In my seminar on Webinar Production and Management, Paul asked: “How helpful are Twitter and LinkedIn to your webinar promotions?” I’m almost afraid to answer this, as my view runs counter to the public zeitgeist and is likely to inflame passions among the true believers. But faint heart ne’er won fair maiden, so here goes…
I hate Twitter. There, I said it. I have a Twitter account, but don’t bother following me, because you won’t get any content. I find Twitter to have an unacceptable “signal to noise ratio.” For every tweet (or Facebook status message) that gives me something valuable, I have to wade through 100 messages filled with time-wasting inanity. I honestly don’t care if you are feeling hungry, are waiting for the work day to end, or have a hard chair at the conference. I don’t care whether you think the speaker looks uncomfortable. I don’t trust the encoded short URL you are publicizing without adequate explanation of what it is and why I should visit it. And sorry, but in most cases I don’t care about your opinion on the subject being discussed, because I don’t know you and have no way to gauge your reliability and subject knowledge. Either I agree with you or I disagree with you. Either way, I haven’t gained much.
I find Twitter to be the present-day equivalent of a fictional anecdote from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. The only way the Belcerebon race could deal with the curse of telepathy that was imposed upon them was to talk endlessly about utter trivia. And thus it is with Facebook walls and personal tweets.
I know… I know… There are conversations out there that run counter to my cynical and dismissive rant. Every once in a while you hit an entire thread that has serious business value. Yes, and every once in a while I hear a country song that I like. But that doesn’t mean I keep my radio tuned to the country station. Too much garbage to sift through for the occasional treat.
Is it possible for social networking to help you promote an event? Certainly. The following conditions are necessary:
- You need a pre-existing large network of people who follow your postings. It’s no good trying to start using networking as a new activity to promote an event if you aren’t already deeply tied into a sizable network.
- You need an incredibly compelling value proposition and description of your event that can fit in 140 characters, including a link-through URL. It has to be easily understandable and relatable so others can forward it and not mess up your messaging in the process.
- You need to make your contacts feel that there is value in spreading the word.
- The forwarding chain has to keep spreading, so people you wouldn’t ordinarily touch find out about it.
In effect, you are relying on the same process that makes chain letters work. But instead of having all the space you want to tell your story in an email (which can be forwarded verbatim), you have a few characters and people rephrasing your message.
I’ll bet there is anecdotal evidence for people having success with this. There are a lot of webinars and a lot of people on social networking sites. Simple statistics says that some of them must have hit pay dirt. But do I want to rely on it for my promotional efforts as a matter of course? Not really.
Okay, I’d better get my armor on and wait for the flames to start!