The Conversation Tree & Social Forestation
A friend of mine, Robert Murray, had a really beautiful way of describing the conversation dynamic and the importance of seeing conversations to their full potential, as told to him by a Ugandan friend of his named Derrick. It got me thinking about this in a context that might be quite powerful for any brand, agency, media company or content producer out there looking to better understand how to socialize media.
Derrick describes conversations as trees.
Derrick says that he is often late to meetings and social events because his prior engagement runs beyond the allotted time. The reason for this is that he always wants to give each and every conversation its due course, so that the next conversation can build from the previous one and real progress is made. In other words, so that the relationship is advanced and cultivated, and nothing is forgotten or lost between the current engagement and the next.
[**Side cultural note: While one might argue that being late is never a good thing, Derrick contends that a sincere apology along with a quick, “enlightened” summary of the previous conversation tends to realign the current dynamic.**]
The “root” of the analogy (pun intended) is that if you cut the trees branches off before they've had a chance to fully bloom, then the tree can grow outwardly, but not up. But if we nurture the branches to their full extent, then the tree can grow up to its full potential, and help grow more trees.
Naturally, leaves fall from branches, just as conversations may die off or fade away. But what we glean from those exchanges allows us to develop new perspectives and keep those branches (and trees) growing.
So here are the elements of growth (which are reflexive and cyclical), the “soil” being the social nutrition we provide to “the grove” which represents an ongoing narrative:
SEEDING — putting ideas into action
CULTIVATION — enabling ideas to develop
PROLIFERATION — ideas spreading organically
REGENERATION — when (leaves fall) insights are created, sparking new ideas
From a marketing perspective, when we thoughtfully create, enable, shape, adopt, adapt, and most importantly, cultivate content, we grow more branches.
When we thoughtfully buy, sell and barter media, or truly earn it, we grow more trees.
When we grow more trees, we create or tap into more communities of people.
The more communities we empower, the more opportunities there are for people to sell goods and services to other people (as opposed to brands having to sell goods and services to people).
So, Social Forestation would be described as The process of fostering conversation by providing relevant nutrition, enabling communities to develop, grow and flourish.
Thank you, Robert and Derrick, for sharing your wisdom, and I hope that all of you can take something away from this that is unique to your own experiences.