Social Media Top 5: Writer’s Block, Real Value of Location Services & Promotional POV

Writer's Block

Writer's Block by thorinside on Flickr

1- Writer’s Block.

I have skipped some weeks writing my Social Media Top 5 posts on this blog lately.
  • Am I burnt out? Other friends in the industry are saying similar things– there seems to be a general malaise, with some folks feeling burnt out on writing about social media- are we running out of ideas to talk about? Is that a bad thing?
  • Are social media bloggers not breaking new ground? I think that may be true- to a point. I often take blogging ideas from other posts (along with news)- and there does not seem to be a lot out there lately that makes me want to write. I blame the community. You’re all coming up short. Give me something good to steal! I don’t want to read any more over-simplified “duh” posts on social media strategy (not that “101” is bad)- I want to see more “how,” more case studies (see next bullet), and more feather-ruffling. Stop boring me, and I’ll promise the same (as soon as my charity bike ride is done).
  • Is client work taking precedence? Absolutely. Not having ideas to write about is not the same as being unable to come up with ideas for clients, and help them develop their strategies for social media. The folks actually doing work for clients are either implementing things already written (so just wait for the hoped-for case studies, such as this one my company, Voce Communications, published on a Sony Playstation implementation), or simply can’t talk about a work-in-progress or proprietary information, even if it is fascinating.
  • Am I simply preoccupied? Sure, other things taking up attention in my life probably detract from writing, but that’s never an excuse.
It’s probably a combination of these factors. All that said, there are a few things that are getting me going lately. Maybe I’m ready to re-energize…
2- Location-Based Services (huh!) What are They Good For?
Good God, y’all, we’re still talking about location-based services (LBS is apparently catching on as an acronym)
My good friend Aaron Strout wrote a thoughtful post on LBS – like Foursquare and Gowalla- and wondering if they are indeed just shiny objects or if they are good for something. There are lots of great comments on the post, so dive in.
This is something I wrestle with a lot as a social media marketer. After all, Foursquare for retail and hospitality makes sense, but what about other companies? We get paid to make recommendations, don’t we? My two cents: LBS is a data goldmine. Many companies need to stop thinking about how they engage on Foursquare et al (I know- heresy! it’s fine for retail and hospitality shops, of course), and think more about what this activity tells us about the users. Let the users engage with each other while the world discovers what they want and like to do.
I’m not talking about creating a privacy problem here- group data, aggregated anonymously, is not so invasive and is used, commonly and effectively, in all sorts of market research. So, will Foursquare or Gowalla sell data, or start research arms? I’m not going to pretend to know yet, but it’s an interesting notion. What do you think?

3- Whose Promotion is it, Anyway?

A recent promotion by the Virgin America airline caught my eye this week. They were promoting new routes to Toronto by giving free flights to influential Twitterers. It caught my eye in part because I flew Virgin this week (I am actually on one of their planes as I type this online- nice!), even though I have no plans to go to Toronto.What also caught my interest was that some folks (including frequent Google Buzz correspondent Judy Gombita) apparently thought that this was a promotion for Klout, the service that measures Twitter influence.

It didn’t occur to me they were driving it- in fact I failed to note they were involved as a partner (probably because I’m dense- sorry, Greg). witness this post (and, again, comments) by Jenna Stothers to see what I mean, along with the obligatory hard feelings by hardcore Twitterers who were not picked. It’s interesting how one’s point of view can affect even the perception of whose promotion it is.

By the way, my Klout score is… nah, I’m not playing that.

4,5 – That’s All For Now

I’m not completely over my writer’s block yet

Pan-Mass Challenge Update: 50-Miler, & Almost to Fundraising Goal!

Pn-Mass Challenge preparations are coming along nicely– first off, fundraising, has passed the $3,000 mark, thanks to many of you. I have only $1,200 left to meet my initial goal. You can help beat cancer by sponsoring my PMC ride at (and by telling your friends).

Training update: we finally stretched things to 50 miles! A bunch of us at various stages of training- one who does 100 mile rides year-round, another who was joining us for the first time, and the rest of us in-between- rode together for a 54.5 mile ride through several Massachusetts towns: Newton, Wellesley, Wayland, Natick, Framingham, Sudbury, Lincoln, Concord and Weston.

Some nice scenery and good paceline riding made for a great ride. Almost ready for the Big One August 7-8!

Pan-Mass Challenge Training: 50-Miler from Doug Haslam on Vimeo.

Again, you can help by sponsoring my ride at All money raised goes directly to the Dan Farber Cancer Institute.

Thank you!

Pan-Mass Challenge Update (Not a) Solo Ride

The Pan-Mass Challenge is in less than two months (August 7-8)! Fundraising and training have both picked up. Here’s a short update below- and to join in as a PMC ride sponsor to help beat cancer, please go to– and thank you!

I took off last Saturday (June 12) on what I thought would be a solo ride, only to be overtaken by the Crack of Dawn riders. It’s a lot nicer to ride with people (not to mention faster).

After finishing the CoD “pre-ride” with the group, we collected at Nahanton Park, the first time I joined the Saturday groups on their rides through Dover.

I was actually in tough shape that day and slowed at the end, but I had a nice ride and logged 42 miles in all.

Pan-Mass Challenge: (Not a) Solo Ride from Doug Haslam on Vimeo.

Postscript: I hopped back on the bike Tuesday, June 15 with a pair of my riding buddies, and our customary short weekday ride was our best yet. We rode in a paceline and had our fastest-ever training time. I think we will be ready!

The PMC is a charity ride in which we raise money to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. 100% of the funds we raise pass through directly to the charity. Last year riders raised $30 million, and over 30 years that figure has totaled $270 million!

Please help me fight cancer by sponsoring my ride at, and help by spreading the word. As of this posting I still have $1400 to go!

Tony Cennamo: Jazz Lover, Teacher and Mentor

This week saw the passing of Tony Cennamo, a legend in the Boston Jazz and Radio scenes.

Tony was a lot of things to a lot of people: jazz expert, music lover, family man, veteran, Brooklynite, baseball fanatic, Jeopardy! addict, stroke survivor, teacher, combatant (or debater, if you prefer, but remember he was from Brooklyn), and more…

To me, he was a mentor, a source of definitive knowledge about jazz, my 5 am ride home. Tony was my teacher at Emerson, co-worker at WBUR, and a friend (though I will admit I could have been a lot better the last few years).

For a more formal obituary of Tony, see the Boston Globe, and there are two nice remembrances at WBUR-FM’s website  by former colleague Steve Elman and his wife, Carine Kolb.

Photos? Alas I have none I feel I can rightfully use, but there are a few good ones at the MySpace page maintained by Tony’s son, James.

Marvin Hamlisch, Go To Your Room

It never occurred to me to wonder what it was like to know Tony before he had his stroke in 1986. I first met him in 1988 when I was a student at Emerson College. Tony was teaching Jazz History, and I wanted in. I heard he was cantankerous which was intriguing and a little intimidating,, but I love jazz music and wanted to learn. I was already a jazz DJ at WERS-FM, Emerson’s student radio station, so I figure I had a good start.

Tony came as promised: uncompromising, demanding respect (for the music more than for himself) from the students, but also with a great facility for storytelling and a sharp sense of humor. He wove many stories of the history of jazz- including rebukes to musicians who got things wrong.

My favorite: when talking about Scott Joplin and ragtime music as a precursor to jazz, Tony, brought up the film the “Sting” and its use of Joplin’s music. The problem? The film was set in the 1930s, and Joplins music was written 30 years or more earlier, creating an unforgivable anachronism. Tony’s comment? “Marvin Hamlisch (who won an Oscar for his travesty), go to your room.”

I’m Wearing A Cardboard Belt

A couple years later, I found myself working at WBUR-FM, manning the overnight shift as the board operator for Tony’s “All Night Long” program. As an on-air person myself, I enjoyed filling in for Tony when he took nights off, but it was the nights we were there together that were the best. On air, he called me his “aide de campe” (and I assume those who followed me got similar sobriquets). If I liked the Emerson class, then my nights with Tony were a Masters Degree in jazz history. He taught me to appreciate big bands (which I had gotten snobby about), particularly emphasizing the genius of Duke Ellington as a composer and bandleader. He also further defined for me his uncompromising attitude towards quality. I will never forget, for example, his apoplectic response to a caller who asked him to play Earl Bostic. Let’s just say Earl Bostic was not on the top of his list.

I also got to learn more about the past so factually laid out in the above-linked stories: his days in the Air Force, including his integrated band and his work with Boys’ Town; his time at CBS in the 60s, and WCAS in Cambridge a little later; and of course multitudes of stories about jazz legends past and present that Tony came to know, such as Bill Evans and Charles Mingus, but more importantly many lesser-known great musicians.

A few I got to meet, which exposed me to some of the lifelong friendships Tony had formed: singer Mark Murphy, for example, as well as the vocal duo Jackie and Roy, to name two (well, three) off the top of my head. I also got to know one of the most generous spirits out there, Rebecca Parris, and legendary alto sax player and longtime friend of Tony’s, Phil Woods.

We also shared a love of baseball and movies- to my delight, I discovered Tony was fond of throwing out lines from the film “The Producers” (a favorite of mine from a young age) at randome moments: “I’m wearing a cardboard belt!” Is one I still use frequently.

Later, I was lucky enough to be among the people Tony would call (just don;lt call him when Jeopardy is on) and occasionally meet with, a highlight being his taking me to a concert by the Gil Evans band led by his son Miles.

So how starstruck was I? That’s not the point. It was Tony’s world, and for a time at least I was living in it.

While I was unforgivably terrible about keeping in touch the last few years, he is, and will be, missed.

Social Media Top 5: UrbanDictionary Style Guide & More Movies to Mash with FourSquare

Overload and the Social Media Top 5

I will never succumb to using the term “attention crash” (though I am prone to frequent “attention fender-benders”), but my attempt to split the Social Media Top 5 posts into single topic posts was a failure. The whole reason for creating a series like this was to make sure I posted every week, and while I thought better discussion might erupt from splitting these into single-topic posts, I also note that no posts at all results in no discussion at all. So, the Social Media Top 5 returns, to force my mindset into more consistent writing (here and elsewhere).

I originally started the Top 5 as a jokey response to the “news roundup” posts that friends were doing, posts that I felt provided no context. Of course, I just made fun of news or outright made items up, before morphing it into something (slightly) more thoughtful. Today, a little more snark because that’s how I feel.

This also leads me back to my tenet about keeping a blog going: create a “feature,” make it regular (weekly?) and stick with it. Yes, I do make the time when I feel there is a deadline to meet, even if it is self-imposed.

How do you keep your content consistent? Do you have a system?

AP Stylebook Adds Social Media Guidelines

Nothing can make social media and other “new” communications seem so unhip as to have terms added to the AP Stylebook. As reported by Mashable, terms such as “fan, “friend”  (and “unfriend”) and “follow” were added, among nearly 40 other things. Mashable’s Adam Ostrow didn’t know that POS mean “Parent Over Shoulder?” Go to your room.

This is all great, but a more urgently needed set of standards is one for While the pseudo-wiki approach of voting on user-submitted terms works well in general, a more authoritative guide to slang usage will help prevent boners (oops!) such as professional athletes legally changing their name to “Boof” or social media professionals tragically misusing the word “Twink” when trying to coin Twitter-centric phrases. someone needs to get on this ASAP.

Recreating Movies with FourSquare

Interesting- and fun- that Chicago’s tourism office is using FourSquare to get people to recreate “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Allow me to suggest a few other movies:

After Hours” (New York) starring Griffin Dunne and directed by Martin Scorsese. Bonus badges for following the timeline. Maybe we can get John Heard to show up in surprising places (or Cheech & Chong).

“Henry and June” (Paris): As the first movie to earn the newly made-up NC-17 rating, being the first to score the FourSquare NC-17 badge would truly be an honor none can take away. Twitpics and Ustreaming optional.

“The Thomas Crown Affair” (Boston): My town, I pick the movie. You will not be disappointed.

An American Werewolf in London” (um, London): More Griffin Dunne goodness here. Bonus “undead” badge for posting rotting-corpse makeup pics.

“My Dinner with André” (New York): Nah, just messin’ FourSquare is nothing if not a ton of mini dinners-with André, isn’t it? No? Ok never mind.

Experimentation and Switching Tools

My Flip Ultra HD video camera died recently, so I took the opportunity to replace it with the Kodak Zi8 that many friends are raving about. This is leading me down a rathole of experimentation. For example, the noisiness of the camera mount on my bicycle (I record training rides as I prepare for the Pan-Mass Challenge) bothers the subpar microphone, but the Kodak allows for an external mic. I bought a lavaliere mic to try, but am I making my recording rig too complicated?

I am determined to experiment further, so I will give it a try. The mic problems led me down another experimental road- replacing the natural soundtrack with music. It worked out well, I thought (see below and judge), leading me to think about mixing both microphone sounds and music in future videos.

Pan-Mass Challenge: First 40-miler from Doug Haslam on Vimeo (I know, I already posted this- it’s about context, see?).

What we learn in personal use of social media helps us in applying it to our jobs. I am sure this applies outside of social media as well, but I will let you provide examples in comments if you so wish.

Still Podcasting

Speaking of applying this to work, at Voce Communications I have continued my podcast co-production with Jim Storer of The Community Roundtable, “Conversations with Community Managers.” The latest is a talk with Lisa Beatty of Jane Nation. Have a listen here at the Voce Nation blog.

Pan-Mass Challenge: First 40-Miler

What a weekend– I got out 3 of 4 days, ending with our first 40-mile ride of the training season, and I really feel like we’re snapping into shape as we train for the Pan-Mass Challenge.

Fundraising, as I mentioned in my last post, is going well, but we are still only 60% of the way to my personal $4,200 goal. If you would like to help beat cancer by sponsoring my ride, please go to:  Thank you!

The video from Memorial Day is a little different, as I tried out a music soundtrack while working out the other audio problems associated with my new Kodak Zi8 camera. It adds a different dimension, which I think I like. Further experimentation will follow.

Pan-Mass Challenge: First 40-miler from Doug Haslam on Vimeo.

If you get the impression I started thinking 40 miles is a real accomplishment; the fellow I passed near the end of the video told me later he was 56 miles into a 70 mile trip, with a 6-mile run scheduled later. He’s a triathlete. I’m just some guy on a bike, having a great time.