How many games long was Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak? What state is Kansas City located in? What’s the record for the most times someone has been struck by lightning? And what does the bar bet have to do with your content strategy?
The bar bet has evolved over time. Traditionally, a bar bet was settled by the bartender. Bartenders are trusted to know weird information. As an example, head over to the Roger Smith Hotel on 47th and Lexington Ave in Manhattan when Paul is behind the bar at Lily’s. Ask him nearly any random fact or plot from the movies. Most likely, he’ll have your answer. He’ll also make you one hell of a Bloody Mary if you ask for one. In “the olden days” you’d ask the bartender and he or she would tell you that Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 consecutive games, Kansas City is Missouri or that Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times.
Bar bets and random information became so popular that Guinness made a book of those records. Now, if someone wanted to settle a bet, they could ask the bartender or look in the book. The book was much more comprehensive than any bartender’s knowledge and more importantly it was relatively accurate. For a long time, the Guinness book seemed to be the standard way to settle these kinds of bets.
In 2007, my family went on a vacation to Disney World and we had lots of questions. Instead of asking a tour guide or someone who worked at the park, my family turned to me and asked questions that I would then look up using my iPhone and Wikipedia. We found out all kids of things about the attractions and the grounds of Disney. How many square miles is Disney World? When was the Haunted MAnsion made into a ride? Did anyone ever die inside of the Magic Kingdom? We answered those questions waiting in line for rides and on the various buses around Disney. The amount of information at my fingertips was staggering. I could answer any question anyone had about Disney World. There wasn’t much conversation about possibilities, just questions and immediate answers.
Knowing everything sure gets old quick. There’s no purpose in having a conversation about when Kurt Cobain died or how many gold records Elvis has sold. The answers are available with a few keystrokes. There’s no fun in debating history or facts anymore when we live in a connected society. What’s Shaq’s free throw percentage? Who needs to talk about how bad Shaq is at free throws? Just answer the question and move on to the next topic.
Turn the information gun onto social media for a moment. I am the community advocate for Blubrry and as such, I represent the company on social networks and do my best to spread accurate information across the ‘net about how awesome our podcast hosting, WordPress plugins and statistics are. I respond to most people who are asking questions or talking about similar products on Twitter using @blubrry, but in the “real time” world the question that I often ask myself is “when should I interject?”
If I jump in too soon with an over abundance of information, then the case is closed. The authority on the subject has spoken and the subject is dead. There is no conversation, just a question posed and an answer given. If I don’t jump into the conversation right away, the information might not be totally correct, but there’s a conversation happening. As an example, one of my goals is to convert people to our WordPress plugin over an older plugin. If two people have been going back and forth about which is better, what’s the benefit of jumping in mid-stream? Yes, I’ll answer the question, but at the cost of allowing the community to bring someone in on their own.
It gets into the bigger question of what your role is when you are on Twitter. Are you there to answer questions or facilitate conversation? With Blubrry, I do my best to promote podcasts in the Blubrry community, give accurate information about our products, provide tech support and give people insight into our company to feel more connected with us.
Jumping into conversations with information feels too much like answering settling bar bets with my iPhone or answering trivia questions with Wikipedia while walking around Disney World. The magic and the wonder of the conversation are gone.