It was an absolute train wreck. The who’s who of the marketing industry had gathered in a mega-ballroom in an over-priced US desert resort on the outskirts of Phoenix to hear what we all believed would be a life-changing presentation from a well respected marketing mind.
There was only one problem. Twitter!
You see there is usually a social code. When things are not going so well at a conference we generally sit in silence, nod politely, and then bitch AFTER the session when we had some modicum of privacy.
Not anymore! In a desperate attempt to be modern and hip, the conference organiser had set up a live feed from Twitter to screens throughout the hotel for people to share their thoughts as the conference was progressing.
It was an all out ‘Twit’ attack. The speaker was getting roasted on screen for all to see and on the few hundred iPhones that seem to be spread throughout the room.
This was transparency and openness in it most blunt form and I have to admit I was afraid.
Afraid because I was up next, and afraid that I have been crowing about the need for this kind of open dialogue for years.
I mean it is bad enough getting beat-up on this blog – which happens on a weekly basis I can assure you – but to have it happen then and there, in the moment as you work, is a scary prospect indeed. No wonder brand managers continue to try so hard to protect their companies and products from any real feedback. Feedback hurts! ‘Twitbacks’ Kill!
Is all this transparency a good thing? Is it possible for things to be too ‘out in the open’?
Originally posted August 10, 2009 on the Sydney Morning Herald