Social Media Top 5: (Mostly) Nice About Infographics, Blog Topics, Sock Monkeys & Brand Control

1- I Don’t Hate All Infographics

I have posted here grumpily about infographics in the past. People rely on them too much, many of them are too busy, and rather than simplifying a complicated topic, they often make a simple topic terrifyingly complex. These things are not shiny tools to make your blog post look pretty. Every image on your site should have a purpose.

This past week, I found a couple I liked.

This first one, a fun graphic from outlining the bar tab the Boston Bruins charged up for their Stanley Cup victory celebration, is great. It doesn’t violate my senses or give me a headache, and any tennsy weensy bits are ok to ignore, as they graphically support the one huge theme: a $156,000 bar tab (I’d love a bite of that tip):


The second is a little gaudier, which leaves me queasy, but still leaves consumption of the details optional, all in service of the major point- showing what happen on the web in a typical 60-second span (h/t Neville Hobson, infographic by Shanghai Web Designers):

See? I’m not always grumpy.

2- You Don’t Have to Like a Venture to Tip Your Hat to the Results

When my friend Chris Brogan started his $10/month “Blog Topics” venture, many people, including me, jumped on it, questioning the value of the service. Chris’ main defense was to essentially yell “Scoreboard!” and point to the number of people who signed up. Ok fine, but I still wasn’t sold on the idea of a one-size-fits-all blog topic ideas newsletters for people with, presumably, all sorts of different blogs with different audiences. I’m still not, but I do want to give credit to Chris for publishing examples of blog posts by customers who use the service. So, it’s not for me, and I’m not going to trouble to try to judge the posts or blogs involved, but– good move. Show results.

Geez, there I go again being all positive.

3- Why I Changed My Facebook Avatar

In my grumpy persona, I say I never change my avatar on social networks; too many silly celebrations, and it clouds my identity online for… what, exactly? Well, I made an exception this past week, as I joined friends in supporting Jennifer Stauss Windum’s WTF (Where’s the Funding?) Lung Cancer campaign. During a recent health scare, Jennifer brought sock monkeys to her mother, who has Stage IV lung cancer (no, she never smoked). I’m ambivalent to cute, but I was certainly willing to show my support by changing my avatar in support- after all, I changed my avatar to honor my father when he passed from pancreatic cancer. Jennifer writes more about the sock monkeys here:









4 – Media Bullseye Radio Roundtable

I resumed my monthly guest-host duties on CustomScoop’s Radio Roundtable podcast, talking with Jennifer Zingsheim about QR Codes (no, they;re not dead), Klout-gate (not  scandal but an interesting-yet-deeply-flawed Facebook venture), and the notion of “loss of control” of a brand in social media (see #5)

I’ve been way too positive in this post, so here goes; a post by John Haydon over at Razoo had a nice point, that nonprofits need to consider that their constituents support the cause (or the brand) for wildly divergent, usually quite personal, reasons. I agree wholeheartedly and extend that thought to how brands, ideally, would consider their own customers. Unfortunately, the post brought up a notion that makes me steam: that companies ad nonprofits somehow “lose control”of their message and brand on social media. This has made me nuts for years; nothing has changed with social media, in terms of brand perceptions. Sure, it’s easy to see what people say about you in social media channels, and now they’ll say it to your “face.” However, the idea that people didn’t take apart your brand in pre-social media days is silly.

Want control? Have a good product, service and message. People will gladly parrot your messages if they are good, accurate, and portray something they like. Why should they spend the time and effort making up their own branding for you – unless you force their hand by force-feeding them something they hate? Be good, and you keep control.




Social Media Top 5: Through Being Awesome, Content Quality & My Checkins Are Interesting

One: OK, You’re Awesome- Now Get to Work

We hear a lot in the social media world about being “awesome.” some of the people who espouse this are great friends, others are simply well-known within our little industry. I’m all for building up our confidence with supportive epithets like this, I’m all for building up our own egos to the point that we are not afraid to do great work- but at some point we just need to show the work and stop speaking in bromides.
Maybe it’s just me– I’ve always had an aversion to the “self-empowerment” tropes, because. they tend to cross the line from helping people become self-assured into a tiresome Cult of Me. whatever happened to Being Awesome and not pushing other people to do it your way? Blah, I digress.
By the way, the word’s not just “awesome.” It can be anything, I’m just hearing that one a lot again right now.

OK, you’re awesome, I’m awesome- stop talking about it now and get to work and show your employers and clients that awesomeness.

Two: Levelator on video– simple media quality tasks
I am a big booster of “good enough” multimedia. By “good enough” I don’t mean “good enough to get by,” but “meeting a minimum technical requirement without taking your attention away from good content. People- and companies- have fallen hard for the “Flip cam” mentality of do-it-yourself style content. This make it easier to get things produced, but does not excuse poor content. What’s the floor? How about and audio podcast that is on a fascinating topic, with an interview of a fascinating person, but is unlistenable because the sound levels are all over the place? That helps noone– it just wastes everybody’s time, including the podcaster and interviewee.
That’s why I’m always happy to point to posts like this one by Christopher Penn, a step-by-step tutorial on using Levelator (I’m a huge fan) to improve audio in movies you edit with iMovie. It’s pretty simple, and can keep you from wasting your time and that of others.

Three: Someone Cares About Your Post– Don’t Listen to the Haters.

I have recently seen posts by people (I’m not even going to link because we all post silly one-off rants that may or may not represent our overall social media personae) looking down on what I call “mundane” checkins. For example, if you use Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places to check in to your daily Starbucks visit, well, that’s just a waste of space and nobody’s interested (bevause, perhaps, there are no celebrities, natural or man-made disasters, or free schwag involved).


Noone should be telling you what is interesting or what is not when it comes to personal posting. I publish my checkins at the YMCA because people frequently comment on or like them, whether as inspiration to work out themselves, or to encourage me. Often I don’t even know, but appreciate it.

Brands certainly like it when you mention them. People near you may be interested, and the more context you add the better, but even the fact you are at a place or doing a certain thing is a signal to people you  know. People who don’t care are wasting time asking you not to bother– they need to filter better.

We talk to our friends a lot, and some of the messages are subtle and passive. That’s OK. To the haters, well, ignore and move on — but don’t tell us what’s worthy– we, in turn, should ignore you. Yeah, I posted the following photo of my lunch to Twitter.

My lunch IS a celebrity

"My lunch IS a celebrity"

Four: I went to the Bruins Rolling Rally (and Yes, I checked in)


Five: I Got Nothing Else– I Hope You All Had a Great Father’s Day.

Pan-Mass Challenge Update: All Momentum, Fundraising & Miles

It has been a while since I have blogged about my Pan-Mass Challenge efforts, but that has not been for lack of activity. It’s hard to believe it, but the PMC is less than two months away (August 6-7), and I am starting to feel a sense of urgency about training. The good news is I am on pace with last year’s training in terms of miles (I keep track using Evernote, and haven’t dived in yet to Android apps like MapMyRide or Runkeeper- perhaps I need a  push).

Weekday rides have started picking up steam, I have gotten back to good weekend rides since taking some time off to help  tend to my father’s illness and funeral, and I feel very strong in the saddle. As long as I continue to put in miles and get in a few longer (50+ miles) rides, I think I’ll be fine.

More important has been the fundraising. The outpouring of support since my father died of pancreatic cancer has been amazing, and I am well ahead of schedule compared to last year. However, I am still nearly $2,000 short of my goal, and need your help. If you can, please support my ride at If you can’t please spread the word to others who might be moved by the cause of beating cancer. As ever, 100% of funds raised goes to support the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

I leave you with a video mix of a couple of recent rides. I have been having trouble with the audio on my Kodak PlaySport, which seems to vibrate on the bike handlebars- my solution has been to find some music to play, and I think this piece does nicely (it’s “The Aftermath Never Adds Up” by Leaving Richmond). In future videos I will be experimenting with a ContourHD camera. I’ll be certain to let you know how that goes.

As always, thank you for supporting my ride against cancer, whether through money, words, or thoughts.


Social Media Top 5: Do You Know Where That App’s Been?; QR and Proud; and *sigh* Dunbar Again

Rotten To The Core

The Social Media Equivalent of Picking Rotten Food Off the Ground and Eating It in Front of Your Friends

Recently on Facebook, friends have tagged me in a “Friendmatrix” photo. FM is an app that takes photos of your Facebook friends and makes a collage out of them. My first question, as someone who is always looking for useful Facebook applications, is “Is that all this does? So what?” (technically 2 question, I know).  The answer, as far as a I can tell, is, “Yes.” It does nothing else besides having a new cute way to linkbait your friends on Facebook. If I wanted to do something that useful and ego-stroking, I would go to the much nicer-looking Intel “Museum of Me.” I have no time to pursue empty apps, though a few people in my industry apparently do.

Next, I was slightly alarmed at reports that FM may be a phishing scam. This link shows the site and app have a “poor reputation,” for security and privacy, though with 2 million users. Is it a scam? I don’t know, but I’m staying away until I know it isn’t it.

Back to the people in my industry- did they vet the site or application before trying it? I would shudder to think what my colleagues at Voce Communications or worse, my clients, would think if I were publicly trying out apps that could potentially be malware or phishing scams. It’s the social media equivalent of picking up rotten food from the ground and eating it for everyone to see. Who would want to do that and be taken seriously?

QR Code Cupcake

They’re Here, They’re QR Codes, Get Used to Them

I’m not sure Dave Wieneke, author of this Ad Age piece on QR Codes really means they are “Dead” (such a pet peeve of mine) but he does refer to them as a “dead-end technology.” OK, so I am angry to be deprived of the opportunity to rant against a “this technology is dead before anyone got a chance to use it”  post.  While I do agree that not everyone with a smartphone magically know what a QR Code is, and also agree that a thoughtless campaign based on an unexplained QR code display just because QR’s are “cool” are themselves dead-ends.

I fear that people will take pieces like this and declare the technology dead before they got really interesting. This isn’t RSS- a back-end technology that has no real business trying to explain itself to the average consumer- it’s an evolution of something very familiar- the bar code, that people have already been trained to scan on their own in supermarkets. The familiarity is not far off, and the adoption is already there- even by small businesses- I was in a party store the other day to buy cupcakes, and by the register was a small sign with a QR code and the simple note “scan this” promising more information on the store and its products.

Patience, people.

Twitter, Facebook, Social Media and Measurement

I’m sorry I had to miss Tom Webster’s presentation at Blogworld, and this post urging people to rethink how people consider brand effectiveness on social media is why. No one should be surprised that Facebook is more popular than Twitter, and I’m certainly not surprised that people engage with brands on Facebook more than Twitter, but the magnitude in Tom’s research is a bit surprising. It merits further consideration, at the least. I would like to see if this information is repeated in other studies.

Dunbar Strikes (Feebly) Again

“Dunbar’s Number,” usually quoted as 150, is the standard for the maximum number of relationships one’s brain can hold. A new study, detailed in this post, shows that limit again. I understand that, and always have. What I expect is that a new round of people is running around trying to shame and shush those who would dare to follow more than 150 people on any given social network. Rubbish. I still stand by my contention that attention can be compartmentalized and that my notion of “baby dunbars” applies to the ability to focus on a certain number of relationships under a given context or time, and another set of relationships under another.

Do I follow thousands at once? Not all at once, silly.

Call Yourself a Guru, Get Followed by 100 More… What, Exactly?

I enjoy Dan Zarrella’s metrics-driven studies on social media, calling out, for example, that saying “please gets more responses on Twitter, or what day or  time of day is the best to post to get Retweets on Twitter or Likes on Facebook. His latest was a head-scratcher for me: those adding “guru” to their Twitter profiles have 100 more followers on average. My question is “what kind of followers would those be?” Bots, spammers, the gullible. Further study on the kinds of followers “gurus” get would be interesting (no, I’m not volunteering to do it).

By the way- Dan, in his post, refers to “don’t call yourself a guru” as a “unicorn” myth. I still stand behind it, because applying any high-falutin’ title to yourself and asking people to believe it is high-level ass-clownery (Dan’s “social media scientist” is an exception in my book., by the way)

Photo Credits:

1. Rotten To The Core by pupski, on Flickr

2. QR Code Cupcake by clevercupcakes on Flickr

Social Media Top 5: End of the Social Media Consultant? Wrong; More Infographic Evil; and Flipping Grilled Cheese

Scallops & tortellini Salad 001

Flickr photo by Joe Cascio

The Age of Social Media Gurus Ends, the Age of Integration of Social Begins; or the Age of Wrapping the Startlingly Obvious in Bacon and Calling it Vision

Since I got involved in social media, it was a given- to me at least-that social media was a mere part of a larger communications program, one that should be, shall we say, “integrated.” And as a PR practitioner, I was aware of the picture even bigger than that; marketing, advertising, sales, et al. Now, I am starting to see posts about the “change” in the industry. Somehow, we have reached some sort of “end” of the social media consultant, or guru, or whatever. Shel Israel has a good post pointing out the trend of consultants taking corporate jobs. Indeed, this indicates a maturity in some corners of the business world. But neither this maturity, nor its tendency to gobble up good talent, is an indicator of the “end” or “death” of anything.

Posts are already popping up that it must be the end of the road for the social media consultant. Piffle and false prophecy. As always. these declarations of death are off (remember the death of print?). Sure,things are changing, but these absolute predictions are as reliable as the predictions of Rapture. There are plenty of spaces that are slower-moving: regulated industries like finance and health; some sectors of the non-profit world, and individual companies throughout- still in need of the consultants (and I don’t mean the snake-oil salespeople that pollute our industry).

So, these reactions have it wrong on both ends: the need for the strategic consultant is not going away, and the idea of integration is not some new shiny object someone just discovered.

For the rest of us, back to work.

Infographics Part II: Infographic Proponents Threaten to Blind World Population

After last week’s hand-wringing about infographics, it doesn’t stop. It’s bad enough that people are recommending infographic resumes; it’s not that I’m against creativity, but I am (still) against cluttered, disorganized, unreadable graphics stuffed with irrelevant information. Now there is a service, about to launch, that promises to make it easier to create infographics. It’s called If people use this to make our eyes bleed and make us nauseous to look at them, I’ll try to remember to blame the people and not the tool.

Flip Cam Chief Goes into Grilled Cheese Business

I’m waiting for Cisco to buy Jonathan Kaplan out to integrate his Grilled Cheese technology into Cisco’s routers. Or is this the beginning of the Grilled Cheese Bubble? I actually think this is a cool, unexpected move, but I have to admit the phrase “grilled cheese makes people happy” makes one sound kind of punch-drunk.

Just three this week. I’m tired.