Category Archives: Reframing Social Media

Most of these were written while I was a contrarian working in Social Media. I don’t really think about it much anymore, but when I have something to say about the state of things, this is where it goes. It makes me a a little uncomfortable to even have the “SM” phrase on my site but there it is.

Why TweetDeck isn’t a discussion monitoring strategy: You’re going to search wrong.

In short: Keyword searches for your brands will miss some quality advocates

There’s a lot of talk in marketing and Social Media circles about ‘building brand evangelists’, and all that is well and good (and covered in-depth in infinite permutations on other and better blogs than mine.  What may not be covered as much is how best to suggest and yes even help to control the language that your newfound brand advocates use to spread the gospel of your fantastic product or service.

What it boils down to is this:

I tell people about you how I want, not how you want.  Therefore, your monitoring will always be incomplete.

A great example of this happened to me awhile back, when a friend @megfowler posted a twitter update complaining that she goes through lots and lots of earbuds.  I’ve been a fan of my Etymotic ER6s for year now (both their product and their customer service have impressed me in the 5-6 years I have been using them.

My response (and recommendation) on twitter, however, looked like this:

@megfowler might be time to invest in some high quality earbuds. i love mine

You’ll notice, quite unintentionally, that my post did not mention Etymotic, the ER6, or  Now, the link happens in this case to go to etymotic’s site, but it could’ve just as easily gone to Amazon or J&R or a random blog post on the topic.

If you’re not using an in-depth monitoring tool (and sometimes even when you are), you WILL miss conversations happening.  This is something that is important for people to remember, in this age of  ‘it’s all happening online, conversations are measurable’, that you’re going to miss some.

How are you going to become the kind of brand that makes people want to go out of their way to point you to things you might have missed?

What we’re talking about when we say "Be Human"

Community (TV series)
Image via Wikipedia

One of the things I love so much about online communities is how supportive everyone is of each other.  When Christopher Penn announced that he just took a job at BlueSkyFactory, the outpouring of support flooded my twitter stream. Similar things happened when Teresa Basich (and later Katie Morse) announced they were joining the Radian6 team. Interestingly, these congratulations were aimed not just at Teresa and Katie, but also at Amber Naslund, who hired them.

It’s really important to me to support my community and spread the love around whenever I can (I’m not always perfect at it, especially when I’m stressed, but it’s always a good feeling).  This is part of what we all mean when we say ‘be human’.  What we’re talking about is “Give.”  Give respect, give attention, give time, give congratulations, show gratitude. This is what creates a community as opposed to a random collection of twitter followers or a Facebook page that people join and never ever go to again.

When I was younger, I went to a summer camp called the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, which was out on Long Island (an hour-and-a-half commute).  On the bus ride there, I became fast friends with a group of 6 people around my age.  We would each have our own regular seats, have lunch together, and generally were a fun little clique who would support each other.

Earlier this year, one of those six people performed with Billie Joe Armstrong and Green Day to open the Grammies. She’s also been on the Tony’s, and co-starring in the Broadway hit American Idiot. I could not be more proud of my friend Rebecca Naomi Jones, and I was able to spread the love to my network of folks who might not be aware of the show or her.

You can follow her at @rebeccasername.

Who can you give love to today?

Be a person-sized learning atom within your own community.

[This post inspired by a post that Rich Millington wrote about Why Most Companies Shouldn’t Try To Create an Online Community]

Most organizations really want a big following, not a community.

A following is an audience that interacts with you. A community is an audience that interacts with each other.

One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about in my capacity as a digital strategist is the choices companies make with regard to how they position themselves within the communities they enable.  I think as an industry we may be doing a disservice to the overall success of these communities by not stressing the following point:

Even though you are the creators of the ecosystem, that does not mean you are the most essential part of the discussion.

In fact, taking a stance “above” or “apart” from the rest of the community will only detract from people’s willingness to engage. Nobody likes to feel like ‘big brother’ is there, or that they’re being talked down to.  This is another example of ‘us vs them’ thinking.


Sheridan classroom

Whether people choose to start conversations or not is a function of how you position yourself within the community.  If you are the ‘voice of God’ and ‘the one with all the cool stuff, tips and tricks, and information,’ of coursepeople aren’t going to chat. You’ve made it clear with your tone that you don’t need their help, you can handle it all yourself.  People respond to that by going elsewhere.


Instead, consider become a person-sized atom of your community.  Answer questions, yes.  But also respond to unrelated comments, ask people for advice, take your cues from what people are talking about.

Pretend you’re not the administrator, just be a fellow user who happens to have access to some of your companies resources.  The only special power bestowed upon you as an administrator is control over the technical parameters of the community.  Your voice in the conversation is exactly the same as anyone else.

You will be much more valued as a humble human presence that is there to learn and grow and be inspired by those who choose to spend their time with you than anything you could say as ‘the authoritative voice of your product with all the answers’.

Or you could continue to build a “following” of people who don’t really care all that much.

Up to you.

Why do we value strategy so much?

We have a strategic plan, it's called Doing ThingsMy job, technically, is developing social media strategy on behalf of our clients.  I write a lot of ‘this is why social media is important for your business’-type documents.  I work with some brilliant strategic thinkers.

Sometimes, though, I wonder: why are we, as digitally focused communicators all so obsessed with strategy? Why are we all so impressed with ourselves when we come up with a cool strategy for a campaign, for a candidate, for a cause.  Why do we have conferences, organizations, entire channels dedicated to strategic thought?

All I can come up with at this very moment is the following: Strategy is easy. Execution is not.

Talk is cheap, actions are not.

I had two very different experiences at conferences these last two weeks.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to go to the Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Global Initiative University” conference in Miami.  CGIU is an organization where college-age folks can make ‘commitments’ to amke a difference in the world in one of several different areas, and are empowered by the Clinton name, and get together once a year to network, build resources,  and present.  A coworker and I went around with a Flip Camera and interviewed students about what they’re doing.   The answers were truly inspiring.

These 20-22 year olds were working to get schools built in starving nations, developing bike-share programs to cut down on greenhouse gasses, to getting legislation passed to address homeless needs.  These millennials, who we are so quick to dismiss or try to box into our own limited ideals, are out there doing something that has a tangible positive affect on the health of the world. They aren’t spending their precious resources talking about engagement strategies, which video site to use to share the story, or ‘what facebook’s open platform means for oauth’. They’re just out there, looking at things that need fixing and fixing them.

In contrast (and I will keep the abuse to a minimum here), I went to the first day of Jeff Pulver‘s #140conf this past week. Now, Jeff has done a lot for the development of the web, and certainly has his heart in the right place with this conference, but the sheer amount of self-congratulatory “isn’t Twitter great, folks?” nonsense that permeated the tone of the panels and discussions was overwhelming enough that I could not bring myself to go back for day 2. Of course there were some great, inspiring conversations, but they were just that. Conversations.

The difference between these two experiences? One focused on strategy, and strategic discussions of tactics, and one was a demonstration of people doing the work.

In the end, all the ‘social media is important’ decks in the world won’t fix the problems in our society, even the ones we’re so intent on saying that communication and open dialogue will address.

So with all our hours of conversations about conversation, all our debates about where online communities are going, all our Tweets and Facebook status updates and blog posts, all our strategy and strategizing our action, what have we really done but talk.  What have you done to change the world? Who would you place your bets on making a real sustainable difference in the health of the world?

Personally, my money’s on the doers.

What “What ___ Can Teach us about blogging” can teach us about blogging.

I don’t have many rules when I sit down to decide what to write here on my little slice of the internets, but one I try to stick to is “Avoid reactive post structure.”.  You won’t see me writing about the Facebook/Nestle thing, Motrin Moms, or for two very good reasons:

  • The attention span of the internet is infinitesimal. Chances are, at least one of those three things mentioned will be completely forgotten about in a year. The lessons will have been learned, or not. The coverage will have been covered.
  • For me, talking about an event as the main focus of a blog is backwards. It puts the focus on the event, rather than the point of view, and makes the learning that much less “portable”.

Chances are, the lessons learned from Nestle and Facebook are much broader than “don’t respond to people on Facebook with corporate lingo”, but when the entire position is framed within the Nestle example, it becomes more of a challenge for people to apply it to their own situation, be it personal or professional, and therefore becomes less valuable to someone reading it a month, 6 months, 6 years from now.

Why not structure a post to make it about responding to people’s concerns about you with compassion and being useful in your response, using Nestle as a historical example, rather than “Boy, Nestle sure screwed up this time! Just look at what they did on Facebook!”

The lessons we are learning now while these new tech implementations of humanizing concepts are in their infancy deserve to be recorded.  The thinkers and people who are passionate about it should all have a voice.  But let’s document the times in a way that will resonate into the future, and not be left as a one-off relic of the times.

This is what makes content evergreen, rather than ‘news’.

What say you? Am I nitpicking?