At any given cocktail party and networking event, sometimes you’ll see a circle of people that, at first, appear to be interacting with one another.

But look closer.

Of a group of 8, you’ll have one or two loud people who dominate the conversation while the rest don’t talk nearly as much. The give-and-take among the entire group could be better but there’s too much of a constant stream of interaction between those select few. So the rest of the group shuts up and probably can’t wait to move away from the circle to get away from these constant talkers, if not leave the party altogether.

Each day, we see the same cocktail party dynamic played on social media networks. Take Twitter, for example. A Harvard study not long ago claimed that 10% of the people on Twitter are responsible for 90% of the content. The inference was that there are a whole lot of people on Twitter who are watching on the sidelines as opposed to a lot of people talking and socializing with one another.

And as a channel like Twitter grows, all it means is more people are getting invited to the party. If they stand against the wall when they get to the party, honestly, big deal how big the party gets.

Believe it or not, this is not a rant against Twitter by any means nor is it a rant against the 10-percenters who drive Twitter content. It’s a point of view against those who choose not to socialize in a social setting and then blame the medium for their inability to socialize. “I’m over Twitter.”

Really. You’re over Twitter, huh?

Was that because you blathered on about yourself or your product/service all day?
Or did you graciously Retweet other people’s comments you found useful to the group?
Did you see the forum as another method for 1-way advertising?
Or did you seek to ask questions and make a 2-way conversation?

I mean, I get that you’re running a special deal right now, but what else have you got for us?

In order to maximize social media situations, you need to engage with other people consistently. Plain and simple. If all you’re doing is talking about yourself, you’re a noise maker, not a conversationalist. If all you’re doing is listening, you’re going to get bored pretty quickly. Whether it’s Twitter or a cocktail party.

If balanced conversation isn’t happening, those people will continue to drop out of Twitter. Maybe they’ll find a better conversation somewhere else. To which I say…so be it. It benefits us all to have richer interactions no matter what social arena we choose to connect, not just a place where many of us just use posts as billboards for our own gain. As a result, the better the quality of interactions, the better the overall quality of that particular social media arena.

It’s so ironic that no matter how sophisticated our communication tools get, it’s mastering the basic art of conversation among us that makes those tools more and more successful.


Dan Gershenson is a Chicago-based consultant focused on brand strategy and content marketing. Dan has guided a variety of CEOs and Marketing Directors at small to medium-sized companies, providing hundreds of strategic plans to help businesses identify their best niches and areas of opportunity. Dan blogs on Chicago Brander, mentors advertising students and cheers relentlessly for the Chicago Bears. Dan graduated from Drake University with a degree in Advertising.