Gischeleman: "To Create With the Mind"
Posted on May 15, 2013 by Doug Haslam
Often online, and especially in the social media marketing biz, people resort to what we like to call “passive-aggressiveness,” which I will oversimplify by defining it as crabbing about something without naming names.
The second most-popular sport in social media, I suspect, is calling people cowards for being passive aggressive.
On the one hand, I have no problem with people calling others out directly, if they are willing to start a dialogue in which opposing viewpoints are debated rationally.
HA! Had you there. When is that going to happen?
I do believe that if we see things that we think are wrong, that we have a duty to correct them and offer a better way. I also agree with those that say slinging mud at each other is counterproductive. So what to do?
Passive-aggressiveness is the answer. But why? I have thought about it a bit, and here is my defense for you
cowards people who want to tell it like it is:
- There is no need to gratuitously call people out: The problem with naming names is that you could appear to condemn all that person does. Of course, a person is a sum of their being, and a professional is a sum of their professional acts, so that’s not fair. That said, if I think a friend can take a ribbing, I’ll jape with them directly, but humorously and always acknowledging the answer, whether I agree or not. We can make our points without having to attack people. ETA: Some people out there are thin-skinned, and perceive any criticism as an attack, or simply get defensive as a kneejerk reaction. Naming such people derails the conversation before it has begun. I’d rather discuss the issue rather than the people.
- Universal application of concepts: Often, something we want to call out is practiced by many, so calling out one person, again, is unfair. People piled on Guy Kawasaki for continuing auto-tweets during the Boston Marathon bombing crisis, but he wasn’t the only one. Why single him out when there are plenty of targets? Plus, he responded like a baby so it wasn’t worth it and the point was lost (oops I’m breaking my rule).
- Creative License: By this, I mean that there are different varieties of many bad practices. If you are too narrow in your focus, you may miss addressing a larger cure for a larger problem. What one person may be doing wrong is interesting, the bigger issue behind it all, and the solution, is afar more interesting.
- Parody vs Personal Attacks: It’s much more fun to be funny. If you name names, you may tie yourself to the facts, and that’s certainly no fun. Passive-aggressive behavior gives you license to exaggerate, to be outrageous without cutting people down. You can be nasty and nice at the same time, and everybody wins.
Those are my thoughts on the matter. Feel free to attack me publicly and say I’m wrong (or use one of my handy rules above to attack me passive-aggressively).
Yeah, so I’m not going to name names here. We’re all probably doing something wrong anyway. Knock yourself out.
*Note: if you ever write a passive-aggressive social media blog post, let me know privately whom you are really complaining about. I love gossip.
Posted on May 8, 2013 by Doug Haslam
Google Glass is coming out, and the early ambassadors have their copies. They look ridiculous- the glasses and the people wearing them – but that doesn’t stop the debate over “internet civility” from wandering over to Google Glass uninvited.
Apparently, if you point out that Google Glass looks stupid and that the people publishing preening posts about their precious prizes are – well, acting silly, then you’re a hater and uncivil.
Yes, I’m over-generalizing – I hope. But I think overall on the social web a lot of people confuse the backlash over tireless, pointless hype with some kind of sub-hate speech.
It’s not. There is a line.
I’m a big fan of the fight for civility on the social web (maybe we shouldn’t call it a fight, that sounds uncivil), and I look forward to reading Andrea Weckerle’s book on the subject (I know, I’m slow to read it- just flame me in the comments and be done with it), but I fear that self-appointed guardians of being nice will tamp down good, honest dissent.
Here’s the thing: Google Glass is ridiculous.
If I point that out, I’m not jealous, I’m not a hater. I’m also not ignoring the fact that Glass represents a technology – wearable computing – that will find a way into our lives that is not intrusive, obnoxious, or glitchy. It already has, to some extent, as the Nike Plus and similar gew-gaws have already shown their use. I would have sniggered just as much as people who put Digital Audio Tape (DAT) players in their cars 20 years ago (seriously, that happened, and I did snigger), or people who lugged around 20 pound battery bricks that some joker thought to call “mobile phones.” Both represented serious advances in technology, represented by some initial products that were just plain useless.
So- here are some thoughts on the lines between hating and honest debate:
- Thicker skins please: This isn’t just about Google Glass, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there, let the negative comments and minor jabs slide. I always wonder what I would do in the face of negative comments (so far, everyone loves me, what can I say), but not every dissent is a challenge to a duel. Back off.
- Know the difference: Know the difference between disagreement and trolling. Know the difference between humor and hurt. It’s a moving line, just know where it is.
- Don’t overreact: Working with clients, this is a big key to community management. Often, severe statements are softened by patience; wrong facts are corrected in a short time. And often, back-channel civil conversations trump public spats.
- Enough navel-gazing: Actually, never mind. Go for it. I don’t care. It’s your blog.
I suppose haters are still gonna hate, but critics gotta crit too. Let ‘em crit. A true civil conversation is one that lets people have at it a little, within reason.
Oh- and feel free to flame me in the comments for my poor Photoshop skills
Posted on April 14, 2013 by Doug Haslam
Just look at this one (well, I shrunk it because like too many infographics it’s too big to make sense visually in this blog format – if you want to see it full size, click here: A Twitter infographic by Fusework Studios). It’s easy to make fun of them because they are simple facts based on limited data samples. However, they also represent things we do want to know. The intent of studies like this is noble: they are trying to give us trends on how people use social networks, in hopes that we will get insights in to how to use them better (oh, and of course inquire as to the services provided by the companies behind the “research.” Please download our white paper and sign up for our newsletter).
Fair enough. Noble enough. But the data is useless.
For data about social media that is practical, you must look at relevant data.
General data makes for some pretty infographics (and a ton of butt-ugly ones), but they are general – that’s not relevant.
Where to look for the relevant versions of this data? Your own data.
When is the best time to Tweet? Overall, this infographic says weekends. But whom are you trying to reach? Are those people engaging on weekends? What does your Twitter data say? Perhaps you get more retweets, mentions, and clicks on your Twitter links on Mondays. Maybe your Facebook page gets more action on a Tuesday afternoon. Are you a beer company? Maybe “beer o’clock” on Friday is the time to post – 0n any social network. I don’t know that, but if you represent a beer company I trust you are checking it out.
“Global” social media statistics are fun conversation starters, and are best when recognized as superficial examples of . But they are not practical. Enjoy the pretty pictures, but follow the muse in front of your nose (or in your analytics programs).
Posted on April 4, 2013 by Doug Haslam
So, my good friend Aaron Strout, who knows a thing or two about location-based technology, declares the “death of the QR code.” I get it. That said, I am always suspicious of people declaring the “death” of any technology or service. Another thing – can something be dead if it has never really lived?
I have always been skeptical of QR codes. Not because they aren’t a good technology. They are, actually. I just see example after example of poor application.
The most common cited case is the QR code at a cash register, leading merely to a store Web site. I’m at the store; why do I need to do that?
Then there are the impractical applications. A highway billboard? No, scanning a code while driving is not on my list of ways I want to die, though I guess it would get me on the news.
The thing that gets me most, and Aaron touches on it in his blog post, is that there is no consistent native app that comes with phones to scan barcodes. The easiest solution (for the user – not sure how developers feel) would be for the camera app to sense barcodes and QR codes. Why do I even need a separate app (again, I don;t know all the technical challenges there, but from a user point of view, give me that or give me nothing.
Meanwhile, belying any claims of the “death” of QR codes (sorry Aaron), they are seeping in to mainstream media. As I watched the Red Sox game on the NESN sports network before writing this, I noticed a QR code as the announcers discussed the batter’s grip.
I paused the broadcast as aI fumbled for my barcode scanner app, walked up super-close to the TV so I could actually scan the code, and was taken to a page where– well, I couldn’t watch the video because I didn’t have flash on my phone.
A later QR code taking me to a season schedule got me to the promised website, but still I had to walk right up to the TV to scan the code. Not very practical.
As for solutions? It really depends on the use. It may be there is no universal catch-all. See Aaron’s post for potential other technologies like augmented reality and Near-field communications (NFC) – heck, why not Google Glass and other future “wearable” computing technology? It may be that different technologies are best suited to different uses. Time will tell. Even after all that, I’m not convinced QR codes are dead any more than I think RSS is dead, or print is dead. Hey, even the failures are interesting.
Edit: Laura Fitton hipped me to this: http://wtfqrcodes.com/
Photo credit: michel langendijk on Flickr
Posted on March 28, 2013 by Doug Haslam
No. Goodness no.
I am here thinking about why we Like comments or posts, and if those of us reading can tell the difference. This becomes more pronounced in Groups, where the relationships among members with common interests are likely stronger. Also, I’m not thinking about Page Likes, either, as liking them is akin to collecting pogs (does that really only date back to the 90s?) or baseball cards (“If I Like one more toothpaste brand, I have the whole set!” – you hear that often, right?)
What do you mean when you “Like” a status update or comment?
- The “Just Letting You Know I’m There”
- The “LOL”
- The “I Was Going to Say That But You Did So Now I Don’t Have To”
- The “I’m Way Too Busy/Important to Add to the Conversation”
- The Ironic “I Actually Hate This and if You Know Me at All You Also Know I’m Just Trolling”
- The “I am Flagging This For My Friends Even though Only the Person Who Wrote it Will See My Like”
- The “I Was Taking a Break and Liking Everything in My Main Newsfeed”
- The “Everyone Else I Know is Liking This So I Had Better to Show I Share Their Values”
- The ”I Haven’t Commented or Liked Anything in a While, So I Should Go and Like Stuff to Show People I Care Even Though I Don’t.”
- The “ ”Sounds Good to Me but I Have Nothing to Add So…Moving On!”
- The ”I’m Liking This Because I Liked Everything Else on This Thread and Don’t Want You to be Offended (You Oversensitive Twerp)”
- The “You Owe Me an Email/Document/Money/Apology and I’m Going to Like All of Your Posts and Comments to Let You Know I’m Watching You.”
- The “You Have All This Time to Post on Facebook But You Can’t Call Your Mother?”
- The “This Like Indicates my Sensitive Soul’s Gratitude that Anyone Saw and Heard Me Much Less Spoke Back! Sooo Much Better than High School When All My Heys Got Ignored.”
- The “That Idea is So Good I Wrote a Blog Post About it – Two Years Ago” - Yeah, that happened
Did I miss any? Add your favorite “Likes” in Comments. And feel free to Like this post on Facebook (unless you are being Ironic).
Posted on March 19, 2013 by Doug Haslam
As a long-time user of Google Reader to manage the feeds of the blogs and other online publications I read and am interested in, I was understandably among those up in arms when Google announced, tucked into a laundry list of other “Spring Cleaning” closures, that it is shutting down Reader as of July 1.
How can they do this to us, the loyal users, after all we…
…oh, right. it’s a free tool.
It’s still a bit unsettling. I have two months to decide what to do, whether finding another RSS reader to use, or to just let the river of brilliant recommendations from my online “friends” (and friends) wash over me. OK, that sounds like a bad idea, people are idiots, why would I let other humans tell me what to read (I’m kidding. Sort of).
Aside from my own slightly-less-important-than-a-hill-of-beans problem with all this, I also thought of a few of the surrounding issues:
- RSS: Dead? Not Dead? Gravely Ill? Perhaps a Slight Cough and Chills? I never understood why some people who put RSS forward as a consumer-facing technology. I also didn’t understand how; why call it RSS? That’s weird. It’s an underlying technology, and there’s no reason to think it will go away. Google Reader going away is pretty high profile though, and it makes people worry yet again about the future of Feedburner, the Google-owned service that makes it easy to set up RSS feeds. But again: RSS is an underling technology. If we move on from readers, I doubt it will disappear.
- Is Reading Blogs a Fading Art? My relationship to my Reader feed list has changed; I no longer slavishly scroll the headlines, and I do (despite my snarky comments above) take recommendations from people I know for things to read outside that list. But I still have a list of blogs, or certainly types of blogs, I want to read for fun and professionally. My list s badly in need of pruning, but it looks like I’ll be doing that no matter what.
- What About Google Plus? My first thought on hearing the news was that Google would simply roll some sort of reader feature into Google Plus, their social network. Google has been good about forcing people onto the network, even if most of us really don’t want to use it yet, through forced signups via other Google services like YouTube and GMail, or the mere fear that not being on Google Plus will jeopardize search rankings. No G+ Reader feature is evident as I write this, but that would make sense- and finally make Google Plus a more regular part of my daily routine. Why not? I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that happens, if only to force some of us on the service and to create more traffic through Google-assisted sharing of content.
- Consolidation of Tools is Here? Posterous. Delicious (almost). Now Reader, just to name three very recent examples. In fact, Google itself has a rich history of killing services, mostly from its Labs branch. Free tools that many people use are nevertheless being shuttered. They don’t make money, so why should they continue as utilities. Well, perhaps there are reasons, but our reliance on these tools makes for a fragile relationship. I’m upset that I have to find an alternative- and perhaps a radical one- for Google Reader, but I really have nothing to complain about. If this were a paid service I would be more upset, but it’s not so I just shut up and move on.
So, on to more important questions: who wants to read Google to me?
Posted on March 13, 2013 by Doug Haslam
We are hearing a lot lately about “real-time marketing” in social media. The most-cited example is Oreo jumping on the Superdome blackout during this year’s Super Bowl with the “You can still dunk in the dark” Tweet and image:
Anyone who manages a brand’s social media efforts was certainly shaking their fists and their heads that they didn’t think of this. But truly, how many brand social media managers were not drowning in a small ocean of malt and hops at the moment this happened? I was on the way home from our own Super Bowl party to make sure my son and his friends had not overindulged in Doritos to the point of needing medical attention (all was clear; I heard the blackout happen on the car radio).
The problem in the aftermath was that “real-time marketing” became a buzzword, a shiny object, a have-to-have. You know what happens next: people try too hard. Brands try to force themselves on live events they have no business horning in on. Example: the Oscars, which had a hard enough time keeping their own broadcast relevance, saw a flood of social media posts trying to hang on to the side of that big ship. Scott Monty chronicled some of those, and the varying reactions, on his own blog post on this topic.
So how do you do this “real-time marketing” thing without falling flat or looking foolish? There are approximately 87 easy steps, a few of which I detail below:
Plan Ahead: This means a few things: first, plot out a calendar and find all predictable events, holidays, and other notable milestones in the year ahead. Pick some that aren’t too much of a stretch, and plan some content ahead. Also, be ready to produce something quickly. Have content – product images, etc. – stored in a way that they can be easily manipulated for those events you can’t plan for (where did the “dunk in the dark” image come from?).
Be Willing to Work Off-Hours Sometimes you can plan: certainly, Oreo was paying attention during the Super Bowl; just as certainly, many other social media ninjas were liver-deep in suds at their local Big Game party. Nobody could have anticipated the blackout, but you can’t do a thing about it if you aren’t in place to move quickly and react. Technology allows us to post from just about anywhere, but having someone on duty increases the odds you may be around for lightning to strike (my Super Bowl party was at a spot with awful cell phone access, so there are limits to the “remote posting” angle).
Have a Flexible Brand Persona -This includes integrating chatter and current events into your social content, along with the type of persona that wouldn’t feel out of place making those comments. If you suddenly said something witty about the Gonzaga Men’s basketball team during the NCAA Basketball Tournament, would it be welcome or would it seem off-key next to your usual content, even if it’s the cleverest thing ever Tweeted? Oreo had been doing fun things with their product image for a while. The only thing surprising about “Dunk in the dark” was that they pulled it off with perfect timing; it looked like a lot of other things they have done (perhaps even less interesting).
Have People in Place You Can Trust: Being clever and funny is a solemn task; if you are lucky to have someone who can pull off a quip or funny idea on a moment’s notice without offending people, without corrupting the brand image and without getting seen as lame, hang onto that person. Comedy is hard; for a meta-example, just see this Tumblr (thanks again to Scott Monty) that tried to compile failed attempts at clever real-time marketing but fails to be funny in its own supposedly biting commentary. Talk about failing to deliver on a promise.
Real-time marketing? Don’t try too hard, but try hard to be ready for the right moment. That’s all; simple, right?
Posted on February 27, 2013 by Doug Haslam
Just recently, Posterous went and did it: they shut down. Posterous, which I refer to as a “mini-blogging” platform – somewhere between the micro-blogging of Twitter, the company that bought it, and full-on, often longer-form content blogs (such as this one maintained using WordPress software), somehow lost its niche.
It could be any number of factors:
- Twitter bought it but then just didn’t see a use for the platform as we know it (which is different from saying the talent and technology behind Posterous was of no use);
- “Mini-blogging” had no niche: Facebook, Google Plus, and other niche networks such as Instagram and Pinterest served the need just as well, making Posterous irrelevant. Of course, competitors such as Tumblr still thrive as of this writing, which brings us to;
- Tumblr got the users, the views and the attention. Even if you liked Posterous better, it didn’t matter if the people stopped flocking there and went to Tumblr instead
- The utility of Posterous became superfluous. I used Posterous as a mobile posting platform, which then directed content to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or my blog. As it turned out, the mobile posting functions of those networks, and newer ones such as instagram, improved greatly. Posterous, not being a destination but rather a means of distribution, became irrelevant. Was that the case for most users? I’m not sure, but I am certain it was a factor.
Will other “in-between” platforms fail as the more popular networks gain more features, and the niche platforms get more spread? Perhaps. Perhaps Posterous just fell victim to its own success (its acquisition) and the popularity of its biggest remaining rival, Tumblr.
I do know that if you used Posterous as a primary content outlet, you might be screwed, unless you had a migration plan. Every platform carries that danger. The more you own the platform (like a WordPress blog), the easier to recover, but the dangers of depending on someone else’s platform to support your important content are once again on display. For your indispensable tool, obsolescence could be just around the corner (remember cassette tapes?).
Posted on February 14, 2013 by Doug Haslam
I have read about people taking breaks from social media. Pew Internet has even tried to make it a trend, pointing out the significant percentage of users who have taken some sort of respite from Facebook (my reading that one represents a welcome return to a break from Pew I didn’t know I was taking). There are valid reasons for dialing back social network use: stepping away from trolls and contentious political or other arguments, getting distance from people you don’t really care for or about, privacy, or simply trying to shed a time-suck from your life. At times, it makes sense to change use or simply get out altogether.
Some of us don’t have that luxury – not completely. It’s our job to be on social networks. Even if we limit our personal use, quitting Facebook is not an option. I have seen instances where a person wanted to tap a corporate Facebook presence for a project, but that person had actually quit Facebook, so would not be able to get access as an administrator to actually do what was required. So, many of us in the social media industry come to some sort of accommodation; either we become ubiquitous public posters (easier but sometimes obnoxious to others) or we take a quieter approach, using privacy settings so that we remain familiar with the tools we need in our work, but without so much personal exposure.
A quick look at my social presences tells you the path I chose (the “self-editing” part of that path is another topic altogether). Simply put: I want to be available to put Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et al to work for my job, and for me that means maintaining an account at the very least, and quite often an active presence. To each his own, but that works for having knowledge at hand and an ability to move quickly to determine the worthiness of a platform for a task or program.
Oh – and I like to watch.
Posted on February 4, 2013 by Doug Haslam
We see a lot of studies and “research” in the world of social media. What is the most popular social network? What is the best time of day to Tweet? Do images draw more engagement than text or vice-versa?
We see studies come out from a variety of sources, and we use these sources to inform how we proceed in social media marketing. But do we know how real the numbers are? Are we being critical in our reading? Are we exercising the “responsibility of the audience?
I ask that not to cast aspersions on the survey data being published in various publications and blogs. I want to make sure that if we are repeating data, we are understanding its limitations, it biases and its real value.
Most recently, I noted that Google was touting that Google Plus was now the second-most popular social network. But what was the sample? What were the definitions of “active use?” Knowing who was asking those questions is more valuable to me than the data itself. It tells me who is taking this seriously and who is just lapping up data delivered to them regardless of the quality of the source.
In the case of the Google Plus data, I would want to be sure we are talking about intentional actions rather than the passive robotic motions of people who merely have Google accounts- are people really active? That is the biggest question to me. Google tried to answer those questions here, with some success. Even without complete answers, the trending data seems to show that there is growth in Google Plus, regardless of whether “second place” is accurate.
Years ago I worked for a research company. what I learned there was the value of a “statistically valid” sample in order to project authority. Even when I used our resources to produce research for marketing purposes (a valuable and worthwhile lesson), I had to make a strong effort to put together a survey sample of great enough variety and demographic to represent something meaningful. Even then, the methodology needed to be published alongside the data to let the audience account for some possible biases or errors.
More than knowing what data purports to tell you – question the source, Not because you will debunk the numbers, but because you need to know what you’re talking about if you want to be taken seriously.
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