Warning: This post contains food and other frivolous content, which may incite readers to respond.
This morning when my weekly organic veg box arrived, I opened it with my usual curiosity. Although it comes with a list of the week’s contents, the list doesn’t take into account any substitutions that are a result of one or more of that week’s items being on my don’t-include list. And since I had excluded radishes (because I have a backlog of radishes), there was a substitution which would require identification. Not always easy. A couple of weeks back I finally gave up and called the provider, describing my mystery veg as looking “kind of like a brain.” After much laughter and several tries, we figured out it was celeriac (which was delicious in the end).
But today, when I was completely stumped by something that looked like a cross between a carrot and a potato, I really didn’t want to have to call them again. So I decided to see if I could tap the “wisdom of the crowd” that social media experts are always talking about. I scrubbed off all the dirt (this is how you can tell the veg is organic, by the way), used my iPhone to take a picture, and attached the photo to a Twitter message asking if anyone could help me identify my mystery veg.
Immediately the suggestions started pouring in, and within minutes I knew my Twitter crowd had solved my mystery, identifying my nobbly little friends as Jerusalem Artichokes. And the tweets kept coming, some from people who clearly hadn’t seen that we’d solved the mystery (the most popular guess, by the way, has been yams), some from people offering recipes for preparing them. I’ve gotten more response from this than anything else I’ve ever tweeted. And the photo has been viewed more than 80 times!
I also happened to see a separate Twitter discussion between social media guru Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan ) and @jjprojects about how food-related posts seem to get the most response. And I’d already noticed over the past few weeks that my own tweets about what I’m making for dinner get more response than anything else I write, and that those exchanges have resulted in ongoing Twitter relationships.
So it all got me thinking that there’s a communication lesson in all this. Here’s what I think it is: It’s the silly things that bring people together, allow us to connect and develop relationships. Frivolous things, like what’s for dinner, what we did last weekend or what music we’re listening to. It’s why social media is such a rapidly growing phenomenon, because along with all the knowledge-sharing and thought leadership, there’s a human-level connection that is mostly missing in a lot of business communication.
Food for thought.