When Familiarity Breeds Familiarity

Everything seems hard the first time we do it doesn’t it? Until it no longer ceases to be difficult and then it becomes innate, routine and sometimes mundane. On the web, we as digital marketers and change agents, worry that the sites, applications and networks that we build, share and promote aren’t intuitive enough. Yet even the toughest of sites to navigate seem to succeed with massive amounts of traffic and uniques. Why is that?

Because people want to go there. People want to use that site. No matter how difficult it is. Sites that are providing some type of payoff to be there, can overcome design inefficiencies on large scales. Be it a utility like email, a social network like Facebook, or a site where we buy stuff like Amazon or sell stuff like Ebay, people who want to, neigh need to use that site, will figure out how to use that site, no matter how difficult is it.

What does this mean?

Besides the fact that those that create web content and applications have a tremendous opportunity to deliver to users who have been inundated with a plethora of bad web stuff, great content and deliverables- What it really means is that when building for a Web 3.0 world… Less is more, more is not better, better doesn’t mean simple, simple doesn’t mean good, good can be bad, bad can be worse, simple can be bad, assuming can be bad, knowing is good, asking is better, change is good, change is bad and change is constant.

So is it a good thing to change? Who’s more comfortable with bad, you or your users?

The Four Semi-Truths of Social Media

First some quick definitions:

The definition of Nebulous according to Dictionary.com is hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused

Shelf life is the recommendation of time that products can be stored, during which the defined quality of a specified proportion of the goods remains acceptable under expected (or specified) conditions of distribution, storage and display

Depreciation is an expense that reduces the value of an asset as a result of wear and tear, or age. Most assets lose their value over time and must be replaced once the end of their useful life is reached.

Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order.
Now what if we applied these to the world of social media?

My friend Danny recently sold his Boston Whaler. It was a boat no more than 2 years old and it was in pristine condition. He lost $5,000 on the transaction. His take? The boat depreciated as soon as he bought it. It was cool when he first had it he said, but after awhile, once the “newness” of it had worn off-it then was just an old boat that took up space.

Semi-truth #1: Our infatuation with the next, new, shiny, thing in social media depreciates as soon as we realize that it’s just another engagement, aggregator, application, thingy requiring more time, increased effort, permission to access, another profile creation etc., etc. and yet at the end of the day, delivers not much more than all the others. It’s like Danny’s boat.


Mike, a friend and a CEO of a cool little boutique ad agency, used to use Twitter, but then claimed that it was too nebulous. (Note I quickly had to run and look up the word nebulous)

His agency has never been doing better, and yet just because he doesn’t use Twitter any longer, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think it has value for him or his clients. To him, Twitter is what Twitter is- But the basic tenets of good business like customer service and doing the job right, go further for him than “some web app”  that takes up too much of his precious client time. fair enough.

Semi-truth #2: The majority of social media applications can indeed be nebulous and though they may have the best of intentions with a cool interface-at the end of the day, they remain nebulous at best with a typical “make money via advertising” as it’s business model, and a primary marketing approach that is dependent on social “coolness” and going viral. Great news! Whether you use social media or not is not going to determine your success in business.


Remember MySpace? I honestly can’t think of a better definition of social media obsolescence, though there are many to go around. Yes they have had “some UI issues”, but at one point they were THE social network that everyone was talking about. What happened? It still worked and yet people just didn’t or don’t want to use it anymore. The coolness wore off.

Semi-truth #3: What happened to MySpace can happen to any social network. At any point in time, if something better comes along, or if people just get bored with what you are offering, they will leave, and there is really nothing you can do to prevent that, even if it “ain’t broke.”


Some of your social relationships are platform dependent and might not last as long as you think. What is the useful shelf life of a social media generated relationship? What is the sweet spot for a “social relationship” before it plummets into the trough of disillusionment? How long does it last? 6 months? 1 year? Think Dunbar.

Semi-truth #4: Similar to the the shelf life of social networks,  some relationships in social media, though timeless, can be generally shallow and only last as long as both continue to use the application that bridged the engagement in the first place. If one departs, in general the surface like relationship ends. Thus the shelf life of social relationships is inversely proportional to a) Depth of engagement  b) Type of platform and c) One got what one needed.


Isn’t it interesting how shelf life, obsolescence, depreciation and nebulous can be so closely linked and aligned to the world of social media? It’s partly what makes social media great on the one hand, and so maddening on the other. It moves at the speed of sound and yet it’s innate fickleness is determined primarily by it’s  makers and it’s users and not much else. Yes new technology may change behavior, but behavior can change or determine the path of technology.

Is the social web the answer to our ailing economy?

I’m going to guess that for a majority of the people out there, the answers that they seek are not in social media. Nor is social media the answer for a lot of businesses that have fallen on hard times. But damned if they are not looking.

They lift up the hood and they see this


Yet the number of searches going on for the term “social media” per month hover close to half a million. So for most, when they get those search results, and try to make heads or tails of them, it looks like this:


Yet people are wanting to know what it is and how they can make it work for their business. They’re searching for the answer. And the answers they find come from people who have never done it.

They are social media virgins

What social media has done for a lot of small businesses and large ones as well, is it has provided hope at a time when there is not a whole lot of good news to hang your hat on these days.

Hope is not a bad thing because it’s closely aligned with dreams, and right now for a lot of people, that’s all they can bank on. It’s why they wake up every day. Except hoping social media is going to change your business, it’s culture, and the people using it, and ultimately save it, is crazy. You’re looking for a quick fix and sadly, social media is not a quick fix. That doesn’t mean however, that it doesn’t work, because it does.

But there are people out there claiming that they can make social media work for your company and save your company quickly. Be wary. be very wary.

Social media is not the solution to what is ailing you. In fact, there is a strong likelihood that what is ailing you, is completely out of your control. But you are looking for ways to break out, to try something, anything that will turn the tide in your favor. So you’re looking at social media, looking at it hard.

The ripple effect of a bad economy if you will, causes you to look at everything in a different light. Including social media.

Yes, Social media is transformational, it just doesn’t happen over night. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. Chances are, the more you can wrap your arms around what social media can’t do and what it’s not, the better off you will be.


10 Killer Social Media and Web 2.0 Links

What people say about a brand or a company is equal, if not superior, to what the brand or company says about itself.-Me

I told you I was tapped out creatively on Twitter, but here are the 10 links I promised you.




Blue Fuego

Slick Plan

Peer Set

The 8 Irresistible Principles of Fun

Top 10 Social Media Presentations

10 Social Media Strategies From Top Brands



True Social CRM should be invisible for the vendor and transparent to the customer-Me again

I’m worried about the client


It pains you to read what’s going on. You hate watching the news. Prospecting and looking for new clients is becoming more difficult. The clients or prospects you are able to talk with are all giving you the same story.

  • We’re pulling back on spending
  • We’ve had to let people go
  • We are not doing anything this year
  • We plan on doing it in house
  • We have your proposal, we’ll let you know

Sound familiar? So what can you do? Maybe you need to change your focus, change your tact, change the way you are thinking? Perhaps rather than thinking about you and your company, you should think about the company you’re going after and THEIR customer.  Or that companies employees? What can make them more productive? How can they do what they do better? How can they talk to THEIR customers and prospects better? Don’t think of you business process, think of theirs! Think about the client. They need your help, they just might not admit it.

These are not normal times. Thinking in a conventional Web 1.0 manner is not going to get it done.

Are you in for the Long Haul?


I’m going to start with a sports analogy here so bear with me. It’s not so bad that you won’t be able to understand where I am going. So here goes. Almost a year ago (December 12th 2007, to be exact), the Auburn University football team hired an offensive coordinator-the person or coach who would call the plays from the sidelines. At the time, much was made of this person’s background, pedigree and the potential and the excitement that he was going to bring to the program. High expectations, to say the least, were the only acceptable and assumed result. The football team needed something or someone that was going to generate offense, touchdowns, and wins. There was major Buzz. Sound familiar?

Not 10 months later, on October 8th 2008- Auburn fired the offensive coordinator. Why? Because they were not seeing the expected results quick enough. They were not getting what they thought they should get and what everyone told them they were going to get. Their expectations were not met.

Here’s what might have happened. Maybe they didn’t give it long enough? Maybe they grew impatient. Or perhaps Auburn’s head coach grew weary of hearing others tell him that it just was not working and they need to change it. Or maybe he wanted to try something else, or go with someone else that promised that they could deliver results too? Or maybe he wasn’t fully committed? Maybe, just maybe he wasn’t in it for the long haul?

Now let’s tie this into marketing, and social media marketing in particular. If you don’t give it a chance and you don’t embrace it from the outset then you are doomed. if you don’t coddle it and show it the attention it needs it will fail. If you don’t water it, it will whither away and die. Social Media requires commitment and I think a lot of people become impatient when they do not see the results. You see, we live in an instant gratification world and for some, if they ain’t seein’ it in the first day, they are fricken outta there. WRONG. You can’t treat social media and social media marketing like that. Wake up!

You need to ask yourself right now, are you in this for the long haul? Are you willing to commit to what it takes? Don’t bail before it becomes a success? Don’t be the thousands of companies and people that did not give something a chance. Be the few that were willing to stay the course, believed in their skills and trusted that they were doing it right!