I Am a Great Dane, and Other Lessons From Buzzfeed.com

Photo by pandora687

Photo by pandora687

Apparently I am a Great Dane who should be living in Paris doing humanitarian work. If you have been anywhere near Facebook in the past few weeks, you may guess that I learned that from Buzzfeed.com, and a series of interactive quizzes that the website has been feverishly posting: “What Kind of Dog Are You?,” “What City Should You Actually Live In?, and “Which Downton Abbey Character Are You?”

They are silly but their popularity makes a point. Our appetite for feedback about ourselves and what it might mean in the context of others is very, very large. It is one of the reasons that finding ways to enable attendees to respond to content and share their insights and reactions with others has become so pressing.

Clay Shirky, a leading thinker about the social and economic impact of technology, spoke a little bit about this during a remarkable talk that he delivered during the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Predict conference in New York last fall. (The talk is available to watch in its entirety here.)

Shirky, a professor in the interactive communications and journalism program at New York University, put it like this:

If you know something about the way either an individual or group of people behave, and you can put that information across to them in a respectful way, the rewards are remarkable.”

If you can show a group of people: you spent more time doing this than that, or Activity X was more popular than Activity Y, or that you all are tending to care more about these kinds of things or those kinds of things, that feedback itself is something that users will reward.

Anyone who has a ‘God’s eye’ view of a the behavior of a group of people is sitting on and has an asset that is not just secret and interpretive, but by sharing that information — by putting it forward and getting feedback loops going — you can generate considerable loyalty as well.”

The question then becomes: What kinds of information can your meetings and organizations share back to attendees and stakeholders about who they are and what is important to them? What kinds of tools can you use to gather and share that information?

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