Social Media Top 5: Snap Judgments and Lack of Understanding


Photo by spemss on Flickr

I spoke on a few current social media topics on my monthly appearance on Media Bullseye Radio this week. I thought I would throw a few more thoughts out there. The overall theme seems to be that people judge too quickly and rely too deeply on things they don’t understand.

Snap Judgment: Chapstick on Facebook

Quick synopsis: Chapstick starts an ad campaign, some people object to the ad on the Facebook page, Chapstick deleted comments, making it worse, AdWeek calls it a “Social Media Death Spiral.

What the hell is “Death Spiral” supposed to mean? A brand makes a mistake, people jump on them as of a single misstep will harm the company forever. I suspect something like this won’t even affect sales.

People need to count to 10 before denouncing a brand over a single mistake, especially without knowing the full background and giving the entire situation time to play out. Lots more mistakes are coming, and very few of these brands will suffer real consequences, provided the mistake doesn’t indicate a wider problem of product or company ethics (most likely this is a result of the company not empowering the social media program minders as part of the larger strategic team- but really? I don’t know). Also, many of these mistakes are dealt with or resolved in some sort of reasonable time period (and a lot of the time “reasonable time period” doesn’t mean what some social media folks pretend to know it means).

Lack of Understanding: Klout Changes Algorithm, World Ends (Again).

I was flummoxed by the reaction to Klout (“The Standard for Online Influence”) adjusting its algorithm (which it has done before) and, at the same time, affecting most everyone’s scores. The reactions (many in klout’s own blog post) revealed an ugly underworld of people desperately relying on Klout scores for business, grades, and other things that are too precious to leave in the hands of a mysterious third-party measurement.

Klout is useful in some ways, but relying on it as a sole measure of social media worth or to sell your services is– well, susceptible to the whims of whatever Klout decides to do with its mysterious algorithm.

Either/Both/Neither: Klout and Privacy?

Some friends have noted that people- some of them minors- with private Facebook accounts have shown up with Klout profiles. Is this because these people interacted publicly and Klout scraped that info to provide them with a profile? Seems likely, and it’s unclear if any terms of service or privacy laws were violated. It is, however, a reputation problem for bout Klout and Facebook, an indicator of the public nature of just about anything we post online, and brings up the question of whether it’s a violation to create accounts in absentia for people who have not (yet, presumably) joined a service? I know of no others that do this, though I suspect there may be some.

There ar elots of real issues out there in social media-land. Understanding them requires more patience than many of us are exhibiting, the wisdom to recognize the linits of tools that too many lack, and the ability to back off judgments and admit you don’t know all the facts.


Social Media Top 5: The Ten Deadly Plagues of Google Plus (aka Growing Pains)

Google Plus an Afterthought?

I attended Exploring Social Media Boston last week (ok, Burlington is NOT Boston, but I hope the traveling speakers got a good tour of scenes where Paul Blart Mall Cop were shot). My thoughts on the overall event are here at the Voce Nation blog, but one thing that struck me…

With all the talk about tactics and strategy for social media, Google Plus, the hot shiny new social network, didn’t even get a mention until about 3:30 pm, an hour before the event closed (thanks, Laura Fitton, for ruining the perfect game).

One friend suggested that the lack of focus on tools was to blame for the lack of mentions. That’s fair– strategy before tools, we all say– but I also call BS on that, as Facebook, Twitter, and countless other platforms were mentioned throughout the day. Why would a bunch of social media’s smartest minds fail to mention Google Plus?

Because, when it comes to enacting social media programs, it’s not on our minds.


I still contend that Google Plus will most likely matter. The search engine ties are too strong, Google too big, and the features (and potential features) too rich and simple to use. Facebook killer? It’s silly for anyone to say that, but I won’t say no either. I continue to preach patience.

Locusts and wild flowers

Flickr Photo by Jonathan O'Donnell

As I pick up my own personal use of Google Plus, I am struck by the number of animated GIFs being posted. Animated GIFs? These are only thing more insipid than cat photos (being a cat owner, I’m a bit more forgiving of those). Not just a stream of animated GIFs, not a river– but a plague.

Which made me think: perhaps there are a series of plagues that Google Plus must endure before it matures; ten, maybe?

Perhaps this list is a clue- not exactly frogs, locusts, or death of first-borns, but perhaps more a set of growing pains (but nonetheless listed with the corresponding historic Plagues of Egypt):

  1. Beta invites; the first stage that create a divide between the “ins” and “outs,” which Google managed to screw up in the process, denying entrance to those who had been promised access as a way of controlling the early traffic (Water)
  2. Social Media “gurus” and whatnot declaring that Google + the next big thing before it has even publicly launched- to the extent that “Google + for Dummies” and “Google Plus for Business” are being written before all- or even many- of the real facts are in (Frogs)
  3. Other gurus declaring Google Plus “dead” because they perceive a dip in traffic, whether that dip is real or not- again, before the product is really finished (Mosquitos)
  4. Getting “circle” follows from people they have never met, from halfway around the world. Once Plus opened up to the public, people seemed to randomly follow anyone, willy nilly, confusing folks like me who know very few actual people in, say, India (Flies or Wild Animals)
  5. Animated gifs (and cat photos) (Unhealable Boils)
That’s the first five– what may the remaining plagues be? Here is a guess.
  1. Opening of business accounts; Yes, I know that’s a planned feature, but it also may be akin to the Plague of Locusts to some users. As a consultant to corporate social media programs, I am looking forward to what it may bring (Locusts)
  2. Malignant virus or phishing attacks- that should be a no-brainer (Disease on Livestock)
  3. Over-wrought discussions of Politics and religion, made worse by the invasion of mainstream news media outlets (Hail and Thunder)
  4. A network outage – surely, that is not impossible? (Darkness)
  5. Google will kill off useful and interesting products as they have in the past– will it be in the service of, or despite the success of, Plus? Google Buzz is already out the door (Death of the First-Born)
A bit over the top? Hey, let me have my fun- and tell me in comments  if I got my list right.

Go Ahead, Attack Each Other Online (from PodCamp Boston)

Podcamp Boston 6 is in the can- I can’t believe there have been 6 (the first occurring on the fall of 2006). As someone involved in each of these PodCamps in some form (I’m going to be like one of those old guys who has been to every SuperBowl) I have been fascinated watching the event mature from “Hey, let’s put on a (really big, with lots of people travelling to get here) show!” to a more consistent gathering of people who want to learn and converse about social media.

For my part, I decided to lead a session this year, “Culture Clash of Personal & Professional Brands, and Why It’s Necessary.” What I meant by that terribly convoluted title was that the public questioning and criticism among members of the social media community is a good thing, and discussed some of the things I make such back-and-forth valuable, such as the addition of constructive arguments coupled with the lack of intimidation against questioning someone who is popular, vs those things that aren’t, such as out and out trolling, the unexplained “Great Post!” comments, and ultra-defensiveness by those being “attacked” (and since one of my tenets is it’s ok to name names, tag Chris Brogan, you’re it).

What was awesome, is that at least one person came to the session thinking it would be more about mixing your personal and professional life online, said, so, and helped start a good discussion on that topic. Somehow, that tied in the spirit of my original topic. Bravo!

I don’t necessarily follow my own advice to the letter, but I lean toward all of us having frank and open discussions about what’s good and bad in what we are doing in our profession. So next time you see a practice or idea, say so publicly– same if you really like something. Just bring something to the table.

Now if we could only get social media d*****bags to stop posting photos of themselves speaking on their blogs. That is such obnoxious egotism. Look at that self-satisfied grin. Have at it in comments if you like.

@DougH at #PCB6

(photo by Wayne Kurtzman on Flickr)