Social Media Top 5: Bad Headlines, More Google Plus Concerns and Hopes

A Bad Headline is Still Bad Journalism

When I was starting out in public relations, I helped a client, a games web site, get a nice article n the local paper. The article was indeed very positive, but the headline made a reference to gambling– something the client wanted to be very clear they were not- and it ruined the effect of the entire headline. That experience underlines the appreciation I have for the art of headline writing and the contempt I have for those who do it poorly.

This week, an even more poorly-written headline may have  had a worse effect- it likely spawned a number of false stories and a lot of bad information on Twitter and (fittingly) Facebook. The story? M.C. Siegler’s TechCrunch article “One Year Later, Facebook Killing Off Places…To Put Location Everywhere.” The problem? It was a great, informative article about how Facebook is changing its location feature, Places, to be more deeply ingrained in the service. Even the URL simply, helpfully reads “facebook_location_tagging.” In trying to grab attention, the headline led lots of people to assume that Places was being killed off– and that Foursquare had won the location-based services battle.

I don’t know if Siegler wrote the headline or an editor did, but what a colossally bad move.

Kudos to Brian Carter for being among the people to point out that no, Facebook is not killing Places.

Two Sides of Google + Adoption: Too Much Drama and Good Reasons Why It Will Be Adopted
While I have preached patience with Google + – not dismissing it while it grows and adapts, but not latching it on to it for business use before it actually has features for business – it is interesting to see in action reasons for not throwing in completely with the new social network. Violet Blue writes in ZDNet of having her account suspended because, apparently, Google believed she was not using her real name. I know people who have had their accounts suspended for using three names, as if that trips off the “this is a business not a person” alarm at Google or something, but the true alarming part was that account suspension meant loss of access to other Google accounts- mail, Reader, calendar and more. Not cool, if the suspension criteria are a bit shaky. I do know that this gives another reason for calling the notion of leaving Facebook to use Google + exclusively silly.
On the other side, Alberto Vildosola writes about six reasons why people will flock to Google + (three of them are here). I do believe the integration with everyday Google products is a huge, um, plus, but not sure about getting celebrities to use the Hangouts feature as being an engine for long-term growth. Who knows, really? (Hint: nobody. Nobody knows).
Speaking of Drama, If Someone Leaves Twitter and They Make a Lot of Noise, Do We Care That Much More?
And speaking of leaving Twitter and Facebook, Social Media cartoonist, author and consultant Hugh MacLeod left Twitter and Facebook to concentrate on his blog. If that works for him, great. If he needed to be public about why, well sure. If that works for me, or would I as a social media consultant recommend this to clients? Highly unlikely. I continue to wonder if the very loud behavior of social media “experts” is being taken as potential counsel to clients: leave Twitter? Divert all content to third-party hosted solutions rather than an owned platform? Do the same but just for blog comments? I feel the need to be more careful about how I use social media, and practice what I’m going to have to preach, to the extent that’s feasible.
I do feel funny wondering about someone retreating only to his owned platform when I am very critical of those doing just the opposite– but I guess the message is, there is a balance between owning your content and reaching out to third=party platforms because that is where more people are.

I Finally Put a Google +1 Sharing Icon on the Site.

Sometimes, it takes me a while to get around to things I should do.This is much cooler now that +1 goes right to the new Google + social network (or will be when + is ready for prime time). Give it a try?

Pan-Mass Challenge 2011 – Done!

Two short weeks ago, I finished my fourth Pan-Mass Challenge. As always it is a great, well-run event, a 2-day ride to Provincetown to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (you can still sponsor my ride here:

What was special about this year?

  • The last year was a tough one for cancer in our families. Last September my father-in-law, John Perkins, passed away from cancer, and then on May 14, I lost my own father. I always held the PMC cause dear, but this year it was more than just a bike ride.
  • Sponsors were as generous as ever, having donated more than $7,500 (so far) in support of my ride. More impressive, I had a record number of  sponsors this year, which means even more than the amount.
  • I tried something different this year; I took on a “shirt sponsor,” Helmtops. They sent me this great jersey that I wore on Day 2, and along the route I stopped on occasion to hand out some helmtops (decorations for children’s helmets) when I saw a kid with a bike cheering us on. Special thanks to all sponsors, but I wanted to single out Helmtops out for making this effort, on top of their ongoing support of the many children’s PMC rides.

Pan-Mass Challenge 2011


  • I also took video, as usual. This year I used a Contour HD Camera, which I found easier to use than the Flip and Kodak cameras I employed in previous years. In fact, the reason this post is two weeks after the event is that I wanted to find the time to edit down this tribute to the wonderful people who come out to cheer the riders all along the route- even on the Bourne Bridge at 5:30 am.

  • In all, what a great event! We even managed to avoid the rain on Cape Cod on Day 2 (well, while we were riding at least). It’s great to have the long ride behind me, but the fight against cancer continues; if you have yet to sponsor my ride, we are collecting donations through October 1 at– and again, Thank You!
Bonus video: if you have the stomach for less, well, brief video, I did my usual Day 1 and Day 2 “Rider’s View” videos, embedded below:

Personal Brands at Companies Solved; What Everyone Needs is a BJ

Periodically, I have mentioned “Personal Brand” on this blog. It’s a controversial term, partly because the idea of having a personal brand brings with it the danger of putting your ego in front of anything else of value you do. Of course it doesn’t have to be that bad, but I understand the concern. The person I most associate with the debate over personal brand is Geoff Livingston, who has written largely disparagingly about it in the past, though I have found in disagreeing with him that our differences are largely semantic. It takes a su of individuals to make the social web go around, just as any company is the sum of its individual employees.

As I was reading through Geoff’s latest book, “Welcome to the Fifth Estate,” there was a mention of Personal Brand again, along with the dilemmas it brings for corporate social media programs. How can a company let an individual voice the corporate social media channels? Can a person with a peculiarly individual voice truly represent the brand? Will there be clashes of egos? What if that person leaves after becoming so identified with the brand?

As I saw the mention go by, I suddenly thought of an “ism” I had long referred to when contemplating the passing of any torch. It, of course, is the “Trapper John/BJ” effect, referring to the characters from the television show M*A*S*H. The TV show, based on a popular movie, itself based on a notable novel, revolved around two central characters: Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre. Fans of the movie could hardly imagine the show continuing without one of these stalwarts, right?

Well, actor Wayne Rogers, who played Trapper John, left after three seasons (the TV series ran for eleven years). Trapper’s replacement? B.J. Hunnicutt. While B.J. was hardly the same character, he filled the same role, brought his own traits to it, and the show continued seamlessly, continuing to thrive. Not only that, but other major characters were replaced as well: Col. Henry Blake left at the same time to be replaced by Col Potter, and M*A*S*H patsy Major Frank Burns eventually departed as well, in a similar manner to that in the film, to be replaced as a foil for Hawkeye and BJ by Major Charles Winchester.

Too many details (Hey, I was a big fan), but the point is: the entity remained whole, even with some very identifiable – and seeming irreplacable- individual parts changing.

As for social media in corporations, the worry that a standout personality will risk crippling social media efforts when that person leaves should not be a worry at all. A company just needs a succession plan, and then someone to be the successor.

Every company needs a B.J.

Social Media Top 5: Gawn Fishun’ (Google Plus) and Social Media Whores

“I’ve Moved to Google +”

I know I keep thinking I’m going to stop posting about Google +, but this annoys me a lot; people announcing they have left Facebook for Google Plus. I didn’t know it was a choice, and the market will lead individuals, not the other way around, no matter how popular the individuals.

If I see this image as a Facebook avatar, what am I supposed to do? If your hope is that I will drop everything and go to Google Plus, you are mistaken. That’s extra clicks, man! Entice me to come over somehow, ask me to try it out and add it to my social media daily flow, but don’t tell me to change just for you, especially when I’m already on Facebook.

Either you’re on Facebook or you’re not. Why even bother letting people know? Abandoning Facebook should mean you are gone altogether, shouldn’t it? As a social media professional, I can’t condone pulling up stakes when the new shiny social network comes along. However, I have been seeing a bunch of these images for avatars lately– so I’m on Facebook, I need to go to Google Plus to engage with you? How about I stay on Facebook and ignore you while you play on your (for now) deserted island? I, of course, play around on Google Plus – it’s my job to know how it works.

As for the avatar, why not just put up a “Gawn fishun'” sign?


On the Other Hand, I Found the Perfect Killer App for Google Plus…

…Cat Pictures! The integration with Google’s Android* operating system means I can share my mobile photos on Google Plus without doing any work– all photos appear in my online account automatically, and I choose, click and share. Cat pictures, here we come! Now, once people actually get on to Plus and start using it, it’ll be really cool.

(*Now I know how it felt to be one of those arrogent Apple fanboy jerks, smugly showing off their proprietary iPhone features to the unwashed. Don’t worry, Macolytes, Google will figure out the iPhone integration. Someday.)

See? Cat pictures like this I posted to Google Plus with one click:
Whoopie Cat


And grasshopper pictures too!


Who ReTweeted Me

I don’t write about every little tool out there, and there are many free tools as useful and worthy as Hubspot’s Who ReTweeted Me. It’s handy as a quick analysis of links you share on Twitter– who ReTweeted them, how many followers they have, etc. I’ve been fooling around with it.

The part that’s making many of us giggle, though, is the URL: (look closely if you’re not laughing- or appalled- yet). I suspect Hubspot did this on purpose as a secret research experiment to gauge the maturity level of social media marketers. I think the results of such a study would be damning.

New Candidate for Worst Infographic Ever

I have whined in this blog before about terrible infographics– ones that make us scroll down the page (why?) try to convey too much information at once (why?!?) and pack in so many visual elements that they induce migraines and seizures (WHY?!!?!??!). An idle web search turned up what may be the worst of them all (though I’m not sure the site that posted it thought it was so bad– why?). Who on earth thought this was helpful? And can anyone tell me what this infographic is supposed to impart? I passed out a quarter of the way through…

Since You Made it This Far, #5 is Easy:

Another Google Plus photo: (single) rainbow! From my son’s baseball game:

Rainbow at Newton South HS

Google Plus: I Thought I Told You All to be Patient


Flickr Photo by merwing✿little dear

A few weeks ago, I wrote over on the Voce Nation blog, pleading for patience regarding the new Google Plus social network; patience from users, businesses, social media marketers and Google itself.

It seems that everyone but Google failed to listen to me. What is wrong with everybody?

Seriously, what is wrong?

I see an old friend I  respect selling a webinar about using Google Plus for business, seemingly minutes after Google said they were holding off on business profiles for Plus until they figured it out. Then other friends get vilified for pointing that out. Simmer down, folks.

(Oh, and the same BlogWorld blogger suggests naming names when we talk about things. I actually agree, Allison Boyer. So the above flap includes Chris Brogan, Gini Dietrich, and BlogWorld’s Rick Calvert (for the record, I don’t think Gini owes Chris an apology any more than Chris owed us a defense of a webinar some people were willing to pay for. This all started as a good discussion, but hey.)

I see a social media pied piper (oops, names- Robert Scoble) declaring that Plus is awesome because it was made for geeks, and our mothers will never join. I think he had a point, but I’m not sure the Google business model calls for a geeks-only social playground. True, the Google geek culture tends to roll out things that mortals have a hard time grokking in the first go-round. Remember Google Wave? Yeah, takes them a while to remember people might want to use the products.

I see a TechCrunch story that gleefully (it seems) reports on a dip in traffic after a whole month– Google Plus must be cooked, right? Even in “social media time,” most startups get more than a month before the buzzards tuck in.

I’ll give propers to my friend Chuck Tanowitz, whose post seems at first to be down on Plus (lighten up Eeyore!) but really takes a more pragmatic stance that I largely agree with.

This doesn’t get Google off the hook- where’s the Google Reader/Buzz integration? That would be fantastic. If it’s there I can’t find it. The Android integration is pretty cool at times, but I wonder what the iPhone folks are thinking? Also, please add Flickr/Twitter/Facebook cross-posting integration and open up your API and get on Tweetdeck or Seesmic or something.

You want to keep me? Feed the “integrated products” beast that this GMail/Reader/Buzz/Analystics/Feedburner/YouTube user wants to be. Put it all together and make it work (but again, I’m willing to wait for you to work it out).

See what you all made me do, you made me write about Google Plus again. Sheesh

Be patient, you’re all giving me a rash.