The Wisdom of Crowds has always been a concept that concerned me. The behavior and knowledge of “crowds” too often resembles the Stupidity of the Flock.
There are often benefits to the Crowd, but in a connected world, this groupthink often results in the mass adoption of falsehoods with no basis in fact.
There’s a lot of this behavior in discussions about communications.
Let’s take email as an example. I was at an event where the ‘wisdom of the crowd” was that email was at best dying and at worst dead. However, some precision questioning on this topic found that email was still the most used way to communicate. People proclaiming the death of email didn’t actually measure whether it was working or not. It was a hunch – at best.
Now don’t worry I’m not going to try and mount a defense of email. Email may or may not work for your communications. That’s not the point. The point is that today, more than anytime in the past, we have access to data that helps us to gain insight into what’s working and what’s not. Reading it on Twitter doesn’t count as insight.
Before you take a position on the effectiveness of a tool or channel, measure it. If you’re not measuring it, how can you tell? Your gut?
Secondly, once you’re measuring a tool or channel, invest time and care in how you execute. Too many communications today are lazy, sloppy and unimaginative. Yet people blame the tool without honestly looking at the execution. Too many templates and not enough energy in experimenting with new approaches, with design, with creating something that might be compelling or engaging. Experiment and measure. See what happens, then start to form a thesis or a opinion.
Thirdly think about multiple tools and channels. Think about how people prefer to consume information – or better again ask them.
Do yourself a favor. Before jumping on the latest bandwagon, develop your own opinion. Your boss will thank you for it.