15 reasons to love social media

My last few posts have been about the darker side of social media and thus I wanted to clear something up.  I am the biggest champion of social media that you will find and here’s why. I may get a little spicy sometimes, but that doesn’t diminish all the “good” things about this crazy space and all that it delivers to us daily. So get a gander at these 15 reasons and when you’re done reading them add your reason to the mix.

1)  Today I have a very large network of close and semi-close contacts that I can reach out to at a moments notice. Chances are, you do too! 4 years ago, I did not have anything remotely close to this type of network.

2) If I need a really good PR firm for example, I can contact that person today and we’d know each other well enough to have a very nice conversation… without the usual vetting process. The confluence of PR and social media ain’t no coincidence.

3) If I wanted to have someone guest post on my blog and bring their incredible smartness and knowledge to the table, all I have to do is ask. Have you ever thought of asking someone? You should. There might be some really smart folks in your network and you might not even know they are following you!

4) If I have to refer a killer web design person to someone, I can do that in 5 seconds. I’m sure you know of someone too. I could come up with a list of 10 in no time.

5) Need a good email marketing company? I know one or two. In fact, I got to know someone from a pretty cool company just in the last 2 months,  Thanks network.

6) How about a good social media monitoring company? I can help you, I know a few good people there. What’s great about this one particular company? They don’t push the product, they just act like normal people should act.

7) Want to know who you need to contact in regards to social media and non-profits? Here’s one for you. Thanks to social media, these people have a chance to influence us in a way that allows us and them to make a difference in this world. We need more of that.

8. Because of social media, my network, no matter how jaded or pissed I can get sometimes, allows me to  get jaded and pissed… and they’re ok with that. They still like me in the morning. 🙂

9) Social media has allowed me to contribute to one book and create a rough draft for another. It’s allowed me to present at conferences, write articles in magazines and speak on the radio and create projects that connect some very dynamic people together.

10) Without social media none of us would be allowed to share the cool things we are doing 24/7/365. That doesn’t mean we always care about all of it, but you have a channel to express yourself now that you didn’t have before.

11) If I need help, all I have to do is ask. Need proof? Check out the 50 people that have hosted Hashtagsocialmedia. I asked and they said yes.

12) If I’m asked to help or assist on something, and because I generally know who is doing the asking, I don’t hesitate, thanks to social media.

13) Because of social media, when I meet someone for the first time, like a Jason Falls for example, I generally am “not meeting” them for the first time. We already know each other.

14) Because of social media, we have something to talk and write about every day.

15) If I didn’t know you before and now I do, chances are it’s because of social media.

At the end of the day, it’s still all about the relationships, the connections, and the conversations. For that, I’m thankful.

The dark side of good work in social media

So last week I wrote about how I was bummed about the possibility that it was time to part with one of my favorite clients. You will be pleased to know that in an 11th hour brainstorm I came up with a new strategy wrapped around search and their existing UI and we are going to continue the relationship.

But let’s talk about another client.

Clients come in all shapes, sizes, issues and challenges. Especially the start-up ones. Calling yourself a start-up doesn’t really allow you certain rights and privileges.  Nor does it allow for you to not pay your bills. No matter how cool, exciting and promising the product is. This particular client I have, has not paid me for the month of January or February. So I have suspended all work.

But here’s the problem.  Call it the dark side of good work.  Simply put,  your good work will and still resonates long after you have departed. It shows up in search in the form of great websites,  sweet artwork, graphics, compelling, link juicy blog posts, articles, white papers, e-books, comments, mentions, profiles and bookmarks that you created all on behalf of the client.  It shows up in the work done to stem and drive down negative press for the sake of reputation management. It shows up and it shows up high if you know what you were doing. And I know what I am doing.

So the awareness campaign work I’ve done for this client over the last 3 months is now starting to show up all over the search engines. I knew it would and that was part of the strategy.

So you might say so what? Well, let’s say they choose to not pay me and the relationship is over, but they continue to do business. Which I think is what is happening here. I’ve laid the groundwork for them to continue to do business, and yet they can’t pay the people or persons responsible for them to “continue” to do business. Where is the justice in that? There is none.

But lets say they just ran out of cash and can’t pay me. What now? My complaint with that would be, “You shouldn’t have contracted with me in the first place if you knew you wouldn’t be able to pay your bills”. Oh and by the way, there was no reason for me to know they would not be able to pay their bills.

One of the interesting dichotomies in all of this is that we are always fighting the good fight over the value of what we do, the value and importance of social media, the correlation of social media and SEO, and it’s effect on business. You know and I know it works, and yet business owners can blow you out the door at a moments notice with perceptual skepticism; and yet your work lives on.

I wish there was a switch I could turn on and off for this but there is not. Some of you might even say, well go ahead and use social media and search to trash them. I could, but I don’t roll like that. These are tough times, and the things I’ve seen and have had to deal with over the past months, have told me so.  I continue to take the high road but am not sure how much longer I can put up with being the cool little agency who continues to get played by its clients. Might be time to update the resume…

The Top 20 Health and Fitness Social Networks

One of my clients, a very large sports drink company, has indirectly nudged me into taking a look at the state of what I drink, and ea, on a daily basis. As well, it’s opened my eyes to what we all eat and drink. The offshoot of this has been that I have been paying a lot of attention to the health and fitness social space.

With that being said, in my opinion, here are the best social networks for health and fitness that I’ve found. The criteria being user interface, strong usage and interaction, fresh content, results driven design, strong call to action, incorporation and usage of multiple digital properties and a solid scalable platform.

I’ve been preaching about the importance of video for the lazy obese culture that we promote and have become, with that being said, Mypypeline.com realizes that perhaps the best way to be effective is to have a video site devoted to health and fitness, though the name is odd.

Yoga is hot, no pun intended and getting hotter. The Yoga Today website is clean, actually has a business model in place, incorporates video, which is key, has established a community which makes sense given the passion of this niche and still has lot of FREE content. This site rocks.

Check out some of the  great content on The Fit Blog which has just as much of a shot to create a loyal and robust audience as do larger more interactive sites

Fitfiend has a nice interface and seems to be a nice little community with a tag line stating, “fit, active, connected”.

Speaking of a great design and and even better premise or call to action, look at FitByFun

I think this next site FoodFit could be one that I actually would use a lot, just given that I’m really trying to eat better. My only complaint is that there’s a huge banner at the the top of the page that diverts the eyes. I’ve cropped it for your benefit.

Onlinedietzone has potential but when you land on the site a video auto starts and the interface is a bit confusing and relies on the user to figure out what’s going on.

One site that has really evolved since I first landed on it was DailyBurn. I love the tag line-Burn Fat, Lose weight, Gain muscle. Pretty much says it all. Easy signup, clean interface and focuses on the community and it’s ability to stress accountability. Huge user base.

One of the important things about fitness, is a support network, i.e. strength in number leads to support, encouragement and common goals. With FitLink, it meets all of those criteria and more. I love the interface here and the site gets a lot of traffic and participation.

Sparkpeople can you say busy?

I like the niche-ness of Extrapounds

I love how clean this interface is at Wellsphere

FitClick‘s Social Fitness tool helps you to design a diet plan and workout, and you can also track your progress. Sort of SOP for a lot of social fitness sites. Tho I have a big problem with the skyscraper and banner ads pimping Jillian Michaels.

I like this next site for a few reasons, not the least being that the it’s about support groups. I have said for quite some time now that eventually social media will become more about specific niche’s than it will be about melting pots and this site Daily Strength is about groups and communities. I know it’s not specific to Health and Fitness, but allow me this free pass.

This next site My Fit Tribe has so much potential but is lacking in someone keeping it updated and current, but I love the design and the premise.

This site from Fitness Magazine might be the coolest. It’s somewhat of a narrow niche, but wow, create your own video workout? Was looking for an iphone app for it though, because what better way to utilize this than to take it to the gym with you? One complaint, page utilization is not good. You’ll see why.

Sometimes we have so much information and content, we feel that we have to give it all to the user. We want to show them how much we have and what we can do, what ends up happening though is that we end up vomiting the information on to the page. That what happened to MapMyRun. Hey remember what the name of your site is? Maybe that’s all you need to do?

This site has all of the social elements it needs to be successful except for one.  I’ll let you see if you can guess. But nevertheless, Exercise TV has a clean UI with video, blog, community, Facebook, Twitter and iphone app  integration all working towards engaging the user at every touch point. But…Who or what are they missing out on?

One of the fastest growing companies on the Inc 5000 List and also one of the most visited health and fitness sites according to Compete. Lifescript would appear to have it all. Including the tacky ad placement in the top right hand corner. Other than that, I like this site.

What can I say about this last site? Livestrong has a great design and it hits on all the topics and issues that are front and center in people’s minds these days. It engages, challenges, interacts, revolves around community and it is totally wired socially.

In conclusion don’t forget that I said that these were my top 20 based on my criteria. Your criteria might be different and that’s fine. Most importantly is the fact that we, here in the United States, are an obese nation, and the more that we can use the sites to eat better and get in better shape, the better we all will be.

This weeks #socialmedia tweetchat topic: The Next Big Thing is So Last Year #sm49

When: Tuesday, March 2nd / Noon Eastern
Hashtags: #socialmedia, #sm49
Topic: The Next Big Thing is So Last Year

    In the 49th edition of this popular and long-running chat series, Greg Verdino of Powered and Crayon fame,will be tackling on of his favorite topics and biggest business bugaboos — marketers’ exuberant (and often irrational) obsession with the next big thing, the flavor of the month, the latest but not-necessarily-greatest shiny object. We’ll plan to cover riff on three key questions:

    • Why are marketers so obsessed with the next big thing even though so many turn out to be next big busts?
    • How do you balance the benefits of strategic innovation with the risks of constantly chasing shiny objects?
    • What’s the one social media “old thing” most marketers still get wrong?

    so you think all social media relationships work?

    so there’s this “social media” guy. he’s very influential or seemingly so and everyone seems to know him and like him. except me. i don’t like him, but i have a legitimate reason. i asked him to do something for me and he agreed to do it, but getting him to lift a finger was very difficult. i was getting rock star attitude coupled with “i’m really busy” bullshit.

    i pressed him to get off his ass and he pushed back.

    i apologized (1) since i was asking him to do something for me. i apologized (2) some more and blamed it on crossed wires when communicating. it never got any better. i got more rock star attitude.

    i apologized (3) one more time and not only did it not get better, but the project was a complete bust because he decided to just suck at it. he mailed his effort in. nevertheless, after all was said and done, i thanked him and apologized once more via twitter(4) and even via email (5)

    since then, i’ve continued to try and reach out to him casually from time to time to see indirectly if all has been forgiven or forgotten, and have been acknowledged zero times; and thus, have come to realize that with some people it is just not meant to be. i’m sure he’s a great person and by all intents and purposes, he appears to be and if he got to know me, he’d learn that i’m not so bad either-but i guess neither one of us will ever find out.

    you see, not every social media connection or relationship results in this beautiful harmonious situation. some of them suck and some just don’t work.

    at the end of the day, we’re still square pegs running around with round holes…

    Is your reputation based on popularity?

    Last week I wrote about how I was rethinking the whole influencer thing and I wanted to explain what I meant. Actually what I meant can be explained in the title of this post, but I’ll expound just a bit more.

    Because of the nature of today’s media and how it is packaged and produced, there has never been a larger premium placed on popularity. Unfortunately, because of that, authority loses out. So what happens? Reputations  are rooted in results  that emanate from the right media channels, total number of views, high follower numbers, saying the right thing at the right time, or  just not being vetted properly.

    For example, someone that we should look to for trust, authority, leadership, knowledge and guidance, might lose out to someone like this…

    Thus you and I may be putting value on something that may be a “Knock-Off”.  You know what a knock off is? The $10 item that looks like the real $500 one. No one knows the difference, unless you start to really “look”.

    So how does one build a solid reputation in the social media world? How do you become a trusted source of information, a treasured resource, a valuable asset?  Maybe you can answer the question if we pull the term social media off the board. Pick any industry you want. Take the media out of the equation. How do you assign trust, leadership and knowledge?

    How is it assigned to you?

    You build it over time. It’s cultivated over time. It’s earned. Don’t treat your online relationships as commodities and don’t base the relationship you create on arbitrary numbers. And don’t let it define how you are perceived. You wouldn’t do it offline, so why do it online? If you want to be a difference maker in social media, it first starts with making a difference; and not with having more followers, friends and fans.