June 25, 2010
The Kerfuffle about "The Nines"
New social media tools are great, but they have downsides too.
Yesterday, Skye Jethani wrote a post critical of how Leadership Network was driving publicity for THE NINES conference. The "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" poll raking Christian leaders struck him as distasteful and he asked his friends at Leadership Network to reconsider the site. Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network, spoke with Skye and explained their thinking behind the use of the "crowd source" poll. Travis has written a response to the objections on his blog, and we've excerpted a section here. Read Dave Travis' entire post at Learnings @ Leadership Network.
A few weeks ago a new web site technology went live that allows you to post a list to get opinions. Todd Rhodes (Leadership Network's digital guru) decided to try it to stir up some interest in THE NINES.
We seeded the list with 20-25 names and encouraged folks to add to the list.
We did this to get some suggestions on who we might need to invite to speak this year. We knew that via social media connections we would cast a much wider net to see who is suggested.
Now the site (http://twtpick.in/4k) has its limitations. That is how that service works.
It doesn’t allow you to put any explanatory text on the page.
It only allows the “like” or “dislike” which are unfortunate word choices. Our preference would have been different for word choice.
It does allow people to freely add people as suggested speakers though for lots of others to see. And we liked that.
It does mean you have to sign in with your twitter account so we can see who you like. It’s not an anonymous service.
Sometimes there is a good leader who is overexposed. They speak everywhere and they are good at it. There is a place for that and a place at THE NINES for that. I think some hit the “dislike” button because they have heard a person too many times.
There are some leaders who are great writers, but not very good a speaking. We have learned that the hard way.
Sometimes even a person who is great communicating to a large, live crowd doesn’t do too well with a small web cam speaking as if to one person in a conversational style. We have learned that too. So they may generate some “dislikes”.
The CEO of the twtpick company emailed Todd and asked for suggestions on how to improve his service and we have given him some ideas.
So far over 30,000 people have viewed the site. We are up to about 11,000 comments and over 350 speakers suggested. All of that is way, way more than we ever figured would see the list much less respond. Let’s us know that our event this year could be really BIG.
So in that way it has worked well to suggest some speakers that quite frankly, we would have never considered. (and I told Todd we should be charging the CEO for driving traffic to his site)
It has been funny to us to follow the twitter tags to see how people are reacting to the site.
Some assumed it was a popularity contest to see who would get to speak during this year’s THE NINES. Nope, we already had several lists of people we wanted to invite and will be doing so no matter where they would end up on the list. In fact many of the people on our list to speak aren’t on the big list. And on the page or in our twitters we have never positioned the list that way.
Some started campaigns via their blogs and other social media to increase their “likes”. And some have led campaigns the other way to dislike folks.
It looked like multiple people created twitter accounts with no followers in order to “dislike” about 50 people. Sort of a campaign to get someone disinvited to speak.
In fact some blogger said that he knew his list would never be popular that he wrote that he will be starting a competing event on the same day to get his suggestions on his program. Fine with us.
The top part of the list tends to be people with big names for a variety of reasons. They either speak a lot, they write books, and magazines feature them and the like. That’s fine.
We were more interested in some of the people we didn’t know. And a high dislike is not such a bad thing.
We look at some of that and think, hmmm, perhaps that would help leaders to think clearer even if they disagree with them.
Skye Jethani over at Outofur.com was one of those who posted a blog about the list. He didn’t like it. (But it had a really neat photo on it)
I consider Skye a good guy. He was a great speaker for us last year for THE NINES. He is on the list to invite again this year. I loved his book Divine Commodity too for the record. And we have been partners and friends with Leadership Journal and Christianity Today for years.
The list didn’t sit well with him and he explains himself in his post. He is a much better writer than I will ever be and comes straight to the point. I think I still win in the hair department though.
After an email from me he called and we talked. I explained more about the list and while I still don’t think he likes the technology of the list, I think he did understand better the nuance behind it.
It was a good conversation. He counseled us to post something to explain some of the things I have shared with him and that was good counsel. I appreciate good counsel.
So I thanked him for his call and kind words.
Part of our strategy at Leadership Network is to have Exploring Conversations and Establish Connections. While this list tool is a little crude, it has stirred up some conversations and through the twitter function has allowed some people with similar opinions to connect.
If you join us for THE NINES on September 9th we hope to stir up some more conversations, provide you some great ideas, expose you to some leaders you may not know, find new friends and colleagues online, and hopefully advance the gospel cause.
When registration is opened we hope many of you will register and sign up to host a viewing party to invite other leaders to share the experience.
Like I said above we have a few other wrinkles yet to be revealed that we hope will add value to the whole experience that will be revealed soon.
I learned a long time ago that some people really don’t “like” Leadership Network. And while that sometimes irritates me, I get over it and go on.
Any organization that is trying to help pastors and church leaders is usually on my “like” list but I too have favorites of even that bunch. So I get the discomfort people have with this list.
Hang with us. We are working on it. If we can find an easier technology without some of the baggage we may use it next time. In fact, why don’t you go develop one and tell us about it?
That is the beauty of the new tools. Lots of downsides but upsides too.