The Dawn of Social Mediocrity

Let’s do a hypothetical. You like western saddles.  You search for them every day on Google. Google gives you relevant results from a) your Google Plus peeps and then b) the most relevant, most SEO’d results. Let’s assume that your peeps straddle the lines of friends, family and business contacts, so the results or likelihood that there will be content from these people about western saddles may be 50/50.

You continue to search for info about saddles. I am a marketer that sells cowboy hats or western hats. I know that if I use the term “western saddles” as a key word, page title, hyper link, hashtag, splog site or blog post in some social networks or platforms, the  likelihood of you finding or landing on my pages might be pretty high. Why? Every link that you will find will ultimately take you to my western hat pages. I may or may not have much on saddles, but the bottm line is that I sell hats not saddles. Will you buy from my site? Maybe not. Of course I will or may affiliate links on my pages that will get you to a site that sells saddles but…the “quick” search has now turned into an hour’s worth of chasing the long tail of a bullshit game of bait and switch.

Is that a good user experience? No, but it’s the reality of search and social.

The more content that is created, the more that you have to choose from. The more that you have to choose from, the more of a chance that the content is watered down and possibly gamed. The more that search and social become intertwined, the more that you may become the victim of a bait and switch. Clicking on a link in the hopes that it is the right link-has become more precarious these days than it ever has.

The more that search and social lines become further blurred by the notion that content drives the machine, the more the user will get played. Pretty soon it won’t be social media any longer, it will be social mediocrity.

The Evolution of Our Data Fixation in Social Media

Six years ago, we were talking about the growth of blogging and MySpace. In 2006, Radian6 was founded by Chris Newton (@cdnewt) and Chris Ramsey (@chrisramsey) Back then monitoring and listening were a novel concept, but they knew that social wasn’t a fluke.

Five years ago, hundreds of millions of people around the world were starting to visit social networking sites each month and many were doing so out of curiosity on a daily basis. Clearly,social networking is not a fad but rather an activity that is being woven into the very fabric of the global Internet.

However, we could have cared less about measuring our engagements…yet. We were all about doing first and thinking second. Case in point Wal-Marting Across America uses a real journalist and real photographer, and sets them up as your average Wal-Mart fans, who travel across America, park their RV at Wal-Mart parking lots and hang and blog.

4 years ago, we were still fixated by the numbers, and the bulk of measurement questions  still consisted of “how many”, but “who and why” are starting to become more of a focus in social.

3 years ago, the numbers bordered on the ridiculous but some trends were starting to take shape.

But underneath that astounding growth trend, was a disturbing stat. One that will do 2 things. First, it freaks people out and then, it spurs people into action.


2 years ago, We stopped blowing on the reflection of our social media selves in the mirror and wanted to get serious about measuring social. Consider this blurb from 10 Ways Social Media Will Change In 2010

“Return on investment on social media activities has been challenging to most companies in 2009. Surveys show only 18% of companies say they saw meaningful return on investment from their social media activities while the other 72% report modest, no return or inability to measure the return on their investment in social media. While the definition of ROI is evolving to better fit the world of relationships and networks, the ability to demonstrate ROI in hard numbers — not in followers or fans — will become a baseline business requirement in 2010. Already, both traditional firms and startups are working feverishly to demonstrate they can turn hype into science. But, only those companies who will be able to analyze and predict hard returns on investments will last”


The funny thing is, if you bother to try and search on the number of articles or blog posts about data, data measurement, monitoring, listening and engagement in  the last 6 years, you can see that as social has evolved, so has the need to become less fixated on quantity and more concerned with what one does with the numbers. The number of blog posts and articles in the past 6 years reflect this sea change in doing something with the numbers, yet we still aren’t there yet. Consider this post  in Gigaom, 3 accurate metrics for ROI on social media campaigns. Here is the opening sentence:

Businesses are struggling with how to evaluate the effectiveness of their social media campaigns.

Yes, we’re becoming enamored with the data and analytics of social, and we’re becoming really good at collecting it, but we still need a primer in what to do with it and how to turn it into Action. Look at how long it has taken us to get over big numbers! So when does this change? How long will it take us to get there?


The Empowered Consumer Needs An Empowered CPG

Brian Solis from Altimeter Group used the term empathetic business models in a recent blog post titled, A Critical Path for Customer Relevance, Part 1, and though it sounds good and I would like for all businesses to “be” that in the end. I prefer not to use it to describe    an ideal business model, as much as I think it’s more of an idealistic business model, and I think he knows this. Here’s the exact quote:

A key objective for senior executives over the next several years is to use disruptive technology to get closer to customers, to improve relationships, and enhance experiences. It is a considerable move and the result will usher in a new era of adaptive and empathetic business models. However, this is a move that is easier said than done.,

What makes more sense today, and Brian actually touches on it in the next paragraph, is how do we deal with the empowered consumer? I’m not so sure an empathetic business can deal with the an empowered consumer. I’m not saying they can’t, merely that it might be somewhat one sided.  What we need to look at is the empowered business and the empowered consumer together, as one. Put the two together and it’s lightening in a bottle. I think of the two as having the potential of the Wonder Twins. The Wonder Twins, are comic book superheroes. Their powers are activated when they touch each other and speak the phrase, “Wonder Twin powers activate!” This phrase is unnecessary and just a habit of theirs, but it’s catchy. Physical contact, however, is required. If the two are out of reach of each other, they are unable to activate their powers. As they are about to transform, they would each announce their intended form. “Shape of…”, “Form of…”

So think about this. An empowered business without the customer means nothing. An empowered customer who wants to buy from a business that doesn’t get “it” means nothing to that business-it’s just a lost opportunity to that business. Today’s empowered consumer has too many tools at their disposal to make an informed and educated buying decision. For a business to say, It’s a fad and it’s business as usual and the digitally empowered consumer will buy from us because of our history and are heritage-that just won’t cut it any longer. Today,  every CPG company has to have as much ammo as their customers. Has to.

So what good is the empowered customer without the empowered business? No one wins. No Magic. But…If we put the two together then we get, The Wonder Twins. The empowered consumer needs the empowered business.

Relationships In A Socially Connected World

In the New York Times recently there was an article titled, My Dinner With Clay Shirky, and What I Learned About Friendship which I highly recommend. The piece was essentially about an authors  dinner experience with noted writer, speaker, and internet ethnographer Clay Shirky. If you don’t know who Clay Shirky is, go to Amazon and read some excerpts from his two books Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization and Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.

The gist of the NY Times piece was that if we’re not careful we could spend so much time interacting with people on the Web that we could become a little socially deficient. Ironically, this week we held a social media tweetchat hosted by Jamie Sandford on how one cultivates relationships in a social world. The parallels were neat and not lost on me. On the one hand we had Shirky wanting us to take it offline and on the other, we had a group of people in a tweetchat talking about how to make online connections stronger with the eventuality that we do take them offline.

Complete and utter online social immersion can make us feel like we are so busy with our connections that don’t have time for the offline world. Just as quickly however, if we don’t take the time to balance the two or at least make the attempt to deepen our online relationships we can easily feel the false euphoric high of quantity give us the semblance of relationships. Yet the reality is the payoff rests in face to face interactions.  We spend so much time cultivating our numbers on various social platforms that we begin to think we have “a lot” of “friends”.

Our manufactured  social world allows to think we’re popular until we step out from behind the machine. The point? Even in a connected world, we have to make the effort to cultivate a virtual relationship into something greater than the sum total of the networks that we are part of.

Where Are the Jobs and What Can You Make In Social Media?

As I’ve said many times, I love a good infograph, thus, let’s introduce the Onward Search Social Media Jobs Salary Guide. Some interesting things to note here. One, there are a lot of good paying  jobs out there in the social media space. Two, I’m surprised that some of the positions and locations are not paying more. Given what is on the line for some companies, I would have expected more from some of the locations for the strategist and marketing manager positions. What do you think?

Social Media Jobs and Salaries Guide
© 2012 Onward Search

The 3 Levels Of Change Needed To Integrate Social Media

If You have not visited the blog site for the agency, We are Social, make sure you do. It’s a great resource of information. In particular, I was struck by an infograph that was up recently titled, Social Business-Social Media Integration. Within that infograph, I found this:

Which one do you think is the hardest? Which is the easiest? Which takes the least amount of time?

Why Should You Comment On A Blog Post?

I was reading an article today titled,  Behind the Wheels: An all-too-real Cinderella story it had 12 comments. The piece was beautifully written and it was interesting to see what those 12  people had to say. Which got me to wondering:

How come useless throw away blog posts and articles have tons and tons of comments and the good stuff gets next to nothing?

Part of the question also emenated from this post, Why Your Networking Sucks — And the Secret to Doing it Right which had 30 comments, but also sucked people in, including me, because it held the promise of revealing a…secret.

I felt like a sucker. I knew that the post wouldn’t really reveal a secret that I had not read countless times before. So why did I click on it?

I have narrowed it down to these five things:

  1. It’s all in the title of the post
  2. Salacious content always works
  3. People are suckers for lists
  4. People like  a good car wreck
  5. People want the Cliffsnotes

But the next component after you have read the post is, what do you do? Do you share it, save it, or comment? Why should you comment? Here’s a couple of ideas or thoughts.

  1. Something in the post moves us
  2. Agreement-You want to let the writer know you are with them
  3. Disagreement-You have been moved to tell them they are wrong
  4. A desire to be seen or heard-self promotion/branding
  5. The notion that someone else will read what you have written and respond to you and maybe something else is kindled
  6. The desire to be a jerk-Happens a lot more than you think
  7. The need to pick a fight-Bored people with nothing better to do with their time


Social media has changed the game for journalists, for newspapers, for magazines, for bloggers and readers. It’s created a two way mechanism to have a conversation. When you write a blog post or an article, do you write it for the purpose of being heard, to offer up your two cents, to share your perspective, or to have conversations, or for SEO purposes?

As a reader, should we all be obligated to comment on a blog post? What would our world be like if we all were required to provide an educated, thoughtful comment to anything we read? I know some of us barely have time to respond to emails let alone a blog post, but I take solace in the fact that we all now have the opportunity to be heard should we so choose. Though we  have an obligation to comment thoughtfully, it just doesn’t happen that way. As a reader or “blog commenter”, have you ever thought about what you wanted the outcome of your comment to be? Think about that.