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.

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.

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.

The Iconoclast’s Guide to Social Media

Rules are for the weak. #fb

Rules are For the Weak

There are many guides, books, ebooks, blogs, podcasts and conferences about how to use social media effectively. “Influencers” make this world go around. However, I think people, at times, need to approach social media from the “Iconoclast” rather than “Influencer” point of view. Here are the symptoms that you might need to shake yourself up a bit:

– Blindly agreeing with the social media “A-Listers” and posting “Great post!” comments on their blogs?

– Can’t eat your morning scramble without the latest news from Mashable?

– Obsessively reading every social media book, even if you feel like you are reading the same book, over and over and over again?

You need to take an antidote. Become an Iconoclast. It doesn’t mean you have to become a jaded, cynical, mean-spirited jerk, but it helps. The option is becoming a too-agreeable, sycophantic, bland jerk. The choice is yours.

As a help, here are a few rules for the Social Media Iconoclast:

Do Not Take Yourself too Seriously

This is key to having it both ways (I prefer not to call it hypocrisy). Not taking yourself too seriously is important in case you become a popular blogger or (gasp!) an Influencer or (horrors!) a social media keynote speaker. It’s a great trick and it works. This is the first rule because it allows everyone in– even you, Mr. Social Media Influencer, can become an Iconoclast too. Just make it believable, or the rest of us will flay you.

Relax- You Jerk

Non-Iconoclasts are uptight, even defensive. Non-Iconoclasts (not limited to  “Influencers”) have endless reserves of energy. Non-Iconoclasts talk about social media 26 hours a day. I like sports, music, films and family activities. I need at least two hours per day for non-social media activities. I forget if I included sleep in my figuring. Perspective allows you to deflate the gas-bubble of social media importance.

Feed the Trolls- For Fun

Go ahead, poke a stick in the lion’s cage. I’m not sure this is really constructive, but I would like to see some of you try it to see what happens. The rest of us will learn from the consequences.

This is tricky, because a real Iconoclast won’t listen to this advice and stay far away from relentlessly negative Internet trolls. However, the best Iconoclasts can get away with troll-sparring. It’s an art, a master skill. The only way to find out is having the rest of you try it and see who succeeds. Let me know how it goes.

Ok, now that the troll-baiters are gone…

Befriend Your Critics/Criticize Your Friends

Befriending your critics isn’t Iconoclastic, but it makes this section header sound better. It does make you better to befriend your critics- rather than being defensive every time someone disagrees with you. Embrace it. Improve yourself. After all, those people may also be Iconoclasts.

Criticizing your friends is important, because it makes them better. Don’t be afraid of their objecting, or of their minions attacking you. You, sir or madame, are an Iconoclast, and can take it.

Check the water before you splash everybody

It is tempting to jump on the Internet and start ripping everyone. Don’t risk real collateral damage, as fun as it might be to come out guns a blazing and be That Person (not necessarily a Troll) who challenges everyone 24/7. A That Person is not an Iconoclast.

Once you are sure of your surroundings and know the water is good, however, perfect that cannonball. Splash everyone.

Have a Thick Skin

Remember criticizing your friends? Your friends may be Iconoclasts. They are coming after you. Take it in the spirit in which you would like it to be intended, and be secure in your own competent yet fallible self. Does that mean you are an Influencer as well as an Iconoclast? It happens. Remember I mentioned something about having it both ways.

Represent a brand? Go nowhere near your corporate accounts with your personal accounts

There is no room in an Iconoclast’s repertoire for torpedoing one’s own professional brand by being an idiot. Don’t accidentally post your brilliant, yet personal, snark on a company Twitter account (do I really need to link to the popular examples of such?). Keep those accounts far away from each other to lessen the chance. There is also a matter of nuance. Iconoclasm serves debate, scholarship, and improvement, not boorishness and name-calling, If you resort to rank name-calling, you are a weasel.

Have a stomach for others’ imperfections

You are not perfect. I am not perfect. The “Influencers” are not perfect. That’s okay, even if they don’t know it. There is a difference, however, from it being okay being imperfect and not pointing out those imperfections. Point them out. Privately. Publicly. After all, Iconoclasts exist to improve the Influencers’ material. Love the blemishes, while making sure the whole world sees them. Be a friend. Be an Iconoclast.

There you have the rules for being a Social Media Iconoclast. I dare not call it a manifesto, as manifestos (manifesti?) are things I reserve the right- as an Iconoclast- to pick apart.

Oh. and rules are for the weak. Start shredding.


What Made Me Your Audience?

This post originally appeared on Voce Communications’ Voce Nation blog.

One of the things that frustrates me most about being in the social media bubble is the fact that we all (social media marketing, PR, and other folks) seem to be each other’s audience; reading each other’s blogs, books, Tweets and newsletters and commenting on them in some great big circle of life (note: a bubble, or if you prefer, fishbowl, is also circular).

I actually think that’s great in many ways; we need and crave each other’s feedback and when done well it makes us all better. When done poorly, it’s just a bunch of industry friends sucking up to each other in public, rubber-stamping content filled with stuff we all already know (reading that back, I make it sound like a bad thing– you decide, but as ever “it depends”). This translates to any person- or company- in any industry.

While many of us strive for “audience” outside of our known colleagues as we build up our businesses or consulting practices, or want to be known more widely as some kind of “wicked smaht” idea machine, we sometimes forget to provide context, wherever possible, to clue in this “audience,” and especially our existing inner circle, that we know who they are and why they read.

More importantly, if you are going to use more intrusive methods like email, you had better make sure you are making yourself welcome in that more personal space. Industry friends occasionally launch email newsletters; while they are generally pretty good, they don’t often tell me anything new, or more importantly, anything I feel I need to know. Worse, many of these email newsletters have a generic feel, treating me as an audience rather than a friend, colleague, acquaintance or peer.

Is that what I am to you? Audience?

Here are my thoughts on making sure your message is received

  • Create context: If you are creating something you hope to appeal to a wider audience, acknowledge those closer to you by framing the newsletter with a special message on the version they get. Perhaps it is just a note of hello and thanks; perhaps it is an invitation to give feedback as a trusted colleague; perhaps it is a separate email asking ahead of time if they would like to see the newsletter at all, and what they might like to see in it. You might even create a separate piece of content that appeals to this more sophisticated inner circle.
  • Leave people out: Alternatively, just leave people out if you know they won’t need this content– if for some reason you cannot create context, don’t risk your relationships by blasting something out that may not be something they want. Honestly, these folks will not be offended.
  • Say something unique: The hardest part of any content is having a unique take– in the social media bubble, we are all talking about the same thing much of the time– what is your niche? What is your unique point of view? We advise clients all the time to differentiate content, and for good reason. In our circle, one example I like very much is Christopher Penn’s. His email newsletter, like his blog, touches on many familiar social media issues, but frames them in a no-nonsense way that does the most difficult thing; speaks to beginners as well as advanced practitioners (even with Chris, to be fair, his World of Warcraft references may not be for everybody). He is also very upfront, not to mention unapologetic, about his distribution methods; you know where you stand with him, and you know why you’re getting his content.

  • Expand your horizons: What I mean by this is reach out, find that audience of “outsiders” if that is what you desire. While you can eventually build such an audience by building a reputation and credibility based on a history of solid content, there may be a role for that “inside” group. Rather than foisting the content on them as part of the overall audience, distinguish them as folks not meant for your message, but as equals who, when asked nicely, will forward your content to people they know can use it (I look at the rack of social media books written by folks I know, and remember how often I lend or give out my copies to people better served by the content than I).

Yeah, it comes down to those PR staples many of us have harped on for years upon years: targeting and customizing messages. Is it that simple? No, of course not, but we need to think constantly about how we appear to the people who see our content. different relationships deserve different contexts.

Generic Stock Photos and Clip Art- Stop the Blandness!

First, a note- I often worry that blogging more about things that bother me rather than fluffier posts about life and marketing will make me look like an old crank. I stopped worrying about that- as long as I’m providing a solution, such posts have value to some people, I hope. So here goes…

Every once in a while as I flip through posts in Google Reader, I am assaulted over and over by images that offend me. By this I do not mean, shocking, inappropriate or obscene images. I do not mean ugly are provocative either. I mean bland. I mean images with only the most tenuous relation to the topic- or an all-too-obvious pun connecting them to the content. I mean… generic stock images and clip art.

For example; If you want to talk about making something more “sexy,” force the analogy with a generic sexy image like the one to the right:

Nothing like covering your intellectual laziness and lack of cleverness by exposing it, right?

Here’s another– the smiling faces that mean to portray a mood, or illustrate a point, but when overused just look fake (because they are). I may be crankier than most, but they put me in a mood not intended by most authors:

Clipart is overused, though at times it can effectively illustrate a point. As with anything trite, however, it loses meaning pretty quickly.

OK, you get the picture. So, what to do? We are not all artists who can draw our own figures. The solution? Think about expressing yourself by finding unusual, compelling, even provocative images in places that others don’t look, or that have an ever-changing supply of content. Look at this one I found through Flickr advanced search:

boring 90541

Boring 90541 by s.alt on Flickr

I love using Flickr, especially as the advanced search lets you look for photos whose owners have given permission, through Creative Commons licensing, to use them royalty free. More importantly, I love using them because it is easier to find unusual photos and graphics that are less fake-looking and not overused. Just sharpen up your keyword-searching skills and you will have an bottomless well of material.

I also applaud using your own photos. If you are like me, they may look less professional, but that can be a point in your favor– people know it is from you, and, as with the Flickr searches, they are photos you picked for a reason, not from some finite set of glossy stock images. If you happen to be a good photographer, all the better. For example, if I wanted to do some silly riff on the 12 Days of Christmas, I have 2 turtle doves ready to go:


I’m not saying don’t use stock images or clip art. Don’t let anybody tell you what to do (don’t let me tell you not to let anybody… never mind). If it fits, you’ll know; use it. If it’s trite, boring, or lazy, it’ll show.

OK, one last image: Who will be the next to use this when complaining about unwanted electronic correspondence?

Not me.

ADDING: Tell me what you think in comments below, and link to examples if you like. I’ll check my comment moderation folder if my spam program gets all uppity.

* By the way, the top image is courtesy of Ike Pigott (Who the Heck is Ike?); the other photos were taken from blogs that did not credit the original sources (huh?) and I’d rather not single out the blogs because by and large they do things I love as well.

A New Mission for the Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders of Social Media

When I was in Boy Scouts as a teen, serving as Assistant Senior Patrol Leader or some sort of youthful post of authority, I had a moment that made me step back. Teaching a younger Scout to tie knots, I got him to learn the bowline (not the easiest one, but one you needed to know for camping, boating and wilderness survival). That in itself was not remarkable- but the look he gave me when the switch flipped and he “got it” was. It was then that I realized the impact things I do can have on people.

Fast forward a number of years:  having been active in social media for some time now, the biggest change in my industry (ostensibly, public relations) since about 2005 is the growth of a new, public face to communications professionals. Many of us have become, more publicly, the equivalent of that Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (some of us even have badges– look at our blogs!)

While doing the work of making our clients famous, we are also working on our own fame, and that’s…ok.  We blog, we Tweet, we update our Facebook status, and make other media such as video and audio. Now, many of us write books.

For this, many of us get “influence.” Here’s where the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader thing comes back at us. Even if you don’t perceive yourself to be on some sort of social media marketers’ “A-list,” the things you say have an effect. Are you getting that “look” from people I described in the opening paragraph (and is that a good thing)?

Is what you are saying contributing to the betterment of the industry or are you just blowing hot air to keep the balloon up? While I’m happy to prop up egos- goodness knows we need some ego to succeed in the marketing and PR industries- and give public kudos to our professional friends, I’m just as happy to prick holes in the ego balloons, including my own, as well

There is a reason (well several) this blog has been a bit less active lately. I’m happy to hear myself talk and think I’m oh-so clever, but if I don’t have time for it, it’s not a priority. When I do write, I want it to be different- something that isn’t better placed on my employer’s Voce Nation blog.

A New Mission- For Social Media, um, “Leaders:”

(Some of you thought I was going to use another word there, admit it)

  • Explain yourself- if you recommend something, tell us why (succinctly please) We are all recommending links and videos and whatnot, if you really want to cut through
  • Allow dissent. Of course you do that already, who am I kidding? Ok, then– encourage dissent and debate. Demand it. If you are droning on and on about your latest social media treatise, you are more likely putting us to sleep than bettering the industry. Challenge us, don’t tax us. Id people troll, and they will, well, that’s their problem not yours.
  • Consume your own content. Yes, we are proud of your book, and by all means you should- you must- promote it. but look at what you publish- are you a leader or have you flooded your content stream with your own marketing spam? Don’t get away from what made you good enough to write that book.
  • Remember you are an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. Live for that “look.” The good stuff will get it, the rest will wither and die.

A New Mission- For the Social Media Audience:

This isn’t the first time I have discussed the “responsibility of the audience.” here, I am thinking of something more active than being critical in your reading and thinking

  • Hold people accountable. none of us should be just throwing pronouncements out there without discussion- no one is King of Social Media. If someone Tweets that a video is good, ask them why. A video is at least 5 minutes out of your very busy day. You should be able to give reasons.
  • Don’t just agree. Yes, your favorite blogger just wrote the most amazing screed ever written. No, you can’t possibly see anything you disagree with in anything your Hero writes. You just have to surface and say “Great post!” right? No you don’t. By the same thinking as in the last bullet, explain why it’s great. Add something (and if someone just says “great post” in the comments here, I will challenge you to do better).
  • Think for yourself. That’s a little like the above, but add to it that you needn’t be part of some pack that can’t brook disagreement with your heroes. I’m told these people exist (though I have never been so attacked– maybe I’m nicer than I thought).
  • Filter. The inane and boring exist- they are part of our lives, and mixed into our Facebook and Twitter streams (perhaps less so in our blogs). Somebody cares what the Kong of Social Media had for lunch. Ignore and move on.

Can You Have Thought Leadership Without Thought?

the only rule is work

Flickr photo by litherland

Having worked in PR for more than a dozen years, one of the unkillable buzz-phrases has been “thought leader.” For PR clients, it’s a simplified expression for being known for more than self-promotional reasons. rather than shilling your product or company (there is always a place for that), show expertise in a topic, and get media coverage, and industry recognition, and the resulting boost in credibility helps bring credibility to- well, your shilling of your company and product.

Fast forward to social media days, where the push and pull between communications consulting (PR, marketing, and even advertising are being bundled up in social media, confusing matters more) and brazen self-promotion has become more fierce.

See, as a PR flak I took a lot of pride in being behind the scenes, making clients famous. I guess I was the same way in my media days as well, preferring the role of editor and producer to that of on-air personality or bylined reporter. As my work moved more towards, social media, many of us made the unaccustomed move to be out front, blogging and Tweeting  and making all sorts of media that other people can see. This process has created a lot more visibility for many of us, and that’s great as far as it instructs in how to make the people who pay us famous.

Again, we  come to the push/pull between consulting and self-promotion. I tend to tread lightly, because many people I consider friends have gotten”social media famous” or whatever you like to call it. However, determining the difference between people enjoying the sound of their own voices and those who are genuinely making contributions has become harder to discern in the flood of social media publishing (and I use that term in its broadest meaning, not just books).

This difficulty makes articles like this one in the Harvard Business Review (“How to Become a Thought Leader in six Steps”) dangerous, to be frank. Here are the six steps from Dorie Clark’s post:

  1. Create a Robust Online Presence
  2. Flaunt High-Quality Affiliations
  3. Give Public Speeches
  4. Appear on TV
  5. Win Some Awards
  6. Publish a Book

First, what is great about them is that they are common-sense steps to get attention- nothing new to PR folks, but always bearing repetition.

What worries me about this list, is it is all about gaining attention, and those prone to self-absorption will follow these rules to the hilt without necessarily fueling it with what is most necessary: thought. Just as good PR cannot overcome a bad product, effective thought leadership cannot truly survive if narcissism takes hold.

So, follow these rules (and use the word “robust” – sorry, couldn’t resist) at your peril. Is publishing a book necessary? Awards? Speaking? How about a barrel of case studies of your actual work (which might win you those awards or be publishable in a book. And high-quality affiliations are great, but flaunting them is not something I would find attractive in a potential consultant- in fact, if that’s what I look for in a hire I have already lost.

To be fair, this list will probably serve several people well, particularly Ms Clark’s audience. To me, however, it comes up empty. Substance will always rule; theses rules are polish.

Perhaps it takes Six Steps to be a “Thought Leader,” but I’m guessing twice as many to pull back if you go too far.

Pay for Twitter? Of Course!

Take II of the Panel from SMBV Back in early 2008, I participated in a Social Media Breakfast in Boston about Twitter. Actually, the title was half tongue-in-cheek, half serious: “How Twitter Changed My Life.”

One of the questions the audience asked me and my fellow panel members (Laura Fitton, Scott Monty and Jim Storer), was “Would you pay for Twitter?” I have no idea what I answered. I probably said yes, suck-up that I am.

But would we pay? Many more people are on Twitter nearly three years later, brands see it as an important part of their communications outreach and people like me see it as an important link to those of us in our profession, colleagues and past, present and future employers (relax, I’m not looking).

Would we pay? Has anyone really asked or answered that question under any real threat that we would actually have to pay a cent for the service? We have let other services dwindle into relevance or death before, and we’ll do it again. Utterz, soon to be re-christened Utterli, was big at that Breakfast, and much of it was documented through that wonderful service. What happened to that? Here’s what happened- just check out the videos from this blog post: Get my drift? Don’t want to pay? Then dust… to dust.

So now, we are seeing more incursion of ads (more to the point, paid placements) in Twitter. The horror! Twitter wants to make money! Well, I guess if you glean no value from Twitter you can write off their avarice as evil. You can, as my friend Aaron Stout says in the first link, look at sunny skies and expect appropriate targeting of said paid placements.

You can also keep on using the tool, free to answer questions like “would you pay for Twitter” without any worry about having to back up your answer.

For the record, I pay for Flickr (photos) and Vimeo (video) accounts, not to mention blog hosting and domain registration. As for Twitter? Bring on the sponsored Tweets! Make them relevant– does anyone complain about search engine ads? Really? Facebook ads (aside from the howlingly inappropriate targeting that sometimes occurs)? Really?

Ads are coming. Enjoy!