The differences between communication and conversation

By on Jan 7, 2010 in communication, Social Media | 4 comments

In my tweetstream the other day, I saw an interesting question about the difference between communication and conversation in social media. It was an interesting question to consider, because of the difference in engagement and intimacy that a conversation has as opposed to communication. Given that social media is a public domain phenomena this question becomes even more important.

I think of communication as formal, as marketing, and as a way to convey policies. Communication is about providing information and instilling guidelines.

Conversation, on the other hand, is intimate, sharing information, but also sharing a lot more. It’s a closer kind of relationship, about a wide variety of subjects, without an agenda.

This blog is about communication. I communicate with my readers. If my readers comment and I comment back it can start to move toward conversation, depending on the length of the engagement.

When I tweet out my status I’m communicating, but when I reply I’m possibly conversing…again I think its dependent on whether there’s a response as well as the context of the response.

And perhaps what also needs to be considered is just how personal a site such as twitter or Facebook can really be. Social media is a public forum, which ultimately can make it impersonal in terms of what people will share. How intimate can someone really be on a social media site? How intimate does a person want to be? Conversation can and still does occur, but how different is it really from communication?

4 comments
TaylorEllwood
TaylorEllwood

I think you're right that people bring their warts and all and I agree it does bring authenticity to the conversation. Thanks for sharing.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

To me, it depends on the person, not the platform(s). Most folks I know bring their offline personas online, warts and all. And for me, that's how I prefer it to be - otherwise where's the transparency that social media is meant to encourage?

By all means, tailor the message to the medium - but don't stop conversing. You can't communicate without conversing ;-)

TaylorEllwood
TaylorEllwood

I don't think following-up is losing ground. Its changing in some ways, but there's still a lot of value in it. I think when following-up doesn't occur, it's important to figure out why, and imo, a lot of that comes down to people not recognizing the skill of following-up, the skill of networking.

Jim Matorin
Jim Matorin

Interesting post. Thought provoking. To me social media is a new platform for people to initiate a conversation. Pre-social media we utilized conferences, workshops, etc. to engage. Our reach was more limited, but personally the one common link was for people to connect. In regards to connecting, a true networker understands the value of follow-up, which appears to be losing ground with the advent of social media.