Category Archives: Social media

The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel

Me? I like Facebook. My feed gives me pictures and updates of friends and family, and politics carefully filtered for only information I agree with. But then there’s this, published recently in the Harvard Business Review. A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel. Who can argue with data?

Does Facebook Affect the Rest of Our Lives?

That Facebook affects the rest of our lives, negatively, is not a new idea. But not everybody agrees with it.  Here’s how that article presents it

“Prior research has shown that the use of social media may detract from face-to-face relationships, reduce investment in meaningful activities, increase sedentary behavior by encouraging more screen time, lead to internet addiction, and erode self-esteem through unfavorable social comparison. Self-comparison can be a strong influence on human behavior, and because people tend to display the most positive aspects of their lives on social media, it is possible for an individual to believe that their own life compares negatively to what they see presented by others. But some skeptics have wondered if perhaps people with lower well-being are more likely to use social media, rather than social media causing lower well-being. Moreover, other studies have found that social media use has a positive impact on well-being through increased social support and reinforcement of  real world relationships.”

The emphasis there is mine. I often question research by looking at the skewed data it starts with, which is the idea in italics. I also like to think social media in general enriches my life. It helps me keep up with friends, and, in my case at least, has generated some new friends. Who have become, over time, actual real friends.

The Research Confirms the Worst

The research, however, is not so rosy. It concludes:

“Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.”

There too, emphasis is mine, and, in relating to what’s there in boldface, ouch! Now I’m worried that there’s something wrong with me. I’m do like others’ content, and I do click links, but – damn – my self-reported health and life satisfaction aren’t going down. That is, until now, reading this research. Suddenly I’m concerned.

Understand the New World

My Friday video this week in six years old now but still important. This is what is slowly and steadily replacing advertising. Here’s a quote:

There is good news around the corner — really good news. I call it the idea of tribes. What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50,000 years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever. Lots of people are used to having a spiritual tribe, or a church tribe, having a work tribe, having a community tribe. But now, thanks to the internet, thanks to the explosion of mass media, thanks to a lot of other things that are bubbling through our society around the world, tribes are everywhere.

Here’s the link to the TED site that hosts this talk: Seth Godin on the Tribes We Lead.

Coming Crisis of Social Metrics

I think we’ve gone too far on marketing and metrics. We used to do most of our marketing blind, essentially guessing whether or not it worked. Now we have analytics to measure almost everything. Where we’ve gone to far now is we’re tempted to discount, entirely, what we can’t measure. And that’s just wrong. We are headed for a crisis of social metrics.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”– Albert Einstein

It used to be mostly pay and pray

Crisis in Social MetricsTo those of us old enough to have done marketing in the last century, to know click rates, conversions, email opens, visits, hits, downloads and all of that is heaven. We used to guess at the message, guess at the medium, guess the delivery, then pay and pray.

Don’t think “and where did you hear about us” ever worked well. Most of the time, the phone operator forgot to ask, or chose not to ask to focus on getting the order, not the info. And when they did ask, two thirds of the time the answer was useless. They’d cite some magazine we’d never advertised in.

We lived with it because we had to. Big companies had research, focus groups, surveys, better answer to our collective hunger for knowing. But really, it was all just guessing. I routinely made marketing decisions based on what maybe a fourth of our customers told us about the source of their interest.

Show me the money became show me the analytics.

I’ve read some of the best minds in marketing confuse “measurable” with “valuable.” Now that we have analytics, we want analytics. What can’t be measured isn’t worth doing. What’s the value of a like in Facebook or a follower in Twitter? Where are the metrics?

To some extent this makes perfect sense. Clicks are attention. Clicks become visits, and visits become conversions, and conversions become money. Why guess. You can know. You can get amazing detail on what works and what doesn’t work on a website, a landing page, a checkout page, and emails of course. A/B testing means immediate feedback and fine tuning results. As the Huffington Post rode its meteoric rise to fame, they did real-time testing on headlines and changed them, improved their traffic impact, in minutes.

Compared to what we used to do, this is heaven. Count me in. Except …

But aren’t there values we can’t measure?

Consider this case. Put yourself in this place. So you’re running a business. You get featured, favorably, in a segment in the local television news. Tens of thousands of people see you as a local expert in your field. Is that valuable to you? Will it show up in your website metrics? Of course it probably will, right? You’ll see a bump in traffic.

But think of this problem: Let’s say that win the other night was the result of years of local speaking dates, lunches with journalists, meetings, conferences, and, well, call it just showing up. That ended with the TV reporter calling you. Right? So where were the metrics? You have the bump now, months, years, later. But were you able to track the analytics of every article, blog post, conference presentation? Were there analytics? Did you have metrics? No. But you still did the work. And it was still worth it.

Voila. There is still marketing that isn’t immediately measurable. Not everything is clicks.

Crisis of social metrics

Now we have social media. It’s amplified word of mouth. It’s like a giant conversation. People who focus on analytics – clicks, leads, visits, hits, downloads, conversions – are going to question the return on relationship, the analytics of long-term relationship, offering useful content, contributing, standing up for values, representing something. So they are tempted to focus their social media representation on what is essentially self-centered selling. Offers, promotions, product announcements, and all the equivalents of shouting slogans, don’t generate relationships. They don’t generate empathy, trust, or – the ultimate definition of marketing – getting people to know, like, and trust you and your business.

And a fascinating trade-off. Social media done right generates long-term relationship, know-like-and-trust. I’m convinced it’s critical to business now and is going to be steadily more so in the future. But what works takes time, and doesn’t generate instant analytics. It pays off over the long term. So is that not also valuable?

Business Lessons Learned in the Quarterback’s Endorsement

business lessons learned in quarterback's endorsementIn the stadium, on the field, confetti everywhere, the Super Bowl is over, the winners celebrate. Team, journalists, and celebrities surround the star quarterback, 39 years old, whose team has won. This is the perfect end to a stellar career in pro sports. He has millions of eyes on him as he says: “I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight.”

Welcome to 2016. The like and follow and  threatens old-style advertising. Big brands have big budgets, but we buy what our online friends tell us too. And the quarterback, so the big brand hopes, is our friend. And the Peyton Manning’s beer call sparked a storm of social media. And maybe business lessons learned. Search the web or any social media platform for #manning #budweiser and you’ll see.

Beer and Disney World

It’s not that different from 29 years ago when that Super Bowl’s winning quarterback said “I’m going to Disney World” in exactly the same situation. Phil Simms, that quarterback, said Disney paid him $50,000 to say it. Of course there was no storm of social media back then. And, according to Wikipedia, other sport stars who did the same as Simms at championship moments included Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and along list of others. The Disney World remarks continued through last year’s Super Bowl, when New England Patriot stars Malcolm Butler and Julian Edelman both did it. The U.S. women’s soccer team did it in 1999. Ellen DeGeneres’ television character did it in the 1997 TV episode when she came out as lesbian.

So what? Sure, there’s the obvious problem with plugging beer in that situation. Last I looked, drinking “a lot of” beer rarely correlates with success on any playing field.

It’s also a marker of change. Big brands struggle as ads become less effective because of blocking, fast forwarding, or just plain ignoring them. And opinions published in social media swirl and engulf celebrity and business personas these days.

Business Lessons Learned

My conclusion, for startups and small business: It’s a reminder. You can’t ask for the close so quickly anymore. Nobody gets fooled. Peyton Manning may or may not have made some big bucks with that comment (there are lots of competing facts about how much), but his brand suffered. You and I don’t have the opportunity and spotlight he had last night, but we do have our equivalents, here and there. Don’t blow it with anything that obvious. People see through it.  They might ding you in amplified word of mouth. Or, maybe worse, they will probably just ignore you.

Marketing Today: Sparing, Sharing, Caring

Niche_marketing_iStock_000011003850XSmall_igonconceptThe principals of marketing don’t change. It’s still getting people to know, like, and trust you. But what works for marketing today has changed a lot, and continues to change, as technology levels the playing field and companies and people intermingle on even terms. Here’s what I see working:


Winners are sparing their target markets the tedium of old-fashioned slogan-based value proposition shouting, like a hack with a megaphone. We’ve been immunized. We fast forward, mute, unfollow, or – the worst case for marketers – ignore. Nobody clicks online ads, and millennials don’t even see them. We have to spare people the self-serving one-way shouting.


The technological change makes us all channels, all publishers, individuals, small business, and big brands alike. We’re competing for attention. We won’t get any attention if we’re just boring. We have to legitimately share something useful, funny, or interesting. Otherwise we get ignored. Everybody has lots of choices. The informercial is boring and obvious. We have to offer something real.


It’s a great big conversation and people sense self interest and turn it off. The winners in a competition for attention are the ones that actually care about the people they serve. Participate. Engage. Have presence. Or you are irrelevant.

Acronyms: Does BS Stand for Business Strategy?

What do you think of when you see the acronym “BS?” Do you think of business strategy? Maybe you should.

I have nothing against real business strategy. I’ve posted on strategy often here. My favorites include 3 stories your business strategy depends on and defining small business strategy. My sense of it, boiling down three decades of small business — plus a fancy MBA degree — is that good strategy always looks, after the fact, like it was always obvious.

Strategy is focus, business strategy, small business strategy

Real business strategy is mostly just focus. It’s about what you don’t do, sort of like how a marble sculpture is formed what’s removed from the original block. Focus on what you and your business do best, what you do better and different, and then focus on a specific set of potential customers and focus again on building exactly what they want or need.

For example, a consultant who responds to an inquiry with “no, that’s not what I do” is executing strategy. A restaurant that doesn’t offer take-out or drive-through service is executing strategy. A gym catering especially to women is executing strategy.

But I do object to strategy as business buzzword, off-putting, arrogant pomp and positioning, a series of meetings, excuses not to get things done, or it’s obvious. Strategy frameworks are cool sometimes, and can make for good meetings; but real business doesn’t have a lot of time to sit around cooking up strategy.

Many years ago, when I was a vice president of a consulting firm named Creative Strategies, I realized that consulting on strategy is as hard to sell as consulting on sex or driving, because those are things most adults are sure they’re innately good at. And if you see strategy as logical focus, maybe that’s true.

One of the perks of having the MBA degree is license to be cynical about business jargon that .     So if I say that strategy is mostly either obvious — which is good — or useless; you can’t just dismiss that as ignorance. Well, okay, you can; but I hope you don’t.

I really enjoyed working for Creative Strategies, the consulting firm, and I still think strategy exists in a series of paradoxes. It can be wildly creative, seeing ahead of time what will seem obvious to all after it’s been executed. But success is one part strategy for every 99 parts execution; and that one part will seem like it was always obvious as soon as it’s been executed.


Strategist? No, Please; not Me

I don’t want to be a strategist. Yeah, like you, I like to be a thinker. I like analysis. And strategy sounds cool. But the term strategist is too much pomp, arrogance, a relative of using utilize instead of use, or at that point of time instead of then

Social Media Strategy, business social media

What reminded me was The Difference Between a Social Media Strategist and a Person Who is Just Good on Social, over on on Business 2 Community blog. I like the post and it’s core content, but I hate the way they label strategist as good and just good on social media as bad. They’ve got their labels reversed.  They say: 

A social media person will get your ball rolling, a strategist figures out how that ball plays into every aspect of your business and gives you tools and training to deliver. They lay the groundwork to be ready to respond, and deliver. A social strategist doesn’t just focus on marketing, they focus on the big picture and help you put actionable items into place to support your long term goals.

I disagree. They’re using the words wrong. Here’s what I tweeted after I read that post. 


What’s up with that? What’s my problem? I don’t like the way people push up the vocabulary that makes  business seem more remote, higher up the ivory tower. 

One of the nicest perks of having a fancy MBA degree is being able to call out the business speak for what it is. And my advice is beware of people calling themselves strategists. Look for people promising to get things  done, not to analyze and define. 

And I suppose I have to explain that the phrase “just good on social media” might be the underlying problem. What does that mean to you? To me “good on social media” in business context means understanding that business social media needs business purpose, target market, and curation that serves the business purpose by offering what the target market wants. To me, “getting the ball rolling” doesn’t mean social media clutter. It means building a business presence. It’s extending the strategy that should be obvious. 

More Proof Why You Can’t Ignore Your Online Self

For most of us, doing business requires social proof. It’s  fact of life. And it’s something you have to do over time. The only way to get there is by doing it over a period of time. So it’s a tough challenge for people who haven’t started. 

Social media, social proof, social media today

What’s social proof? Daniel Lay describes it in Social Proof Is the New Currency on the Social Media Today blog:

Whether you like Mark Zuckerberg’s mug or not, the social web is here to stay, and businesses that can integrate social proof into their marketing efforts seamlessly will join this new “socially rich” class. We mean richness in fans and followers, not number of zeroes in your bank account. Social proof is the new currency of credibility.

And that’s not just businesses. That’s also you and me. You aren’t credible for marketing purposes of any kind without a web footprint. That’s what turns up when somebody searches your name on the web. It’s a combination of websites, articles, and your profile on at least one or more of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+. Employers will look. Prospective clients and partners will look.  A normal response to an interesting business-related email from a stranger is to look for the footprint. 

Of course there are exceptions, like some very local businesses, some highly skilled professionals, lots of middle managers, finance professionals, and so forth. Still, the general rule applies. 

And then there’s the time problem. Your social proof, or lack of it, is related to how long you’ve been there. Even a few months is way better than just having started yesterday. 

Conclusion: an old African proverb says the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. That same logic applies: the best time to start your online presence is 10 years ago. The second best is today.