Not For Sale

fear not
Originally uploaded by skeletonhands

Sean Howard has written up a manifesto of one — I am not for sale. A couple of others have joined in over at CrapHammer, so I thought I would too. Here are the words from my first ever post (especially for those who are new to these parts) — and if you feel like contributing, find or make an image for your blog and let us all know.

The Servant of Chaos
We begin with a rant. A rumble. A shout. There is more in the mind, more on the fingertips, more spilling from the edges of our quivering lips than can fill the words of a thousand weblogs.
The diaries of the insane, the newly reposessed, the righteous, the deluded, and yes, even I.
The daily diatribe of the left, the right, the religious and informed brooks no argument.
But we will give them one.
You and I.
We will give them one.
There are more to the words of consumers than the corporations expect.
We huddle in groups, in chat rooms.
We explode on the keyboards of a million call centres.
Our imagination is unheard of. Our thoughts cancel out the process.
We are your hearts and your minds.
We are everywhere, all places, all over the shop.
In your blood, at your workplace.
Serving you tea.
Writing you emails.
We don’t really want to, for this is who we are.
A new opportunity opens every day.
It opens with the page.
The pen.
Another rant.
In control? Hell no!
We are in slavery to the chaos of our lives.
This is the manifesto of one.

The Blog Bat Signal

The dark Light
Originally uploaded by benegizer

After being away for a week I must admit that it is difficult to get back into the habit of writing-thinking. It seems that even a small break away from the discipline of blogging can disrupt our creative and intellectual processes.

So I thought I would send up my own blog bat signal to remind myself that there are brands and social media challenges that are yet to be conquered. Now all I need is my cape — and the next installment of "The Future of Your Brand" will be delivered before you can say "wham".

Joseph Jaffe Got Shouty at Ad:Tech

  Joseph Jaffe Got Shouty 
  Originally uploaded by Cam Beck

Joe Jaffe was unable to attend Blogger Social … but in the spirit of fund raising, his name tag was auctioned off.

It seems that "Joseph Jaffe" has had several sightings at Ad:Tech in San Francisco where the marketing bloggers were out in force thanks to Tim McHale at the Madison Ave Journal. You can check out their coverage all over the web — and by following the adtech twitter stream.

Dip Your Hands into the Blogging Community Well

  All hands… 
  Originally uploaded by carf

When you first start blogging (or even reading blogs) it is hard to find a community where you feel you belong. After all, there are a couple of hundred MILLION blogs (more than half of which are written in Chinese!) — so sometimes it can take a little bit of digging. This is why ongoing lists like Mack Collier’s excellent Top 25 Marketing and Social Media Blogs and Meg Tsiamis’ Top 100 Australian Blogs are important. For while those of us who have been using these lists for a couple of years may feel they are tired or outdated (or even too myopic), we are still on the margins of the mainstream — and the real benefit is not for us, but for the thousands of people newly discovering the blogosphere each day.

Recently, Mack considered stopping his index, but after community input, decided upon a format change to include blogs that include "social media" as well as marketing and branding blogs. You can check out his latest list here. But Sean Moffitt points out that blogs come and go (and change focus). So finding currently active, thought provoking blogs that provide quality content is always a challenge. With that in mind, Sean has compiled a great list of blogs which focus on "community building, brand communities, citizen tribes and the intersection of social networks and marketing" — and I am pleased to see the Servant of Chaos is included (check the full list here.

There are also a number of my personal favourites like Jeremiah Owyang’s Web Strategist Blog and Chris Brogan. But I am most excited to begin reading Sami Viitimaki’s Flirting with the Crowd and Rob Kozinets’ Brandthroposophy which are completely new to me.

It’s not the end of "conversation" … it’s just the beginning. Always.

Thinking on Your Feet with Anil Dash

Just found this great video of Anil Dash thinking on his feet at SXSW (tip of the hat to Angus). Here he is participating in Battle Decks which is a a presentation competition where he has never seen the slides and yet must weave a story around what he sees on the screen. Very impressive.

Ning and Facebook Face-off

It seems everyone has an opinion on Facebook. We love it or we hate it. Sometimes we ignore it, and other times we dive head first into its chaotic mess. But as the meta-social graph becomes murkier, many of us are starting to consider alternatives. After all, there a Law of Social Media Connections — we can actively only manage around 150 real relationships … beyond that we are moving into the world of weak ties.

This fantastic post contrasts the differences between Facebook and Ning. Axel Brun looks at the behaviours that each "platform" promotes and extends and explains why and where value lies within (and outside of) these platforms. In a world where we often talk about the technology, it is refreshing to hear/read someone explaining the impact that the technology (and its design) has on the methods and ways that we can interact as people. After all, social networks should, surely, be social. (I know, wash my mouth out.)

There is plenty to read through and think upon in this post, but it is summed up nicely as follows:

Frankly, in my view, Facebook’s walled garden approach ultimately perverts the idea of social networking, of social interaction, of sociality itself; however popular it may be today, I fear that as its inner workings become more and more obvious, we’ll find that that Facebook is giving social networking a bad name. Ning, and other sites like it, go some way towards reclaiming the idea of social networking by providing a more sensible, sustainable, and indeed social alternative.

What’s In Your Social Media Pipe?

  pipe dreams 
  Originally uploaded by ChrisJackson

Ever wondered who is creating digital media about you — or your product? Ever wanted a different way to report to your client on digital touch points? I just found this rather neat Yahoo Pipe that scours the web for all different types of media. It is called the Social Media Firehose. Originally created by Kingsley Joseph to monitor references to, the pipe can also be modified to search any term you desire.

So when I did a vanity search on "Gavin Heaton" it actually turned up a range of unexpected content. There were photos from my Flickr account, images where I was tagged at Blogger Social, Technorati feeds, comments, discussions and posts. All of these were aggregated in a neat way, showing the location or origin on a Google Map or in a simple list.

So, do you know what is in your social media pipe? And is it a dribble or is it really a fire hose?

The Chief of Blogs

While in New York last week, I had the opportunity to attend a round table discussion at AdAge, hosted by Jonah Bloom.

We had a wide ranging discussion covering the Power 150 through to the future of marketing and its intersection with social media. From the discussion, it was clear that marketers are now actively seeking to
understand the role that blogging or social media can play within their overall strategy — so much so that AdAge, today, is asking an intriguing question — “does your company need a chief blogger”.

Now, I am sure that there are as many opinions on this topic as there are bloggers, but let’s NOT consider your company. Let’s consider your customers. Let’s think about your employees. Let’s understand their behaviour and their expectations … and in doing so, the answer to the question may become clear.

In The Future of Your Brand is Micro, I was looking at the way that thousands of transactional interactions with digital brands is transforming our views of organisations. Today, Seth Godin has a post that deals precisely with the same subject, but he takes it from the point of view of its outcome — to build trust. Each day as we, in our various life roles (ie those that include our professional responsibilities as well as family etc) come in contact with brands, we are engaging emotionally with a brand promise of some kind.

But Robyn McMaster points out that the impact goes far beyond “engagement”. The Journal of Consumer Research reports that “even the briefest exposure to well-known brand logos can cause people to behave in ways that mirror those brands’ traits”. So, it seems, that posters of the Nike brand ambassadors CAN make you me better athlete — and this, in turn, will reinforce my own commitment to that brand — after all, positive reinforcement is a well-known winner.

The opportunity for brands to begin building trust and engaging with their consumers through social media and blogs etc is compelling. Not only can social media begin building a network of trust between the brand and its consumers, but the continued (micro) exposure will bring closer identification between the two. It is also important to remember that your employees are also consumers — and they have expectations of your brand and are well known to be the best source of brand ambassadors/evangelists.

With all this in mind, is there a need for a “chief blogger”? In a corporate setting, a social media strategy cannot be implemented without a sense of leadership within the organisation and without a commitment to conversation around the brand in the marketplace. Therefore, realistically, you are looking at a senior, experienced executive in charge of your social media program — whether the focus is on blogging or on consumer experience. Why is this so?

  • Politics — whether we like it or not, politics is a fact of corporate life. To be able to overcome or manage the various roadblocks around social media within an organisation, you need commitment to a LONG TERM outreach strategy. The only way to ensure this is senior executive support.
  • Reporting — while bloggers understand the types of metrics that make sense in the social media space (ie readers, subscribers, inbound links etc), you also need someone with serious business knowledge to be able to match these statistics to business objectives and outcomes.
  • Brand voice — regardless of whether social media is taken on by a team or an individual, at some point there needs to be a level of responsibility for the tone of your brand voice.
  • Cross-line of business responsibility — social media does not fit into a neat box. Sure it deals with customer experience, but it can also impact HR, product development, innovation, finance and of course, marketing. It is not a silo — but a cross-line of business initiative is difficult to activate.

There are many other aspects to consider, but a social media chief may well be the key differentiator in the future of your brand.

Blogger Social 2008 Matt Dickman via Compfight