Doug Haslam

Gischeleman: "To Create With the Mind"

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Friday Fun – Vine and Infographics, Together Where They Belong…

…in hell.

Actually, a nice quick reminder of the recent history of social networks, with fewer nausea and seizure-inducing properties than the Conversation Prism (even though it’s a Vine).

via Esteban Contreras

(btw, Esteban, you left out ChatRoulette, Color, and So.Cl ;P)

 

(ETA: Esteban made this Vine, which I apparently didn’t make clear enough)

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Am I a Brand Whore?

Untitled I try not to get caught up in the whole “online influencer” game, in that I don’t put myself out there as an “influencer?” Do I influence people? Probably some, sure. But I don’t subscribe to the “social media celebrity” crap some folks in my business (including people I like,  respect and consider to be friends) do to varying degrees.

That said, we all – yes, all of us – have our smaller spheres of influence: family, colleagues, community, et al. I’m more comfortable moving in those smallest groups, which more often than not are spheres of mutual influence rather than some sort of master/apprentice or celebrity/plebe relationship.

Still, I was taken aback by something that happened to me this past week: a tweet making fun of a job listing for a junior position calling for for years of social media marketing experience. Kind of a lame joke, but then I got this response:

Screenshot_6_30_13_2_46_PM-3

It was a bit of a non sequitur, but a well-meaning one from the Pretzel Crisps folks. I was taken aback, wondering if this was intrusive, to jump in on a Tweet that had nothing to do with their product. But I also happen to like pretzel crisps, and direct-messaged them my address, Thinking they’d mail me a sample. That was when I was taken aback again; not 15 minutes after I sent my address, there was a ring at the doorbell as I worked from home. My wife called to me, “Your Pretzel Crisps are here.”

Gigi Yassine from Pretzel Crisps had come to my door, as apparently they had a location near my neighborhood (down The Lake as it happens), and delivered a rather generous bag of Pretzel Crisps of various flavors.

I was so taken aback that I forgot to ask what prompted them to contact me.

So back to my original dilemma; taking freebies is not really something I’m into; so am I a Brand whore now? How do I regain my innocence?

Just to keep things neutral: as much as I like these for snacks, the Buffalo Wing flavor say not so great (there, I feel better already).

Oh- and by the way, I know I’m not a brand whore. But that was interesting.

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A Few Observations for June 7, 2013

In lieu of a “real” blog post, some thoughts that leaked out of my ears:

  • If you Tweet that people are “doing it wrong” – you’re doing it wrong

(13) Twitter _ Search - _doing it wrong_

  • People have “personal brands” about Personal Brand (or against Personal Brand). No, really.
  • The only thing requiring more effort than making video (even good ones) is watching them.
  • “Video is Hard” Part II: this is part of why Vine is a hard sell for me.

 

  • It is tempting to ridicule people for posting highly personal, navel-gazing posts on public forums. Why is it not as tempting to properly ignore them?
  • What is more useful to you: advice or observation?
  • Is it really such a burden to look at food photos? Admit, you secretly love them

Shrimp deviled eggs

  • Do you still listen to podcasts? (I do)
  • List posts: informative and easy to consume? Or lazy anti-writing? Should I call this a Top Ten List for better SEO?

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On Nitpicks and Fun

Recently, the creator of the “gif” image format brought attention, while accepting a Webby Award, to the correct way to pronounce it, with a soft “g.” Many people, myself firmly included, look at the spelling and understandably pronounce the word with a hard “g,” the better to underscore sentences such as “The next person to email me an animated gift is going to get such a smack.”


Creator of the GIF: “It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.” http://t.co/jOXN1Hgv3p
@nytimes
The New York Times

Not to be outdone, the makers of “Jif” peanut butter weighed in on the correct way to pronounce their product :


It’s pronounced Jif® #Jif #GIF http://t.co/zJl0QMSdYS
@Jif
Jif® Peanut Butter

That was clever and I laughed, but I can’t imagine there is a huge consumer audience for this issue, the way there was for the Superbowl when Oreo jumped on the blackout during the game to do a clever bit of “real-time marketing.”


Before you crown the new “real-time marketing king of the world” remember choosy mothers don’t know what a gif is. Still, I laughed
@DougH
Doug Haslam

Part of me (the evil, snarky part) hopes this was a setup to see who what social media gurus would declare Jif the new Real-Time Marketing King of the World, and thus expose themselves as idiots and/or frauds. That would be even more fun, though far less likely.

Perhaps next, the makers of White Cloud toilet paper can reach their all-important enterprise IT demographic by making a play on “Cloud Computing” in a Tweet (please tell me that hasn’t happened).

I’m all for having fun nd hope more brands do stuff like this, but I pry the people keep in perspective what these individual cation really mean.

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A Prayer for Passive Aggressive Resistance

you're doing it wrongOften online, and especially in the social media marketing biz, people resort to what we like to call “passive-aggressiveness,” which I will oversimplify by defining it as crabbing about something without naming names.

The second most-popular sport in social media, I suspect, is calling people cowards for being passive aggressive.

On the one hand, I have no problem with people calling others out directly, if they are willing to start a dialogue in which opposing viewpoints are debated rationally.

HA! Had you there. When is that going to happen?

I do believe that if we see things that we think are wrong, that we have a duty to correct them and offer a better way. I also agree with those that say slinging mud at each other is counterproductive. So what to do?

Passive-aggressiveness is the answer. But why? I have thought about it a bit, and here is my defense for you cowards people who want to tell it like it is:

  • There is no need to gratuitously call people out: The problem with naming names is that you could appear to condemn all that person does. Of course, a person is a sum of their being, and a professional is a sum of their professional acts, so that’s not fair. That said, if I think a friend can take a ribbing, I’ll jape with them directly, but humorously and always acknowledging the answer, whether I agree or not. We can make our points without having to attack people. ETA: Some people out there are thin-skinned, and perceive any criticism as an attack, or simply get defensive as a kneejerk reaction. Naming such people derails the conversation before it has begun. I’d rather discuss the issue rather than the people.
  • Universal application of concepts: Often, something we want to call out is practiced by many, so calling out one person, again, is unfair. People piled on Guy Kawasaki for continuing auto-tweets during the Boston Marathon bombing crisis, but he wasn’t the only one. Why single him out when there are plenty of targets? Plus, he responded like a baby so it wasn’t worth it and the point was lost (oops I’m breaking my rule).
  • Creative License: By this, I mean that there are different varieties of many bad practices. If you are too narrow in your focus, you may miss addressing a larger cure for a larger problem. What one person may be doing wrong is interesting, the bigger issue behind it all, and the solution, is afar more interesting.
  • Parody vs Personal Attacks: It’s much more fun to be funny. If you name names, you may tie yourself to the facts, and that’s certainly no fun. Passive-aggressive behavior gives you license to exaggerate, to be outrageous without cutting people down. You can be nasty and nice at the same time, and everybody wins.

Those are my thoughts on the matter. Feel free to attack me publicly and say I’m wrong (or use one of my handy rules above to attack me passive-aggressively).

Yeah, so I’m not going to name names here. We’re all probably doing something wrong anyway. Knock yourself out.

Photo Credit: The Happy Robot on Flickr

*Note: if you ever write a passive-aggressive social media blog post, let me know privately whom you are really complaining about. I love gossip.

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Critics Gonna Crit – on Google Glass and other Silliness

Google Glass is coming out, and the early ambassadors have their copies. They look ridiculous- the glasses and the people wearing them – but that doesn’t stop the debate over “internet civility” from wandering over to Google Glass uninvited.

clara

I dare you to tell Clara she looks siily

Apparently, if you point out that Google Glass looks stupid and that the people publishing preening posts about their precious prizes are – well, acting silly, then you’re a hater and uncivil.

Yes, I’m over-generalizing – I hope. But I think overall on the social web a lot of people confuse the backlash over tireless, pointless hype with some kind of sub-hate speech.

It’s not. There is a line.

I’m a big fan of the fight for civility on the social web (maybe we shouldn’t call it a fight, that sounds uncivil), and I look forward to reading Andrea Weckerle’s book on the subject (I know, I’m slow to read it- just flame me in the comments and be done with it), but I fear that self-appointed guardians of being nice will tamp down good, honest dissent.

Here’s the thing: Google Glass is ridiculous.

If I point that out, I’m not jealous, I’m not a hater. I’m also not ignoring the fact that Glass represents a technology – wearable computing – that will find a way into our lives that is not intrusive, obnoxious, or glitchy. It already has, to some extent, as the Nike Plus and similar gew-gaws have already shown their use. I would have sniggered just as much as people who put Digital Audio Tape (DAT) players in their cars 20 years ago (seriously, that happened, and I did snigger), or people who lugged around 20 pound battery bricks that some joker thought to call “mobile phones.” Both represented serious advances in technology, represented by some initial products that were just plain useless.

So- here are some thoughts on the lines between hating and honest debate:

  •  Thicker skins please: This isn’t just about Google Glass, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there, let the negative comments and minor jabs slide. I always wonder what I would do in the face of negative comments (so far, everyone loves me, what can I say), but not every dissent is a challenge to a duel. Back off.
  • Know the difference: Know the difference between disagreement and trolling. Know the difference between humor and hurt. It’s a moving line, just know where it is.
  • Don’t overreact: Working with clients, this is a big key to community management. Often, severe statements are softened by patience; wrong facts are corrected in a short time. And often, back-channel civil conversations trump public spats.
  • Enough navel-gazing: Actually, never mind. Go for it. I don’t care. It’s your blog.

I suppose haters are still gonna hate, but critics gotta crit too. Let ‘em crit. A true civil conversation is one that lets people have at it a little, within reason.

Oh- and feel free to flame me in the comments for my poor Photoshop skills

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The Problem with “Global” Social Media Statistics

twitter infographic best practices maximizing your tweets infographicYou have heard them, you have seen them – the data that tells the “right day and time to Tweet,” best days for Facebook engagement, how many times a week to blog…

Just look at this one (well, I shrunk it because like too many infographics it’s too big to make sense visually in this blog format – if you want to see it full size, click here: A Twitter infographic by Fusework Studios). It’s easy to make fun of them because they are simple facts based on limited data samples. However, they also represent things we do want to know. The intent of studies like this is noble: they are trying to give us trends on how people use social networks, in hopes that we will get insights in to how to use them better (oh, and of course inquire as to the services provided by the companies behind the “research.” Please download our white paper and sign up for our newsletter).

Fair enough. Noble enough. But the data is useless.

For data about social media that is practical, you must look at relevant data.

General data makes for some pretty infographics (and a ton of butt-ugly ones), but they are general – that’s not relevant.

Where to look for the relevant versions of this data? Your own data.

When is the best time to Tweet? Overall, this infographic says weekends. But whom are you trying to reach? Are those people engaging on weekends? What does your Twitter data say? Perhaps you get more retweets, mentions, and clicks on your Twitter links on Mondays. Maybe your Facebook page gets more action on a Tuesday afternoon. Are you a beer company? Maybe “beer o’clock” on Friday is the time to post – 0n any social network. I don’t know that, but if you represent a beer company I trust you are checking it out.

“Global” social media statistics are fun conversation starters, and are best when recognized as superficial examples of . But they are not practical. Enjoy the pretty pictures, but follow the muse in front of your nose (or in your analytics programs).

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On the Death of the QR Code

qr code towel / qr theedoekSo, my good friend Aaron Strout, who knows a thing or two about location-based technology, declares the “death of the QR code.” I get it. That said, I am always suspicious of people declaring the “death” of any technology or service. Another thing – can something be dead if it has never really lived?

I have always been skeptical of QR codes. Not because they aren’t a good technology. They are, actually. I just see example after example of poor application.

The most common cited case is the QR code at a cash register, leading merely to a store Web site. I’m at the store; why do I need to do that?

Then there are the impractical applications. A highway billboard? No, scanning a code while driving is not on my list of ways I want to die, though I guess it would get me on the news.

The thing that gets me most, and Aaron touches on it in his blog post, is that there is no consistent native app that comes with phones to scan barcodes. The easiest solution (for the user – not sure how developers feel) would be for the camera app to sense barcodes and QR codes. Why do I even need a separate app (again, I don;t know all the technical challenges there, but from a user point of view, give me that or give me nothing.

Meanwhile, belying any claims of the “death” of QR codes (sorry Aaron), they are seeping in to mainstream media. As I watched the Red Sox game on the NESN sports network before writing this, I noticed a QR code as the announcers discussed the batter’s grip.

IMAG0369

I paused the broadcast as aI fumbled for my barcode scanner app, walked up super-close to the TV so I could actually scan the code, and was taken to a page where– well, I couldn’t watch the video because I didn’t have flash on my phone.

Screenshot_2013-04-04-20-34-26

Totally useless.

A later QR code taking me to a season schedule got me to the promised website, but still I had to walk right up to the TV to scan the code. Not very practical.

As for solutions? It really depends on the use. It may be there is no universal catch-all. See Aaron’s post for potential other technologies like augmented reality and Near-field communications (NFC) – heck, why not Google Glass and other future “wearable” computing technology? It may be that different technologies are best suited to different uses. Time will tell. Even after all that, I’m not convinced QR codes are dead any more than I think RSS is dead, or print is dead. Hey, even the failures are interesting.

Edit: Laura Fitton hipped me to this: http://wtfqrcodes.com/

And: http://picturesofpeoplescanningqrcodes.tumblr.com/

Photo credit: michel langendijk on Flickr

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What a Facebook “Like” Really Means

Logo Like My Fuji :)I know, you are probably expecting some sort of metrics-focused deep analysis of the value of a “Like” on Facebook or some other easily-debunked claim.

No. Goodness no.

I am here thinking about why we Like comments or posts, and if those of us reading can tell the difference. This becomes more pronounced in Groups, where the relationships among members with common interests are likely stronger. Also, I’m not thinking about Page Likes, either, as liking them is akin to collecting pogs (does that really only date back to the 90s?) or baseball cards (“If I Like one more toothpaste brand, I have the whole set!” – you hear that often, right?)

What do you mean when you “Like” a status update or comment?

  • The “Just Letting You Know I’m There” 
  • The “LOL”
  • The “I Was Going to Say That But You Did So Now I Don’t Have To”
  • The “I’m Way Too Busy/Important to Add to the Conversation”
  • The Ironic “I Actually Hate This and if You Know Me at All You Also Know I’m Just Trolling”
  • The “I am Flagging This For My Friends Even though Only the Person Who Wrote it Will See My Like”
  • The “I Was Taking a Break and Liking Everything in My Main Newsfeed”
  • The “Everyone Else I Know is Liking This So I Had Better to Show I Share Their Values”
  • The ”I Haven’t Commented or Liked Anything in a While, So I Should Go and Like Stuff to Show People I Care Even Though I Don’t.”
  • The “ ”Sounds Good to Me but I Have Nothing to Add So…Moving On!”
  • The ”I’m Liking This Because I Liked Everything Else on This Thread and Don’t Want You to be Offended (You Oversensitive Twerp)”
  • The “You Owe Me an Email/Document/Money/Apology and I’m Going to Like All of Your Posts and Comments to Let You Know I’m Watching You.”
  • The “You Have All This Time to Post on Facebook But You Can’t Call Your Mother?”
  • The “This Like Indicates my Sensitive Soul’s Gratitude that Anyone Saw and Heard Me Much Less Spoke Back! Sooo Much Better than High School When All My Heys Got Ignored.”
  • The “That Idea is So Good I Wrote a Blog Post About it – Two Years Ago” - Yeah, that happened

Did I miss any? Add your favorite “Likes” in Comments. And feel free to Like this post on Facebook (unless you are being Ironic).

Special help from my friends: Bob LeDrew, Julie Pippert, Jennifer Stauss Windrum, Amy Vernon, and Nathan “Bombin’” Gilliatt

Photo credit: dominikfoto on Flickr

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Coming to Grips with the Death of Google Reader

Library Shelves 2

As a long-time user of Google Reader to manage the feeds of the blogs and other online publications I read and am interested in, I was understandably among those up in arms when Google announced, tucked into a laundry list of other “Spring Cleaning” closures, that it is shutting down Reader as of July 1.

How can they do this to us, the loyal users, after all we…

…oh, right. it’s a free tool.

It’s still a bit unsettling. I have two months to decide what to do, whether finding another RSS reader to use, or to just let the river of brilliant recommendations from my online “friends” (and friends) wash over me. OK, that sounds like a bad idea, people are idiots, why would I let other humans tell me what to read (I’m kidding. Sort of).

Aside from my own slightly-less-important-than-a-hill-of-beans problem with all this, I also thought of a few of the surrounding issues:

  • RSS: Dead? Not Dead? Gravely Ill? Perhaps a Slight Cough and Chills? I never understood why some people who put RSS forward as a consumer-facing technology. I also didn’t understand how; why call it RSS? That’s weird. It’s an underlying technology, and there’s no reason to think it will go away. Google Reader going away is pretty high profile though, and it makes people worry yet again about the future of Feedburner, the Google-owned service that makes it easy to set up RSS feeds. But again: RSS is an underling technology. If we move on from readers, I doubt it will disappear.
  • Is Reading Blogs a Fading Art? My relationship to my Reader feed list has changed; I no longer slavishly scroll the headlines, and I do (despite my snarky comments above) take recommendations from people I know for things to read outside that list. But I still have a list of blogs, or certainly types of blogs, I want to read for fun and professionally. My list s badly in need of pruning, but it looks like I’ll be doing that no matter what.
  • What About Google Plus? My first thought on hearing the news was that Google would simply roll some sort of reader feature into Google Plus, their social network. Google has been good about forcing people onto the network, even if most of us really don’t want to use it yet, through forced signups via other Google services like YouTube and GMail, or the mere fear that not being on Google Plus will jeopardize search rankings. No G+ Reader feature is evident as I write this, but that would make sense- and finally make Google Plus a more regular part of my daily routine. Why not? I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that happens, if only to force some of us on the service and to create more traffic through Google-assisted sharing of content.
  • Consolidation of Tools is Here? Posterous. Delicious (almost). Now Reader, just to name three very recent examples. In fact, Google itself has a rich history of killing services, mostly from its Labs branch. Free tools that many people use are nevertheless being shuttered. They don’t make money, so why should they continue as utilities. Well, perhaps there are reasons, but our reliance on these tools makes for a fragile relationship. I’m upset that I have to find an alternative- and perhaps a radical one- for Google Reader, but I really have nothing to complain about. If this were a paid service I would be more upset, but it’s not so I just shut up and move on.

So, on to more important questions: who wants to read Google to me?

Image credit: srharris on Flickr