Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

AKA The “I don’t care about the World Cup” Edition 🙂

Stay Tuned For My In Depth Coverage/Review of Everything I Learned at the Ad Age Creativity & Technology (CaT) Conference, by far one of the best and most valuable and interesting events I’ve ever had the privilege to attend. I rank it up there with TED and SXSW. Oh, and I’ll be looking over this new Klout “Facebird” thing and will have my thoughts for you next week. Klout is definitely going to be huge. HUGE!

Klout to Launch Facebird for Facebook

Heineken Lets Beer Drinkers Customize Their Bottles

Stickybits Rolls Out “Official” Branded Bits, Signs Up Pepsi As First Advertiser

Twitter Acquires Smallthought Systems to Integrate Analytics Tools

Reaching Teen Influencers with Social Messages

Are Typosquatters Hijacking Your Brand?

More Adults than Teens Consume Mobile Video

Mind Over Mass Media

Hispanic Moms’ Online Shopping Habits

Mobile Apps to Hit $32 Billion in Five Years

Google Launches Video Ad for TV Effort

Google Mobile Trivia Feature Activited: But, Keep Your Questions Short if You Use Speech-to-Text

Experts Predict We’ll Be Working in the Cloud by 2020 [STUDY]

City of New York Blankets Times Square with Giant QR Codes

Fashion Mag Turns to Facebook to Find New Stylists

Why Japan Matters: iPad Mania, Cloud Computing, And Social Intelligence

Online Video Viewing Shifts to Long Form Content

How Consumers Interact with Brands on Social Media

Trada brings crowdsourcing to online advertising.

Awareness of Location Based Social Networks Currently 7% Of Americans 12+

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…I said, shooting myself in the foot. Though, not technically accurate, the phrase “Social Media” as we use it today, is, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. How did I reach this conclusion? Well, for starters, all media is by definition social, according to the oxford English dictionary anyway, which defines a medium as “a means by which something is expressed, communicated, or achieved.” So, unless one is communicating only to him or herself, all media is then intrinsically social.

And then we have to acknowledge the fact that all social interaction takes place via a medium of some sort. That is, unless you can provide me with an example to the contrary. Thus, “Social Media” becomes a term that doesn’t actually refer to anything but some sort of self-defining, circular, concept we’ve all agreed it refers to, possibly out of a collective laziness or lack of effort to actually identify and define the novelty we aim to discuss. The phrase insinuated itself into industry jargon because it was convenient and has since found its way into pop culture zeitgeist nomenclature, despite not actually meaning anything.

The thing is – social media isn’t new. When prehistoric man painted pictures of spears and buffalo on cave walls – guess what, that was social media. When town criers would shout news from atop pedestals in the marketplaces of ancient Rome that too could easily be referred to as social media.

We use the term to differentiate the dissemination of content on blogs and networking platforms from traditional outlets where information was conveyed in a more unidirectional manner. But even newspapers, TV, and radio are all social media.

What’s real and new (and what we’re all fascinated with) isn’t the vehicle itself, but how the medium allows us to alter that content as it’s shared. Every time a single datum changes hands, every time I pass on a link, or an article, or anything else, I’m imparting my own personal flavor & commentary.

To be fair, this isn’t really novel either. When a journalist tells us a story, he/she inevitably contributes a style and/or an implicit opinion (no matter how hard they may try not to). Traditional reporting is still social, regardless of how outdated it may seem to be – one party is relaying substance to another party – newscasters, radio hosts, reporters – they aren’t talking to themselves. Whether you like it or not, all media – from blogging to storytelling to skywriting – is qualitatively social.

What we are actually enamored with when we reference ‘social media’ is the quantitative aspect – the degree of socialness – not the social nature itself, as well as the subsequent reach and additional impact made possible by, and predicated upon, the repeated context-specific deconstruction and reconstruction of a given message.

Due to the fact that these platforms & emerging tools, those we’ve dubbed “social media,” or that which falls under the auspices of the “social web,” allow content to be propagated from one person to the next and between people at such an extreme rate, that the subject matter becomes malleable – living, breathing, evolving – taking on new meanings and relevancies as a result of the emotions and experiences of the person transmitting it and the context in which it’s being transmitted. Traditional media, while still retaining social properties, limits the amount of plasticity, as the route from source to reader is such a short and direct one.

So I hereby propose we stop using the term social media (though, we can still discuss social networks, platforms, or vehicles), and start referring to living, breathing, evolving dynamic media, because that’s what it is.

When we talk about the virality or memetic qualities of a video – whether organic or a component of a PR or marketing campaign – the ripple effect that we aim to recreate isn’t one of simple social transmission. I don’t want someone to just see a video and send it to a friend who sends it to a friend, et al.  Superficially, that sequence of events may appear to be an effective means of increasing reach, but every time I retweet an article or show a friend a funny video, or post a product review or campaign analysis on my blog, I’m not just restating existing content – I am reconstructing it, which is so much more impactful than simple reiteration. Furthering its spread, yes, but irrevocably altering it in the process, and thus making it my own. And when I, or more importantly, when consumers can claim partial ownership of content – such materials become more influential over behaviors, both social and commercial

We – marketers, publicists, ad execs, media producers, digital strategists, think – how can we add value to conversations, how can we create content that people want to share – good questions, but not the most potent one, as those focus on the social nature, not the living, dynamic nature. The key is to provide users, consumers, with inherently moldable content, subject matter that can exist on its own – that has innate appeal – yet is receptive to reshaping and reinterpretation, along with the tools to do so, so that consumers can take branded content and create something personally meaningful from it.

This brings us back to the Tabula Rasa approach. Provide a branded but blank canvas for consumers to express their pent up creativity – only not. At this point, that tactic, though tried and true, is worn and destined for obsolesce, lest it be revived vis-à-vis dynamic media. Some might suggest that the masses have desensitized to the blank slate. I would argue that the “waiting canvas” concept affords the public too much freedom and choice, making it less appealing, in the same way that children think they want freedom, but unknowingly crave discipline and direction.

While persons are driven and intelligent, people are lazy and stupid, (Hat Tip – Men In Black) and that entails a very precise paradigm for the successful employment of dynamic media for branded or commercial ends. Namely, people don’t want to create content from scratch. We live in the heart of remix culture. Intrinsically valuable materials need to be provided to consumers, accompanied by both the means to impart a personal, individualized meaning – the added value, be it emotional, contextual, cultural, or otherwise – and the tools to easily share their product. But keep in mind, while they may cherish their creation, consumers are producers too, and when they propagate such a construct, one parented by the individual in tandem with the brand, the consumer is aware of, and expecting, the next person in the chain to impart his or her own contextual significance onto the borne product.

Yes, this is SOCIAL but so what? The opportunity for brands, and with it our focus, lies within exploiting the dynamic quality of such content. The mere fact that this content evolution it might happen through social transmission is interesting and yes, does lend the social realm reason for analysis and investigation, but it is only a means to an asymptotic end.

One corollary of all this would be the discussion of what is classically associated with Word-of-Mouth marketing and the attempt to generate (the over-and often-misused metaphor) viral content (memes) and the accompanying image of a wave as ripples through still waters. But that analogy is only representative of the dissemination of static content, not living, breathing, evolving entities.

Whether we look at viruses, as they infect cells and replicate, using their host’s own mechanisms as it’s means of proliferation, or the outermost waves of a ripple in a pond – we are observing the conception of clones – the replication of identical entities – even if the potential growth and reach of such replication is now exponentially greater (as it is with social networks and outlets). In its place, I suggest we think of dynamic media marketing as a game of telephone. Brands must prepare for and embrace the idea that it’s initial narrative will get distorted and refashioned at every stop along the way. Instead of trying to control the final outcome by carefully & strategically crafting that first idea – one designed to affect the end product – the ideas and messaging should be devised, from the outset, to welcome that loss of control. Because the truth is, control is something brands never really had to begin with.

In the same way that misdirected efforts, those overly centered around a specific platform like Facebook or Twitter instead of the underlying message or behavior, will face transmedia obstacles, so long as brands and those representing them continue to focus on the “social” facet of emerging media, their attempts at capitalizing on all that the digital space has to offer will be limited, if not hampered entirely, by overemphasizing and over-attending the wrong element.

This is not so say that there isn’t a place for the term “social.”  I’ve already mentioned the platforms & vehicles, the “media” designed for the most basic and fundamental of social behaviors, namely, simple communication, conversation, dialogue, the exchange of information between 2 or more parties.

But the real opportunity for brands and producers is to do one of two things:

  1. Blur the lines between offline & online behaviors by creating a virtual or digital counterpart for a real life process (and vice versa) to the point where no such boundary exists.
  2. Alternatively, take a traditionally personal or individual behavior and impose an artificial progression that would effectively socialize the behavior.

Couple these precepts for the most intensive approach – taking an analogue, private activity and creating – then owning – it’s online, social counterpart.

For example, if networking, conversation, and information exchange are the basis for the existence and employment of social networking sites, then, social gaming would be one example of a successful branded enterprise in which a behavior was effectively transitioned into this space. Presently, in the throes of the holiday season, we’re seeing brands attempt to recreate traditional shopping experiences with social e-commerce parallels.

This approach is in direct contrast to those that seek to leverage or exploit preexisting behaviors, such as Facebook applications and campaigns that capitalize on users’ affinity for posting pictures and videos to social networks. It’s easy to analyze Facebook data and discern common behaviors across users in a target demographic. It’s much more difficult and innovative, however, to identify behaviors that have become outdated and abandoned, or with which we have become complacent, with the potential for social, digital reincarnation. As a result, such innovation carries with it greater weight and promise for the coveted return on investment.

One last thought. I’m not actually trying to convince you that social media doesn’t exist. I’m simply attempting to separate two discrete concepts (and opportunities) that we’ve lumped together under one label that doesn’t do them justice. If we do want to focus on the platforms’ socially enabling features as a vehicle that allows for the evolution of media and content – that would be amazing. But the tools to study this field transcend analysis of Facebook and Twitter and trendspotting platform-specific behaviors and desires. That analysis is necessary of course (I’ve dedicated many hours to it, in fact) but that really requires a manufactured evolution of consumer behaviorism to adopt and incorporate technological innovation and social psychology – confirmation bias, attribution bias, labeling effect, self-fulfilling prophesies etc. People behave (read: shop, interact with brands…) differently when alone than when in groups. Every action is different, whether on or offline. Understanding how people act in social situation is KEY for marketing in general and is not limited to digital media.

I’m not trying to undervalue the “socialness” the brand’s need to grasp. 2-way, Brand-Consumer conversations are imperative at this point as the masses are increasingly demanding this form of engagement. I’m only trying to point out that from a marketing standpoint, assuaging that need for brands to be social and create social opportunities is different from strategic planning and planting content that is designed to be dynamic and ever-evolving. That part goes hand-in-hand with brands coming to terms with the fact that they never had control of their brand identity – a systemic flaw in most messaging that is exacerbated by the exponential rate at which a given message, and with it, objectives, mutate.

The applications of dynamic media are as limitless as social. We just need to remind ourselves that there are two independent (however intertwined or overlapping) phenomena that require our attention.

Thank you for reading my tirade, I’ll try to keep my future posts to 140 characters or less. And please, feel free to disagree with everything I’ve just said – that’s how we learn!

A quick shout out to Faris – My boss and mentor and source of inspiration for this topic. Also – Check out Shamable – The New No BS Social Media Guide! 

First Came Chris Daughtry, Quickly Followed By Weezer, MGMT, Eric Cartman, And Now, IMO, Topping Them All (Except Maybe Cartman’s Rendition, It’s A Tough Call) The One & Only Christopher Walken. What Do They All Have In Common? They’ve All Spoofed Lady Gaga’s Hit Single “Poker Face.”

So…What is it about Lady Gaga, and this song in particular, that lends is self to such memetic mimetics? There is something undeniably unique about The Lady & Her Music. Her Style, Performance, The Catchyness of the tune…all of which make for User Generated Recreations. But it’s rare, and a privilege, when other artists or media producers spoof one’s work. Even in jest, most blatant mockery subtly suggests some degree of respect and admiration. If Family Guy or South Park ever made fun of one of my creations, I’d take it as a compliment.

Marketers & Advertisers Strive To Impart These Qualities On Their Content. To Provide A Template On Which Consumers Can Build, a Body of Material Ripe For The Creative Masses To Restructure, Remix, Reinterpret, Re-contextualize…and spread.

So what is it that she (or her team of producers and publicists) does, to lend her brand to such virality?

My Good Friend Rachel Feigenbaum, A CUNY PhD Student, Has An Interesting Thought:

When a person hears it [Her Music] you can’t help but admit that it’s catchy and fun. But when you realize what the lyrics are, what you’re singing, it’s embarrassing that you actually enjoy something that sophomoric, so to cope we make fun. [It’s a] Social Defense Mechanism. People find that humorous it’s why she’s successful. She’s crazy and out there, but its fun and funny. It’s being so ridiculous, that it’s entertaining. For Her, Tactful Talentlessness becomes true talent and she’s thus she brings  a new dimension, and with it success, to an otherwise superficial music career & by superficial I mean a lack of lyrical and musical depth.

When I asked My Friend & Colleague Jess Greco that same question, she responded:

Historically, pop culture is pop culture for a reason- it is constantly being referenced. She’s original, shes doing things that are slightly ridiculous, and thats what is getting her attention. And these are the things that often turn into the internet memes that we’re so obsessed with nowadays. And a big part of this are the the references, just like The Office and The JK wedding dance video. Why Other Artists & Producers? Maybe Because they want to be part of the phenomenon? I dont know. They want to play off someone else’s attention to get their own? But I  feel like that applies to any person, not just celebs.

Personally, I get excited when celebs reference other celebs. It compounds the impact on the consumer/viewer and makes them feel like they’re part of this inside joke.

Could it be that simple? Is this authentic originality engendering producer-to-producer parasitism? Or is this something much more a psychologically complex? Is her brand Built, from the top down, to be so well suited for spoofing and these cultural memes, arguably one of marketing’s holy grails?

Watch The Videos…& Please Let Me Know What You Think!

And MGMT at 3:15 into the clip…

On September 17th – Dan Lyons of Newsweek published an article that caught my attention at the time, entitled: Don’t Tweet On Me: Twitter shows that stupid stuff sells.

Despite my initial desire to respond, for some reason or another, I never took the time or simply forgot. The article recently resurfaced in a brief flurry of online dialog and once again drew my attention – Why is their so much Twitter Hate, especially amongst journalists at reputable media powerhouses like Newsweek. so I’ve crafted a rebuttal:

Dan – You make some good points, but you’re clearly lacking an understanding of the direction in which our cultural interests are shifting, namely, the increasingly micro-targeted and smaller scale interaction between consumers and producers, niche audiences and publishers of content with such a specific focus that it automatically establishes a relationship between themselves and their readers, as it caters to their individuals desires.

That’s what Twitter does – it allows people to form their own content creation communities. The lines between producer and consumer go from blurred to nonexistent. Celebrities & CEOs once on higher ground, off-limits to the masses, now stand on even footing, interacting as equals, obviating the need for paparazzi and mainstream media, I wonder if your vehement criticism and narrow-minded view of the platform stem from the fact that it will one day (soon) displace you and your journalistic brethren who fail to embrace the medium as not just valuable to ‘Us,’ but essential for you.

The posts on Twitter that you refer to as inane or stupid are publishers and producers relinquishing control of their material to their audiences. After all, their reader/viewership is what gives these individuals value, so the greater the control one can give them over content produced, the more likely that content will be received positively by that audience.

If people want it, who are you to say it’s ‘stupid’ simply because it’s different than what you want? If people can make money or increase their personal brand and value by catering to the wishes or the their audience or population at large, they’d be stupid NOT to do so.

In fact, this concept takes us back to your obsolescence. As a journalist, you are used to answering to yourself and other internal authorities. But at many big brands are learning, control over content is no longer in your hands (if it ever really was), it’s in the hands of the masses. Telling the public what they want to hear that or what they’re saying is stupid won’t change the fact that you are losing control. Sorry to break it to you…but until you embrace the stupidity of twitter and other likeminded platforms, you are destined for a short-lived career.

Personally, the reporter’s, bloggers, and journalists whose work I read on a regular basis are those that converse with me on Twitter. Those who tweet, not just about what story they’re writing, but about eating lunch or hating on a movie – mundane, maybe. But not stupid – and do you know why? Because it humanizes them. It acknowledges that they are just like the rest of us, or, more accurately, that the rest of us are just like them, acquiescing to the degrading boundaries between producer and consumer. That’s why I don’t read the New York Times or Newsweek, cover to cover, but I do read the articles and stories written by media personalities I know, I like, and with whom I relate and identify. Such is the direction in which media is heading – one of niche audiences and targeted content, personal branding, and relationship building. As a reporter whose entire industry is in the throes of upheaval – I’d suggest rethinking your definition of “stupidity”

I Can’t Tell You How Excited I Am To See Google Sidewiki’s Potential Actualized. Unfortunately, As Marketers Have Done With Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, (MySpace – Remember Her?) And Every Other Facet of “The Social Web,” Sidewiki provides yet another means for those who just don’t ‘get it’ to exploit the system and barrage us with broadcast, branded, messaging.

Until now, this usurpation of online communities and the manipulation of our fundamental human desire to generate content and share information has been limited to custom-tailored (if we’re lucky) invasions of specific platforms or desperate attempts at creating their own.

Convo 1

Convo 1

Sidewiki, has, without a doubt, an enormous potential – one to utterly destroy any limitations or barriers on the “information sharing” currently allowed by the internet. We’re looking at the possible information exchange of exponential proportions. Unfortunately, I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be the tool that unlocks the whole of the internet to the pervasive, abusive tactics of irresponsible marketers.You know the type – the ones who build facebook pages that collect dust and twitter accounts that auto-follow and auto-DM promotional messaging.

I sincerely hope that Google has developed, within it’s algorithm, protection from this parasitism but I fear that these individuals, for all their irresponsibility, have one talent, namely, circumventing those protocols. Take a look at this video – What stops me from using sidewiki to just hop from site to page to blog, highlighting portions of text and promising readers further explanation, only to lead them elsewhere – a deceptive practice that seems to be aligned today’s spammy zeitgeist.

What do you think? Are you more excited for the evolution of the social web potentially facilitated by Sidewiki? Are you confident that Google has taken the necessary precautions to keep spammers from hijacking this tool  and isn’t about to provide unlimited access to anyone who wants to litter your website digital post-it notes, maliciously intended, or otherwise?

If this is web 3.0 – I’m scared.

UPDATE: 9/24/09 – Check Out These Two Other Awesome Posts On The Topic:

Google Sidewiki: Danger (By Jeff Jarvis On Buzz Machine)

Google SideWiki Extorts Google Network Participation (By Gab Goldenberg on Search Engine Journal)

Fear of Google’s Sidewiki… (By Justin & Jesse on Extreme Discovery)

Convo 2

Most Religions, Cultures, and Belief Systems have incorporated into their respective routines and rituals a daily affirmation or recitation of core philosophical truths, a practice meant to condense and convey an entire ideology into a short, easily digestible, reminder of who we are and what we believe. Religious or not (I, for the record, do not adhere to, or believe in, any organized religion), the following axioms may simultaneously serve to enlighten and appear as mere common sense. Either way, for those of us in the media business, as traffickers of information, we have an obligation to scrutinize and skepticize the data on which we stumble upon. Whether it be a CNN Article, A Blog Post, A Tweet, or ‘Latest Medical Breakthrough in Weight Loss Technology.’

We, as Human beings,  have a unique passion for information. We crave it. Our Curiosity as a species defines us. Our resulting understanding of the world and its mechanisms is the foundation upon which our modern lifestyle delicately balances. As such, we are predisposed and evolutionary motivated to seek out new and useful knowledge – But we have a responsibility to question every quanta of novel date and sensory stimulus we encounter so that we don’t act on or propagate falsehoods.

Courtesy of Buddha,

  1. When In Doubt, Trust Yourself.
  2. Do Not Believe In Something Simply Because You Have Heard It.
  3. Do Not Believe In Something Simply Because It Is Found In Your Religious Texts.
  4. Do Not Believe In Something Merely On The Authority Of Your Teachers And Elders.
  5. Do Not Believe In Traditions Because They Have Been Handed Down For Many Generations.
  6. But When You Find Something That Agrees With Reason & Is Conducive To The Good & Benefit Of One & All, Then Accept It & Live Up To It.

Alternatively, You May Better Relate To Jack Johnson‘s It’s All Understood:

I was reading a book
Or maybe it was a magazine
Suggestions on where to place faith
Suggestions on what to believe
But I read somewhere
That you’ve got to beware
You can’t believe anything you read
But the good Book is good
And that’s well understood
So don’t even question
If you know what I mean

Thanks for stopping by!

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Why PR Firms Should Be The Ones To Handle Social Media

PRWeek Recent Posted An Article Entitled “Report: Social Media Falls Mostly To PR” – You Need a Subscription to Read It…Sorta, A Quick Google Search Will Get You The Article For Free, But For You Lazy Folks, I’ve Included It Below (I Don’t Subscribe Either, Don’t Worry)

Anyway, It’s a great read and something I discussed in a recent post of mine on the topic of People Relations

Here are my Top Reasons Why PR Firms Should Be The Ones To Handle Social Media

1. PR has always been about communicating. That’s been accomplished through traditional media, through events and stunts. Social media is all about communication and conversation – exactly what PR people have been doing all along. Social Platforms are just another means for PR professionals to do the job they’re best at.

2. Look at the alternative – advertising, marketing, sales – people don’t want their social spaces invaded by brands trying to sell them products. If a brand is going to be active on sites like Twitter – it can’t be about marketing or advertising, it has to be about initiating or participating in a conversation and providing new information – adding value – to interested parties – again, something PR has been doing via traditional media outlets all along.

3. Traditional Media Relations – Despite what people are saying, print and broadcast are still far from dead. Many journalists and media outlets have taken to using Twitter and social media as a way to promote their content – turning these sites into glorified News Channels – the environment PR professional are more familiar with than their counterparts at Marketing or Advertising agencies.

4. Blogger Relations – Reaching out to bloggers is an integral part of any modern PR and Media Relations Strategy. These are the individuals most active in the social space and forming relationships with them is no different than building one with an editor or reporter at a newspaper. There are trendsetters and influencers who impact what content will circulate in these social channels. Identifying these individuals and cultivating relationships with them; understanding their interests and providing them with information to share; this is where PR professional excel and have the most experience.

And For Those Of You Without a PRWeek Subscription, Here’s The Article:

Report: Social media falls mostly to PR

Kimberly Maul

August 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES: PR leads digital communications at 51% of organizations, while marketing leads 40.5% of the time, according to the 2009 Digital Readiness Report from iPressroom, Korn/Ferry International, and PRSA.

The study found that PR generally leads several aspects of digital communications, including blogging, where PR leads at 49% of organizations, compared to 22% for marketing. PR also leads microblogging (52% to marketing’s 22%), and social networking (48% to 27%). Marketing usually leads e-mail marketing and SEO aspects of digital communications.

“Social media puts the consumer in control, and PR professionals have always interacted with customers who are in control, also managing the brand reputation and relationship with them,” said Barbara McDonald, VP of marketing for PRSA. “It really is almost a no-brainer that PR would be taking the lead in the social media environment.”

Several industry professionals commented to PRWeek separately that they have seen these findings play out within their work.

“The findings are in line with not only what we expect, but what we’re experiencing,” said Corey duBrowa, president of account services for Waggener Edstrom. “Our industry is utilizing, and in some ways even pioneering the use of, these tools.”

“The way we look at it, social media is a subset of word-of-mouth in many ways, so for us, it’s a natural extension of some of the things we’re already doing on the PR side,” said Greg Zimprich, director of brand PR for General Mills. But, he added, the company works to teach the entire company best practices and benchmarking, saying, “We see social media as a competency that really will reach across the organization.”

Jonathan Kopp, the global director of Ketchum Digital, suggested that PR will continue to lead the way in digital, because “the speed of engagement is changing in the digital space and PR moves faster than advertising and marketing, so it gives them an opportunity.”

He also explained that PR agencies are working with clients to set up social media policies, train employees in social media, and create social media divisions within organizations, cementing their position as digital leaders.

The report also found that social networking skills are increasingly important for PR job candidates. Eighty percent of respondents said knowledge of social networking is either important or very important for a job candidate, compared to 82% saying traditional media relations was important or very important.

The 2009 Digital Readiness Report surveyed 278 PR, marketing, and HR professionals over six weeks in this past spring.

So What Do You Think? Who Should Handle Social Media for Brands? PR Pros? Marketers? Ad Shops? All of the Above? Specialized Social Media Agencies?

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David Mullen, in the latest of his daily dose of insight, has opened up the discussion on yet another important topic for many of us experimenting with social media and developing campaigns for clients who are more than a little bit skeptical about venturing into a territory with which they are, for the most part, lost.

I strongly urge you to read Mr Mullen’s post – Should Brands Approach Social Media with a “Pilot Program” Mindset?

There are arguments to both sides of the issue. A “Pilot Program” helps ease the client into this scary and unfamiliar terrain. The downside is that you may not see results or ROI if you don’t commit to a thought-out, long term, strategy. Kind of a catch 22. There is, IMHO, a middle ground. A way to create a small scale, but comprehensive social media attack. The key is to develop a strategy that can be narrowly focused, initially, and then expanded and expounded upon, both in terms of goals and means to achieve those goals, as the data from the first phase can be analysed. Those metrics will provide feedback for you as you grow the initiative from a fine, targeted, endeavor, to a more far reaching and all-encompassing social media presence, and with it, your own unique approach and attitude.

I think it’s more about choosing the right channel – Pick one vehicle – facebook, youtube, twitter, a blog, etc…and focus all efforts on that one medium. This way, you’ve got your pilot program mentality in that you’re not trying to tackle the entire social space in one fell swoop. It’s not overwhelming; you have time to manage and monitor one platform, and thus you can develop a system in which consistancy is maintained.

Additionally, Choosing one medium allows for much easier measurement and analytics, to determine if the effort has delivered and if it’s worthwhile to expand.

Of course, to do this, you also have to Define your primary goal – customer service, marketing, branding, PR…etc. – pick one & stick to it – let your goal be the guiding influence in choosing the most effective social platform and your method for measuring results.

This is my “Pilot Program.” It has longevity, a goal, consistency, and it’s measurable. If it’s deemed to be successful, you can adapt this mini-initiative to other social media, or expand your goals, if desired. Either way, limiting yourself or your brand to 1 goal, 1 platform, 1 campaign is the best, IMHO, form of Pilot Program – insofar as that it has all the elements of a traditional and comprehensive campaign, while keeping things simple enough to act as a test of your needs, capabilities, and suitability for the effectively utilizing these media.

What do you think? Remember – My Blog is Your Blog – Share Your Thoughts!

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Twitter Down

Twitter Down

It’s 9:48am. I’ve tweeted about 5 times since getting on the bus this morning. I arrive at work at 9 to find twitter down. Hootsuite, iTweet, Seesmic, Tweetdeck, even good ol’ Twitter.com – Nothing. I’ve been refreshing the tab every 10 seconds on average. I’ve tried to get on twitter, to no avail, 3 times since I began writing this post – and I’m only a few sentences in. Is that sad or what?

But it appears I’m not the only one – No sooner did I realize twitter was having problems when my coworker called out from behind a desk “Is anyone else having trouble with twitter!?” 3 seconds later I received a gchat from my friend and PR Peep, Sasha.

Sasha: Morning David
is your Twitter working?
me: no!
Sasha: well is it loading?
me: its not
Sasha: me either. okay, good, it’s not just me. lol.

[I Just Reloaded Hootsuite 2 More Times…Nothing…Sigh]

My Facebook Feed Is Filled With Friends PRCog, Katy Zack, Rosie Siman and others, lamenting Twitter’s Sudden Failure.
Google News’ Tech/Science Section Top Story Is The Twitter Fail – Mashable, Wired, even The AP and Washington Post are all over this…So Clearly, I’m not the only distressed twitterholic. This is the Social Media Apocolypse. Or is this just a ploy by the brilliant minds at Twitter HQ trying to show us how much we’ve come to rely on and need their service?

You know the phrase/lyrics – “You Don’t Always Know What You’ve Got, Til It’s Gone”

Well – I’ve been forced to confront my addiction – Why is twitter so important, so vital to my work?
I Think the answer lies in my role. I sit in the intersection between PR and Social Media. PR means abreast of current events, the days headlines, and staying on top of the news cycle 24/7. I work with clients in politics & business, nonprofits & tech, and of course, I need to constantly read up on the latest tools and vehicles, campaigns and strategies, case studies, failures and successes, within the social media realm. How else would I learn.


And while Google News serves as a decent backup – it’s no Twitter. I’ve used the new Hootsuite (Full Review to Follow – Probably Tomorrow or Later Today) to build up customized groups and tabs of people and outlets I follow. I have one Tab – Media Outlets – Separated Into Top Tier News Feeds, Tech Blogs, Social Media News, and Political News – And Another Tab Set Up with All The Reporters and Journalists Who Cover Those Beats – Making it REALLY EASY for me to follow the latest breaking news and buzzed about topics, as the outlets tweet links to the articles and as the reporters themselves discuss the topics and what their forthcoming coverage.

So – Addiction Reason #1 – Twitter is my primary resource for customized, individualized, and niche information, as it’s released to the public.

Then there’s the social aspect. Forget building relationships with reporters and bloggers because, while it’s incredibly important to me and my job performance, it falls within the walls of category 1. I’m talking about networking, p2p connections, making friends and professional contacts.
For me, it’s about the analysis and feedback and response to the headlines, it’s about identifying trends and influencers from whom I can learn. But I suppose that really falls within the realm of Category 1, as well. It’s all about information, whether through news outlets or people, Twitter, for me, is about sharing and receiving information. Access to that data is my competitive advantage…and that’s why I’m so reliant upon – and addicted to – the platform.

I have a job, so it’s not as much of an issue to me, but a vast multitude of my comrades have been aggressively networking and job hunting on twitter. Every day for them is a struggle to establish connections – the only aspect of the job hunt that can help you that’s actually under the individuals control. We’re all aware that “It’s all about who you know” and Twitter has opened many doors in that respect – providing access to people – CEO’s, HR Managers, etc… to contact, to impress, to get your resume pushed to the top of the pile. Every hour that Twitter is down is an hour lost.

Of course, there are other people you want to connect with – Customer Service & Sales Reps, Tech Support & Others. A few days ago, I had an amazing experience with FiosGuyJoe – as he jumped into a conversation in which I had been asking around – crowd-sourcing, if you will, concerning a possible switch from Cablevision/IO to Verizon Fios – as it just became available in my area. He answered all my questions and would probably have gone back to him today to order the service…alas, now it seems I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Rest assured though, once I actually have FiOS installed & working – I’ll blog a full case study about my experience with their sales and customer/tech support staff and how they effectively used Twitter – which, so far, has been quite well.

Anyway…I tweet from the bus, I tweet from work, I tweet while watching TV, I tweet from bed…I’ve grown accustomed to the continuous and instantaneous connection to people and information. Granted – you can get information from Google. You can get the personal connection through other social media, like Facebook. But not integrated and organized by interest or industry or region or whatever else you’re looking for.

These are the first few reasons I can think of to explain, and rationalize, my addiction to the platform. Why are you addicted? What would you do if all of a sudden twitter just broke, disappeared, as if it never existed?

Would you mourn? Would you simply get from other services what you got from other services, in lieu of the downed platform? What is it that makes twitter different, aside from the integration of People & Information? And lastly – Who Killed Twitter??? Is this just unplanned maintenance? Did they get hacked? Does Anyone Know???
HELP!
AAAAND – Facebook is having issues too! What is this – The Social Media Apocalypse

Update: Mashable is reporting that this is a Denial of Service Attack.

Twitter has revealed that it’s defending against a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS), in which the target is typically saturated with so many fake requests that the victim is unable to return legitimate ones.

Knowing that the cause is a malicious attack does take Twitter off the hook to some degree – it may have been assumed that the site was simply failing to scale properly, as had happened in the past. DDoS attempts are difficult to defend against even for some established sites.

As to who might have it in for Twitter: the site is so large and visible that the attacker could be anyone…from a lone prankster to a more organized outfit.

Update 2: According to Twitter HQ:

Ongoing denial-of-service attack 2 hours ago

We are defending against a denial-of-service attack, and will update status again shortly.

Update: the site is back up, but we are continuing to defend against and recover from this attack.

Update (9:46a): As we recover, users will experience some longer load times and slowness. This includes timeouts to API clients. We’re working to get back to 100% as quickly as we can.

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For those of you, like myself, working in the dangerous intersection of PR Street & Social Media Boulevard (about a block from Media Relations Avenue), one of the most difficult issues with which we contend, on a daily basis, is the struggle to tackle our day’s worth of work while still keeping up-to-date on the latest and greatest industry goings-on. New websites & platforms, case studies & innovative campaigns, new social media tools and monitoring methods…not to mention the plethora of analysis and conjecture the erupts every day, as bloggers, journalists and media personalities speculate as to the possible direction social media is taking, debate the potential of a new social network, scrutinize an intriguing PR/Marketing campaign, or discuss the many ways in which social media and twitter has impacted our lives. And this is all in addition to staying on top of current events and the news cycle, the latest in health and medicine, politics, entertainment and the economy. It’s a grueling, harrowing, task – to keep up with everything.

To some, it’s TMI, but I would venture to guess, that if you’re in PR, Marketing, Advertising, or Social Media, you love it all and there aren’t enough hours in the day to read every interested article and post. You thrive on the information and you’re computer sits on the verge of death as tab after tab after tab opens in your browser, each offering a fresh perspective while pushing your computer closer and closer to crashing. TechCrunch and Mashable. Adage, Adfreak, BrandWeek, and eMarketer. Mediapost & MarketingProfs. Fast Company & ZDNet. Not to mention the infinite universe of professionals and practitioners that blog about their take and daily experiences – arguable of equal or greater value than those simply ‘reporting.’ It’s not TMI – There can never be Too Much Information – It’s more an issue of chaos. I want the info, just cleaner, simpler, easier.

That’s how it is for me, anyway, and apparently, for Sarah Evans, as well. Which is why we’re endeavoring to bring you the best, the edgiest, the most interesting, the most controversial and the most insightful, of these articles and blogs in a new e-recap, “Commentz.”

Commentz – the brainchild of the one and only Sarah Evans – will aim to remedy this overload, bring order to chaos, and structure to your unending desire to learn and know everything there is about the universe…well, about PR, anyway.

In Sarah’s words:

Information overload? I know how you feel. Everyday I scan headlines, check my RSS feeds and head over to see what my favorite bloggers are saying about PR and new media. I already share the majority of what I read via Twitter, but wanted a better way to publicly archive it. Sure, I could list all of the links in my blog each day and invite you to visit. But, it would be even better if I could do all of the work and send it directly to you.

Thus, Commentz was born.

It’s a daily, electronic recap of hot topics and blog posts most likely to generate lots of conversation (or comments).

With the help of David Teicher (@aerocles), we’re going to bring you the best of the best Monday through Friday. There’s no catch. Simply sign up, and get the information without the work.

If you’re a blogger who write about PR or new media, you can send your posts or site for consideration to prsarahevans@gmail.com.

The first edition of Commentz is set to launch Tuesday, August 18. Get signed up now!

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe already! And if you have any interesting articles or blog posts to share – well…tell us!