Imagine a conversation, maybe a group of people standing around talking at a cocktail party or networking event. One of them wears a logo suit, like one of those mascot costumes, that hides the face and presents the person as the logo character only. Maybe it’s something like Ronald McDonald, or Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, or that Michelin tire character.
What sort of conversation is that going to be? If the other people gathered around are people, representing themselves, how comfortable would they be with the logo character?
Let’s assume that all of the others are spouting points of view, equivalent to content. I’m there talking about business planning and small business, you’re there talking about your favorite topics, and we probably share opinions and suggestions about other topics that come up. So we’re aware of our business selves and our various sets of expertise; but we’re still people. And the logo characters aren’t. Or so it seems.
So I’m watching how this works.
I use the Zappos example in the illustration here because that’s an interesting compromise. We see the person behind the curtain, he or she even introduces themselves. That’s sort of like the person in the conversation wearing a company shirt, or name tag. I get it. I’m assuming we follow them, temporarily, if we have a customer service issue.
I see people identified with companies. Scott Monty of Ford, for example. Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Publishing. That seems to work well for them, and it works for me too. They’re the person, not the company. I follow them if I like what they’re saying.
I see companies that tweet as companies, announcing deals, sales, products, seminars, and so on, as companies. The moving taco stand tweeting its location. Those tweets don’t seem to come from people. I’d follow them if I had a customer reason to.
I still think the business side of Twitter works best for those individual experts who are there as people, but, when topics come up, people with experience and expertise and opinions. I’d like some, but jeez, I’d need to list hundreds of names. It’s the people tweeting that makes Twitter interesting, not the companies. For the people doing expert business as themselves, Twitter is a very powerful business-related conversational platform. That’s cool. But it’s still conversation that really works.