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


  1. I blame the heat.

    I also blame — I think people are a bit tapped because a lot got into Social Media at more or less the same time. There’s a natural life cycle to online communities and engagement, and I suppose there’s something of a natural lifecycle to inspiration in a topic as well.

    As for using foursquare et al for group analysis — this is somewhat similar to what Stephen Baker mentioned at the Enzee Conference recently. Sense Networks ( is a company that aggregates cel phone data in an effort to understand what certain tribal groups of people are doing. If that can be predicted, and if tastes can emerge from that, then the data can be used to directly market. Bull’s-eye.

    But, alas, data can be readily misinterpreted. If a tribe goes to a particular address at 2 AM most nights, are they frequenting a new hotspot? What if it turns out that that’s a hospital? Does it mean it’s a tribe of doctors? Or patients? Or families of patients? Or are these people perhaps brawlers or drug abusers, recovering from the effects of a typical (for them) Saturday night?

    Data, good. Running off in the wrong direction with said data, not so good.

    Good luck with the ride.

  2. Janet,

    Thanks for the comments! As for the “hot spot,” context is everything, and as for data, any data can be manipulated to say what we prefer it to say. It’s just the way it is.

    I’m sure the cycle of blah social media posts will end. I’ll spend that time doing good work with clients- and hoping that some of it will be shareable as case studies or whatnot.

  3. Brian

    Social Media is a very large growing segment in todays generation. Lots of corporate IT departments are asking themselves whether or not to block social media (aka Enterprise 2.0) applications like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc. What they often don’t realize is that they can safely enable these applications through the use of smart policies. That way employees can take advantage of the benefits of these powerful platforms, while risky or counterproductive features can be selectively blocked! Palo Alto Networks has put together a great whitepaper to help you understand how this new firewall technology works. It’s called “To Block or Not. Is That the Question?” and you can find it here: Let me know what you think…

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