The Top 10 Ways Social Media Confuses You

Some of us are tasked everyday with telling people how great social media is and how transformational it can be. Do you want to know why it can be so tough for us to sell someone on it? All someone has to do is a common search on some common perceptions of social media and you get the following.

  1. 10 Ways Social Media Is Changing Our Lives
  2. Google, Yahoo, Bing Say Twitter is Stupid
  3. Why Social Media is a Waste of Time for Most Local Businesses
  4. Social Media can be a game changer
  5. Who owns social media? Who cares?
  6. 15 reasons to love social media
  7. Why I hate social media
  8. Social media is not for all SMB’s
  9. Why we love social media
  10. Why social media is not for everyone

and your bonus is a deck from David Armano from Edelman Digital *Social Media is Dead– Long Live Common Sense!

Wouldn’t you be confused to?

What happened to the Ah-Ha moment?

Do you remember the first time you got a blog comment? Or the first time someone followed you on Twitter. Pretty cool wasn’t it? All of a sudden this static world of reading and consumming media changed-overnight. All of a sudden we all had voices.

I remember the first time I connected with an old friend on Facebook. It immediately showed me the power of the platform and it’s infinite possibilities. Which naturally lead to these thoughts- “I can’t beleieve they found me”, “Wow do they look old” and “I wonder who else is on here”? I truly believe it was those 3 thoughts that fueled the desire for more from users who both created and consumed Facebook content. It was like crack.

Depending on your background and skillsets, the early days of social media for a lot of us, were so wonderous and so filled with curiosity. Connecting with new people who were your peers, and then having these really deep discussions through blog posts and comments or tweets on Twitter, took the power of social media for us and elevated it.

We blogged about it. We waxed poetic about it. We told whoever was listening about it, and even those who might not have been listening, how cool and powerful this thing called social media was. We were all evangelists who had Ah-ha moments.

But something has happened. The Ah-Ha moments are diminishing.

Do you remember when the internet first exploded on the scene? How everyone was enamored of it? Or how about when the iPod came along? Do you remember the cool commercials and the desire to have one, how great it was? Is it still like that? It’s not, is it? Why?

The problem?  Mass consumption and the expectations of consuming as it relates to creating.

Like any addiction, as you continue to consume, it takes more and more effort to satisfy the craving.  In social media your magical moments were created by you, but moreso by your connections. It’s just they were driven to you inversely by your effort.

We want more Ah-Ha moments but…they are just few and far between now. You’re probably thinking well a sage veteran already had their moments, it’s only for the newbies…Really? Is that the way it supposed to be? Can’t we have more?

In the “social media” beginning, your effort to have conversations equaled  a great experience because the expectations were so low and there just weren’t a lot of people in the space.

But as social media has evolved and Facebook now has it’s 500 millionth user,  the web 2.0 experience has changed what we think, what we know, and how we use it. Our experiences have been dulled and our desire for new and shiny has increased, all because of us. Why us? Because the tools and platforms that make up social media, have allowed us to create and  experience things at levels that would have blown our minds 3 years ago. Demand is way up, experiences are way down and expectations have never been higher.

Our social media experiences are just that. They are merely experiences now. Our expectations are getting so high that we’re likely to be disappointed by our experience. I worry that our expectations keep rising not only in waiting for the next big thing, or the next great connection, or great business deal, but also for the type of content we consume. Why? It creates the  false assumption amongst creators of content, that what will please us needs to constantly be elevated.

A more potent solution.  Bigger, better, faster.

Funny thing is, what really has driven growth and adoption, more than anything else-hasn’t been technology, though it has helped, it’s been about the human element. It has been about the Ah-ha moment.

It’s always been about you, me and them. We are responsible for our Ah-ha moments. They are there. We can have them anytime we want.

What Happens When the Mega Personal Brand Leaves the Company?

This past week something occurred that seems to have slipped by people rather quietly. Frank Eliason is leaving or has left Comcast. For those of you that have been dialed into social media for awhile, this is significant for a number of reasons and you’ll know why.

The biggest reason is that we, the social media community lose our poster child/case study of how one person with one tool/platform can transform how a company operates in the social media spectrum of customer service. Can some of you even count the number of times you might have used ComcastCares as one of your social media “examples” 2 years ago.

If you don’t know who @Comcastcares is or was, it was merely one of the first  large companies/individuals to take Twitter and use it as a direct bridge or line of communication into Comcast customer service for real time/any time help of customer service issues.

When social media case studies were few and far between, Frank’s work at Comcast was our shining example of Twitter and customer service. We name dropped Comcast along with Zappos and Starbucks and Jetblue.  So much so that Frank’s personal brand grew, and grew and grew. Not because he was promoting himself, merely this was just the effect of his social media success.  @Comcastcares was as much Frank as it was Comcast. They were synonymous with each other-interchangeable if you will.

Which lead to an interesting conundrum as well as the second reason why Frank’s leaving is significant. It’s something in which a lot of us in the social media community had often talked about, tweeted about, written about and speculated about, and that’s this:

What happens when the personal brand behind a company becomes larger than the company because of social media? What does the company do? One of the other questions we threw around early and often as well was, What if that personal brand leaves the company, what happens then?

Well guess what? It’s finally happened. Frank, little did you know but you may be  creating another case study for all of us. Good luck, and thanks for setting the table, taking chances, and leading the way for a lot of companies and people that will have no idea that you might be reason they are using Twitter for customer service. 🙂

Should Your Social Networks Mingle?

A lot of the apps and web services that come across the desk lately have to do with consolidation and aggregation. In fact, back in April there was a pretty good post in Social Media Today on 7 social media aggregation tools that you should use that caught my eye. I went through the list and I was familiar with 4 of them. But there’s a larger point I want to make here.

Actually 2 points.

Point #1. I’m going to use Yoono as my first example. Yoono connects you to your social networks and messengers. It unifies your status updates into a single stream of information and lets you update your status across all your social networks at once. Social media sites that are currently supported include, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, FriendFeed and Flickr. Messenger services are available through Google Talk, AIM, Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

But what if each network has specific audiences? i.e. Facebook is family and friends. Twitter is your peer network. Linkedin is a business networking network and Live Messenger is say for your customers or something like that. My networks are somewhat broken out like that. I don’t want them to overlap. I don’t want my Facebook friends to receive my Twitter updates. I don’t want to pollute, so to speak, my otherwise “clean” Linkedin network with my Twitter updates. Occasionally I add the #li hashtag to a tweet, but otherwise I keep them separate.

You might be asking why I keep them autonomous but my simplest of reasons is that my networks are not all “business” related and conversely not all are intimate and or personal. Consider it strategic but it works for me. Different networks, different messages.

Point #2.  There’s an assumption that we need consolidation and aggregation. I would say yes and no. I definitely think that having universal logins is heading in the right direction but there is one issue that I have with that. Profiles matter but they almost have to be a bit different for each network. People sometimes need to push out a different yet more effective profile per each network. Linkedin vs. Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Myspace. Different niches, different networks, different profiles.

Consolidation yes aggregation maybe.

More and more we are becoming members of more networks. That won’t be changing. I’m not sure there is an answer for posting updates that populate across all networks in which your networks understand the meaning. I may be looking at this too hard from a business standpoint and that’s OK. But the bigger picture is that consolidating our social networking effort is what we all want because we’re all hell bent on laziness or efficiency-take your pick. It’s just that  aggregating or mingling them with any type of contextual adaptive effectiveness might be trickier.

The top 10 social sites, links and posts you might have missed this week!

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile but let’s get right to it.

1. Paul Chaney shot this out today; Deliver your content to the social web with

2. I loved this post 7 reasons social media agencies are like advertising agencies; 8 reasons they’re not by Rob Petersen

3. If you’ve been living in a digital cave then chances are you’ve been missing an amazing social media marketing awareness campaign being done by Old Spice this week.

4. Watch this interview with Charlene Li and Clay Shirky with Andrew Keen on connectivity. Fantastic insight.

5. As video looms larger and larger, you need to understand the proper mechanics of optimizing your video content for SEO.

6. Read this interesting piece on how social media marketers rig the social media machine.

7. Instant messaging anywhere with Beejive

8. You need a QR code.

9. IM, Email and social networks in one easy to use app! It’s Digsby.

10. Check out MediaFunnel. Coordinate and manage your social media presence.

* From Tom Martin we have TweetyMail which seems really really cool!

Old Spice takes social media marketing to another level

Brilliant, real time, impactful, measurable, social media marketing. The Old Spice Man shot YouTube videos in response to people’s Tweets. Those people consisted of some people I know like Jason Peck, Lucretia Pruitt and other we all know like Kevin Rose, actress Alyssa Milano, Justin Bateman, and Apollo Ohno who also retweeted the videos.

He’s done over a 100 thus far and the effect has been nothing short of Viral Nirvana. A Mashup of traditional media, YouTube and Twitter-Love it!. Old Spice had already elevated the brand to historic viral levels because of their TV spots, but now they create this? It’s brilliant. Give props to Wieden+Kennedy and the shirtless Old Spice Guy of course!

Here’s a quick glimpse of some of the videos responses to tweets from notable people and organizations.

Social Media Consultants & Companies-The truth can be found in their numbers

I read an article in Wired’s Epicenter from a couple of days ago titled- Gaming the System: How Marketers Rig the Social Media Machine and the article caught my eye for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that when I first “dabbled” in social media 5 years ago-I was that marketer. I was the one gaming the system. Back then, comment spam and server farms did wonders for text based links and I was all over it. But a funny thing happened. I started seeing the conversations. I started paying attention to what was really happening around me. And it was cool. All of a sudden I got it. I had an epiphany. I now understood the real reason why social media was so dynamic and so transformational. I never looked back.

Here’s the second reason the article caught my eye-it was in the opening paragraph.

Regular users of social networks generally collect friends and followers on a one-by-one basis, then use those connections to share their opinions and links to the latest “Double Rainbow” remix or whatever is making the rounds that day.

A One to One basis…
Let that sink in for a bit. OK, so here’s my bigger point.  Let’s say I’m in a need of a social media company or consultant, and that business claims to be all things social. What do you do? What would you do? You check them out right? But how do you vet them?

Before I get to that, let me first offer up that I know that there are lots of good, solid  social media consultants and companies who do great work. My problem is I keep bumping into people or companies claiming that they are social media companies or consultants, and yet I have no clue who they are or what they have done; and worse, upon deeper discovery-they don’t even eat their own dog food or drink their own koolaid.

Here’s what I would do to quickly vet someone or some company that claims to “be” social.

Let’s take an actual Twitter account for example with 2500 followers. OK 2500 followers, that seems cool on the surface and would probably satisfy those who glance quickly at numbers.
But wait…
They only have 130 tweets. If you were acquiring and vetting followers and following people with just a modicum of organic effort and due diligence-by the time you got to 2500 followers, your tweets would be in some type of proportion to those numbers- i.e. 2500 followers- following 2500 and < > =4100 tweets
Let’s keep going. Upon further examination, there are zero conversations.The screenshot below is what you see when you click on the @yourtwittername on the Twitter main page of the example account.
There’s nothing there. Nothing. The tweets that are on the page, consist of lots of repetitive links to their blog pages, and or benign tweets/announcements about benign topics. No “ats” to anyone. Which leads to some really obvious questions:
  • Why on earth would you want a company like this consulting on, creating, and or managing your Twitter program?
  • If they can’t do it themselves internally, why would they treat you or your company any differently?
  • Is that really the way to use Twitter?
  • Is that effective?
All of this information is right there for you to see.
  • Look at who follows them,
  • Look at who they follow.
  • Are they on any lists? What types of lists are they on?
  • Are they sharing and or promoting others?
  • What are the nature of the tweets?
One of the lists this particular company is on is called, “Spammers that follow me”…Nice, That’s the kind of promo I want others to see! If they can’t get Twitter right, does this mean that their Facebook strategy and or their blog, or Linkedin strategy will be any different?
Social Media is equal parts strategy,  tactics and tools as it is about labor. Shortcuts don’t cut it and they can be, readily apparent. If these companies and people are not investing the effort, attention to detail, and labor in themselves-How social can they really be? How are they going to get you right?

When influence is confused with popularity

I guess this is the week of Influence. Or is it popularity? It’s funny how trends, momentum and failures will shape and dictate what we talk about and write about from week to week isn’t it? Take the Fast Company Influence Project-talk about a sh@#! storm! Why? Well let’s look at what has been said about this “project” up to this point.

For the moment, brands like Fast Company need to think long and hard before redefining what influence means. Influence is based on trust and targeted connections, not ego and self-adulation. Just writing about Fast Company’s Influence Project will contribute to its going viral, but hopefully it will influence a few “social media gurus” from wasting the time of their friends and followers-Courtney Boyd Myers

The biggest problem here is that this is a Fast Company editorial project which provides no service or experience to a reader besides that of clicking on rather confusing links in order to be confronted with bullshit “influence” metrics, which inevitably leaves people feeling empty and used-SF Weekly

This isn’t influence. This is an ego trap and a popularity contest, pure and simple. There’s no goal other than click pandering. Already, Twitter is full of people shouting “click on my junk!” and flooding my stream and countless others with nothing more than clamoring for…well…validation.-Amber Naslund

Editorial integrity.

In my mind those two words are inextricably linked and have been since long before my days at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. So when I saw the first Tweets pass by about something called The Influence Project by Fast Company Magazine, I clicked immediately. The person from whom the Tweet came was someone I respected and of all the business rags I read, Fast Company has always held a top spot for great reporting/writing and rock solid editorial integrity. I was wrong.-Cathy Brooks

The Fast Company Influence Project gimmick is exactly that – a gimmick and a disappointing one. It seems to be a way to build a database of people and participate in link baiting more than a meaningful approach to identifying who’s influential online.-Shiv Singh

For anyone following this meme on Twitter, Fast Company recently launched a site called “Influence Project”, where they’re essentially pitting online “influencers” against one another to vote for their influencer ranking. The Project is being pushed left and right on Twitter and Facebook and I’m sure elsewhere, but at this point I’ve tuned out from it, not because I don’t want to vote for my friends but because it’s like watching cattle being lined up onto a conveyor belt only to be lead to slaughter.-David Binkowski

Fast Company started this campaign with a simple question – who are the most influential people online right now?  But, online influencers and interested bystanders alike are asking, who cares?  Would you tweet your followers, email your friends and update your facebook status in order to be considered an influencer?  What could Fast Company do to turn this into less of a gimmick and more about why influence matters? Does online influence really matter?-Social Citizens

So what is the takeaway from this? Well sadly, Fast Company probably got out of it, exactly what they wanted to get out of it. Traffic,  eyeballs and a database.  All at the expense of a bait and switch ruse initiated by Mekanism (FYI, their website might be one of the most annoying and narcissistic sites I’ve been on in awhile, but maybe that works?)

Lessons learned? Plenty, it reminds me of the Skittles web campaign about a year and a half ago. Lots was written about how short sighted it was, but me thinks Skittles got out of it, exactly what they wanted to get out of it. The only difference was that Fast Company used it’s most precious asset, it’s users/readers to carry it out. They violated a trust for something that really returned nothing on the back end for it’s users.

So could the value of influence be  equivalent to the price of social popularity? You betcha! If we continue to embrace and allow companies to endorse and roll out projects like this, then influence will continue to be watered down into a useless metric based on a hollow number…The irony of it all though is that 6,000 plus egos took the bait. Maybe we all are fueled by ego after all? Sad when you think about it.