I heard Chris Heuer from The Conversation Group speak during the closing session at the recent BlogOrlando conference, and he (unknowingly?) threw out a great idea for a new web tool that marketers should be clamoring for.
While I don’t agree with everything that Chris said, he made a great point when he said that social media and social bookmarking tools (think Digg, Reddit, Ma.gnolia, etc.) effectively dilute the conversation, particularly from the perspective of the person or firm who created the original message.
Think about it: If I write an article on this site, and everyone who ever replies with a comment to that post does so on this site, then the entire conversation stays intact… it lets me more effectively manage it, and it gives every reader a better sense of the full range of opinions from their fellow readers.
But as soon as that post is shared across multiple bookmarking sites that also allow comments, the original publisher loses the ability to control that conversation, and therefore their message. As Chris says, it also “dilutes the conversation,” making each disparate comment thread less relevant and less valuable to that group of readers.
Which is exactly why publishers, marketers and PR professionals should be asking the technology community for a tool that allows them to track these disparate conversations. It would provide a similar function to TouchGraph, allowing the original publisher to see, from a simple dashboard, all the locations across the web where people are talking about their post, and the associated relevance of each of those locations. Some blogs already show the number of diggs or the number of saves to del.icio.us, but they still don’t provide any insight into the resulting conversations.
I’m not asking for total control over the conversation… publishers should know to trust their readers and take the good with the bad. But they should also know where to find them.