There are no take backs in social media…


Originally I was going to write about how NFL players not playing this past Sunday were tweeting during the NFC championship game about  how Quarterback Jay Cutler seemed to NOT want to go back in the game because of a perceived injury to his knee, how he was not tough, how he was soft, how he lacked heart. Little did they know that he was actually hurt. They were reacting more to his body language, to what the camera showed us or by what was being said or not said during the telecast. Little did they know that thousands were reading what they were tweeting.

I was going to talk about how the players NOT PLAYING  tweeted things I’m sure in hindsight they wish they could have taken back about one of their peers. How they didn’t know the impact this was going to have. How Jay Cutler couldn’t even defend himself given that the game was going on. It was compounded by how quickly it became viral over the course of the next 24-48 hours. Some players retracted what they said through additional tweets AFTERWARDS but the fact of the matter was that the tweets are there to be seen, searched and read by thousands. FOREVER!

Well if this authority figure or this well known former or current player said it or thought it or tweeted it, it must be right? It must be true. Right???

Yep I was going to talk about how athletes should be careful of what they say about themselves or others especially on social networks. Until it happened to me. This is one of those valuable lessons that includes more than public figures. It’s about you and me and how we treat others. And I feel awful about it. Let me give you a quick background.

I joined a private group in Facebook. It was a fun irreverent group of like minded professionals initially talking about the stuff, the challeneges , and the issues we face every day. But the tone of the group slowly shifted or evolved into something I didn’t really recognize anymore. I felt somewhat uneasy about the change and actually thought about leaving the group prior to; but I still fired up the machine to see what was being talked about and to contribute.

What happened was I got caught up in the bashing of a colleague and peer who I have respect for. He wasn’t there to defend himself. He wasn’t part of the group. It wasn’t fair. It’s one thing to critique a blog post-Hey we all write crappy ones from time to time, but taking it down a notch was not fair. I didn’t defend him, I joined in and kicked him too! It was there for people to read and comment on what I said. Most didn’t notice but I did. It’s bothered me ever since.  I know better. Not just the fact that it was on a social network but this has to do with civility and respect.

Afterwards, a good friend who was there and who actually defended this person, took the time to point out to me that I was better than that. She was right. I just wish I had realized it before. Sure it was in a private Facebook group but I can’t take back what I did and naming names does me or this blog post no good, but there’s a valuable lesson here. It’s one in which I’ve told companies about and probably fuels a lot of their trepidation of social media engagement.

Once it’s out there, it’s out there for everyone to see. It’s in ink not pencil

Sometimes, the hardest lessons are the ones you have to experience first hand. The NFL players who tweeted about Jay Cutler probably wish they could take back what they said, and so do I. It’s not part of what I am about. I can do better. I apologize. Like I said, there are no take backs in social media.

Who Can You trust?

The Edelman Trust Barometer version 2011 came out recently and buried in the presentation deck are 2 slides I want you to check out.

Here’s #1

What this slide is implying is that consumers no longer trust their peers and that they would prefer to trust an authority figure like a CEO. Why is that? Call it the re-emersion of the authority figure. The authority figure exudes a sense of influence and trust and the people that are like you, can be influenced, and your trust in them is diminishing. Trust in leaders, their leadership, and their experience is growing. Does this surprise you?

Ironically we have said on many different occasions that consumers look to each other for product and company recommendations-they trust each other for their unfettered honesty. So what is happening? Why is it slipping or the pendulum swinging the other way?

Now let’s look at slide #2

Consumers trust search results when doing research on a company and not social media. Look where social media sits! Meanwhile search results are tied into real time social. So search may be the research conduit but the result still might a social media generated one.  Either way, a brand or company can say all they want about how search doesn’t affect sales or performance-I would beg to differ especially after viewing this slide. It surprised me. Did it you?

The bottom line. Search and social will still be prime components of trust but at the end of the day, who you are is going to determine levels of trust. Below is the complete deck for your viewing pleasure. Guess we better start looking at influence and authority some more.

The Implied Participation of Social Media

If you’re new to social media marketing, you might feel like you’re a little late to the game. In a sense, if you are new, you are a little late. However, fear not, there are some who have actually been slogging through social media so long without any discernible results that they might as well have started yesterday. What is the reality? There is not much of a difference between you and them.

Two questions come to mind however. Why in 2011 have some waited this long to do anything with social media? And why does mediocrity prevail for those marketers that have been doing it awhile? For the novice and the advanced user, the similarities abound. Both feel the world of social media is moving incredibly fast. Too fast it seems. It’s why the beginners have waited and it’s a great excuse for those marketers that have been coming up short.  In fact the excuses might look something like this: I won’t be able to keep up, there’s no time, why bother, why continue, it doesn’t work, our customers don’t use it, there is no point, what’s the point? Or gasp, you can’t measure it and there’s no ROI! The collective belief being that maybe, just maybe, social media is temporary.

In either camp you could almost say that you’re waiting for things to become so simplified that participation will be as implied as Google’s home page. Enter a word, click a button, get a result. Good luck with that.

Funny thing though, it really doesn’t matter what your background is in 2011. It’s implied that you’re either in a social network and or you know what to do once you’re in a social network. Wow, that’s terribly assumptive isn’t it?

In today’s Uber connected world it’s easy to be intimidated or influenced into participation in social media just based on the notion that a) Facebook has almost 600 million active users and you need to tap into that or b) Your customers are on Facebook and Twitter and you’re not. You feel you must be there. Whether kicking and scratching or willingly, you’re being pulled into the vortex of social media-whether you know what you’re doing or not.

Did you know that when you go to Google’s search page and type in, “How do I use…” that one of the first results that show up in the search drop down box is, “How do I use Twitter and Facebook?” Which means that the phenomena of social networks has definitely peaked our collective interest as marketers and yet we are still not quite sure how to us social to sell or market our stuff-What do we do? How do we use it? How does it work?

Unfortunately there is not enough room here to really answer the above questions at length, but those types of questions are still coming from two familiar groups of people. That’s right, the novices and the advanced users, and all groups in between. The queries are emanating just as much from the small business owner wearing the marketing hat as the CMO charged with managing the Fortune 100. Though the surface level questions still revolve pretty heavily around the how’s and the why’s-The deeper question still might be-Why is there still a big disconnect or gap in social media adoption in 2011?



You might not think there is a gap because you might be the atypical user both from a marketing perspective and a consumer level. In fact some of you might think that things are evolving at a pretty normal pace- and they are, for you; but there are still a lot of segments of our society and business world that are lagging behind in social media knowledge, usage, experience, and adoption. Why is that?

Culture and cultures.  All of your customers are wired differently. Not all of them are always sitting in front of computers tweeting, downloading coupons, friending brands and buying stuff through Groupon and Livingsocial. Thus the types of usage, consumers, and networks that abound are as diverse as the people that live in one square block in SoHo.. What makes us different makes us unique. What makes this world the way it is? Our personalities, our backgrounds, our heritage, our family, our tribes…Our cultures. Social media and social networks are no different, they are just online digital extensions of our offline lives and the spaces that we play and work in.  So why the difficulty in adoption and usage? It’s implied we know what we are doing and what they want. It is assumed we know how to market to “them” because we know how to use social. I say Ha!

Do you remember back in grade school in PE class when it was demanded/expected that everyone would participate in dodge ball or kickball? Was everyone capable of playing at the same level? Did everyone want to play or participate? Did everyone know the rules? In some cases kids were forced to play right? If the option was given to play or not to play, how many would have? Half?  Either the coaches and PE’s teachers assumed everyone knew how to play, didn’t care, or they focused on the one’s that knew how to play. Those that didn’t know how, were left to figure it out as they went. Sound familiar? Just think if they had taken the time to teach, and or learn what they had to work with from the kids in the class!

If we’re to look at today’s social networks, Facebook is THE implied or de facto platform for social media participation and yet, there is nothing that says you’re supposed to have a Fan page for your company or product on Facebook, or that you know what you are doing. But we all drop into the funnel anyway, like lemmings. And yet there’s nothing that says you automatically know how “to be” social with your customers on Facebook either; or that success is guaranteed on Facebook. And that’s part of the problem. Lack of knowledge. The other part is that technology is waiting for users to catch up and users are waiting for technology to slow down, thus a lot of times most marketers are flying blind when it comes to using social media to sell products. They revert back to traditional forms of marketing using social tools and platforms. One way messaging with frequency.

With that said, here are 4 resources to help keep you current in today’s ever changing social sphere.

  • All Facebook    –The unofficial Facebook Blog
  • YourVersion  –YourVersion is a tool for delivering the latest news, blogs, tweets, and videos on content that matters to you, all in one place.
  • TechCrunch  –TechCrunch is a real time site profiling startups, reviewing internet products and breaking tech news. I start and end my day with this site.
  • SmartBlog on Social Media A blog that daily delivers best practices, case studies & insights on social media marketing. I read it every day.


Lastly, In order for social media marketing to truly evolve, participation needs to be more fluid, connectivity less assumptive, and value all inclusive. Until then, the usage and effect of social media in the marketing mix will only be surface level.

On Influence and Bad Blog Posts

I like differing opinions, thoughts and comments. I think it’s good to have a variety of thought. No one likes a yes man right? Except maybe in the social media world. Then sometimes it resembles a quid pro quo type of environment. I’ll promote your stuff you promote mine. The thinking is well illustrated by David Armano with his depiction of influencer ripples. If your content can be promoted by the right people than it can reach more people. It’s why companies are so hot on the influencer thingright now-find the influencer and get eyeballs and sell product. Look, I’m down with helping my friends out but…

Today’s online influence is overblown, overrated and diluted and can be gamed.

Here’s why. What if the content sucks? Yet because you and I are friends and we read and promote each others stuff we’ll retweet and share content sometimes sight unseen.  That’s kind of jive isn’t it? Yet it’s effective.  That’s not really fair to the reader is it? But it works. What if the reader is someone on the outside and is trying to “get in” to the world of social media? They might share and promote your crappy content too. Add the element of two people with very large networks of followers and subscribers sharing content and you can see how this can all be affected. Crappy content always has a fighting chance with a killer post title and a supposed influencer sharing it.

How about these 2 scenarios? The first one I’ve been sucked into a bunch of times. You see a compelling blog title tweeted, you click on it and it’s end up being something that you might wrap your dead fish in. The second, I will refer to this definition from Wikipedia.

A spam blog, sometimes referred to by the neologism splog,[1] is a blog which the author uses to promote affiliated websites, to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites or to simply sell links/ads.

We’re all suckers for a great blog post title. Why? Because we’re hoping for fresh, we’re hoping for a different POV. We’re tired of repetitive thoughts, posts and comments without any backbone.  A lot of people have ceased writing for their audiences and are writing purely for search, link juice and hollow authority. Unfortunately there’s no end in sight and we’ll continue to be influenced into clicking on and reading. Hoping.

What Does Fully Engaged Mean?

Earlier this week, Ants Eye View posted The Cisco Social Media Listening Journey.

It was interesting to see Cisco’s evolution

But I was struck more with the final stage of the listening journey.

Food for thought. How fully engaged is your company? How fully engaged are your teams?

How aware are you, that you are a consumer?

Sometimes we forget that we have the power. Even those of you who are marketers or that work for brands forget that you are the demographic. you are your demographic. How do you want to be marketed to? Are you down with personalization? permission based marketing? Disruptive technologies? How do you want your content delivered to you? Flip the situation. Sometimes I forget that buying power is shifting to us. The voice of the customer is the new black.

The propensity to Repeat in Social Media

It’s not just social media. Create a killer product, expect knock-offs. I used to say that you truly haven’t made it until you have been knocked off. It happens with consumer products, food products, you name it. Imitation is the best form of flattery right? Monopolies in social media? Facebook has an argument, but that’s about it. Everything else is fair game right now.

We’re a demand society. This is the “Consumers of Content” generation.

Networks, apps, aggregators, blogs, microblogs-copy what works, tweak it a little, or not, and see what market share you can pull. Make it just as good as… and release it. Make it better than…and release it. Because social media is “still” new and still growing, the thinking can be that there is always someone new coming to the party that may or may not be reading content for the first time, seeing a site for the first time and using an app for the first time. So everyone has a chance to succeed; but what seperates the real thing, the solid thing or the big dog from the one who just showed up trying to capitalize or catch the big wave? Sometimes money, sometimes nothing. It might just be an issue of WOM, Buzz or SEO and search.

In some cases the noobie or the one coming to the party late has a better chance to get it right. Take what they did and do it better, or just rip it off and call it something different. The noobie has a chance to appeal to the noobie.

From the standpoint of the blogger. How fresh can or could their content be? In social media, is it possible that what they are saying is fresh? Or is it just a fresh coat of paint, lipstick on a pig. Repeat the obvious and give it a fresh name and claim it as your own.

Why does history repeat itself even in social media? How many times can we read the 10 ways to use Twitter for your business? Because we will always be  suckers for bulleted lists. History shows that we love the compelling headline with the notion that what we might read is new, insightful and helps us leverage what we do in the social media. We’re hoping for fresh.

Who’s doing fresh in social media right now? What makes them fresh? What blogger is still a must read in social media? What are we looking for as readers these days in the world of social media? Is it all just about being sucked into another top 10? Can you resist reading a top ten?

The Biggest Trend in 2011? Our Continued Laziness.

Why do you think YouTube is the  #2 search engine in thw world? Did you know that it was? Some of you might not know but are you surprised by that statement? Did you know that as of March 2010, 24 hours of video  is uploaded to YouTube every minute? Here’s some perspective for you. Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance video has been viewed over 328 million times since it’s release. Why do you think that is? Entertainers aside, there is a reason we like to watch videos. Here’s another story for you.

Awhile back, Alex Iskold wrote about a conversation he had with a friend about his son, he mentioned that his son accesses the web through YouTube. At first, he thought he was joking.  But then realized he was not. Whenever his son needed any information, he would open up YouTube, type in the search term and then just watch the videos that showed up as matches. He never Googled anything; he never went to any other site; his entire web experience was confined to YouTube videos. YouTube as a search engine. Video as a search result. Video as a trusted search result.

“A whole channel for sharing and connecting to the biggest word-of-mouth platform in the English language.”-Time Ferriss

Why does YouTube work? Because we’re lazy. We would rather someone entertain us with information than have to sift through search results. I know it sounds crazy but sifting through search results requires more reading, more computation of the results, more of an understanding of what you’re looking for. With Video,we don’t need to turn a page, we don’t need to keep reading and clicking for the “real result”, all we have to do is look at a screen grab, a title that’s compelling to us and go. slim to none of brain power.

Kids no longer learn about the world by reading text. Like the television generation, they are absorbing the world through their visual sense. But there is a big difference. Television was programmed and inflexible. YouTube is completely micro-chunked and on demand. Kids can search for what they need anytime. This is different, and powerful-YouTube is the next Google

This isn’t really about laziness but there is a degree of truth to it. You see we are an entertainment obsessed culture, we like our senses piqued. The endorphins it releases. We dig 3D, we like our content packaged. Words are boring, text is bland, black and white sucks and video rocks; and adding a gaming element to it just makes it that much better. I don’t think anyone anticipated YouTube being known primarily as a search engine, let alone the #2 search engine behind Google, but clearly the masses have spoken. Google buying YouTube awhile back might have seemed curious to some but now it looks like a brilliant move. Who knew?

At thend of the day we still do ALOT of searches on everything. How that search result comes back though, determines action. The less work we can do the better. Let’s click on a video instead. Does video still give us the search result we need? It’s debatable but it’s changing. Why do you think WOM as an accelerant works so well in the context of search. Less work. If a user can be spareed the leafing through of 10 “gamed” search result pages in lieu of asking someone who “knows” or watching a video of someone who knows-all the better. Laziness?

Or is it being more effective and efficient with our time?

You watch…