blogging, converging, listening, planning

Listening and learning: Contagious and Naughton on the importance of responding to conversations

Twas the day before Christmas, when all thru the comms industry; Not a planner was stirring, not even a still-drunk buyer from the Christmas party the night before…

and so the last post before Chrimbo brings the loveliest of Christmas pressies from Contagious, who have given us all their Most Contagious review of the year for free.  it's packed full of cracking examples of the best marketing and comms ideas from the last twelve months, some of which pick up on what was their anticipated theme of the year – the conversation:

"If 2006 was about user-generated content and 2007 about social media, then 2008 is about the conversation.’ So predicted Contagious editor Paul Kemp-Robertson in The International Herald Tribune back in January. ‘In other words, brands will have to steel themselves to the idea that marketing is a two-way street, not just a conduit for directing their messages toward pliant consumers."
I hope that's true.  I want it to be true.  I want 2008 to be the year that our conversations stopped being one-way, and where marketing and communications learned how to listen in interesting and relevant ways.  because listening isn't enough; it's easy to say 'we're listening' with one hand yet continue to deploy messages for perception or behavioural change in the broadcast streams with the other.

and if 2008 was the year of the conversation, I hope that 2009 brings the year of informed debate.  the year that we can use those conversations in ways that influence how we go about doing what we do and saying what we say.

this importance of conversation was highlighted in a great article by John Naughton in the Observer, who reports on how a WSJ article failed to correctly understand a story on Google's relationship with ISPs.  more crucially though, when the blogosphere went about correcting the article, their contribution was then largely derided by the broadcast stream.  Naughton observes that:

"Watching the discussion unfold online was like eavesdropping on a
civilised and enlightening conversation. Browsing through it I thought:
this is what the internet is like at its best – a powerful extension of
what Jürgen Habermas once called 'the public sphere'."
this is the ambition, this is the hope.  that brands not just only listen in on the conversation, but then act on the information and opinion discussed within it's increasingly public sphere…  have awesome Chrimbo's guys, here's one last little treat from those crazy kids at AKQA, enjoy.

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