Uttercast: Respect Mah Twitori-tay!


Well, they’re at it again. We’re at it again. People in search of a way to look at how "authoritative" a Twitter message is have come up with a tool. Seesmic’s Loic LeMeur is one of the folks behind http://twitority.com/ Trouble is, authority is slippery. I don’t know how far beyond follower numbers Twitority goes, but numbers are not always relevant. If you have the right thing at the right time for the right people, then you have authority- even if you have 30 Twitter followers or a dozen Utterli pals you could start a traffic storm to a blog if you hit it just right. Find a way to capture and measure that and you’ve got gold.

My favorite post on this is from Mack Collier: http://moblogsmoproblems.blogspot.com/…ument.html

I don’t even watch South Park. I hope I got the reference in my headline correct. As far as the picture goes, I like to think the Scottish colors carried their own authority at times.

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Uttercast: So Facebook is Mainstream. Twitter?


Twitter is the stupid application that won’t go away. There are lots of signs that it is going mainstream- especially a constant, growing flow of press mentions (I felt a corner was turned when Twitter made the Sunday New York Times 3 times in one day).

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb says no way, Facebook is mainstream: http://snurl.com/98vow. Marshall says it’ll take 36 years for Twitter to catch up to Facebook in numbers.

I agree. Not because numbers matter, but because of this: in the last few months alone, my high school and college classmates, my neighbors, even my brothers are on Facebook. Facebook comes up at every gathering.

Twitter is still my hub, but even that goes through Facebook to reach everyone. Yup, Facebook is mainstream.

What the heck does "mainstream" mean anyway?

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Groundswell- This started out as a review…

groundswellMonths ago, I requested and received from Forrester Research a review copy of the book “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Little did they know it would take me months to get around to finishing it, or that I would try (and fail) to post my review via phone, limiting me to about 100 words. Like I just said, that failed, and this review will be slightly longer.

I’m not going to judge the quality of Groundswell. It’s pointless; this is an excellent book. I have always admired the work done at Forrester Research, and this book follows suit in thoroughness, though it reads much better than a research report. It’s not nearly so dry (ok, define “dry” but I didn’t get bored). Most of the authors of these too-many books on social media are pretty smart and make good cases. So rather than publish a book review, here are just a few observations:

Note: turns out I devolved into nitpicking below. Let’s just say Groundswell is an excellent book to dive into and use a basis for making the case for social media in your company. It brings as good a pack of case studies as any of these social media books, and has the credibility of Forrester Research behind it. And frankly, listing out the things I liked in the book is no fun beyond what I just wrote. So enjoy my nits– they’re more social media nitpicks than criticisms of the book anyway. Feel free to have at it in comments.

I do wish Li and Bernoff they had been more explicit about how to sell social media inside a company, and what chunk of a business social media might represent. Sure, one size doesn’t fit all, but people needing to sell social media need to figure out how to show how it’ll move the needle. Will case studies alone work? I think they might, but I’m not now in the position of having to try that. In short, recommending changes in entrenched corporations we all can agree is smart, but it just isn’t easy. I guess I’m looking for a manual rather than a narrative.

I was astounded at the estimated cost- -$283,000 for the first year – of starting an executive blog. If I presented that as a potential budget item, I’d probably be shipped off to the Presque Isle office (the epitome of the frozen outpost- a reference from my retail days– ok, just say “Siberia”). That sounds like a lot of lettuce. If I’m selling, I might limit my pitch to materials costs (using internal IT, emphasizing inexpensive blogging platforms, selling the enthusiasm that the blogging executive had better bring to the endeavor), as well as the benefits also laid out in the book.

OK, gosh, I’m picking nits– but while I’m at it, how are the BlendTec ads “conversation?” They’re commercial spots. Mr. BlendTec man is not dialoging with his customers, he’s starring in an extremely entertaining one-to-many video. That’s not the innovation, the media they chose to distribute was innovative and the ability to let people share the videos was ingenious– though I guess it’s old hat now.

(Gratuitous insertion of BlendTec video. Mmmm, guacamole….)

Really. I liked the book a lot. I can just get grouchy sometimes.

One last one: the vision of the “future” in Groundswell seems to rely on “push” technologies. I would argue that the fractured media audience is evolving towards more “pull” – on-demand viewing/reading/whatever. Of course, this may reflect a personal preference.

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Uttercast: What Fits?


I was going to use my Uttercast today to finally review the book "Groundswell." I figured much had already been said and I could fit my review in the 1000 characters I get on my phone.

It turns out I can’t get everything in such a small space; 100-200 words.

Are these small spaces enough to get in a meaningful idea? Yes, but perhaps not a point-by-point recounting of an event or piece of media.

In this case, I found the idea dictated the medium- ine that supported at least a few hundred words rather than the short bursts I am limited to here.

Do you try to jam content into a medium or do you find a medium to fit each piece of your content? It seems that in each case, a mix is in order.

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Uttercast: Relationship vs. Value in PR


Last night I took part in a chat among journalists, bloggers & PR flacks, called "journchat." For summaries of these Monday talks, use Twitter Search for"journchat" or go to http://journchat.info/. There was too much to follow, but one discussion I took part in was one about PR relationships with journalists.

I have ranted about "rolodex PR" before so I’ll boil it down to 2 of my missives:

"Most PRs who sell themselves based on their relationships with journalists are lying." The lie to me is that they imply guaranteed coverage. Don’t fall for that when hiring a PR firm. I’ll take a good pitcher without relationships if I must choose.

"Want a relationship? I have info that’ll help you write a good story. There’s my &*%$# relationship." Do reporters really want to be our buddies? No, they want us to be good sources.

Am I out of line here? I don’t think so.

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Bonus: As part of the discussion, i linked to Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, noting that my knowing him doesn’t mean he’ll write about my client. I think I caught him by surprise (but yes, he did get the joke).

(btw: Marshall doesn’t drink coffee)

Social Media Top 5: Twitter Shrinkage, Digital Grown-Ups & Bad (Mrs.) Santa

The social media follower-counter’s nightmare: Twitter decided to purge deleted and suspended accounts from the system, sending users’ “followers” totals plummeting overnight. The good news– if you passed a “round number” milestone, you get to pass it again. Shiny!

Did social media kill the PR star? No, I agree with Shannon Cherry that PR needs to adopt social media tools and methods (or continue to) in order to adapt to changing media. On the one hand I could file that under “no duh” but Shannon makes a very good point about PR people practicing “the way they learned it in college or from their first mentor.” This begs the question, “is our PR children learning?” Two years ago, I observed that some schools were just starting to catch on to social media in Pr. I can only assume that has gotten more prevalent since then. Certainly, Boston has seen more social media-savvy PR grads in the last two years. We also have some high-profile Pr profs such as Robert French at Auburn and Mihaela Vorvoreanu at Clemson.

What do you say, students and professors?

Recommended Interviews I: A lively interview on the “For Immediate Release” podcast of Michael Cherenson, incoming chair of the Public Relations Society of America. In the US at least, I feel this organization, and particularly its local chapters, could be the place where social media integration messages finally get through to people who aren’t immersed in social media yet. Why? Precisely because the association encompasses all PR, not just the social media fishbowl. That’s not necessarily what this interview is about, but that’s all I could think about while listening.

Recommended Interviews II: Don Tapscott interviewed on the “Net@Night” podcast. Tapscott’s latest book, “Grown Up Digital,” seems ot be working to dispel the myth of the Internet destroying the younger generation’s collective mind. Important is that the thought turns to working with a new generation’s new methods rather than conforming them to the old. I am looking forward to reading the book, and to the debates it starts through the new year.

Bad Santa viral video: Not as good as the “Obama lost by one vote because of you” video, but the “North Pole Sex Scandal” personalized viral video was still funny. Unfortunately, no embed link (what?) so I can’t put the video in this post for you to see. That’s what the kids call a “fail.” Well, here’s a link in case that works.

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Uttercast: Reading Critics Critically


I love music and movies, and the biggest challenge in trying to find new sources of art and entertainment is in figuring out what the critics are really saying.

The best critics know not only whether and why they like something, but also anticipate how their readers might disagree.

Case in point: the Boston Globe dinged the recent "Speed Racer" film because it never let up in its onslaught of color and action. That’s precisely why I liked the movie and was fortunate to be able to discuss this with the reviewer, Ty Burr, later on.

For music- can you see through a lackluster review to see what an artist is trying for? Again, good critics will share that. Good readers go beyond to find what they need to know. The latest Mojo Magazine, for example, paints a picture of the band Oasis in such disarray that they sabotaged their new album. That certainly influenced my opinion as much as any review.

Apply this to any media you consume. Are you a critical audience?

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Uttercast: Blogging Blue-Light Specials


So Chris Brogan (http://www.chrisbrogan.com/…and-trust/) threw a few noses out of joint when he ran a sponsored post on his dad-o-matic blog. Good for him. Perhaps he worried in retrospect that he didn’t disclose enough in advance what he would be doing, since he had an advisory capacity in the firm, Izea, that ran the ad campaign for K-Mart. I’m not sure he did the wrong thing there, but lesson learned in pleasing the "hard core purist" social media audience. Remember, Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang got flack for trying out the Magpie ad service on Twitter (http://www.web-strategist.com/…inishing/). He was just experimenting, but people got bent out of shape.

Fact is- again- that the early adopters and purists aren’t the only social media stakeholders out there any more. The only question in my mind (despite my statement a few posts back that I "don’t want to monetize my blog") is not should marketing and sponsorships appear in social media, but are the people doing it ethically? We’re going to see more of this, not less.

And anyway, I think Chris has got Moxie.

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Uttercast: Social Media Intrusions


There is lots of talk about social media etiquette these days, and the only hard rule I can come up with is there are no hard rules. That doesn’t mean I can’t occasionally rant about things that bug me. Yesterday, I took on the practicing of automatically "direct messaging" people when they follow you. I follow people back in groups, so get a ton of DMs every time I do so. This is extremely disruptive, even though most are from well-meaning folks just trying to say "thanks for following me." I’m not the type to unfollow folks for that reason, but is it unreasonable to frown on this practice? Should those of us who have been on the social networks longer just relax? I tend to say yes, who am I to make rules? But I also reserve the right to crab about stuff that bothers me.

Twitter is very noisy. Automatic DMs just add to the noise.

Your thoughts?

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UPDATE 12/29/2008: Chris Brogan has had it with auto-DMs too– nice post, maybe he will get more people to stop doing it.

And friend Laura Fitton has a survey still up about the issue, if you want to share your opinion there.

Social Media Top 5: Social Change, Etiquette, and the Facebook Generation hits DC

Social Media Breakfast Boston Fights Hunger, Virtually: Even a Kool-Aid swilling social media enthusiast like me was impressed at the power of a small act multiplied. The breakfast, themed “Social Media for Social Change,” featured speakers Beth Kanter of Beth’s Blog and many endeavors such as Cambodia4Kids, Gradon Tripp of SM4SC (Social Media for Social Change), and Frank Day of Firstgiving. What was remarkable, though, was not the presentations or Q&A, but the food drive. Yes, people brought in canned goods for the Boston food Bank. But also, Tyson Foods promised to fill a truck with 100 pounds of food for every comment left on their Hunger Relief blog that day. The result? More than 700- comments in less than four hours, and two full trucks of food on its way to Boston.

Great Tweet From @TysonFoods

Next? We don’t have to be Beth or Gradon to do something, and we don’t have to be public about it either. This reminds us we can use our personal brands for more than polishing our egos or profiles, but to help others. Ok, that sounds gushy, but as far as I’m concerned you can interpret “help others” any way you want.

Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Guide: To be honest, this list of social media etiquette “rules” is well thought-out, but too long for me to read and absorb, as it separates out the different types of popular social networks. I would just boil it down to this: a sensible, ethical approach to any social network is the only simple rule for me. How would you want to be treated on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? that’s how you should act. Sure, people will have different ideas that butt up against each other, but then those discussions are always a part of the fun, aren’t they?

For PR folks like me: a great reminder that it’s stressful to be a journalist (OK, an awkward, embarrassing yet still hilarious reminder):

More Principles of Social Media: Not to encourage jargony corporate-speak, but maybe someone should write these in a way that they can present to company brass, while selling social media. Not that this was An Bui’s intent for the blog, but I have trouble imagining saying “Karma is Real” when trying to ask the Big Boss for more social media budget.

The Facebook Principle Hits the New Administration:
I won’t even repost the picture here because it’s silly. But a Facebook photo of an Obama staffer doing, well, impolite things to a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout got a bit of reaction, including a humorous public response from Senator Clinton. The private response? Hmmm… Just another lesson that all our lives are melding together. As the first post-YouTube/Facebook administration prepares to take office, we will get a lokk at how online content enters into the vetting process. Will Facebook “red cup” photos be the new “Nannygate?”

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