When I run into enterprise folks at events, one of the common characteristics I notice, is they always tell me how much they read my blog. Yay! Many of these people have Twitter accounts, which follow me and I follow them, and they can usually reference specific topics or posts I’ve written—demonstrating they do indeed read.
Most of these people I’m aware of online, and I usually consider them fence sitters. They rarely retweet posts, or engage in conversations online, they just consume. I think this is fine, because not all everyone is suited for actively engaging in the social media world. What I do think is interesting is how interested they are in my work, and they let me know how my work reaches them, and reference specific topics and stories, but don’t actually contribute to the conversation.
In my opinion this isn’t individuals faults, this is enterprise culture. Businesses of this scale are not equipped to deliver value unless it is sanctioned and specifically part of the larger brand. The enterprise generates value, but only when in service of their business objectives. Generating open value for a community, even as small as a retweet, comment, or a response in blog post, is not in the DNA.
I strongly believe that businesses should generate just as much value as they consume. I’m not stupid. I understand that capitalism is about extracting value and monetizing for shareholders, but can’t help but think about what this existence is like for these individuals.
Personally, I find it very rewarding to contributing to communities, and the overall health of the API community, by contributing ideas, engaging in conversations, without the expectation that it will all result in revenue for API Evangelist. Ultimately all of this effort comes back to me, and ensures I will be able to sustain my evangelism efforts, while also nourishing my own individual needs.