Tag Archives: Social media

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.

Social Media is Littered with Business Carcasses

It occurs to me that the social media landscape is littered with the carcasses of failed business efforts.

There are blogs that started, had some posts, then stopped. Twitter accounts that tweeted for a while and then stopped. Facebook accounts that never get updated. The accounts stay there, visible, abandoned, but dead. Like carcasses.skeleton

And I apologize for the picture here, which is an ugly image — but that’s what carcasses look like.

What’s my point: social media is a powerful new opportunity for business to engage with customers, improve service, offer content, etc. People think it’s free because the accounts for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus are free. But it requires time and effort because it’s publishing, and it’s content. And the time and effort has to be spent consistently over a long time before it pays off.

By the way: If you were listening two days ago to this radio program with Howard Lewinter, this blog post came up in that conversation. This is what I was talking about then. This link goes to the archive that has the entire conversation available online.

(Image: bigstockphoto.com)

Age vs. Experience Not Always Obvious

It must be awfully hard to be a Gen Y person and have to deal with all the discussion about Gen Y and Gen Y stereotypes. At least with my generation, the baby boomers, we were all just one big vague hippy-long-hair-freedom stereotype and we didn’t mind it. But with Gen Y, all this stuff about entitlement and selfishness, jeez, what a drag.


One random though here about age vs. experience, that I think works into the Gen Y stereotype and what’s often wrong with it: social media. Specifically, Facebook.

Here’s what I suggest: go back in time to Fall of 2005. Imagine the typical 18-year-old college freshman of that year. She was by definition one of the first fluent users of Facebook. It seemed like second nature to her.

Flash forward to 2012. Seven years later. She’s 25 now, classic Gen Y, and might seem impatient with managers who don’t understand Facebook and Twitter. She’s been working with Facebook from the very beginning, and adapted Twitter in 2007. She’s taken social media as instinct, commonplace, something obvious.

But the world around her thinks she’s demanding too much too soon.

Does that make sense?

What? We Don’t Want Sex? Love? Health? Just Food and Cars?

This morning I opened Mashable’s What Men and Women Really Want, According to Social Media, a fun info graphic. You can see the conclusions here, in my illustration. Mine is a tiny clip of their much larger infographic, which has a lot more information. infographic

This is a lot of fun. My conclusion, however, is that it’s only a lot of fun. Not great information.

The conclusion:

  1. The top three wants for both sexes are the same, just in different order.
  2. The top 10 lists for the sexes overlap by 70%.
  3. 80% of the items on both lists are food.

What? No sex? No health? No love? No longevity? No owning your own business?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not posting what I really want onto Twitter. I really don’t have that much need for sharing. Ice cream, maybe; a car, maybe; coffee, cookies, and all that, maybe. As long as it’s pretty much trivial, or it dresses me up in my business persona.

I really like the idea of mining large amounts of data to get past what people say about themselves and into what people actually do. Sales information and actual purchases, for example, tell me thousands of times more than what people say they want or plan to purchase.

But in this case, we’re talking about social media. And that’s publishing.

Question: are you putting real personal information into your social media feeds?

Was it Social Media That Defeated that Bad SOPA/PIPA Bill?

I was delighted to read Vivek Wadhwa’s take on Social media’s role in politics on the Washington Post:


To frame this battle properly, a loosely organized group of Internet leaders outwitted a well-funded lobbying organization. And they did so in grand style, convincing dozens of lawmakers to reverse their votes virtually overnight.

he goes on to liken this phenomenon to the voice of the people in Egypt and then the rest of the Middle East last Spring. But also something else altogether, this:

A sleeping giant — the technology world — finally rose. Google, Mozilla, Reddit, O’Reilly Radar, Wikipedia, and thousands of other Websites rose up to protest PIPA and SOPA.

I like the idea that the defeat of SOPA/PIPA are, like the political changes in the Middle East, due to changes in possibilities and the way people work together. I’d like to think that in this case technology is in a broad scope it’s like what happened a generation or so ago when Mahatma Gandhi, and a few years later Dr. Martin Luther King, changed the relationship between individuals and governments by establishing the power of the public non-violent protest. Isn’t that similar? Disenfranchised, silenced people discover a voice.

Was it social media that defeated SOPA/PIPA, or people suddenly getting annoyed and complaining?

Mine isn’t the greatest analogy, either: It works way better with the Arab Spring than with SOPA/PIPA, because in the first case it did seem like a collection of voiceless individuals; but in the second, that so-called sleeping giant was hardly voiceless. Just distracted, perhaps. Looking in the other direction, and then suddenly confronted with a threat.

Either way: hooray!

What Would You Do About This Facebook Post?

Hats off to Inc Magazine for this great treatment of a problem a lot of business owners face. In this case it’s a man named Mark, who discovers:screen shot

Recently an employee put a photo of the cover of the book Your Company Sucks on their own Facebook wall, titling the entry “Succinct.”

To his great credit, author Jeff Haden offers no easy solutions.

First he points out that Mark doesn’t know whether the employee even thought that the post might be taken as a complaint against his company. Maybe that person liked the book, and the title.

Then he quotes HR expert Suzanne Lucas saying …

ignore it completely. The chances of anyone caring one bit about this are extremely small. The chances of this blowing up in an employer’s face by taking action are much greater.

And I like his recommendation too, Jeff the author:

I would ask the employee to delete the post. No matter what the intent, others could take it the wrong way. A good employees who meant no harm will immediately say, “Oh, wow, I didn’t think of that. I’ll take it down.” If the employee really is unhappy with the company, that gives us the chance to discuss what’s wrong and hopefully make a bad situation better.

That doesn’t sound bad either. Actually, I like Jeff’s suggestion better; but that’s just me. Who knows?

I think it’s an interesting problem. Social media is publishing, and publishing is freedom, and employment doesn’t — or isn’t supposed to — limit freedom. And even before social media, did I as an employers get to monitor what people wrote in, say, letters to the editor published in the local newspaper? No. On the other hand, did I have to continue paying somebody who publicly and openly insults me or my company? Probably not, but that gets into some interesting legal issues, and I’m not a lawyer.

What do you think?

Does it Take a Social Media Code of Ethics or is it Plain Obvious?

This is the complete unedited text of an email I received last week. It’s just the latest one. I get a lot of them.

Hi Tim,

I was wondering if you took paid guest posts on your site?  Not a traditional “guest post” but one you’d be compensated for and have complete editorial control over.

I’m part of a business that does high-end brand placements worked into guest posts on a variety of subjects. The posts don’t advocate or review our clients, they are informational and/or newsy.  We include a reference link to our clients amongst other topical links inside the content. We’d provide the article, written by a domain expert, and money for you to review and post it upon your approval.

(If you don’t take guest posts, we also have arrangements where we discuss your upcoming post and find one in which a link makes sense and pay you to include it.)

Is that something that you would be interested in?

I always say no. Do you?

Back in the dinosaur days (1970-71), when I studied Journalism in grad school, they taught ethics in journalism. There was a code of conduct. And It’s still around, if you’re interested. Here’s a quote from the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics:

Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

I say all non-advertising writing, not just all journalism, should follow that code of ethics. Not just blogs, but all of social media too. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+: if you get paid to endorse something, say so, or you’re sleazy. Social media is also publishing. And this is just simple right and wrong.

Besides which, if sell yourself like that, then you have no credibility.

What do you think?

New Game: Social Media Snooping vs. Social Media Cleansing

The other shoe dropping: Business Insider posted This Company Will Expose All Your Most Embarrassing Online Moments a few days ago. It’s about a service company that helps employers by doing a social-media online background check on a potential employee.

It was more than two years ago that I first saw a business plan for a social media cleaning service, meaning a company that would clean up all those dumb and embarrassing things college kids posted on Facebook, when they wake up to the job market and the implications. (Aside: that one was done by Kai Davis, who is now doing marketing for Palo Alto Software).

My favorite comment in this context:

What part of the word publishing don’t you understand?

I’m traveling as I write this, waiting for my car to get new brakes while on a driving trip to California. While I was driving this morning I heard a major radio station commercial for a social media cleaning service. Sorry, I forget its name, I’d like to mention it.

So the contest is on: the social media scraping service, telling your next employer every dumb comment and picture you posted online; vs. the social media cleaning service, helping you get all of that off of the web.

Shall we take bets? Who wins?

(Image: heal the bay/Flickr CC)

Compare Your Marketing Mix to This Bar Chart

The eloquent bar chart here speaks long and loud about changing the marketing mix. It shows where marketers report their business lead come from. Look at it and tell me what it says about the businesses that aren’t at all online:

I picked this chart out of literally dozens of great charts related to marketing, media, advertising and such offered for free in Hubspot’s Marketing Data Box. I realize I frequently criticize survey results and the conclusions people draw, but I love a whole lot of data condensed into a good-looking chart (like this one) so much that I don’t even want to drill down into the methodologies and poke holes in the conclusions.

What I draw from this chart goes back to the absolute fundamentals with the concept of the marketing mix, with emphasis on the word mix. I don’t think every business should run from everything on the right of this chart over to everything on the left. I think it’s a mix because you’re sending messages to different people using different media, hoping to optimize results from a given unit of resources. I do think you have to take a fresh look at regular intervals, so you change your business plan to keep pace with changes in the business landscape.

True Story: Twitter, Business, An Introvert Looking Out

The other day I read Can Twitter Rescue Introverted Students? in the Education section of http://www.good.is. It reminded me of what Twitter has done for me in business. This is a true story.

I believe in the essential truth the Jungian personality types and I’ve tested myself several times. I always test close to the border between introvert and extrovert, but I keep switching. It seems like if I test myself during a time that I’m doing a lot of workshops and speaking, I come out slightly extrovert. If I test myself during a time that I’m doing mostly writing, alone, I come out introvert.

This wavering explains how I can be a loser at a cocktail party and a ham when I’ve got a microphone and an audience. It explains how I can be clumsy at networking when it means asking favors of people I’ve failed to keep up with, but not so bad when networking is about doing favors and keeping up with friends. And it explains how I could start and grow my own business business, but like the writing and programming part of it way more than the meetings and management part of it.

And then I discovered Twitter. If it really were a giant cocktail party with strangers, I’d hate it. But no; from the outside in, it’s a giant window to a world of people offering information, advice, opinions, and good links. And from the inside out, it’s a microphone for information, advice, opinions and good links. And I love it. In the illustration, you see a random shot of my Tweetdeck view of Twitter, which sits on one of my two monitors, always, when I’m in my office.

Now I meet people not as strangers but as fellow authors and publishers, because Twitter is publishing, not talking. And I get to know them easily through what they offer in 140-character pieces to the rest of the world. And the special reward is now I often get to meet them in person, or on the phone first and then in person, but it’s no longer like a cocktail party meeting strangers; it’s meeting a friend who is already a friend.

It’s fascinating. It’s fun. And it’s great for business, at least for my business, which is a lot about business planning, small business management, and entrepreneurship. My Twitter self has been recommended by the New York Times, Business Week, Business Insider, and others. And if you’re reading this (thanks for that, by the way) then the odds are the networking effects of social media helped you find it.

Fun, interesting, and good for business? That’s a good combination.