-old same-old content, I’m not addressing this to Jeff, and the other event organisers around the world – although, being one of these organisers with Like Minds, we must play the part of prioritising the following when we shortlist speakers – I am writing this to the speakers and bloggers themselves who are sharing their insights at these events:

We need clarity.

We don’t need to hear another tale of why Twitter changed your world, or why Facebook is such a big deal. We don’t need another ‘Twitter is great because’ speech, or just endless waffle on projects. We need actionable, thought-through, clear frameworks that can be taken away and used by businesses, individuals and organisations. That’s value. That’s sharing stuff that helps. That’s actually thinking your content through and presenting it in a way that helps others, as opposed to just promoting your own Social Media awesomeness.

I think I’m leading the way forward here by example. I spend a lot of time providing frameworks that you can take away. Here’s the ones from last month:

Now I know they aren’t the best on the web by any means, but at least I’m taking my experience and turning it into clear, actionable content that anyone can come and take away, as opposed to just meandering and presenting the same old waffle or paediatric approaches. Then I see the stuff that passes for ‘quality’ on Mashable and SmartBrief and I wonder why I bother: they’re just filled with more of the same-old same-old. Seriously: I see so few creating clear content.

Anyway. Will I get criticised for talking this way? Yeah, probably. But guaranteed the ones who do are themselves not attempting to provide value in this way.

By the way, I’ll be presenting some of this content with Olivier Blanchard, along with lots of new frameworks that we’ve been working on, next week in Exeter on December 3rd, and then in London on December 4th. They will be well worth it.

Photo courtesy of tochis.

Archived Comments

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott, how are you, my friend?

    Love the thought…

    “We need actionable, thought-through, clear frameworks that can be taken away and used by businesses, individuals and organisations.”

    I would just add…

    …and why not share this information online using the social connection technologies BEFORE the get together, and use the face-time to do things that can ONLY be done using face-to-face forums.

    It just seems ironic that we use the ancient art of “room-filling” to share leading-edge information. It’s like putting a horse and buggy on a brand new railway track and hollering “Giddy-up!”

    Now is the time to get really innovative and maximise the on-line and off-line components of leader education. Use each where it can deliver maximum advantage.

    Have a great week,

    Robin

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott, how are you, my friend?

    Love the thought…

    “We need actionable, thought-through, clear frameworks that can be taken away and used by businesses, individuals and organisations.”

    I would just add…

    …and why not share this information online using the social connection technologies BEFORE the get together, and use the face-time to do things that can ONLY be done using face-to-face forums.

    It just seems ironic that we use the ancient art of “room-filling” to share leading-edge information. It’s like putting a horse and buggy on a brand new railway track and hollering “Giddy-up!”

    Now is the time to get really innovative and maximise the on-line and off-line components of leader education. Use each where it can deliver maximum advantage.

    Have a great week,

    Robin

  • Scott Gould

    Robin,

    “..and why not share this information online using the social connection technologies BEFORE the get together, and use the face-time to do things that can ONLY be done using face-to-face forums. “

    Totally – which is what we’re doing with Like Minds in February.

    And the clear aim is to make it all actionable – not just meandering rubbish.

    I know you’ve got my back with this, anyway!

    S

  • Scott Gould

    Robin,

    “..and why not share this information online using the social connection technologies BEFORE the get together, and use the face-time to do things that can ONLY be done using face-to-face forums. “

    Totally – which is what we’re doing with Like Minds in February.

    And the clear aim is to make it all actionable – not just meandering rubbish.

    I know you’ve got my back with this, anyway!

    S

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Absolutely! Just flying as your wing man on this.

    Robin :)

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Absolutely! Just flying as your wing man on this.

    Robin :)

  • Thank you SO much for this.

    I have been thinking the same for some time. We need digital do-ers, not talkers. The social media space is overcrowded and needs to grow up and start being more accountable.

    I’d love to attend your talk in London, but the price is a little out of this world for a journalist, or for that matter anyone without a big corporate budget.

  • Thank you SO much for this.

    I have been thinking the same for some time. We need digital do-ers, not talkers. The social media space is overcrowded and needs to grow up and start being more accountable.

    I’d love to attend your talk in London, but the price is a little out of this world for a journalist, or for that matter anyone without a big corporate budget.

  • I’ve just come to your blog via a link on Twitter and I thoroughly agree with you. There is too much fluffy / qualitative “you must be on Twitter because…”. I like the more quantitative stuff (as I’m a scientist / engineer by background).

  • I’ve just come to your blog via a link on Twitter and I thoroughly agree with you. There is too much fluffy / qualitative “you must be on Twitter because…”. I like the more quantitative stuff (as I’m a scientist / engineer by background).

  • Scott Gould

    Hey Alex

    Thanks for the great words. Like you say – we need DOERS. I’m so tired of hearing the same fluff – and it’s the SPEAKERS, not the organisers, who are responsible, because this means they need to start giving away more value.

    Re: Red Chair London – yeah, it is a corporate focussed event, hence the price tag. Olivier is an exquisite speaker – it is going to be very, very good.

    But would love to tweetup otherwise!

  • Scott Gould

    Hey Alex

    Thanks for the great words. Like you say – we need DOERS. I’m so tired of hearing the same fluff – and it’s the SPEAKERS, not the organisers, who are responsible, because this means they need to start giving away more value.

    Re: Red Chair London – yeah, it is a corporate focussed event, hence the price tag. Olivier is an exquisite speaker – it is going to be very, very good.

    But would love to tweetup otherwise!

  • Scott Gould

    Hey Tim

    I’m right with you. Less qualitative and more quantitive. I’ve bust my ass creating actionable frameworks, which is where stuff really gets done. But perhaps the game is just to those who can talk but don’t do!

  • Scott Gould

    Hey Tim

    I’m right with you. Less qualitative and more quantitive. I’ve bust my ass creating actionable frameworks, which is where stuff really gets done. But perhaps the game is just to those who can talk but don’t do!

  • JeffHurt

    Scott:

    Your words are the canary in the coal mine for all conference organizers, not just those that plan social media conferences.

    People are tired of paying money and giving their time to attend face-to-face events that offers lowbrow, introductory, 101-level content that everyone has already heard. Sure, there will always be those that need the intro-level stuff but conference organizers must find unique, stellar high-level, advanced content with unquestionable value, as you call it to keep repeat attenders.

    People want fresh, relevant, practical, content that inspires them and also connects with their emotions. They want takeaways that they can use immediately and they want to be engaged in horizontal, peer-to-peer, collaborative, networked learning at face-to-face events.

    As for the clarity and depth of content in blogs….I think the six steps to (name your topic) and list of best ways to (name your process) will always be well-liked, RT’d and read by viewers. It’s an easy and quick read for folks.

    Some of us event professionals are starting to do things differently. We are planning the face-to-face experience within the context of a community ecosystem. We are looking for the fine wine content to offer to face-to-face attendees that can’t be found online free. We are finding ways to allow attendees to engage with each other and the content in a more systemic approach than in isolation at a one-time event or a virtual Webinar.

    Keep questioning the status quo, keep pushing the boundaries. Some of us are listening, learning and responding as well. Thank you.

  • JeffHurt

    Scott:

    Your words are the canary in the coal mine for all conference organizers, not just those that plan social media conferences.

    People are tired of paying money and giving their time to attend face-to-face events that offers lowbrow, introductory, 101-level content that everyone has already heard. Sure, there will always be those that need the intro-level stuff but conference organizers must find unique, stellar high-level, advanced content with unquestionable value, as you call it to keep repeat attenders.

    People want fresh, relevant, practical, content that inspires them and also connects with their emotions. They want takeaways that they can use immediately and they want to be engaged in horizontal, peer-to-peer, collaborative, networked learning at face-to-face events.

    As for the clarity and depth of content in blogs….I think the six steps to (name your topic) and list of best ways to (name your process) will always be well-liked, RT’d and read by viewers. It’s an easy and quick read for folks.

    Some of us event professionals are starting to do things differently. We are planning the face-to-face experience within the context of a community ecosystem. We are looking for the fine wine content to offer to face-to-face attendees that can’t be found online free. We are finding ways to allow attendees to engage with each other and the content in a more systemic approach than in isolation at a one-time event or a virtual Webinar.

    Keep questioning the status quo, keep pushing the boundaries. Some of us are listening, learning and responding as well. Thank you.

  • Great post Scott, i can’t agree with you more that what most people, well i believe everyone wants to hear approaches, learning and frameworks that they can use, adapt and develop in their own organisations. It will be this collaborative approach that will deliver the widest possible benefit.

    I am not keen in hearing from people how twitter works for them either as it simply reinforces my view that they are more interested in the technology then solving a business problem of issue – Classic Social Media Guru stance.

    I think it will be important to start to understand the stages of social media usage and engagement and then pitch at those levels. I’m pulling my thoughts together as i type of what those levels might be and what each level requires in terms of support and challenge.

  • Great post Scott, i can’t agree with you more that what most people, well i believe everyone wants to hear approaches, learning and frameworks that they can use, adapt and develop in their own organisations. It will be this collaborative approach that will deliver the widest possible benefit.

    I am not keen in hearing from people how twitter works for them either as it simply reinforces my view that they are more interested in the technology then solving a business problem of issue – Classic Social Media Guru stance.

    I think it will be important to start to understand the stages of social media usage and engagement and then pitch at those levels. I’m pulling my thoughts together as i type of what those levels might be and what each level requires in terms of support and challenge.

  • Scott Gould

    Jeff, thank you so much for your words. It’s good to know that others are indeed feeling the same way, and that I’m not a lunatic.

    Jason falls, ironically, wrote the same thing today: http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2009/11/23/w...

    I would like to hear how you, as an organiser, are looking to do things differently. I’m thinking and writing about it a lot, but still haven’t found something I can work with that combines lots of people, a very wide range of competency, and still deliver valuable inspiration and takeaways for all.

  • Scott Gould

    Jeff, thank you so much for your words. It’s good to know that others are indeed feeling the same way, and that I’m not a lunatic.

    Jason falls, ironically, wrote the same thing today: http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2009/11/23/w...

    I would like to hear how you, as an organiser, are looking to do things differently. I’m thinking and writing about it a lot, but still haven’t found something I can work with that combines lots of people, a very wide range of competency, and still deliver valuable inspiration and takeaways for all.

  • Scott Gould

    Thanks Carl – I’m just reading your post now… :-)

  • Scott Gould

    Thanks Carl – I’m just reading your post now… :-)

  • Trying to cater to all audiences with a single event is nigh impossible. Is there a need for the #140confs of the world? Absolutely. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But there is also a need for conferences and events where real actionable methodology can be presented and discussed (taught, even) to business managers who want (and need) to know how to actually use Social Media to accomplish specific objectives.

    The problem is that the vast majority of conferences do not serve as training events for anyone (except perhaps my mom, who just wants to know how to get on Facebook).

    That’s why moving forward, events like LikeMinds Immersive (and Red Chair) are going to be a welcome addition to the current “Twitter can change the world” type of conference content.

    No frail agency pitches disguised as case studies, no grand declarations of social change through digital connectivity… Just clear, actionable “this is how you do X” methodology and training.

    Great post.

  • Trying to cater to all audiences with a single event is nigh impossible. Is there a need for the #140confs of the world? Absolutely. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But there is also a need for conferences and events where real actionable methodology can be presented and discussed (taught, even) to business managers who want (and need) to know how to actually use Social Media to accomplish specific objectives.

    The problem is that the vast majority of conferences do not serve as training events for anyone (except perhaps my mom, who just wants to know how to get on Facebook).

    That’s why moving forward, events like LikeMinds Immersive (and Red Chair) are going to be a welcome addition to the current “Twitter can change the world” type of conference content.

    No frail agency pitches disguised as case studies, no grand declarations of social change through digital connectivity… Just clear, actionable “this is how you do X” methodology and training.

    Great post.

  • We also need increased self-awareness among users of social media. When a medium exists primarily to validate its own existence (like social media), its users will naturally use it solely to promote THEIR own existences. People need to set larger (or at least more specific) goals for themselves than “[internet] fame, fortune and followers” before we can expect the medium to rise and meet their needs.

  • We also need increased self-awareness among users of social media. When a medium exists primarily to validate its own existence (like social media), its users will naturally use it solely to promote THEIR own existences. People need to set larger (or at least more specific) goals for themselves than “[internet] fame, fortune and followers” before we can expect the medium to rise and meet their needs.

  • I’m sorry I’m far too busy ‘doing’ to respond to this post ;-)

    Oh ok then, bang on sir! More of this please.

  • I’m sorry I’m far too busy ‘doing’ to respond to this post ;-)

    Oh ok then, bang on sir! More of this please.

  • Scott Gould

    Paraphrasing: “Conferences are not Training Events”

    True / False? I’m leaning towards ‘mostly true’. I think they serve to be far more inspirational. Which means, at least, the content needs to be inspiration – and still these speakers have something to answer for with all the fluff they provide.

    Bring on Red Chair. That’s where there’s actual framework.

  • Scott Gould

    Paraphrasing: “Conferences are not Training Events”

    True / False? I’m leaning towards ‘mostly true’. I think they serve to be far more inspirational. Which means, at least, the content needs to be inspiration – and still these speakers have something to answer for with all the fluff they provide.

    Bring on Red Chair. That’s where there’s actual framework.

  • Scott Gould

    Agreed – how can we step towards this?

  • Scott Gould

    Agreed – how can we step towards this?

  • Scott Gould

    Sorry Gemma, this is </rant>, and I won’t get it out again until at least next week! ;-)

  • Scott Gould

    Sorry Gemma, this is </rant>, and I won’t get it out again until at least next week! ;-)

  • Part of it is in what we, the chroniclers and practitioners, choose to talk about — meaning, possibility and results vs. hierarchy, structure and numbers.

    Part of it involves stating goals and beliefs, laying out action plans (and soliciting feedback and assistance from others), and analyzing what’s working and what isn’t — and whether that’s good or bad — as opposed to analyzing all actions according to the same generic blueprint for success (aka, “Views or Sales”).

    And part of it is not being afraid to separate success from process, or in giving credit for achieving elements of the greater goal.

    Social media, like any means of communication, is limitless in its potential. That we’ve already managed, within ten years of its advent, to reduce it to a means of marketing goods and services to people with discretionary income, says a lot about how humans measure their own success and potential. Let’s graduate from that, shall we?

  • Part of it is in what we, the chroniclers and practitioners, choose to talk about — meaning, possibility and results vs. hierarchy, structure and numbers.

    Part of it involves stating goals and beliefs, laying out action plans (and soliciting feedback and assistance from others), and analyzing what’s working and what isn’t — and whether that’s good or bad — as opposed to analyzing all actions according to the same generic blueprint for success (aka, “Views or Sales”).

    And part of it is not being afraid to separate success from process, or in giving credit for achieving elements of the greater goal.

    Social media, like any means of communication, is limitless in its potential. That we’ve already managed, within ten years of its advent, to reduce it to a means of marketing goods and services to people with discretionary income, says a lot about how humans measure their own success and potential. Let’s graduate from that, shall we?

  • Scott Gould

    “Social media, like any means of communication, is limitless in its potential. That we’ve already managed, within ten years of its advent, to reduce it to a means of marketing goods and services to people with discretionary income, says a lot about how humans measure their own success and potential. Let’s graduate from that, shall we?”

    Totally! Agreed with all your points, and now mulling them through!

  • Scott Gould

    “Social media, like any means of communication, is limitless in its potential. That we’ve already managed, within ten years of its advent, to reduce it to a means of marketing goods and services to people with discretionary income, says a lot about how humans measure their own success and potential. Let’s graduate from that, shall we?”

    Totally! Agreed with all your points, and now mulling them through!

  • There is obviously need for both types of event. The entry level one and the advanced user one, in the same way there is need for entry level IT training and advanced user training.
    What needs to be distinguished is what is going to be delivered at an event.
    The organisers have a duty to inform the prospective attendee of the nature and complexity of the material being presented.
    If you organise an event where the material offered is complex, targeted “actionable, thought-through, clear frameworks that can be taken away and used by businesses, individuals and organisations” and don’t tell people that it is at the higher level, you will get a lot of noob attenders saying it was rubbish because it went over their heads as they’ve not even grasped the basics.

    Say What you are going to present
    Present it (and do it well)
    Tell people what you presented so that next time they will want to be there.

    I also think that even the noob level can be given “actionable, thought-through, clear frameworks that can be taken away and used”, (before you call me out on that) but it is at a different level and the organisers need to be clear what level the event is aiming at.

    People have to get on the ladder to begin with before you can invite them to climb.

    Good post though. ;)

  • There is obviously need for both types of event. The entry level one and the advanced user one, in the same way there is need for entry level IT training and advanced user training.
    What needs to be distinguished is what is going to be delivered at an event.
    The organisers have a duty to inform the prospective attendee of the nature and complexity of the material being presented.
    If you organise an event where the material offered is complex, targeted “actionable, thought-through, clear frameworks that can be taken away and used by businesses, individuals and organisations” and don’t tell people that it is at the higher level, you will get a lot of noob attenders saying it was rubbish because it went over their heads as they’ve not even grasped the basics.

    Say What you are going to present
    Present it (and do it well)
    Tell people what you presented so that next time they will want to be there.

    I also think that even the noob level can be given “actionable, thought-through, clear frameworks that can be taken away and used”, (before you call me out on that) but it is at a different level and the organisers need to be clear what level the event is aiming at.

    People have to get on the ladder to begin with before you can invite them to climb.

    Good post though. ;)

  • Scott Gould

    Agreed

  • Scott Gould

    Agreed

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