Social Media Best Practices: Just Do It (Chris Brogan is Not Smarter than You)

I’m not going to lie. “Meme-tag” – when bloggers write about a particular topic, then “tag” several others to do the same – is fun, at least until it comes time to actually hold up your end of the game. Aaron Strout of Mzinga recently tagged me for the “Social Media Best Practices” meme, and actually sitting down and producing this post is in concert with my best practices suggestion.

First, the guidelines for this meme, which Mitch Joel (of the fabulously underproduced “Six Pixels of Separation” podcast) created:

It’s really simple to take part:

  1. Write a Blog post on your Social Media Marketing Best Practice. I’ll challenge you to choose just one (granted, you’re free to do whatever you want).
  2. Include links to other people who have written similar posts for this Social Media Marketing Best Practices writing project that have caught your attention, or include their insights in your own post (just make sure to give them proper attribution).
  3. Link back to this Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Blog. This will help me organize all of the content, it will help spread the word, and if you link back to this Blog and email me, I’ll make sure to include – at least – two links back to you. (note: you don’t have to do this, but I am trying to keep this as organized as possible).
  4. If you use Technorati Tags (or anything like it), please tag your post “social media marketing best practices project”.
  5. Feel free to tag other people in your post to get their opinion and help spread the project.

Easy enough? So here is my “best practice:”

Just Do It.

How many times have you not written a post, started a blog or podcast, commented on a blog or forum, or otherwise failed to participate because you felt your material was not up to snuff. As I have said elsewhere, it is not up to you decide if your content sucks. If you freeze and over-analyze before starting any social media content or outreach, your moment will pass and you will do nothing. Then, you lose.

I wrestled with this very idea before going ahead and starting this blog, and wrestle with it on a daily basis. Inevitably, some of my posts are clunkers, but others resonate, and they are not necessarily the ones I thought were my best. Why just do it?

  • As I said, if you don’t write/record/etc., then you have nothing. Get some material out there, let the world know you are alive, and let the community of commenters help shape where your material leads you- and them.
  • Social media sometimes looks like a mighty cold pool, but the water’s fine. Just dive in. Stuck for an idea? Publish the bones and turn it into a series as your idea fleshes out over time. Afraid of getting flamed for being stupid? You’re no dumber than the rest of us. Afraid of getting flamed for being controversial? Nothing wrong with a little attention, and again, the rest of us are no smarter than you. Chris Brogan is not smarter than you. He just posts a lot and finds a way to get that material out there consistently.
  • Be constant – smaller posts are ok, and are much better than fading and leaving the impression you have quit. Nobody needs to post every day, but set an expectation for frequency and keep to it.
  • Find ways to make posting easier. Start a series. My inconsistently-focused “Social Media Top 5” was started as a guarantee that I would post every week. Use technology. My “Uttercasts” are posted via mobile, and similarly ensure that I post a few days a week at least. Not all are brilliant, but I come by each thought honestly.

This is not to say you should eschew quality or professionalism– there are standards– but your best will rise to the top.

Now go out there and do it!

And I shall tag (forgive me if you have been tagged already):

Sandy Kalik

Cathryn Hrudicka
Aaron Brazell
Kyle Flaherty
Laura “Pistachio” Fitton

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Uttercast: You’re Surrounded


I often remind myself that we are products of our surroundings, and we solve our problems and generate our ideas based on our surroundings. The risk is getting stale. How to avoid that?

– Change your surroundings. Get out of the office, go to events, bring things into your office, expose yourself to media (blogs and podcasts!). Keep your surroundings fresh.

– Surround yourself with a variety of people. If you work in a team, interact frequently with the rest of the company. Participate in online groups and conversations (Twitter! Facebook! Blog Talk Radio!). The more people, the more potential ideas.

– Give to get. Unblock your mind by helping others. Sometimes we get great ideas through solving someone else’s problem.

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Social Media Top 5: Social Media High School Meets the Real Thing

Social media news and observations I came across while studying up for my appearance on the Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast this week:

  1. Social Media High School meets the real thing: I have noticed a number of high school classmates joining Facebook lately, so far the people who have friended me are people I don’t mind at all reconnecting with. Has there been some sort of push to get more reg’lar folks on Facebook? Has Generation X (a term I prefer not to be associated with, but by the book I belong to that group), finally started the march to take over social networking? It seems so random, but has me intrigued.
  2. Twitter has started an elections page– now you can view all the mindless rants, cheerleading, and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories on one page– and not just those written by your Twitter “friends!” So, is Twitter moving into groups or topic pages? Have they woken up to the potential market competition from Yammer, and the like? Is their back-end stable enough to avoid the fail whale? TechCrunch has more thoughts on the topic.

    Election 2008 | powered by Twitter

  3. For public relations folks- Renee Blodgett lays down some common sense about how pitching bloggers fits in with basic PR tactics. She says something I have been harping on for a long time, but more eloquently: that blogger relations is not a whole new set of PR skills, but a great opportunity to do remember how media relations is done properly– as human beings, not mass email marketers. Recommended reading for all PR folks.
  4. You know Dunbar’s number? It says that one can only have effective social relationships with up to 150 people at once. Despite most of my social networks going fr past that number, I agree with that premise. Certainly, I am not actively engaging with more than that number of people at any one time- but I see the larger worls (even my larger Twitter network base) as a series of “Little Dunbars” that overlap often, but operate independently. At least, this is how I feel about the problem of scalability as it pertains to businesses and their engagement in social network. Susan Getgood adds to this the notion of “fans.”
  5. Last: My current favorite viral video, at least until the new FreeCreditReport/ Rappin’ Ed McMahon ads come out, is Katie Couric’s interview with Tina Fey. Priceless. I wonder what Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign thought when they heard about this sketch:

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Uttercast: News Shortage?


I was surprised to hear via Utterli last night about gas shortages in North Carolina. Later a neighbor told me her friend in Georgia is experiencing even worse shortages.

I did a Google News search this morning and found only local coverage. Where’s the New York Times? The Today Show? It’s possible I missed some national coverage but it shouldn’t be so hard to find. As I conjure memories of 1970s gas lines I also wonder why this isn’t considered a big news story:

– Perhaps the mortgage bailout story swamps everything else
– Has the economic state of the news industry caused them to miss a regional story with potential national implications?

– Why the shortage? Is it the hurricanes? Something else? Why wasn’t the shortage anticipated?

Am I wrong in thinking this is a bigger story than the news media do? Is good old word of mouth, amplified by Twitter, Utterli et al, becoming a better source of news? Sometimes I wonder.

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Uttercast Stephen Baker’s ‘Numerati’


Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to a book signing for Stephen Baker’s (longtime businessweek reporter) "Numerati." Thanks to Scott Bauman ( of Greenough Communications for inviting, and Communispace for hosting.

I have yet to read the book, so no review here, but a couple of thoughts;

– Baker was genuinely excited by his subject, a good sign for any book (I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head as he talked), despite the seemingly geeky topic of how the guardians of reams of data- about us- are changing the world.

– As a PR guy, I noticed that Baker said after writing this book he is less eager to talk to CEOs and more inclined to talk to researchers. Counter-cultural, but makes sense.

– Re: "geeky" content- "Numerati is laid out in a storytelling style, so it should be an easy read. I’m interested in the "Blogger" chapter, simply because I want to know if the Numerati can figure out for me which bloggers affect what actions in their readers. True targeting. Is that too much to ask?

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Uttercast: Point of Reference


Do you remember where you parked? We all need a point of reference to keep us from getting lost. Similar to my idea of learning the rules before you can break them, you need a familiar spot to return to so that you can explore the unknown.

For the disorganized mind like mine, these frames of reference are important. The explorers had the stars, businesspeople have "business as usual," and last night I had my July statement after my bank balance got messed up in Quicken. You don’t have to return to these points but it’s nice to have them there.

Do you use frames of reference?

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Uttercast: PR & New Media Channels.


In the rush by many of us to embrace all things social media, sometimes we in public relations need to step back and ask- is this productive? Why should we pirsue the latest social media fad if only a fraction of the masses are using it? I have a few thoughts on why we don’t just drop the old media but yet must still pursue the unproven:

1) Existing audiences are most important. Simple. The Times et al may be shrinking but they’re still huge.

2) Clients- and PR people- can be unadventurous. Progress means the unadventurous now includes blogger outreach

3) Still- we must pursue some of the less "mainstream" social media channels, for two reasons:

– We need to be ready with the ones that do go mainstream

– New channels could happen to have the right audience- and many of them can be pushed to the better-performing ones (think – embedding YouTube videos on blogs and news sites)

What are your thoughts?

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Social Media Top 5: I’ve Gone Missing, Yammer & Twittering Free Speech

time for another Social Media Top 5. A lot going on this week:

  1. Social Media/Web 2.0 Trade Shows: I haven’t been in attendance lately. Am I slipping (by the way, David Parmet, I’m flattered you care)? Not that have I have always attended every show on the planet, but I can at least make people think I was there (such as at SXSW Interactive). I am, however, following the action from afar.

    Most notable was the Web 2.0 Expo in New York. In my absence, find a series of Twitter summaries here.

  2. Ever the provider of astute social media advice that I never have time to implement, Christopher Penn has now unveiled the Social Media Dashboard. He calls it the “Bloomberg for Social Media,” and if you are familiar with Bloomberg terminals you will understand right away- not that it’s difficult. It’s easy to make, customizable, and aimed at giving you all your info and news in one place. I promise to give this one a try. Soon.

    Here is Chris’s sample page:
    Social media dashboard

  3. Enterprise micro-blogging company Yammer won the TechCrunch 50’s top award, but will they take all of the enterprise micro-blogging market? Is there a market? Chris Brogan seems to think the integration of open-source into the Twhirl desktop application makes Yammer irrelevant. I say whatever is the least work will take hold faster. Wait a minute- is there an enterprise microblogging market? I hope so, it’s a cool idea.
  4. Smart-Guy Brian Solis smacks down the word “viral” at Web 2.0 Expo, as CNET’s Caroline McCarthy reports. He’s not the first to say that “viral” isn;t something a person can really do, but he does a good a job as anyone – as far as I can tell through this report – of explaining where relationships fit into PR and marketing in a Web 2.0 world. I would emphasize that the relationships we cultivate in PR are out there in the public now. As much as we push our clients first, more of the “behind the scenes” work is now exposed. This is something we should embrace.
  5. A journalism teacher at NYU bans Blogging and Twittering from the classroom– or is it about the classroom? Or did she actually ban it? so much double-talk in this story I’m not sure what’s the real story, but a journalism professor questioning the free speech and questioning instincts of students begs scrutiny. Professor Quigley, tear that firewall down!

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Uttercast: Mixing Politics, Social Media & Biz


Well, well, well- here we are in the first presidential race in the Twitter Age. While some candidates used Twitter- John Edwards did it best I thought- it’s the discussion among the rest of that remains. Political discussion online is not new, but Twitter places these discussions right in the middle of everything else that’s going on. Some folks are having a hard time with this new "noise" but in the U.S. that’s what we’re talking about.

What about those of us who mix the personal and professional on Twitter- and our blogs? Clients and employers have to get used to the mix of personal and business content, but politics can be polarizing- could it be bad for business relationships?

I tend not to get too deep into politics, but it’s not hard too figure out my leanings. Others differ- for one, my boss Todd Defren lets it all hang out sometimes at

Is it better to show commitment or avoid polarization? How does the business "you" factor in?

What do you think?

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Utterzcast: Afraid of Cat-Blogging?


Are you afraid you are cat-blogging? I don’t mean literally (heaven forfend), but are you afraid your content is trivial?

Don’t be, for two reasons. First, better to get your content out there and let the readers decide. Your nose for what works improves over time. Second, who are you to say your content isn’t worth publishing? Put it out there, it’s more brilliant than you think.

Microblogging, like Twitter et al, has lowered our resistance to from-the-hip posting, and I think that’s mostly for the good.

Except for cat blogging.

Yes, that’s my cat in the photo.

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