Online Interaction: Are you Chris Brogan or Seth Godin?

by Haris Krijestorac on March 6, 2011

Chris Brogan and Seth Godin are two of the biggest figures in social media today. Yet both admit that they have different methods of interacting with people online.

Interaction Is Either Public or Private

Chris Brogan: A Public Communicator

Brogan is all about public interaction. A quick look at his twitter stream, and it’s obvious. Through his blog posts and his twitter, he frequently asks questions, inviting interaction. He openly invites everyone to connect with him on LinkedIn, and doesn’t really decline invitations to connect. However, if you want to contact him in private, all you’ve got is this contact form on his website. To me, this form seems uninviting, because I don’t normally have conversations through forms. If you look closely, he doesn’t even guarantee that you will get a response, or that the response will be from him.

Seth Godin: A Private Communicator

Godin, on the other hand does not use twitter. He uses his blog to make statements and has comments disabled on his blog. The questions he poses in his blog tend to be rhetorical, and they tend to have the same answer – ‘I’m right’. (Don’t worry though, he is!) Instead of inviting public interaction, Godin communicates extensively through email. He brands himself as a guy who answers every single email. He’s also incredibly prompt about it, which is something I can confirm from personal experience.

Selling a Service vs. Selling an Idea

It seems like both Godin and Brogan are suggesting that you should interact with them in a certain way – either publicly (Brogan), or privately (Godin). But what’s the idea behind each style of interaction? Could the difference have something to do with what they’re selling? Brogan is the main brain behind New Marketing Labs, an online marketing consulting company. While he is a master of sharing useful information, his blog is not his job. His blog is a way for him to share his thoughts that educate potential clients, and establish himself as an authority in his field. Godin, however, is a blogger and author, first and foremost. He is not offering you his services, only his ideas and his wisdom. He is not so much interested in the naysayers as he is in learning from us or hearing our experiences. Frankly speaking, I feel he also puts more of an emphasis on being ‘right’ and framing ideas in a unique way.

What Everyone Needs: A Symphony of Public and Private Interaction

I see Seth Godin and Chris Brogan as two endpoints in how we can create successful interaction. In reality, most of us use a combination of public and private venues of communication. Not only social media or business development people, but all of us. If you have a Facebook account in addition to an email address, that’s what you’re doing. Gary Vaynerchuk is a good example of reinforcing public interaction through private channels and visa versa. He’s one of the most interactive guys around, no doubt. Yes, he does tweet a lot, answer emails and comments, and invites interaction. But at the same time, he knows when to take the conversation into a private venue. One great thing he does is use Direct Messages (DMs) extensively on Twitter. This allows him to keep communication in the same venue, while switching from public to one-to-one conversation.

What’s Your Mix?

It seems to me that public and private interactions are good for different things. Benefits of public interaction:

  • Connecting with lot of people
  • Getting found
  • Promoting others, instilling a feeling of reciprocity in them

Benefits of private interaction:

  • Connecting intimately with a few key people
  • Converting what you learn from these people into a quality brand
  • Making the sale

Where do you stand on public vs. private interaction? I’m interested in hearing from both online marketing professionals and regular folks with a Facebook and an email account. Your opinions are all personal, and therefore equally valid. I just want you to think about why you go public sometimes and private other times.


This post originated on Marketing Information Systems, a blog by Haris Krijestorac.

To continue learning how to better align technology, people, and processes for marketing success, subscribe to this blog and follow me on twitter.

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