Jerseys of the Pan-Mass Challenge

Last month, I completed my fifth Pan-Mass Challenge, riding my bike 170 miles over 2 days to raise money for the Jimmy Fund and fight cancer. As always, it was a well-run event, and despite the hot weather I loved every mile and biked well.

As for the fundraising, a big thank you to everyone who helped me reach my personal goal of $7,500. Despite reaching my goal, I am happy to raise more funds to help the PMC organizers reach the overall goal of $36 million. That sounds like a lot, but the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute do great work in cancer research and treatment. Also, 100% of funds raised go directly to DFCI. So, if you are inclined to help, please donate at And again, thank you.

My other, less serious challenge was doing something different with my ride video. After five years, that can be difficult. This year, I focused on the different jerseys the 5,000 riders wear, many indicating the teams they ride for in honor and memory of loved ones stricken with cancer. My view:

Music- “The Aftermath Never Adds Up” by Leaving Richmond

Social Media Top 5: The Problem with Absolutes

20100212 - Batman & Robin on absolute truths - generatorFor this Social Media Top 5 (now an occasional feature of this blog, apparently), I noticed some articles (the first three on this last) that seemingly posed some absolutes. Of course, once you read any blog post in the marketing workd, extremism is rarely the truth, and that goes here.

Curation vs Original Content: Not Black & White

David Meerman Scott blogged about how curation is far less valuable to a brand than original content. Many bloggers (corporate bloggers in this context) aggregate “links of the week” or similar features to fill out their content calendars. That is true, but only to a point. original content represents original thought, and thus one would think readers (customers) would reward that more handsomely with their hard-earned cash and hard-won patronage.

However, let’s not rule out curation, done correctly. In early social media days, I noticed many folks I know putting up blog posts (automated by as it turned out) that simply put up links– that was it. I found that useless and a troubling trend, and in fact this “Social Media Top 5 was originally a satirical response to those posts.

Is that curation, though? I don’t think so. Good curation provides context to the links- so not only should a blogger be pointing to other sources of content that readers might find valuable, but also providing opinions, additional facts, and value that makes the curation a post in itself (I hope that’s what I’m doing here). David agrees, which is of no surprise to me.

Scale vs Creating Value

Rachel Happe of the Community Roundtable chastises the popular social media platforms for focusing on scale rather than value creation. My response? I thinks scale is necessary to larger organizations online. They must find a way to speak to and reach larger numbers of people- it’s an occupational hazard- while still creating that value. Sure, there are tradeoffs, and perhaps value comes first, I understand that. Also, is it the fault of the platforms to encourage massive numbers and scale? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the rest want to make money somehow, and one way is to sell access to as large (and valuable, sure) a group of people as possible. It’s not the responsibility of the platform then, so it must  be that of the content creator. Some of these platforms will be rigged to serve scale better, but valuable content will drive quality and results– but again, for most, not without scale.

Email vs Social Content Stop Sharing Your Email Newsletter in Social?

Another smart local marketer, Christopher Penn, wrote about how sharing email newsletter content vial social devalues the content. Chris writes from the perspective of a professional email marketer, so it’s understandable. One of the advantages of email is that you control the platform better than, say, Facebook. You can track opens, and encourage other actions that are also trackable. The problem with looking at his as an absolute is that this way of thinking depends on your purpose for the email. You may be better off getting better reach through freeing the content over social channels and getting more inbound hits (which may be harder to track). You also might score points by breaking the email newsletter into pieces and doling those out as shorter posts on public channels that tease the complete content on your proprietary channel. That method Chris endorses, if I understand him correctly

Source: Hot Butter Studio

I have posted here frequently on what I think of as the scourge of bad infographics: tiny text, images that don’t fit on a screen, and other tactics that render infographics useless in the name either of being clever or of cramming all the information into one place (stop that!).  I was relieved to see Beth Kanter’s primer on infographics, which featured examples that are much clearer, to the point, and digestible- what infographics should be. I’m not going to like anything 100%, but this post seems to promote more common sense than we normally see out there, so listen to Beth.

Grey Poupon- Is This Campaign Good Enough?

Just a thought on a Facebook campaign that people were raving bout this past week. Grey Poupon set its Facebook page up as if “Liking” it gave you admission to an exclusive club. What drives me nuts is people praising the creative, which of course was good, but it was not clear what the end goal was. As with the Old Spice video campaign of a year or two back, let’s wait and see if there were some results from this– and what are the goals of this program, exactly? I’m not saying there isn’t- I just don’t know, and want to reserve judgment either way.

By the way- I have not bought any mustard as a result, but who knows, maybe I was exposed to enough warm fuzzies to predispose me to the brand in the future. Curiously, my 14 year-old son prefers Old Spice these days; though he hasn’t reference their campaigns, it seems their overall integrated campaign to appeal to youth has succeeded- in my house, at least.

#Social Media Breakfast Boston (#SMB29): Social for Sales & Business Growth

This past Friday I attended Boston’s 29th Social Media Breakfast: Social for Sales and Business Growth.

First, I should mention that this month marked the fifth anniversary of the first-ever Social Media Breakfast, organized by Bryan Person. That first was simply a meetup, but was so well-attended it turned into a series with themes, speakers and a presence in dozens of cities.

Different themes get different audiences and have different takeaways- this one, for me, underlined the importance of marketing,, sales, PR and advertising to all be on the same page. While PR makes sense for engagement on content channels, ultimately we are trying to deliver business results in social media, and aligning with sales and delivering and measuring results are the areas where a lot of major victories are being scored.

The speakers at SMB 29 were:

For a taste of what impressed the attendees, see the content posted below- and feel free to add your impressions in comments.


#FailingAgenda: Social Media Lessons From– a Social Media Screwup*

As a Twitter user, I have never been a huge fan of promoted hashtags. I get that it is a way to buy exposure and discussion around a topic or a brand, and I certainly get that Twitter deserves to try to make money, but I always found the anchor Tweet pinned to the top of any search for a hashtag obnoxious. I recall trying to follow Twitter chatter at a Radian 6 user conference last year, only to have my search page topped by a paid-for Tweet every time. It did not make me think that company was very likable (though I hope I was wrong).

I really don’t want to hate the idea around these sponsored placements, and I don’t think I do. What I have recognized is that one must be careful employing them. In the case of the user conference, it was probably unnecessary when there are several substantive ways to get the ear and confidence of the audience; in fact, it probably would have been cheaper for a flight, hotel and event ticket, though I don’t know that for sure.  Being careful means trying to think ahead what might happen when you sponsor a hashtag- will you annoy people? Or even worse, will the people fight back by using the hashtag against you with their own Tweets? We have certainly seen this quite a bit in the corporate world, with varying results.

This came to mind during this week of the Democratic National Convention. Americans For Prosperity, the American SuperPAC (when will we have UltraPACs?), purchased the “#FailingAgenda” hashtag to try to promote the Republican agenda during the Democrats’ marquee event. Why not keep a voice present while the other side is getting the major attention, right?

Wrong. The one thing AFP needed to think of but apparently didn’t is that people Tweet- and, according to my friend Tom Webster at Edison Research, a plurality of Tweeters are Democrats. So, the opposition came out with guns loaded and firing away. Every time I looked at this supposedly conservative media buy, I saw it getting successfully trolled.

Later, I saw that the Obama administration, through @BarackObama, had purchased the hashtag for itself, while AFP purchased a new one, “#16TrillionFail,” which was getting similarly trolled, as the screenshot below shows:

So, what happened here? Granted, there may have been other goals, such as driving people to AFP’s site and requesting other actions there, that may have been successful- maybe it’s not even a “screwup” based on the goals AFP may have had. But from a public relations standpoint, it’s a reminder that spending money on a medium you can’t control very well is risky even in the best of times, and extremely dangerous if you represent a controversial organization or topic.

I’m not going to call this a complete fail without knowing all the facts (and I hoped I kept political bias out of this), but it was certainly interesting to watch.

(Side note: why does Twitter recommend “@taylorhicks” as a related search term? Yes, he performed at the Republican Convention last week, but… slightly better than random is all I can say).

*Yes, I really hate the “Social Media Lessons from…” blog posts. What a tired, link-baiting concept. Not everything has a “social media” lesson. I’d rather be boring than trite.


Bonus content: Word of the day: “discoutrage” – to discourage outrageous behavior