Friday, December 11, 2009

My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess SOCIAL MEDIA is pretty serious.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it"
-- Ferris Bueller

Technology (specifically, the technologies that propel social media's progress) moves pretty fast, too. Some would argue, that if you do stop and look around, you will definitely miss it. Thing is, you don't want to miss the point of slowing down to look around.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that there are NO experts in social media. Pipe down. Yes, there are wise ones who have grown with the mediums and certainly know more than most how to find method within the madness (Do I need to mention Chris Brogan in another post? I didn't think so). However, I would argue that precisely because there are new technologies within new social platforms across the social 'verse announced daily it seems, that there might be passionate hunter-gatherers out there who love to be first to try the new app or whatever so they can conquer and share the social (r)evolution, but that doesn't make them an expert. It makes them an explorer -- the ones who bravely go where others fear to least first.

The good news to my claim is that this means that anyone can become an expert. Participate. Explore this new frontier with us. Discover something we haven't, or find ways to use the tools in a different way to suit your needs. In the words of Timothy Leary "Tune in. Turn on." And to avoid the urge to "Drop out," slow down, and enjoy this new social world around you. Take the time to dig in. Or, to use yet another analogy, avoid the shallow end.

When you're out there trying new things, be authentic. Admit that you don't know it all, and start conversations with others to find answers. Share knowledge. And finally, make it part of your daily routine. You need to exercise your social muscles so they don't atrophy...and so you'll be ready when that next new thing comes along and you have to incorporate that into your world of social tools.

Sooo, anyone have anything to say about this? Anyone? Bueller?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Will they stay or will they go?

Have I ever said how much I love analytics? Well, if I haven't said it enough, I love analytics. I enjoy looking at hard data and analyzing it. One of my favorite temp jobs I ever had was actually with a market research firm in Dallas where we took thousands of data points and drilled them down into their essence. It was a lot more than just saying X # of people enjoyed Y product or whatever. There's a lot of interpretation in that data.

Take for example a heated debate I got into with one of my colleagues about Social Media and the Holiday Season*. We agreed that the subscriber numbers would go up.

Where we disagreed was how those subscribers will react to the various product pages, etc. My guess is that while we will see actual subscriber numbers increase, interactions will decrease since users will be using their networks to reconnect with old friends, communicate with family members, coordinate events, etc. She thinks those interactions will increase on our corporate pages.

We recently started actively monitoring our social media networks and don't have any data prior to May 2009, so I have no evidence that I am right or wrong.

Do you have any idea which the outcome will be? Will our subscribers even increase during the Holiday Season?

*Holiday Season refers to the time period from Thanksgiving-New Year's

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What To Do Before You Hop on the Social Web Wagon

I am at a writing retreat this weekend at the beautiful and spiritual Scarritt-Bennett Center in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. As the brochure says, this small campus was designed in "Collegiate Gothic" style back in 1963. It immediately scratched my nostalgia itch because it reminds me of 1991 when I enrolled for a summer session at University College in Oxford, England. Add a river, Rob Lowe and a bad soundtrack and you've got "Oxford Blues."Yes, I wrote that to have an excuse to embed this:

As mentioned, I'm on a retreat attempting to feed my other passion, writing. There's a small group of us here, and we have become a close-knit group fast. During one of our conversations the first day, the topic of understanding the social web came up, which can be a completely overwhelming subject for an individual or very small business who simply want to get the message out about their book, product or service. I began to give tips and make suggestions here and there. Before long, I was asked to give a casual presentation the next day at lunch.

As I scratched my notes on my yellow legal pad, I realized that before I tell these people to have multiple profiles on this or that site, or who to follow and why, that there are some important first steps these new friends of mine should make.They need to know who they are and what they want to present to the people of the interwebs. I forget sometimes that not everyone is as ravenous about keeping up with social media as Taylor and I are. Though, if there's anyone out there aside from Chris Brogan who can really keep up, please give me two of whatever it is you're taking.

Here are the basic of the Basics you need to know before hopping on the Social Web wagon:

Know Your Brand
1. Who are you?
Are you the brand? Are you the owner? Are you going to be the friend, the sales guy, the expert, or all of these people? Know your limits, know your potential. This is an evolutionary image, so don't think it isn't malleable once you learn the ropes. But FYI -- you are the brand whether you want to be or not. You represent the cause, the product, the service. You're not just the gatekeeper. You will be people's first impression of your company.

2. What is your service or product that you want to share or sell?
-- Are you trying to sell just this one book, or are you trying to build an audience who trusts you, so that you can sell many books?

3. How do you want to present yourself?
-- An addendum to the first point -- will you be only business, or will you be less formal and casual in tone, pictures and personality? Knowing your brand image will help set this tone.

4. Know what social platforms are right for you before you sign up for all of them willy-nilly (that's a scientific term).
-- Look if you're not selling a music product Myspace may not be right for you. It's one of those look before you leap scenarios, which  you should be doing with all social networks. In as much as you can, know them before you join them. The best way is to join, but do the research.

5. Be aware that ALL your social profiles will define you whether you intend for them to or not.
-- If LinkedIn is your professional profile, and you think for one minute that potential customers or employers won't search your Facebook profile, you're wrong. In today's day and age, they all matter. They can either work together or work against you.

These tips are not the only place to start, but a good place to start. In my next post I'll touch on how to start sharing on the social web.