Welcome to the lightning round

It was always the best part of the game show. No buzzers, no banter, just as many questions as you can answer in a minute. Quick. Quick. Quick.

Well, now that we’ve got a billion-channel universe (with more than 300 hits on the ‘top ten’ hit list: popurls.com | popular urls to the latest web buzz) it’s always the lightning round. There are hundreds of the most important posts of the day, and the list changes constantly.

Which means that subtlety may seem dead.

You get judged by your headline or your layout, or the first line of your press release or the first beats of your riff. If the smartmob can’t figure out your story in two seconds, they ignore it or they make up their own.

If you want to please everyone, it helps to be clear, obvious and direct. And safe and predictable as well.

Of course, if you try to make it clear to everyone, the chances of having your story spread in the long run go down. Because direct is often not so interesting, especially to sneezers. And doesn’t always involve the joy of discovery.

So perhaps, the best strategy is to be a bit less obvious, a bit indirect, telling a story you can live with because it’s true, but a story that might take more than a minute to understand.

I actually think there’s room in this big world for both approaches. They rarely meet (Google’s did, I think–the simple search story was right there for everyone to see, while the more subtle elements unfolded over time) so if you try to do both at the same time, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

A lot of internal marketing conflict comes from camps that don’t have the words to describe which path they’re choosing. Being clear with your peers in what you hope to accomplish will help you roll it out. Of course, being subtle…