Wondering Out Loud

Social Media: It’s easy to spell, but…

It’s the season of interns and entry-level hopefuls. Resumes are pouring in and I’m reviewing those who made the first cut. Like all good potential bosses, I’ve been surfing the web looking for LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages and blog and Twitter accounts. So far the results are less than impressive. I realize this whole social media thing is still relatively new, but, let’s face it, if you are going to put the words on your resume you had better have the digital footprint that proving you can do more than spell “Social Media.” All the pdf resumes I’ve seen to date do have a web-based counter part in a LinkedIn account, but, rather than painting a fuller picture of the applicant, the online profile is an exact copy of the document sitting in my inbox.

This leads me to ask a couple of questions:

  1. Am I expecting too much from today’s college juniors and seniors, especially those pursuing a career in social media?
  2. Should I be expecting ore from the career counselors who help students navigate the choppy employment waters?

I’d love to see your answers to both, but here are mine: No and Yes.

No: Today’s college students grew up on the web. Social networking is in their DNA and anyone who is looking to enter the job market – entry level or as in intern – needs to have, at the very least, a LinkedIn profile that is full and complete, including recommendations. If you have skeleton profile that is nothing more than a copy of your resume, you are wasting your time and the time of anyone who might be interested in learning more about you. If you are specifically interested in marketing and PR – where SM lives – the digital requirement is even more important.

Remember the good old days when the cry was: “Everyone wants someone with experience, but how can I get experience if no one will hire me.”? Web 2.o0 has given everyone – including my 15 year old son – what they need to gain as much experience as they want. Five years ago I advised a college freshman, planning to major in PR, to start a blog and write about her passion, early American authors. Doing so in 2005 would have put her well in front of her college peers and, today, she would have a robust presence to point potential employers to. Unfortunately she didn’t take my advice and is just another member of the pack looking for work.

Yes: Career counselors in colleges and universities are doing a doing students a disservice if they are not adding social media, in general and LinkeIn specifically to the list of activities their charges should be engaged in. I’ll go so far as to say they should be given LinkedIn training so they can help students make the most of the site. The paper resume – although still important – does not have the power it once did. While it has always been a snap shot of the individual, the resume loses a bit of luster when put against the dynamic nature of a LinkedIn, blog and Twitter.

Going digital is more than a recommendation, it is an imperative. Like investing for the future, the sooner you start the bigger the return you’ll realize. If you wait until your getting ready to graduate and look for that first “real” job, you’re starting too late.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Caveat Emptor, if you’re using social media

A friend of a friend asked me if I knew anything about a particular social media organization. Now, considering one cannot swing a dead marketer without hitting an association, or society, or foundation, or professional organization that brings social media practitioners together I didn’t consider it unusual that I would not have heard of the one in question.

So, with name in hand I set off for the Google to do a little research. What I found was a website, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, and YouTube video. Among other items – not generated by the organization – were blog posts (some +, some -), articles, and comments. All in all, I was able to find a fair amount of information, but not enough to help me draw any conclusions about the organization’s credibility, which is why I’m not revealing the name of the group). At one point, I thought I had struck on a blog post asserting the organization’s leader is an inept boob. Problem is, the writer offered no evidence to prove his contention.

In the world of Web 2.0, where anybody with a computer and internet access can publish/distribute whatever they wish, there is an additional burden on the consumer to do their due diligence. We’ve all heard stories of erroneous facts making their way onto Wikipedia pages, but that site is just a small part of the wwww and bad fact, half-truths, and outright lies are more likely to show up on personal blogs.

So let me distill what I learned. When doing internet research, it’s important to take everything you read, hear, or see with a really big grain of salt. After you’ve completed your research, and before you draw any conclusions, discuss it with someone you know and trust – and I’m not talking about someone you only know from Twitter. Finally, as with anything, unless you are certain of the sellers credibility and veracity, “Caveat Emptor” rules the day.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The social media revolution is over

The social media revolution is over and it’s time for all of us to take a collective deep breath – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Now, before you accuse me of being a complete moron for proclaiming the end of social media, let me clarify what I mean.

I believe social media – as a practice – is in its infancy. We are emerging from a time that saw the development of an amazing number of tools anyone can use to engage on what came to be known as social media. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, blogging platforms, Twitter, YouTube, UStream, Utterli, and the list goes on . Some, like the ones I’ve mentioned here, have been wildly successful. Others have slipped below the surface and  been assigned to the Web 2.0 category of Trivial Pursuit. The ones that made it, and the ones that didn’t, were part of the revolution. Their advent came at a time when we were all comfortable with the Internt. And isn’t that the way it always goes. Just when we get use to the status quo someone else gets bored with it and decides to stir the pot.

We went from needing a website to participate to needing only access to the web. You don’t even need a computer. All that’s required is a visit to your local library. The revolution that is social media made it possible for us to communicate with, potentially, the entire world. It took the concept of global communications promised by the Internet and made it not only possible, but real. Whether text, audio, or video, each of us now has the power to send our message anywhere and everywhere.

And that, my friends, is a revolution if ever there was one. People took something that existed in one form and through a lot of hard work and struggle created something new from it. The old didn’t go away, but it is not what it once was. So where does that leave us today? The same place we were on September 3, 1783 when the treaty ending the American Revolution was signed. The revolution was over, but the evolution was about to begin. And this country has been evolving ever since.

The tools are the revolution, but he evolution are the tools grow up around those tools to make them more powerful. Twitter is wonderful, but the real power of Twitter is in the hundreds of applications we leverage to make it better. Blogs are nice, but RSS feeds, Diggs and del.icio.us are just a few of the technologies that have helped blogs realize the potential of their communication power.

We have the tool to communicate to our markets in ways we never dreamed possible. Now it is up to each of us to figure out how to use those tools to accomplish the goals we’ve set. The original thinking that social media tactics should reserved for communications and not for marketing is already evolving and will continue to do so. 

What we have today is so because people were willing to push boundries of what the Internet could do (revolution) - people a hell of a lot smarter than me. But each of us is capable of taking the gifts they’ve given and evolving them to derive greater and greater benefit than even the revolutionaries might have imagined.

The revolution is dead. Long live the evolution.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Terry Moran called for illegal Tweeting

President Obama called Kanye West a jackass. I saw it on Twitter so it must be true. And Politico reported on it here. Considering what he did to Taylor Swift on Sunday night, I agree with the president: Kanye West is a jackass.  But that’s not why we’re here today.

What Terry Moran of ABC News did is inexcusable. He, or one of his staff with access to his Twitter account, sent an off the record comment across the web at light speed as casually as one might lean in to the person next to them and whisper “Psst. The president just called Kanye West a jackass.”  To call this an ethical lapse is an understatement.

This is not the same as the many “open mic” incidents that have occurred over the years with politicians, celebrities and pundits unknowingly giving us a glimpse into their true feelings. Off the record comments are commonplace and credibility is the lifeblood of any journalist. Moran broke a trust with the president and his credibility deserves to suffer for it.

There are still too many people who fail to understand the power of the internet. Who can’t grasp the simple concept that once you’ve sent a message it is A) no longer yours and B) cannot be retrieved. You can usually tell these people by the photos of last weekend’s party posted they posted on Facebook.

If we are going to be trusted to use the tools Web 2.0 has placed at our fingertips, our mindsets and how we think about ourselves in the grand scheme must evolve. With so many people having access to vast amounts of information, it’s human nature to take the occasional “scoop” and run with it before thinking about the consequences. Recent history is replete with examples of news organizations that ran with stories that were ultimately proven to be false. Granted, Moran’s tweet is not false, but it was off the record and it’s not like he revealed it to his mother during a friendly chat. No, he was talking to his 1,066,522 followers. Talk about the power of distribution.

You’ve heard of the Chaos Theory - aka Butterfly Effect? The Internet takes the theory and multiplies the effect by a factor of infinity. There’s a lot of power in those characters, all 140 of them, and Moran, or one of his colleagues, misused it.

September 15, 2009 Posted by | Journalism, Social Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Social media and revenue: fast friends or oil and water

If you don’t already, you need to subscribe to the rss feed at {grow}. Mark Schaefer, the proprietor, has been known to throw a bomb or two into the sanctified town of Social Media. Mark is one of those rare birds who believes that every company activity should lead to one thing…Revenue. That includes social media.

GASP!

I should add that I appreciate Mark’s instance on delivering to a hard ROI, but he might be asking for something that social media is not prepared to deliver at this stage.  Or are we, social media’s practitioners, not ready to be held accountable for money made? Whichever the case, it can’t last forever. After all, the day is coming when senior management will require social media initiatives to do just that and we need to be prepared.

The biggest obstacle to making marketing hay out of social media tactics is the culture that has evolved around it. The idea, misplaced or not, that a company cannot promote their products and services, the first commandment in the SM-sphere. Thou shalt not use Twitter to promote the “New and improved X”. Nor shall thou blog about the rave reviews customers are giving your services. Social Media is the purest form of communicating – no spin allowed – and marketing messages shall not go so far as to cast a shadow across its door.

 Forgive me for thowing my own bomb here, but that way of thinking is a bog ol’ bunch of hooey.

 Mark asks some great questions [emphasis added by moi]:

How is social media marketing any different from holding a company open house for community leaders or hosting a dinner to get to know some potential customers? Are those things about building trust and relationships? Yes, of course! But we also have no problem admitting that the ultimate goal is to burnish our image with these influencers to improve our chance of business success. Why are we so intent on carving out a special little place in the sun — where results don’t matter — for the social web?

Told you they were great questions.

Who wrote the rules that SM is different, that it can’t be used to openly market products to prospective customers? I’ve heard and read others who liken social media to a cocktail party or a round of golf: leading the event with talk about business is bad form. What the same people fail to mention, however, is that at every party and golf outing the conversation inevitably  turns to business. Believe me when I tell you, all parties know why they are in attendance.

Social media is a powerful way to build credibility, showcase thought leaders within your company, and prove subject matter expertise. But the real power is that is gives you direct access to your market. No more gatekeepers filtering your message. So why not include “traditional marketing” messages in your social media initiative.

I’m not talking about hitting people over the head with daily blog posts and podcasts. But what’s the problem with providing objective information about the industries you serve along with examples of how your products and services have helped others overcome the issues raised.

Try this and this for example. The first is a podcast about lot trace in food and beverage manufacturing. It’s product neutral. The only mention of the product I serve is in the introduction and close of the recording. The second is a customer video in which the COO talks about the wonderful lot trace functionality they have in FourthShift Edition.

And for good measure, here is a recording of Can O’ Worms, a streaming webcast we did about food safety. Like the podcast, it is product agnostic.

The three combined have been downloaded and viewed 2800 times. As Mark points out – views mean nothing if you can’t measure the number of sales qualified leads those views have produced. That, my fellow social media community members, is the crux of the matter. Luckily I can tie two actual deals to the customer video – not leads, deals.

There are ways to marry taditional social media (if there is such a thing in something so new) with marketing and the sooner you are able to expand your SM strategy to do so, the better off you will be.

You can’t afford to maintain the “purity” of social media, you must begin quantifying your successes. If you don’t the C-suite will surely pull the plug on your social media initiative.

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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