Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

SMAZ Presentation: Using Improv to build a genuine online brand

Earlier this year I spoke at the Social Media AZ conference in Tempe, and gave another revision of my talk on Improv + Social Media = BFF. As I explore the topic and give related talks, I’m drilling in on concepts that I think are both more practical and directly applicable. I’m still fascinated by the fuzzy edges of where these two arenas cross, but I’m working to nail down some core principles so I have a foundation upon which to build.

The talk went very well, and I had a lot of great feedback on what resonated and where to tighten it up a bit further. I’ve realized that I’m really talking to a niche with this approach – people who are interested in cultivating quality content – and defining and focusing in on that group are in my plans for future revisions.

Sadly, the video for this talk was never put on-line. I debated doing an audio track for this slideshow, but I think instead I’ll break it down into posts on each section. Then if it comes together well I’ll go back and build out the audio.

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Refining this whole Social Media Improv idea…

Binta and the Great Idea

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This blog has been quiet, but I’ve been working on evolving the idea of Improv and Social Media for the past few months.  I spoke on it at the BOLO conference, and again at PodCampAZ, evolving the discussion both times. BOLO explored a wider range of improv techniques, including many short form games.  My PodCampAZ talk went deeper into specifics, like building a scene or character. Much of the feedback is that the ideas are interesting and people like a new approach, but they want something concrete to work on. What’s the specific application to themselves and their own SM work?

This is a bit of a puzzler for me, as I see improvisation itself as the application. The problem is that most people don’t have that background, and don’t want to take improv classes to get it. So I need a way to bridge that gap and build a connection.

The other challenge is that many people are far more interested in measurement and growth than techniques. I often note that when someone wants to start a blog, their first questions are usually software choices, getting readers, SEO, managing comments, user accounts, and on and on.  They don’t mention “Learning how to write” until much later, if at all. Human nature, I suppose, but all that optimization isn’t going to help if you have crappy content. I still need to address this, so have to connect to the measurement and interaction part of people’s interest.

Fortunately in the next week I’ll be able to try two new presentations. The first is on Jan 19th for Commpose, the local Copywriter’s meetup group. They’ve asked me to speak about improv in relation to writing, which is a slightly different flavor but still directly applicable. This is an open group with some great people, so if you’re a writer come down and check it out. I’m not that familiar with the needs and concerns of copywriters, so I may do a bit of improvising of my own on this talk.

The second talk will be at the Social Media AZ conference on January 25th in Tempe.  The topic will be Using Improv To Build A Genuine Online Presence, and I’ll be taking a few of the ideas – character, conflict, and scene – and exploring them in more depth. I’m anticipating a small group since I’m at the end of the day and scheduled against Evo Terra talking about Making Social Media Pay, but if this topic is of any interest please stop by. You can use the speaker code “Jeff” to get a 45% discount on admission.  I would love any feedback as I continue to ponder and experiment.


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