Blog Silence

Out of respect for the millions of victims of marketing blogging, I am taking a brief break from writing new posts.*

Image credit: Julian Tysoe on Flickr

Image credit: Julian Tysoe on Flickr

*Or, I’m busy and/or dealing with offline events and issues that demand my time


Social Media Top 5: Influenza Marketing, Old Guy Rants & a Twitter Fix

Image Credit: id iom on Flickr

Image Credit: id iom on Flickr

Influenza Marketing: Is the Process Ailing?

“Influencer Marketing” is one of the biggest buzzwords for a marketing tactic (yes, tactic) that is often a bit slippery in a number of ways. First slippery point is that identifying what an “influencer” is for a company is not always the easiest thing to do: whom do they influence, what is their reach, what qualifies one as an “influencer” (hint: if you say you are an “influencer” in your olne bio you are disqualified in my book), and where and how do we find them? The second slippery point is the real value of influencers: what are they worth, do we have to pay them and how much, and can we count on them to follow rules (particularly disclosure guidelines and other laws and regulations)? There is a lot to think about for programs where you really need to be sure what your return should be for the effort and expense.

One article that caught my eye was a confessional piece in which an agency wag talks about the insane amounts of money “influencers” ask for. This seems to be a case of companies and their agencies saying “we need an influencer marketing” program, meeting the increasing cash demands of these so-called influencers, and hoping for the best (or hoping they can get away without measuring what matters). Will brands, as the article says, “start realizing the amount of followers you have doesn’t mean s**t,” causing the decline of the “professional influencer,” reducing such programs back to recognizing passionate brand advocates and rewarding them for spreading the word honestly? It seems that the cash-for-love system is too easy to die without a fight, but I guess we’ll see.

I Disagree: There is Lots of Content Marketing that is as Awful as Most 30-Second Spots

This is the first of two stories I have seen featuring old dudes talking about how great everything was when they ruled the world and how crappy everything is now that the social media comet has threatened to wipe out the old-school dinosaurs. While Sir John Hegarty has a point about the need for any content to be able to tell a story succinctly and, to be succinct about it, accomplish its goal in a short time, the reliance on how old 30-second spots are so much better than today’s “content  marketing” comes off as the babblings of an old-timer who refuses to embrace new methods and turn them to his advantage.

Also in fairness: there is plenty of content marketing that is as awful as your typical advertising creative, so the jobs for people with terrible ideas will never go away.

You knaves! Get out of my moat!

Books are Here to Stay, Dagnabit 

In my other “Old Guy Ranting” find, we see a writer gloating over the hardy survival of the physical book.

Congratulatons! The book has not completely perished, as the easily-dismissed predictions of idiot pundits declared. I’m not sure where the writer is going with the music business analogy, as he strains to prove that the future of music as a viable career is in live performance rather than recorded ones- something the most successful touring musicians always knew. Does he mean the future of the book is live book readings? No- so the music industry analogy falls apart, despite a very good if irrelevant point.

The way I see it, books are the new vinyl. Or the old vinyl. Or something; more and more, I see the “pro-book” people emphasizing the superior look and feel, ability to read, and greater all-around enjoyment of paper to be superior to the convenience and identical content of electronic books. Just like music. If it enhances your experience, great- and no, they will never go away completely, nor will vinyl, newspapers, or hats.

Just don’t give me old books- those musty basement finds trigger my allergies.


Twitter Fixing the Only Thing Dumber than 10,000 Character Tweets 

It appears Twitter is fixing one unnecessary barrier of the 140-character Tweet: the fact that URLS and image files count against your character limit. I like the limitation of Twitter, keeping messages short and snappy, but do not like that illustrating with a link or image cripples the text form. So- yes, I like something new.


This Week in Stupid Facebook Apps That Might be Stealing Your Info:

or- And Now, a Word from “Wonderful Ladiesman”

The Captain Beefheart Name Generator Rum and Monkey

If you must use a Facebook-connected app of uncertain provenance, surely betraying your private information to some nameless developer/marketer, then that app should be the Captain Beefheart Name Generator. I approve, especially as this one did not appear to take my Facebook credentials.

Social Media Top 5: Facebook Sponsored Content, What Holds Podcasting Back, and Lessons from Kobe

This week’s topics inspired in part by my participation in the revived Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast. Always a pleasure to chat with Chip Griffin about media and communications topics.

facebook-verified…and the Beast Shall Bear the Mark of the Blue Check…
I like the idea that Facebook is using its own bully pulpit to restrict how sponsored content is disseminated, by allowing only verified accounts to post sponsored content such as “affiliate links, ad images, links to info about (other’s) products or services.”

But wait, that Search Engine Journal link above suggests the new policy is restrictive; after further reading (perhaps Facebook’s actual post?), it seems more that Facebook is opening up sponsored content, though only to verified accounts to control access, and with easy disclosure tools, as making it easy is the best way to ensure disclosure. From that angle, I actually like it.

As a regular Joe, I have to ask: does this mean I should assume anyone with a verified Facebook account – not just actual celebrities with a mass audience – will be pimping out space on their page? Should I just avoid such people?

Also: a friend pointed out that the Facebook checkmark is white, not blue. I’m not changing the headline.

This week in “Marketing Lessons From…”

Oh, my. They just keep on coming. As a Celtics fan, I am proud to have nothing to learn from the just-retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, but if one must, here is what I learn about marketing (not just AdWords) from Kobe:

  • Take as many shots as possible, then point to the total successes and not your success rate. Everyone will think you are a hero.
  • If you have irreparably tarnished your brand, change your logo (or number).
  • Give yourself your own nickname (actually, don’t do that. Don’t ever do that. It’s the only rule of nicknames: you don’t get to give yourself one. I refuse to recognize “Black Mamba”).

That’s it. Other than that, it’s too much to hope that these “marketing/advertising/PR lessons from X” post will stop giving me fresh material.

What Kobe Bryant can teach you about succeeding with AdWords

Podcasting is Growing, But Is There an App to Support it?

The New York Times had a lengthy article on the state of podcasting last Sunday. While it seemed focus on “big time” podcasts such as those by or related to National Public Radio, it did point out that Apple’s podcasting tool seems to have been abandoned as-is after being built about a decade ago, and lacks in features for podcasters (some of who want download and listening data).

As a podcast listener, I’m more interested in what would make things easier for more people like me to listen to them. Currently, using existing apps like iTunes and DoggCatcher (which I use on Android) is a little too complicated and clunky.

I do see hope in putting podcasts in apps where people listen to other programming – going where they are instead of thinking of podcasts as a whole new medium- but TuneIn, the radio app, is focused on streaming rather than asynchronous listening, while Spotify, a more interesting possibility, has a new directory that is not comprehensive (unless you want those NPR podcasts, I’m sure those are there).

Listening habits need to settle in- and apps need to account for downloads and streaming in balance. Otherwise, I will continue to justify my earned cynicism on stats showing how much podcasting is surging in popularity.

Twitter Data and the Government: Principled Stand or Grandstanding, um, Stand?

In another item from the Media Bullseye podcast, I spoke with Chip about Twitter’s revoking government access to a data mining tool of which it owns a 5% stake. Is it a principled stand, a PR move (in the wake of the Apple/FBI iPhone hacking standoff), or simply a pragmatic business move hidden by one of the former? That Dataminr analyzes already public Tweets makes this more puzzling: what exactly is Twitter (and Dataminr) withholding access to, apart from the ability to more quickly analyze Tweets. I don’t know.

This Week In Stuff I Saw Lionel Menchaca Post: Instagram Redesign 


Instagram’s big redesign goes live with a colorful new icon, black-and-white app and more

All I can take from this is the old Polaroid Camera-style logo had to go, as the “retro-photo” image of Instagram gives way to a more modern image. But I am a simple country blogger, not sophisticated in the ways of logo and app design. It’s just refreshing that I haven’t seen a lot of “this new logo sucks” crabbing that is typical in social media (or have I missed it? Don’t tell me).

h/t Lionel Menchaca

Social Media Top 5: Humorless vs Unfunny: Who Wins? Plus, Schools Get Smart & More Brand Bullies

Image Credit: Iván Niño on Flickr

Image Credit: Iván Niño on Flickr

When Parody Run Amok and Lack of Disclosure Clasp Sweaty Palms and Jump off the Bridge of Propriety

I just thought that was a cool sentence, but I found this story to force into a clash two things I hold dear- the hilarious denuding of social media pundit egoism, and the need for disclosure in all forms of publishing, from newspapers to individual Tweets.

What happened? First, witness the parody Twitter account, “Prof Jeff Jarvis,” an often-funny comic stream of semi-consciousness, which rightly infuriates the real Jeff Jarvis of TV Guide and “Dell Hell” fame, and currently a CUNY professor and regular contributor to the This Week in Google podcast (I’m a fan); he would rather his name not be used in vain (rather than vanity). That he may be right (I’m no lawyer) is separate from the quality of the Tweets, so may they live on in some form.

Recently, Esquire Magazine published an article by “Prof. Jeff Jarvis” about some thing or another. I forget, I was bored, but you can check out a cached copy here.

The biggest crime of the piece, of course, is that it is not very funny. Perhaps that is part of the root of the second crime, that there was not a clear enough disclosure that the piece was not authored by the Real Jeff Jarvis. RJJ has obviously had it with the misuse of his name, as he published on Medium (not to be confused with Measured). 

Real Jeff Jarvis is perfectly within his rights to have no sense of humor about this- something I try to keep in mind every time I laugh out loud at this parody account. I personally don’t care about the battle between the Tweeter and Mr. Jarvis, and if it is legally shut down, so be it. But Esquire absolutely did a poor job clearing up any potential confusion (no wonder the article was taken down).

Also, “Professor” Jarvis is much funnier on Twitter than he was here. Leave Esquire to the likes of Charlie Pierce. So, yes, we should endure (Real) Jarvis’ windy indignation, simply because he’s right.

Disclosure, people.

Also, I take it all back- THIS Jeff Jarvis is far more entertaining than either of the other old bores.

Ahead of the Curve Meets Better Than You Think at Syracuse University

I found this story about a Buzzfeed partner teaming up with Syracuse University to offer a course in social media content to be interesting for two reasons:

  • A decade ago, I expressed concern that public relations curricula were not evolving fast enough to embrace social media and keep students up with the changing landscape. I assumed the same was true for journalism and other content-related pursuits. A course like this threatens to make college educations current with trends and technology.
  • It’s a reminder that Buzzfeed is more than listicles and cat videos (I don’t even know if they are really a big source of cat videos, but I hope you get the point); there is more serious thought into the content and kinds of content on that site, compared to others. And if they are planting seeds in students that will grow into a tree of talent for their future plans, then good for them.

Brand Bullying Run Amok or Brands Being Inappropriate and Just Need to Stop? 

I’m a week late and an indignant opinion short by now, but I have turned from fretting about brands trying to horn in on public events, such as the unexpected death of Prince, towards the attitude that maybe social media pundits ought to take a break- to shut up about brands shutting up. Telling Minneapolis-based companies like General Mills, makers of Cheerios, how they should mark the passing of one of their hometwon icons- or whether they should do it at all- is now feeling foolish.

So all I will say after a week of observation is that it is time for “social media gurus” to stop bullying brands and do something more entertaining- shame and destroy each other- as long as it’s done in an entertaining manner. Have at it, guys and gals.

Besides, my friend Christopher Barger surpassed any thoughts I might have had- and certainly any word count I could have applied to it – in his worthwhile post, so go read that.

Besides, our anger should be focused at Mr. Rogers and Purple Panda for appropriating Prince’s signature color and flaunting it in the media, decades before His Actual Purpleness – right?

HBR is Too Important to be Left to Hacky Bloggers

The line above is not a reference to the quality of the article “Social Media Is Too Important to Be Left to the Marketing Department,” but certainly to the flippancy of the headline, which suggests that if something is important it should not be left in the slippery hands of marketing. Any marketer should be insulted by that inference, which is too bad because the article isn’t the kind of hacky hatchet job the title suggests and which I’d love to look down on, especially given the varying quality of posts on the Harvard Business Review‘s blog. It is, if espousing ideas that should long be familiar with any social media professional, well-reasoned and supported by examples, so have a read.

This Week in Things I Hate for No good Reason:

People using their Snapchat “Ghost” template profile pics on Facebook. Just stop it.


No, really. Why on Facebook? Stop it.

Social Media Top 5: My Marketing Buzzwords are Better Than Yours

Image Credit: Alice on Flickr

Image Credit: “swot” by Alice on Flickr

My Buzzword-Based Definition of Marketing is Better than Your Buzzword-Based Definition of Marketing

Everything the tech world says about marketing is wrong

First: “Everything xxx is wrong” is Internetspeak for “Fight me.”

Second: Yes, there are a lot of people in marketing who didn’t study marketing. Thank God for that.

That said: point taken that basing everything around content marketing and “inbound marketing” is a terrible idea and pundits who say so should be shunned, even if their name rhymes with Beth Bodin, but to say they “don’t exist” because they don’t fit in with your old-school definitions is silly. They exist. OK, “inbound marketing” is a cynical branded buzzword invented by Hubspot, but they did a good job of defining it and why it might be important (a much better job than they have ever done at explaining what the company actually sells, but ).

The author goes out of his way to denigrate content marketing as not marketing (well, that was my reading):

“Content marketers” are doing nothing different from what creative teams have always done.

Careful, there- “creatives” remain a species in need of Darwinist disruption, particularly in advertising, in only to breed out cleverness for cleverness’ sake.

That marketers should know the basics is obvious, though it comes dangerously close to drawing the conclusion that a marketing degree is the path. We know that schools tend to be three or more years behind in adopting modern shifts (PR curricula took at least that long to adopt social media, with few exceptions). The trick is to accept the new ideas and place them where they belong in marketing strategies- which this article attempts to do- but be open to redefine what the mix does and which emerging channels are more important than, if not displacing, traditional modes.

Last: as much as I hate buzzwords, let’s not get into dismissing them if there is an idea they represent (even “inbound marketing,” though feel free to call it something different if the term recalls the horror of awkward corporate musical YouTube videos). After all: what are “marketing mix,” “the Four P’s” and “SWOT Analysis” but buzzwords coined to try to simplify some of the core aspects of marketing?

Content marketing? In its place, and the best practitioners know it’s merely part of a larger strategy. Those who don’t didn’t earn such wordy bombast.

Get on my lawn.


We Got Our Own Damn Site

First, let’s ignore the fact that The Economist is using a Kanye gif. I’d like to pretend that didn’t happen.  That said, this is an interesting use of Medium – to discuss the features of a web site redesign, and more importantly, to explain why is necessary, and viable, in a world of proliferating off-domain content platforms. This is now my favorite argument in favor of owning your stuff.


Post-app? But I Just Got Comfortable with “App!” or, Marky Zuck’s Every Flavour Bots

I’m sharing this largely because the headline made me chuckle: “Facebook Believes Messenger Will Anchor a Post-App Internet.” Leave it to Wired to be future-thinking. I’m not ready for post-app. It took me a while to be comfortable with the quality, stability and speed of apps on mobile to finally favor them over mobile web versions. Now the mobile web- or, more precisely, the mobile-friendly web- works even better – so do we need a new platform?

We do, if bots are to catch on. Facebook has announced that Messenger will rely heavily on chatbots. As my former colleague Christopher Barger points out, bots are great for big brands to scale response, and to do it where are people are (for now), Facebook. I’d prefer the buzz of the announcement to die down before seeing if this is the next big thing, and I worry that poorly-tuned bots will turn into spam or worse crimes of the kind Twitter Direct Message devotees could only dream of committing.


Student Athletes Being Dumb on Social Media

Student athletes are often encouraged to be on Twitter- I have seen it up close with my son and his teammates: it’s a great place to interact with the local high school sports reporters, as well as sharing information about games et al. We also see pro athletes are on Twitter more often than not, as well as Facebook, Instagram, and the rest. It’s clear that young athletes could use more training about how to conduct themselves online, as another group of people monitoring the web is the coaches.


(H/T Mel Webster)


This week in Private Personal Data Collection Fun Apps

Hey, Boston sports fans, how far do you live form Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox? Enter your info at and find out? Actually, don’t. I don’t mind the occasional app that asks for info in exchange for some value, but this one- I can’t believe smart people entered their info into this database of unknown origin.

Social Media Top 5: Cancer Comms, A Life Disrupted, & Blab to Bomb(?)

For Immediate Release Podcast: Cancer, Communications and Other Fun Stuff

FIR #29: Communications and Cancer

For years, I have been a fan of the For Immediate Release podcast, hosted by Shel Holtz and (for most of its run) Neville Hobson. I was lucky enough to appear on the show now and again, and even to co-host it, and always considered the FIR community to be one of the richest social media communities to which I have belonged.

In the program’s current incarnation, I have been honored that Shel has asked me to be a panelist on a regular, rotating basis. This week, I joined friends Mark Story and Jennifer Stauss. Tying us together for this episode was our varying involvement with cancer and communications. Mark is social media lead at the National Cancer Institute (, and Jennifer led the initiatives WTF (Where’s the Funding for) Lung Cancer, and SMAC (Sock Monkeys Against Cancer).

Out of my depth, I at least can claim to be a participant in cancer fundraisers, as I ride annually in the Pan-Mass Challenge (to which you can donate at – as always, thank you!).

Here’s me riding the PMC  last summer with Nomo, Jennifer’s lead  SMAC sock monkey:


Anyway, please have a listen to the podcast, as we discuss how organizations can and do coordinate efforts for awareness, research and treatment; we also talked about the AP Style Guide’s “lowercasing” of internet and web (AP Style Guide, guardian against Oxford Comma overuse, can do no wrong!), and the release of Dan Lyons’ book about his experience working at Hubspot, among other things.

Speaking of That Book…

I haven’t read Disrupted yet, though it is in my Kindle queue. While I have several very good friends at Hubspot, I found Lyons’ hiring there to be a potentially odd fit- a young, excitable culture embracing a middle aged, sharply-cynical writer best known as the voice of Fake Steve Jobs? I recall one incident that confirmed my suspicions, which Dan also recalled in a LinkedIn post about age discrimination in the tech industry.

I like Dan’s writing- that’s why I’m reading it, and no amount of snippy, biased reviews or happy-face counter-marketing can stop me from turning the virtual pages.

That said, good luck to both “sides” in all endeavors.

Image Credit: Norbert Gálfi on Flickr

Image Credit: Norbert Gálfi on Flickr

Blab to Bomb?

I really like Blab as a livestreaming service. So does the author of this blog post, Nathan Hague. Blab is a great tool for conducting online panels and conversations, and in the eyes of many who have tried it they found it easier to use and more reliable than, say, Google Hangouts. What Hague tries to point out is that these free tools have costs, and as they scale in minutes and users, those costs can pile up. I didn’t check his math, but even if he is wrong- and I’m not sure about some of the multiplication in there- he is pointing out the (potential) downside of startups that rely on venture funding to get them through growth, but without any whiff of a revenue model. We’ve been through it over and over since the first Internet bubble. Is there a plan for these companies or is it more convenient to forget history and hope for a few winners before the new Web (sorry, web) economy crashes like the old?

Star Wars or Star Trek? Get it Straight or Stay Out of It

I love futuristic tech. I refuse to make fun of Virtual Reality apps, even though being grumpy out it should be right up my alley; it just feels like a technology whose time, to some extent, has come to shine for practical and fun use on a larger scale than had been possible.

However- when promoting such technology, it is wise to get your geek lingo straight; for example, this video Futurism posted on Facebook touts a really cool piece of technology, saying the app “allows you to virtually teleport anywhere in the world –Star Wars style.”

My first instinct was to check the comments to see how quickly the “Star TREK not Star Wars” comments came rushing in, and I was not disappointed.

#nerdfail – although, perhaps the split infinitive à la “To go boldly where no man has gone before’  was a defiant, knowing wink. (nah)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.51.03 PM

Forbes- On Brand, as Usual

It’s easy to gripe about Forbes – like the Harvard Business Review blog – diluting its formidable brand by letting lots of people write for the Forbes Contributor Network. However, there are many excellent writers there as well (including, naturally, some clients), so the looser editorial standards mean less the end of journalism and more that readers are responsible for sifting the gold from the sand.

Still, I was amused and somewhat horrified to find that there is a columnist on Forbes- Forbes!- who dedicates server space to play-by-play of events like Wrestlemania 32.

WWE is big business, but this sort of posting seems a little off-brand, even for this new era. Or am I just oversensitive?

At least he did the job, delivering a link to the content I was looking for – Shane McMahon’s insane 20-foot jump from the top of the cage during the Hell in a Cell match. Though he eventually lost to The Undertaker, who knew he had it in him?




Social Media Top 5: Retiring TweetDeck, Anchor Audio & Curating Gods

I’m a bit late with my weekly writing, as I spent extra time this weekend cursing university creative writing departments for unleashing a generation of narcissistic bores on the movie-loving online public (if my son compared a film like “Batman v Superman” to “Glengarry Glen Ross” in an essay he would have no privileges for a month). Back to my own nonsense:

Image credit: Shawn Campbell on Flickr

Image credit: Shawn Campbell on Flickr

Twitter retiring TweetDeck for Windows

Since I started working at Stone Temple Consulting in 2014, I have been back using PCs. One thing i have relied on heavily for social media use is Tweetdeck, the Twitter management console Twitter has owned for a few years now. Specifically, it has been a convenient way to keep my personal/professional use of twitter separate from any client-related account management- where I would use a paid tool, and log in to Twitter directly on the Web to double-check posts and analytics. That last part is germane to how my heart sank a little on hearing the news that Twitter is retiring Tweetdeck as a separate application and forcing you to log in to Tweetdeck via the web. From their announcement:

You’ll no longer need to log in to TweetDeck separately. Now, when you move from TweetDeck to Twitter websites, or from these websites to TweetDeck, you’ll be automatically logged in — making it even easier to move between the tools you use daily.

This means if I log in to Tweetdeck, that is how I log in to Twitter itself, removing a layer of separation from personal accounts and client accounts, a potentially dangerous predicament. Prediction: more people who manage Twitter for employers and brands will be prone to Tweeting to the wrong accounts. At least our “Social Media Screwups” decks will have fresh material.

Anchor- Utterli fascinating?

I haven’t heard a ton of buzz about this – thank the heavens – but was intrigued to see bits of news cross my feeds about a new app called Anchor.

According to the web site, Anchor:

…makes it easy to broadcast short audio clips to a global audience in seconds. Your listeners can talk back, sparking instant group conversations that were never before possible.

“Never before possible” is nothing more than marketing fluff, and probably less than that (read: bold untruth), as anyone who used the deceased app Utterli can tell you. However, the TechCrunch article has interesting quotes from public radio station WNYC’s social media director about how they might use it to involve listeners; this brings to mind the factor of timing that Utterli did not have in its favor, as far as having markets outside of the “let’s engage!” kum-bay-yah social media crowd is concerned.

I’m interested- or will be – Anchor is iOS only at this writing, so I will frown vigorously at anyone who declares it the Next Big Thing before it’s available to all major OS’s.

Twitter Stickers?

Speaking of not-the-next-big-thing: sure, why not. I won’t use Twitter stickers, but there’s no reason to scorn experimentation (though I dare anyone to call it the “next big thing.” I dare ya).

Image Credit: Quesh on Flickr

Image Credit: Quesh on Flickr

End of Websites?

NONSENSE…BUT- this article does at least bring up, convincingly, the idea that not everybody needs a web site. Does an athlete need one? Maybe not. However, one good example does not make a trend, so this article is simply another example of someone reaching too far to make a point that doesn’t need to be made. Most companies- and a lot of people- will always want to come back to their own “owned” (to the extent you own something for which you pay hosting fees, pay designers and coders, and borrow or buy software) platforms – their web sites. As slick and useful and social as many platforms get, the “end of websites as we know them” is not upon us.

This is Simple: Curation is Necessary, and the Curators Will be Seen as Gods. 

My colleague Mark Traphagen hipped me to this article on how Spotify’s wonderful new(ish) “Discover Weekly” feature is more than a discover tool; it is, in my words, a focused discovery tool. We don’t need access to new content, we need ways to prioritize what we find, and what deserves our attention. Access to the world means we are not force-fed a narrow slice of popular culture, but now it means we do need tools (and people) to tell us which part of the “long tail” to ride. Discover Weekly give guidance by analyzing what you listen to, and pulling additional music based on the playlists of others who listen to the same music (I am oversimplifying this, for sure). Then, it delivers you a concise weekly playlist, instead of a word of music from which you could never pick a starting point. You still have the means to dive down any rabbit holes should you want to, but the curators are here to tell us what to do, and we should welcome the help. I do.

Social Media Top 5: What Podcasts? More Disclosure & Wikipedia Fun, & Instagram Feed Change


Image Credit: Hey Paul Studios on Flickr

Image Credit: Hey Paul Studios on Flickr

Podcasts? What Podcasts?

NPR employees have been instructed not to promote its own podcasts on the air? What? It appears there is a friction between NPR’s longtime brilliance at making its content available via downloadable or streaming media (Podcasts!) and the desire by local stations for listeners to stick with good ol’ terrestrial radio.

Why is an over-the-air medium call “terrestrial” anyway?

While I do not know, this appears to be driven by public radio station managers worried that listeners consuming podcasts rather than local station will lower ratings (to the extent public radio has ratings, a complex matter in itself) and fewer listener contributions. Is that true? The fear seems logical if not proven. However, a solution involving the network denying the existence of its own digital savior (hey, give me some rope, it’s Palm Sunday weekend as I write this) seems counterintuitive. Surely there is away to promote and distribute podcasts in a way that helps member stations? It has been way too long since I have been in public radio, so I’ll leave that answer to the experts.

Disclosure Follies- Here Come the Regulators

We have seen the FTC start to enforce online content disclosure guidelines over the last couple of years. In that time, it has become clear that brands will be held responsible if “influencers” fail to disclose sponsorships when posting content about products. This latest case involving Lord & Taylor raises another question that several folks I know raised this past week: what about the responsibility of publishers?

In this case, L&T failed to disclose it paid for a placement in a fashion magazine as well as failing to disclose considerations to online influencers; this dovetails with the topic of “native advertising” (a fancy new-ish buzzword for advertorial” that is netting folks some plum speaking engagements); will publishers be held to account for failure to inform the audience who is paying for what?

Disclosure is not hard- and it doesn’t (necessarily) cheapen content; failure to disclose, when discovered, could and should do more damage. I hope we’ll see more cases, as it will make brands – and hopefully publishers and “influencers” think more about how they approach these situations.


Instagram Hops on the Algorithmic Feed Train

Cue the “You’re ruining my feed” whiners: in a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of Facebook, millions of users are already complaining about Instagram “messin’ with mah feed” due to its announcement it will institute a smart algorithm to deliver the best posts rather than a straight chronological feed. This, as with past whines about Facebook and Twitter, shall pass, so enjoy it while the whining is fresh

Instagram is switching its feed from chronological to best posts first

I actually like curated feeds. It worked for Facebook, it will work for Twitter (if I were ever to go to the main Twitter feed), and it will definitely work here..

Wikipedia Editing Fun

Over the years, whether it be in PR, social media, or SEO, it has been common to field requests for advice in dealing with Wikipedia. The advice, boiled down, is: you can’t edit or create your won Wikipedia page, but you can work with editors to ensure worthy changes and corrections, as long as you don’t think of it as a marketing tool but as an information resource. There are groups dedicated to helping marketers work properly with Wikipedia (I’m a mostly-lurking member of a very good one).

So, what to make of this episode of a problematic page on Wikpiedia? An PR representative appeared to make a proper, if possibly clumsily executed (hard for me to judge), plea for changes to a client’s page. Somehow, this ended up in a lawsuit by the page’s subject against its own agency for causing more negative edits. It’s truly unclear what happened, though one guess is the client was not satisfied with the changes, if any, that were made, or perhaps the speed which they progressed (or failed to). If an agency is held liable for elements it can hardly control, that would seem silly.

Wikipedia is governed by a convoluted (to outsiders) process, and does not necessarily move at the speed or in the direction we want. That’s by design. Those who refuse to function within the system won’t function without it either.

Medium Collections?

Has Medium changed again? Or has it just made itself easier to navigate by interest? It seems the latter may be the case, depending in ho you read into the latest announcement about Medium Collections. It seems to make sense to me.

What hasn’t changed about Medium? The most compelling posts are those by Medium executives about what Medium is…this week.

Social Media Top 5: Instant Winners, Loser Apps, & Stopping Online Harassment

Image Credit: Andrew Huff on Flickr

Image Credit: Andrew Huff on Flickr

Facebook Instant Articles Coming to More Publishers Soon. And…?

On April 12, Facebook says, it will open up its Instant Articles platform to all publishers. I haven’t taken much advantage of this platform from the initial group of large publishers with current access, but it is fair to say it has worked well enough for broader use.

The broadening of Instant Articles does bring with it several questions.

  • Will brands be able to take advantage? I sensed some initial excitement that “everyone” will get to play with this new toy (or at least, to some overenthusiastic bloggers, brands), but it seems (almost) clear that Instant Articles will only be available to publishers: just a whole bunch more of them. So is this a revolution in content marketing? Not in the sense of marketing original content from brands, at least not yet.
  • Is it worth it to put this much effort into a platform you don’t own? If you do have access, how much energy do you put into it? What do you get from it? It may be slick and there may be millions of potential readers, but the April 12 land rush means a lot more competition for attention (I will NOT call it “content shock”), and publishers need to weigh the effort needed versus the return, either in site traffic, advertising, or other important metrics.
  • Has Facebook won the internet if this catches on? If I like to read articles there, I am won over. That has not happened yet.
  • Will it be hard to do? Sites running WordPress already have a plugin to make sure posts are compatible as Instant Articles, so for some folks probably not. Also, a WordPress plugin implies a wider group of qualified users than professional publishers, but that remains to be seen.

As with everything, I’m not getting too excited but will be interesting to see how it changes my media experience.

Why we keep doing this

Writer John Biggs nails down why we write even if most of our stuff never gets read (and he said it without using the term “content shock”). What jumped out for me:

You learn that most of what appears online goes unread. Nobody cares. Nobody will read you. The only way to make them care is to keep doing it, day after day. Write 1,000 words a day. Don’t stop. This holds true in everything. Can you write more words per day? You can, but start at 1,000. Once you do that, day after day, people will notice. Then people will read.

Biggs has an audience; I don’t. But writers will write, and we only get better (or at least fail to atrophy) by continuing to do it.

It’s Not Dead- It’s Pivoting!

Image credit: on Flickr

Image credit: on Flickr

Remember how Meerkat was the Next Big Thing at SXSW a few years ago? Live streaming video is still hanging on, but once Twitter bought rival Periscope it was clear, with the presumed integration with the established social platform, which competitor would win out. So, Meerkat is dead…? Oh wait it’s “pivoting” to become a “live video social network.” Stay tuned, though more than you have been I guess.

Peeple just a Glorified Vanity App Now?

Remember Peeple, the “Yelp for Peeple” that got hooted into hiding a few months ago? Well, now its back. Read this article about the app and decide for yourself if it is “awful,” but it appears that a bad idea gutted of its most abhorrent features is a bad idea that doesn’t do anything. At least it appears to be less of a mean-girls bully factory (did I say that out loud?).

SXSW Online Harassment Summit

I sometimes throw away a small item at the back of these posts, but not this time. I also tend to ignore SXSW if I’m not involved directly, but again, not this time. SXSW’s first Online Harassment Summit had what I understand to be a pretty difficult birth (and with the involvement of several friends who are better people than I am), but gave way to content that everyone should pay attention to. I am not all the way through, but encourage folks to have a look, as online harassment is a real problem, and maybe if you see a lightweight wiseacre like me give it a little light, you will too.



Social Media Top 5: Reaction-ary, DIY PR Advice From Hell, Making Better Conferences

Image credit: wackystuff on Flickr

Image credit: wackystuff on Flickr

One Question about Facebook Reactions:
Facebook officially released the “reactions” emoji, so people can express a range of emotions outside of the traditional “like” button when not bothering to actually comment on a friend’s post.  I do have one question about how this might change the way we use Facebook: will fewer people like posts because of the perceived extra work involved? I firmly believe there is a value to the drive-by like, and the perception that it will take a little extra effort may mean people don’t bother. Would love to see numbers on this in a few months.

Never underestimate the laziness of the average person just trying to get through their day.

Image credit: Alexander on Flickr

Image credit: Alexander on Flickr

More Terrible DIY PR Advice

I’m not solely a PR practitioner anymore, but articles advising entrepreneurs, such as this recent post, how they don’t need to hire PR counsel to get publicity have always galled me, from Jason Calacanis’ missive on promoting your own business from nearly a decade ago, to this latest article. The advice really being espoused? “Don’t worry about doing your actual job; don’t worry about hiring a professional (internal, agency, consultant, or any of the above) to do your promotion, you can do it yourself with no training, in your abundant free time. It was silly when serial entrepreneur and pundit Jason Calacanis wrote such advise almost a decade ago (which I dubbed “How to be Jason Calacanis”); it is still silly now.

The fundamental problem with this advice is not that there aren’t people who can and should do it themselves (or, for that matter, those for whom doing contracted PR work would be an absolute nightmare and not worth the retainer), but the assumption that a typical entrepreneur has the time, let alone the skills, to do their own PR successfully. To borrow a word from the late Justice Antonin Scalia: applesauce.

Improving Conferences

I attended Pubcon in Fort Lauderdale this past week (courtesy of my employer, Stone Temple Consulting), which put me in a long overdue “thinking about what I like or otherwise about conferences” mood. While any conference has ways in which it can improve, I generally enjoyed Pubcon and knew enough to make as much of my time there as possible. I will only leave one specific criticism, which is not aimed at the organizers but at every hotel or convention center that ever hosts a conference, especially in this age of social media:

I managed to take a few speaker photos using a camera with a very god lens (see below) despite the horrendous lighting, but I can only imagine that typical smartphone users were left with terrible quality – a little better speaker-focused lighting in hotel conference rooms would greatly improve the quality of organic social sharing at events.

Kyle Olson (@BecauseSEO) on advanced linkbuilding - Content placement -  #PubconSFIMA #twitter

After I came home, however, my colleague Mark Traphagen, in advance of his speaking at another upcoming conference, linked to this article about improving digital marketing conferences, but in his comment added: “Have an editorial team to work with speakers on their presentations.

10 Ways Digital Marketing Conferences Can Dramatically Improve Their Events in 2016

The best point I took away was in the area of speaker preparation. Conference speakers have their spots for good reasons (and as often as not they justify those reasons); but there needs to be more  balance between polished speakers who give empty but (maybe) entertaining talks (usually keynotes, or as I call them, a good time to get work done), and speakers with more practical takeaways who struggle with presentation style.

I agree that conferences can take a greater role in guiding speakers through their presentations. No, it’s not about editing the content of speaker presentations (god forbid someone monkey with your precious fireproof tips for SnapChat monetization), but about making sure people who pay to go to conferences are getting value. From every session. It’s not about flash, it’s about value.

TedX Cambridge is a great model- though it is difficult to expect the level of attention to detail the organizers give their speakers, a centrally-controlled speaker preparation program would greatly improve most conferences.

As for the Sales Lion article Mark linked to- I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s worth a read.

MacBook Selfie Sticks

Please, God, no. Regular Selfie sticks are bad enough. On the other hand, I see an increased opportunity for entertaining self-injury.


My Only Comment for Critics of The Met’s New Logo:

Another new logo, another righteous mob. I can’t bring myself to articulate a helpful response: