Are you obsessed?

Posted November 22nd, 2010 by admin and filed in social media
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What do you think about the anti-social potentials of social media? Does it worry you that people walk the streets with their attention buried in a tiny screen they fit in their palm? Or that they hover into their right ear, or their left, mesmerized in that vacant gaze that listening induces?

Do you cringe at hearing another person’s phone conversations in an elevator? Are you offended when someone checks their Blackberry while you’re talking to them? Even the famous Chris Brogan lent his wisdom to this issue recently. He said, if you can’t put your phone down, it means you can’t really focus.

I have to agree with him.

The gadgets … ahem … the aides are indeed indispensable, but must they obsess us?  Like teenagers, we’re hopelessly in love. I don’t believe it will last. Soon enough, we’ll grow into a more mature relationship with our beloved technologies. We’ll look back with a mixture of fondness and embarrassment, as most people do when recalling their youth. We’ll remember the days when we let technology usurp our attention, and we’ll be glad we learned to make it serve our attention, instead.

Right now, we’re infatuated. Can’t blame us, really.



Moderation is the key

Posted October 30th, 2010 by admin and filed in Branding, Communications
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Watched the Jon Stewart rally on the Washington Mall today. I appreciate the ‘sane’ approach advocated in this ‘movement.’

In the same way, I appreciate the sanity of Ben Elowitz in this article that a fellow VA shared.

It’s so understandable. Everyone wants to find a formula, a pill, a silver bullet. We are all addicted to the idea that we can have one bite of an apple and instantly master the knowledge of good and evil.

Search Engine Optimization has for several years been considered the magic formula du jour. Do it right and your rankings explode. Do it wrong and you have no hope.

Grown-ups should know, though, that the secrets to success are not governed by rules of right and wrong. As the mentioned article says, “… the audience values content, not keywords.”

Being remarkable is, we must admit, impossible to formulate. We can examine it via anecdotes, but no standard surfaces. In a sense, the successful communication is that which breaks through formulas.

My point? Our primary focus should be on innovation and self-discovery. The playing field is leveled. Being bigger or more powerful is less effective than being a certain color, or feeling, or fragrance.



What blogging is, and is not

Posted September 26th, 2010 by admin and filed in Branding, Communications, social media
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There’s much confusion about blogging, that odd phenomenon that pops up whenever the internet is mentioned in the context of business.

You might blog professionally for many different reasons. But there’s always a central purpose, which is to further your business goals.

Contrary to traditional marketing norms, however, blogging is not advertising. Knowing what blogging is not can be helpful, along with an idea of what it is.

Blogging IS Blogging IS NOT
Sharing news Advertising
Transparency A diary
Personalism An ego boost
Sharing ideas Preaching
Sharing plans Writing press releases
Sharing how-to Technical writing
Caring for social needs Social service
Examining your progress A confessional
Appreciating colleagues A sniper’s hideout
Supporting initiatives Denigrating the competition
Telling stories Fiction writing
Celebrating people and accomplishments A newsletter
Dissecting failures Denying mistakes
Finding your ‘voice’ Your ultimate masterpiece
Communicating your mission Formal
Recording your history Academic
Building a community of interest The same for everyone
Contributing to your field or industry A money-maker in itself, except in rare cases
Exploring yourself, your company, and your intentions with sustained vigor. Your daddy’s protective and bureaucratic way of doing business.

Your thoughts?



World Family

Posted September 14th, 2010 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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I’m a news freak. I’m addicted to the news sites and even still find newspapers irresistible. But it’s an unhealthy habit. The news is always bad and getting worse.

If you’re feeling down, an excellent cure is to avoid the news for a few days or weeks. Maybe you can’t imagine life without it, but  you’ll quickly adjust.

Many times in my years, I’ve sworn off the news. But then I return after a brief hiatus. Not that I miss the blood, greed, and gore; it’s just that curiosity always catches up with me and lures me back. I want to know what my fellow human beings are up to.

Thank goodness for social media, given these realities. With online individual exchanges and social media platforms, I can be connected in ways that go far beyond simply reading the news. All the venues working in unison result in an exchange of information and a flow of dialog to satisfy the full range of communications needs, worldwide.

And what’s it all about? I will quote the Muslim, Inam Rauf: it’s about “… an enlightened recognition that all of humankind shares a common Creator — that we are, indeed, brothers and sisters.”



SEO and copywriting

Posted September 8th, 2010 by admin and filed in Communications
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I’m a compulsive editor, it’s true. Given the slightest chance to correct misused text, I’ll grab it. No offense to the writer: it just makes me feel so much better. Like picking up litter is sometimes compulsive, and you feast on the unsullied landscape when you’re done.

So, having built my client’s website, I cleaned up the text as usual, inserting SEO bits where appropriate. Then my client asked, “Are these corrections for SEO or for grammar?”

The answer is both. It’s not very commonly recognized that clarity of language and optimized content are one and the same. But consider: Google’s spiders may be digital automatons, but they are crafted by humans and bear their likeness.  The clearer the content in human terms, the more search-engine friendly it is.

For a long time, we joked about the SEO mongers repeating keywords insanely often throughout their content, dishing the bait with shameless disregard for the human reader. We wrote out long strings of meta-keywords with every possible declension, spelling, and mis-spelling. We sought to outwit the search engine arachnids.

In the end, though, SEO is no more or less than skillful, targeted delivery of data through clean communications. Just like editing.



Social media marketing and profit

Posted March 21st, 2010 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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Measuring your social media marketing endeavors is not difficult, since there are many tools that gather more data than you’ll ever use to tell you about your audiences and the effect of your marketing messages. Google Analytics provides all you need, in case the industry standouts such as Radian6 are beyond your budget.

And certainly, setting goals and measuring your progress towards them is a great way to operate. The way I work with clients in social media definitely reflects this method.  The first thing we do is get clear on goals, how we’re going to measure them, and a schedule for reporting progress.

Nonetheless, consider for a moment the probable reality that measuring social media is beside the point. Sort of like measuring your company’s use of the telephone may be helpful in some way, but likely won’t be crucial to your success. Like the telephone, SM is a tool for communicating. As with the phone, we should concentrate on proper use of the tool, and not so much on whether or not the tool is useful.

Is social media profitable? Well, is the telephone profitable? Of course not. It’s the people who use these tools who win profits.