So the coffee question that’s been on my mind for the last few quarters: is the online conversation today the same as the conversation in the pub or even coffee shop? Well it clearly depends on the company you keep. But if five years ago you were to treat the rantings , ruminations and postings on bulletin boards, proto-blogs and use groups as a proxy to views on the broader ‘real’ world then it would have led to some pretty flawed analysis and decisions. However, today with the scale of the online jawing and the new tools to monitor, analyses, catalogue and cross reference influencers do we now have the luxury of assuming that online and broader word-of-mouth are the same conversations?
A quick dipstick of the blogosphere gives a clear anecdotal answer: you are going to be making decisions weighted in favour of sandal wearing values. Let’s face it even housewife technology reviewer is hardly normal of her peer group. Yet this may not be the relevant point the kitchen-based lap top reviewer may not be a-typical, however, she may be the influencer- the thought starter if you like.
So back to the pub – slash – coffee shop. Is n’t this how conversations always started essentially with the curious or argumentative challenging someone who really knew their onions. Indeed I am sure sociologists will insist there has always been a conversational hierarchy. The ManU fan’s opinion on Ronaldo will always be sought as they will have watched him the most and will give the most passionate defence or support. True we would be foolish to treat this view as objective so then perhaps we consult our drinking partner who played right wing for the pub team as having some expert objectivity in the matter and from there obviously the argument escalates until I reach the conclusion they should still have bought Berbatov to stand a chance of winning the league.
So now it seems to me that this process is clearly happening in the online world with a dynamic which if it not exactly conversational is pretty to a dialogue. This still leaves me the questions are the topics the same in both environments? And then even if this is so who are these darn influencers and would you trust an online influencer if you met them in the street to same degree?