Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Getting Mature or Getting a Date. You decide.

I have an open spot on my social media team at work. So I have spent some time hunting through Linkedin profiles, resumes and internal posting boards. I've learned enough to know that I need to continue learning. So is the plight of the social media practitioner.

Simplehired.com has 41,943 jobs listed in social media. Mediabistro.com has 1,226 listings. Careerbuilder has 6,232 calls for social media candidates. And on and on.

Digiday ran an interesting article that outlined how the social media manager has grown up, citing that the days of tweeting to tweet are over. The author called it a maturity model, but I rather think it's a learning curve that never will end. And that's okay. The social media manager is one that does not look to grow predictable. Exactly the opposite. Most social people I know would certainly perish in a world not busting at the seams with every turn. It's the adventure-seeker who seeks social and their love affair with pursuing new ground is what makes us restless and hungry. But the need for restraint and the pressure to produce ROI data may be what the article refers to as having to be mature. It's not fun always being mature, but it's not mature to always be fun.

Take Facebook for instance. I wonder if the general population ever stops to think about the high level of advertising activity that takes place in the background in order for the content of the page to populate? If everyone knew how the ad platform worked, would that change their behavior and lead to more mature daily posts? I think not.

Facebook was born out of the idea to have fun, make connections...get a date.

If one out of four people friend-request before the first date, according to a recent digital dating survey, that says a lot about the integrity of Facebook friends connections and the very idea of community.
It either means that as a people, we are pretty desperate for authentic connections or that we are pathetically trusting for no particular reason...in both Facebook and the dating scene.

Either way, I don't want to pick on Facebook
alone. Let's look honestly at Twitter. People collect followers like Pez, only sometimes in a much less tasty manner. Sure, you can do it the old-fashioned way by paying for Promoted Accounts, Trends or other ad platforms, or you build out content and connections using your wit and intellect. Or you can go the quickest route and visit Tweetmogul and buy them with a swipe of the credit card. In the search for transparency and integrity, the social media journey is always a colorful ride. Just like dating. Just like life.

It's a topic talked about over and over since social becomes more omnipotent; offline vs online dating. CNN published an article back in February that said, "Online dating is like a buffet," Marni Battista, founder and CEO ofDating with Dignity, said. "People are ruling out more than they're ruling in. After a date, they go home, get online and look for someone else. We're in this digital instant gratification age, and there is no patience for the dating process." The article also gave some practical advice to finding your next date that I find interesting when applied to finding your next social media job. 

1. Be self-confident and genuine 

2. Orient yourself
3. Take your time

That's #sageadvice no matter what learning curve you are trying to accomplish. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why asking why can shift perception into reality

Perception is deeply routed in experience. Plus, it's a byproduct of observation. What that really means is that what we do and what we see shape how we judge the world around us.

A few tricky things about perception, though; it's not the whole picture and unless you poke around for more details or other views, you may never discover how much you are missing. 

Take a look at the 50 Euro on the red car image above. What do you think it? Do you wonder how they shrunk that car? Norwegian design studio Skrekk√łgle is responsible for the coin on a car image.

(Spolier alert; if you don't click through to the site, you won't learn that the design studio actually made a giant nickel and placed it on an actual life size automobile -- and a few other things -- to showcase the power of perception in a rather clever way. Scroll below to see more.)

The point is; the power of perception is real. Real powerful, too. The good news is that the only thing that can undo a bad experience (or perceived bad experience) is a good one. 

Or, as Wharton "Iron Prof" Jonah Berger recently told Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel in an article on making virality part of your marketing strategy, "Stories from angry customers are more likely to spread than stories from disappointed customers, but the only way to stop the spread is to fix the problem."   

So part of virality is making sure the right content is what people are talking about, instead of ignoring the nay-sayers. Tackling the negative perceptions is part of the strategy for amplifying the positive stories. That's sage advice, Mr. Berger. Changing someone's perception via experience and storytelling is not as easy as it sounds though. It takes a fully integrated offense to manage customer expectations, drive positive story affiliations and romance & incenticize behaviors that will hopefully result in positive perceptions for a brand. And make no mistake; there is no cookie cutter recipe for success. It's more personal than that. And it's more personal than Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, too. Berger explains more in his new book, Contagious; Why Things Catch On, where he reported that while word of mouth is 10 times more powerful than traditional advertising, only 7% of word of mouth is online. 

If we know that changing reality is based in changing perception and we know that perception is based on reality, what's a brand to do? Focus on why, suggests Berger. "Focus on psychology, not technology. Think about WHY people talk and share." 

Another aha moment, indeed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Brand on Brand

Taking corporate speak for a joy ride, I've seen more and more brands engaging in public-facing conversations with other brands via Twitter. 

Normally a no-no to give up any time or attention to the competition or really, any other brand at all -- unless we are talking about competitive analysis or coveting thy neighbor guerrilla marketing tactics -- but Twitter is changing that. 

And the best brand on brand conversations are the kind that we want to see. It's the jostling back and forth between friends. It's the teasing and the one-liners. It's putting yourself out there to show people that it's okay to be human. It's the authentic joking around and flirting that makes sitcoms so popular and let's face it, real life neighbors and friends more enjoyable. 

It really boils down to a brand being comfortable in their own skin. A brand that has an identity but also has a personality is what it takes to win in this social media evolution. It's not about being the smartest or offering the most coupons or heck, even collecting the most fans...it's about making authentic connections and being real. 

Behind every brand is a strategy. Behind every strategy is a team of people. Those people make the collective voice -- and sometimes it's maybe only one person -- but that voice is not just a regurgitation of marketing offers, circular ads and deals of the day. It's a person who is speaking directly with (not at) your customers. It's a person that goes home to a family or a cat or a plate of take-out or a book every night and likely flips on their favorite sitcom. The point is...it's a person. 

So to see brands communicating with other brands is cool. It makes it okay for brands to have personalities and that's very approachable and real. And it's what leads to good content. Because it really is all about the conversations and stories we tell that shapes us into who we need to be now -- and in the future, especially when technology evolves farther than we can even imagine. Those stories will always be the glue that holds us together. Those stories - and the need for those stories - will always serve as reminder for how technology must always place people in the center of it's development. Because we are all people, after all. 

Here are a few of examples of brand on branding. What else have you seen that made you smile? 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

No More Privacy Than a Goldfish

Do you remember that scene from Pollyanna; the one where Pollyanna yells at Jimmy, "Don't be a scare-baby. Come on in!" 

And then Jimmy (who happens to be an orphan) and Pollyanna (who happens to be very wealthy) go into the old man's house on Pendleton Hill. First to creep on the creepy old man, but then after they meet the man behind the tall tale and decide he is not so bad, they return later to check out his astonishing array of clear yet colorful prisms. Crystal prisms that send sparkle and shine to every nook and cranny that will accept it. The prisms cascade colors of the rainbow across the room, throwing light and wonder against the wall and thus opening up just enough opportunity to let a little humanity shine in the dark place the old man hides in. If you are familiar with the classic family movie, you know that later in the film, the old curmudgeon crumbles and eventually ends up adopting Jimmy. 

All thanks to a little light and a prism.

Back in 2008, social media author and speaker Brian Solis started talking about something called a Conversation Prism; a research-driven infographic that looks at the social web and its different divisions. Now, it has been updated with the addition of categories to account for the new services being developed today, including enterprise social networks, social marketplaces, influence, quantified self and service networking. (source: The Next Web.) The most interesting thing about the conversation prism and the ideas that Brian puts forth is that there is evidence that a fundamental shift is moving away from social networks (I call them traditional social networks like Facebook & Twitter but it also includes things like enterprise email, share drives, etc.) to a direction that seems to be moving toward more concentrated communities and smaller networks. This shift is seen in not what social companies are succeeding, because too many emerge and dissolve every day. Instead, the prism is interesting because it clocks how people are assembling, supporting and using these offerings. With "YOU" in the middle, this illustration shows us that we are constantly able to listen, learn and adapt to the world around us better because of the array of services and functions that make up the conversation prism. It's a lot like what the old man in Pollyanna said when the two kids came back for a second look. "No more privacy than a goldfish!" he screamed as Pollyanna pushed her way into his world, into his house, into his heart. 

If the shift is correct in indicating we are making our way back to the very basic of conversation (one on one, face to face, small intimate groups of close-knit people who really like each other's company and have shared goals) as the most powerful way to communicate, that's cool. It'll be like going back to the good old days of meeting face to face...creeping on neighbors...sharing an afternoon of color and wonder. I can't wait.