Speakers and Listeners

Posted May 30th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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After returning from a trip last weekend, I posted some photos to Facebook. The last time I uploaded any photos there was many moons ago, so it’s a notable event. Similarly, though I often post links on Facebook, you won’t see many simply chatty updates from me.

Why not?

Ah, well, you caught me. I must confess I just wasn’t born that way. Talking about me is definitely not one of my skills. Ask me a question and I’ll respond enthusiastically; but lacking a direct query I’m not likely to pipe up about my life.

Thank goodness so many people do like to share their impulses and off-the-cuffness. Social media would be dull indeed without it!

Before you bust me for a deadbeat, let me point out that being spontaneous and freely sharing is a breeze for me when it comes to commenting on other people’s updates. It’s completely natural for me to participate in discussions that others start. I’m a player and supporter as much as anyone.

Every show requires an audience. There are the extroverted types who lead online, and the introverted types who arbitrate between those leaders. The internet is made up of both speakers and listeners.

What is Social Media, Really?

Posted January 20th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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Sometimes I wonder if the term, social media is a misnomer. When I first encountered it, I thought the label sounded frivolous. According to Wikipedia, “Businesses may refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM).”

Many of us used to suffer under the delusion that SM was expressly not about business, it was where we could ‘be ourselves’ and ‘share with friends.’  But that was far more hype than truth. For one thing, you have to be guarded about everything you say online, lest it come back to haunt you. And for another, sharing with ‘friends’ is now cast in terms of power and influence instead of giving and receiving with care.

SM is about consumers more than friends.  It’s a way to supply business with data, proof, and connection. With print processes impossibly expensive on every level, without SM, business could no longer market or communicate.

Before you attack such statements, understand that this is not a bad thing. I’m not saying that we’ve simply been manipulated by evil corporations. I am saying we agreed to take responsibility for making our world. We entered into dialog with not only business but one another. Social media is about social re-organization.


Calling all local Tweeps!

Posted October 13th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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We had a great time presenting a marketing-your-business-online seminar to local small businesses recently. “We” was a foursome of internet groupies, volleying knowledge of best practices in a team effort to enrapture the student crowd. To our amazement, they were so willing that our task was easy. And this in a community that has heretofore been resistant to the cyber age at best, hostile to it as a norm.

I’ve been taking a lot of pleasure in watching the internet’s magic take hold. I proclaimed before the class that the web is their future. The most amazing part is that I truly believe that. I hanker for the day when my neighbors will all be looped in from their rural abodes around where I live. Can’t wait to tweet with my town. That’s not happening much, as yet. You peeps in San Francisco, Chicago,  NYC have no idea. Lotsa places, tweeting can be lonely.

But maybe those sad moments of looking for nearby, meetup-able people on Twitter are on the way to obsolescence. Maybe I’ll soon be able to connect with the farmer down the road, the entrepreneur in the nearby big city, as well as the cosmopolitan in London.


Where’s Hugh?

Posted August 20th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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I have a love/hate attitude towards Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid. As a genius of sorts, he surely elicits different reactions from everyone. To me, it seems that he nails it 90% of the time, and misses by a mile the other 10%.

Yesterday, Hugh announced on Facebook and Twitter that he was quitting those venues. His main reason seems to be that he’s offended by the social media networks’ ownership of all the content you contribute. The brilliant quips you share on Twitter, for example, don’t accrue to your estate the way your blog does. So why waste your time there?

There are solid logical ways to refute this argument. Social media is about sharing, not hoarding.

He also suggests that social networks make blogging too easy, letting people blog about inconsequential things, causing “… something magical (to be) lost, or at least, diluted.”  His reasoning on this point is murky and smacks of cronyism, but we can give him that. He was an internet pioneer and indeed perhaps the web was more exciting back then.

My biggest problem with Hugh’s decision is that he was one of the more worthwhile people to follow on Twitter. I’m gonna miss him.



Social media as empathy

Posted July 11th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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In a previous life – some 25 years ago – I studied improvisation for theater. Performed it some, too, though I was awful at it and quickly migrated to directing. Nonetheless, I learned the fascinating basics. The fundamentals of performance improv are as universally applicable as teachings of the ancients.

One of the first lessons in improvisation is the best and quickest way to make yourself look good is to make the other guy look good.

Personal assimilation of this truth is life-changing.

On the stage doing improv, you play the scene most satisfactorily when you work to make your fellow actors shine. The play’s the thing, not your status within it.

In life and business, as well, no matter what your goal, if you approach it from the viewpoint of other people, your success will increase. Make the other guy look good, as the improvisors say, and that makes you look good.

Social media gives us ample opportunities to exercise this reflexive rule. The web itself is about making connections, and linking, and referrals.

How much of your commentary on the networks is reflexive, pinging the profiles and pages of others? How might you benefit by being more inclusive?

Are You Afraid of Social Media?

Posted June 19th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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A close friend was recently dragged, at long last, screaming and kicking, into Facebook. Once there, she set up her profile for only a limited number of people to see. Extremely limited. Her kids have access, and that’s it. And no profile picture.

Sigh. Such a response to social media’s invitation to share shoots its own foot.

But then my friend is the sort who metes out her comments like favors to her intimates. ‘You get to know this;’ ‘he knows this, doesn’t know that;’ ‘please don’t tell anyone, but … ‘

She chooses to spend her time balancing social accounts.

She’s fearful of invasion, theft, voyeurism. She allows such threats to dominate her choices and actions. Facebook’s advancing predilection for stripping away our privacy represents sheer terror to her.

Thing is, if you asked her to dissect her fears I’d bet she’d see there’s nothing there. My friend is mature and smart: she’d get past her conditioning if she ever seriously thought about it.

Defensive living, like being afraid, or bean-counting your interactions with other sentient beings is not at all what online social networking is about. Social media assumes openness and sharing.

Social media is founded in generosity.


Social media as lifestyle

Posted April 17th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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I think it was in a LinkedIn Group discussion where I read the statement boldly put: Social media is not a campaign.

I wonder if this is the aspect of online marketing that is most difficult to grasp. Social media is not a campaign. It’s a way of life.

We always used to do campaigns to advertise. But with the internet, instead of campaigns, we maintain consistent online rapport with an endless string of connections. We keep up a social calendar and strive to establish a trustworthy image. Our authentic daily activities and caring conversations serve to keep our brand on the radar. We can no longer depend on the cleverness of sporadic ad campaigns.

If the traditional campaign is a show, an extravaganza, a revival, the internet offers instead a way of life, an everyday routine, a constant connection to your market.

The implications are manifold. We must think of our involvement in social media as a relationship for which we are responsible, as if social media was another member of our family.

Though internet ties are created virtually, they are still ties between real people, and your commitments online truly mean just as much as your in-person promises.




Twitter is for people

Posted April 12th, 2011 by admin and filed in Branding, social media
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I really love Twitter and attend to it multiple times daily. Other sites I’ll check now and again, but Twitter’s my top allegiance, even though it remains fairly mysterious to me. It’s a mystery because I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to do for us. It’s probably the prototype for a future way of communicating that we can’t yet fathom.

Nonetheless, I love the site. But lately I’ve been bothered by a burgeoning trend.

There are an increasing number of no-face ad-type accounts. You know, the ones with usernames like InvestorsABC or CorporationX. No real person is in evidence, no names or locations are given. The tweets, which are repeated five or six times each, are all linked back to one website and they are all strictly on-subject.

What’s the problem with this? No actual people, no trust, no rapport, no relationship. No connection. Lest ye forget, social media is about connecting. If you don’t connect, your time is wasted.

Face up, everyone. The whole point is that you are human and not corporate. If no one in your organization is ready to represent you, re-group. Find a way to be viscerally real, and then come back to tweet.

Anybody out there?

Posted December 14th, 2010 by admin and filed in social media
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One site that offers a way to search for tweeps (people using Twitter) who live in a certain location is Twellow.com‘s TwellowHood, where you can search Twitterers by city. Browsing there just now, I spent a chunk of time searching for old acquaintances from my area. The result was disappointing.

Admittedly, my age is somewhat advanced, and my location relatively rural. Even so, I’m surprised I could find no more than two or three old buddies in a half-hour’s search. Why have so few of my peers latched on to the promise of Twitter?

I do I find Twitter difficult to describe. “You just gotta be there.” Not a convincing come-on when addressed to the skeptical.

But no doubt, Twitter’s not going away.  It facilitates almost everything in public communications: friendly banter, advertising, information, updates, you-name-it pronouncements to the world. It’s news on our own terms.

Twitter is graffiti gentrified.

For commerce, Twitter is the buzz about your biz. Whether a steady quiet hum or a pitch of frenzy, digital buzz has become essential to business. Twitter monitors your buzz frequencies and lets you monitor that of others, within real time perspectives.

Surely my old friends will soon see the light.

Stats vs. actuality

Posted November 26th, 2010 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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Don’t ever let anyone tell you social media returns can’t be measured, because any inbound marketing specialist can show you multiple ways to measure the effectiveness of your tweets and facebook updates, your ads, blog posts, and article submissions. The challenge of social media is more complex: yes, we can track the numbers, but what do they mean? Is it always true that a spike in website traffic means a spike in sales? Not even close, right? Is it true that a great score from twittergrader.com means your website traffic has increased? Hardly, as we all know.

In a way, there are so many tools for measuring your inbound marketing efforts that they get in each other’s way and tend to confuse us. Deciding which indicator to work with is, in itself, a daunting task. What tells you most accurately how your brand is performing: productivity, comments, stats, traffic, conversions … ?

Is there always a direct correlation between business success and marketing returns? Not necessarily, right? You can be popular without profiting monetarily from it.

The internet lets us pretend that we can measure communications. But we shouldn’t let that illusion fool us into thinking the stats don’t lie.