Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Campfire Effect in Social Media

Picture Credit: Ian Patterson

I've been a very busy boy over the past couple of months. I'm currently working for a great company, in what is the biggest and most enjoyable work challenge of my life.

I often say to people that in order to be in contact with your audience, you need to inhabit the same spaces they do. Create a 'campfire', where people can feel comfortable having a conversation with you. But what happens if your campfire spawns another campfire? What happens then if somebody else from the same fire then breaks off and starts another? And so it continues, until you have a festival's worth of campfires, all discussing roughly the same thing.

What happens then? Where was the original fire? Can I get from one side of the campsite to the other? Why can't I interact with everybody?

Once you have a festival full of similar campfires, it can be very difficult to find your way again.

I was hired to be put in the middle of that festival, and told to help people find their way. To join all of the campfires. And that's what I am hoping to do.

If your company sounds like it's approaching the festival campsite scenario, you need to refine. I can't stress that enough. If you offer millions of choices, make sure there is a single concrete purpose behind those choices. If not? Consolidate. Marry content. Don't separate it. One campfire, multiple conversations. It's the way life works. We don't walk into a different room every time we talk about something different.

The logs are your company, and the fire is the passion you put into your social media strategy.

That's possibly the silliest thing I've ever said, but I think (hope) I've got a point.

Comment below if you think I don't, or you want to make a good point!

And if you have to read one book this week, make it this one.


  1. Love it! And it's what you can do when you leave the campfire that interests me too. Some conversations are so interesting, so compelling - that they can infect your life choices. Perhaps walk away and start something, become someone, buy, share - give or just change your direction slightly. It's all about the influence? After all why do we have conversation if not to share with the intent of providing help or direction for others :0)

  2. That's a great comment Ian - it's about taking what you know and building a lifelong relationship over it.