Bizdev on 4chan

I talk a lot about how we’re all in a relationship business and ultimately that’s what leads to opportunity. But there is something to be said about the context those relationships exist in, how you think about the context, and what signals the context sends.

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The Invention of Lying is an amazing movie because of how it tweaks the context — the movie’s world — to be one where lying, or inauthenticity, is impossible. It simply doesn’t exist (at the outset of the story, which is full of LOL-funny lines where characters say what they’re really thinking at all times).

Thanks to TEI member Jim Thornton, I’ve been exposed to Twitch, which is this interesting combination of sometimes astonishingly high production values and a feeling of complete authenticity. Authenticity so strong it’s like a black hole’s gravitational force: inescapable.

I enjoy thought experiments, and here’s a fun one: What would it be like to attend a business conference where, while at the conference, it’s impossible for anyone to lie in any way at all?

Nobody shares impressive-sounding topline revenue numbers and “forgets” to also share that the profit margin is 20%.

Nobody “rounds up” 700k in revenue to 7 figures in revenue.

Nobody keeps smiling and nodding during a tedious, irrelevant conversation. They just say “This is a tedious, irrelevant conversation. Thank you for including me, but I’m out.”

• • •

I find Twitch fascinating less for the content that’s currently there and more for the context it creates: one where the expectation of authenticity is total and complete.

I mean, the content is sometimes good. Or interesting. Or WTF-level weird. It ranges from esports with astonishingly high production values, to very handsome people basically being very handsome in a spare room in their house that’s been turned into a prosumer level TV studio, to normal people practicing guitar, to a very serious-looking dude playing songs on a button accordion.

Contextually, the center of gravity on Twitch feels to me like people doing their thing live while also interacting with an audience that is feeding high speed, high granularity feedback into the chat stream. The serious-looking button accordion dude doesn’t do this, but many other Twitch streamers do.

They don’t ignore the chat stream. They don’t wait for “the Q&A section of the webinar”. They take their audience seriously and really engage with them.

It’s interesting to me that I felt I needed to write and then italicize the word really in the previous sentence. The words “engage” and “engagement” have been tortured in so many ways by people talking about using the Internet to sell shit. Most usages of “engagement” nowadays are referring to numbers on a SaaS dashboard indicating a page visit, a download, a video “view”, or some other similarly useless datum.

The kind of engagement you see on Twitch feels different. Despite it being asymmetric (the streamer is shown via video and audio, the folks in the chat stream are reduced to a username, avatar, text, and emojis), it feels warm and real. It feels like it’s between people. It feels like the interaction between a band and the audience in a small club.

An audience member yells out a request for an obscure back-catalog song. The bandleader hears it. They can’t quite see the person who yelled the request. The stage lights are bright and the house lights are dim. But they acknowledge the request. They play the requested song, to the delight of the requester and others, who also wanted to hear it, but didn’t feel moved to yell out the request.

Connection. Interaction. Improvisation. Surprise. Rising and falling energy levels. Co-creation.

That’s what the engagement feels like on Twitch.

• • •

I hear a voice from the back of the room
I hear a voice cry out you want something good
Well come on a little closer let me see your face
Yeah come on a little closer by the front of the stage
I said come on a little closer I got something to say
Yeah come on a little closer want to see your face

‌—Morphine, “Buena”

• • •

Experts don’t have to be performers, but it helps if we can perform.

I titled this article the way I did because a few weeks ago, the idea of using Twitch to earn visibility and trust would have sounded as ridiculous to me as the idea of doing business development on 4chan.

Now, I’m pretty sure I’m just going to have to try this Twitch thing. That’s not because I think there’s some massive audience of independent consultants already on Twitch, hungry for new content.

That is how we tend to think of platforms. What platform(s) already has the audience we want to connect with, and how can we modularize to fit the platform’s requirements in order to connect with that audience as efficiently as possible?

It’s interesting to set that issue aside and think about the context that platforms create. The norms and expectations of the platform. The cultural center of gravity the platform creates.

I think I’m going to have to try this Twitch thing because there’s something unique and valuable in the context it creates. Something I suspect more of us are hungry for.

A bullshit-free zone.

I work to make this list such a zone. One of the biggest compliments I’ve been paid is this one: “I’ve consistently viewed your offerings and messaging to be among the most fair and charitable in this space, where others are more about the sugar rush of it all. A very balanced approach that is based on fundamentals and really important for anybody who is actually serious about succeeding in business.”

But this list is text. I wonder how a “no sugar rush” approach would translate to a platform like Twitch.

Or maybe I should just finish this book I’m working on.

We’ll see. 🙂

I hope you get to enjoy some rest and pleasure this weekend,