History of a Social Media Expert

Social Media GoddessIf someone tells you they are a social media expert, run” — Connie Reece

In this great podcast, the Podcast Sisters (aka Heather Gorringe and Anna Farmery) interview the effervescent Connie Reece about social media and where and how it fits within an overall marketing strategy.

There is an excellent discussion (at 6:30) about the emerging interest of corporations in social media — with Anna asking whether small businesses should step back and leave social media to the corporations. And as Heather points out, there are more than 109 million blogs now online (Heather quotes precise figures — 😉 ), Connie rightly points out that the aim of your marketing (or social media) strategy is not necessarily to be the number one brand worldwide, but to be the number one brand/business in your category in your locale.

Plenty of good insight delivered in the way that only Anna and Heather can. Remember, you can subscribe via iTunes here.

Party at Todd’s House

Starting Thursday, Todd Andrlik has asked a few of us to do some guest posting. Here is the line-up … so make sure you get along and see what damage/contribution we all make to Todd’s already successful blog.

The line-up is:

// Thu / Leo Bottary of Client Service Insights
// Fri / Kami Huyse of Communication Overtones
// Mon / Gavin Heaton of Servant of Chaos
// Tue / Drew McLellan of Drew’s Marketing Minute
// Wed / Darryl Ohrt of Brand Flakes for Breakfast

Who Really Gets Social Media?

PlurkChat Sometimes you just have to ask a question and see where it takes you. Twitter started off with the same premise. What are you doing? Eliciting a variety of responses and prompting a banal moment-by-moment commentary before the community kicked-in and reshaped Twitter’s reason for being.

But while I have a great affinity with Twitter, it is feeling more and more like a broadcast medium every day. Sure there are some small-scale discussions occurring but they are hardly conversational. Plurk, on the other hand, have placed conversation right at the heart of their design.

This post is continued over at MarketingProfs Daily Fix. Hope you enjoy!

The Evanescence of Social Media

In marketing/advertising we talk about changing behaviour. We speak of trends, present analysis and peer into the near horizon of our own timelines. We blog about the changing of consumer experience, discuss demographics, strategies and new ways of measuring reach, frequency and engagement. And in amongst all this conversation we are building our own edifice to social media — shouting, talking and building, word by word, our own empire. But I wonder, is this all sounding so hollow?

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
— TS Eliot, The Hollow Men

If we take a look at the shapes of these stimulus, if we examine the state of BEING rather than the active state of PERFORMING (in our roles of employer, employee, creator, listener, receiver, etc), then we may wonder at the particular historical moment in which we have found ourselves. The popularity and rise associated with "reality TV" shows such as Big Brother and even Eurovision only hold sway momentarily, never to be repeated in the future — for the interactivity, voting and audience involvement is as transient as the beep notification of an SMS alert.

And while our cultural artefacts are being produced at ever greater rates, the co-creation and location of their meaning appears to be increasingly bound up in the evanescent energy of this "interactivity". David Cushman, for example, cites a press release claiming that:

More video material has been uploaded to YouTube in the past six months than has ever been aired on all major networks combined, according to cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch. About 88 percent is new and original content, most of which has been created by people formerly known as “the audience".

However, as Alan Kirby points out in this article on Postmodernism (via Amanda Chappel):

A culture based on these things can have no memory – certainly not the burdensome sense of a preceding cultural inheritance which informed modernism and postmodernism. Non-reproducible and evanescent, pseudo-modernism is thus also amnesiac: these are cultural actions in the present moment with no sense of either past or future.

In the place of Postmodernism, Kirby argues for a new defining cultural moment — pseudo modernism. Identifying 1980 as the turning point, the pseudo modernists can also be seen as those generations succeeding Generation X — so called Generation Y or Millennials, though like anything, is more likely to relate to a mode of being than to an age/demographic group. Kirby’s pseudo modernists are spookily devoid of agency, caught in the neverland between the capacity to effect change and the overwhelming minutiae digital interactions:

You click, you punch the keys, you are ‘involved’, engulfed, deciding. You are the text, there is no-one else, no ‘author’; there is nowhere else, no other time or place.

But if this is the case — if the central seeding authority of the pseudo modernist is "cluelessness" — a contrasting capacity to see and act on a big picture but an inability to act as an individual (or in community), then the antidote may well lie in the social media interactions that are their cause. For while "engagement" may well mean contributing to a social action in a far off country (perhaps distributing our own agency into the network of strong and weak ties), the proliferation of "real world" meetups and the intensity around them may provide some small cause for optimism in the bleak sea of pseudo modernist reality. This desire to capture and contain the fleeting ephemera of social interaction has driven the popularity of "live blogging", the collating and curation of "favourites" via del.icio.us and other bookmarking sites and the use and sharing of photographs, videos and so on. And while the production fails (and always will) in its effort to capture the live moment, we can be in danger of focusing too much on product over process — emphasising the cultural or social aspect of end result over being in the moment.

However, I have a feeling that the artefacts of this new reality are yet to be realised for their value. For while it is easy to discount the quality, merit or even longevity of much that passes for cultural production in the current era, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate what can and should be considered important.

The disbelief in grand narratives that Lyotard identified with the postmodernists is a handy tool when it comes to thinking through our current consumer/cultural moment. And I have a feeling that Generation Y will prove to be more culturally heretical than they might at first appear. After all, the Internet with its hypertext and self-spurning evolution could well be considered the defining achievement of the postmodern generation. But the WAY in which future generations use, activate and build upon the Internet, its applications and social, technological and intellectual networks will have far reaching effects for our cultures and for us as individuals. This generation who have been "always connected" are bound to rethink society in fundamental ways.

This has certainly got ME thinking!

Why Social Networking is Imperative for Business and Brands

In the wake of the Enterprise 2.0 summit in Boston this week, I have been taking a peek at the blog coverage and thinking through the opportunities and challenges facing organisations struggling to find their way. (BTW, Stephen Collins has a couple of great posts here, which I am sure he will drill down into on his return.)

A clear intersection for me is the collision between the demands/desires of knowledge workers and the expectations of the business/management. The same is true for branding. We are effectively seeing the 20th Century modes of business (command and control) being subverted by the activities of individuals. The strict hierarchies and mechanisms of control are being called into question by active (consumer) participants and employee evangelists determined to achieve outcomes (often in spite of the barriers placed in their way). As Stephen Collins says:

… there is an active and engaged community out there who want to do this stuff in their organisations or are keen to be a part of organisations that do.

And while many businesses/brands react by blocking or disabling access to social networks, the fact remains — the PRACTICE of business (just like the PRACTICE of marketing/advertising) is changing in ways that have never before been imagined. These EMERGENT practices require new skills and flexible thinking … and they may not yet, deliver the value you want. But they will (even the CIA agrees). We (and I do mean “we”) just need to create the connections between the practices, our business strategies and our bottom lines — this is the hard, behind the scenes activities that also need to happen (who said Web 2.0 is all fun and games).

In the meantime, if you are like me, and was unable to attend in person, get your fill of Enterprise 2.0 thinking at the Conference Community site, and start saving for 2009. And before you go, take two minutes to listen to Karen Appleton, VP of Business Development of Box, the file storage utility, talking about the importance of social networks to your business (via Enterprise 2.0 blog).

Spam of the Moment

ENLARGE YOUR PENISWhether we like it or not, spam seems to be a fact of life. So rather than resist it, I am thinking I might just start a new category … Spam of the Moment.

Now, whenever I find a particularly inspiring piece of spam, I plan on sharing it with you. I promise there will only share the more enlightening pieces or the most ridiculous — and I really will try to make it “safe for work”.

Today’s piece comes from “Covalt Boots” with just a link but the following, imaginative text:

Stood for protecting that array. And its two feet, accorded exactly with his own feelings, and which days have i loved so well as now the hilarities then in the active voice. the idam refers to the they had been citizens of slave states and zealous of the enemy. At the same moment, ent an clazinta had the honour of representing their house, since of strong and energetic men and animals, which.

Oh, and feel free to send me anything that you have seen too!

Calling All Marketers — Inspiraton, Anyone?

InspirationAnyone Following up from the Microsoft teaser, the full-length video is now available.

With the first instalment in this series entitled The Breakup, the intention was to raise debate. Microsoft boldly tackled the issue around the shifting nature of the consumer-advertiser relationship, and invited marketers into the conversation. It certainly was not the type of communication or advertising I expected from Microsoft — and it did capture a lot of attention at the time of launch.

But with this sequel there is a wholly different challenge. Geert Desager and Kris Hoet are clearly taking another step — to facilitate the establishment of a marketing community (moving from conversation to action?). In the process, they are taking a sweep at brands, agencies and all the folks who inhabit them. There are some great lines, including “I tried to look up that Web 2.0 thing you told be about, I just couldn’t find the exact URL”. Let’s face it both agencies and marketers are easy targets (and we provide so much fodder) … so you are bound to raise a chuckle or two.

However, if you do want to move beyond the banter, the site Get Inspired Here is the place you can go. Over the coming weeks (and in the wake of Cannes), there is bound to be plenty of discussion, taunting and maybe even a little creativity. Get your full feed here. Hopefully there are more surprises in store!

Attention Deficit / Outcome Surfeit

With so much to read, so many meetings, connections, emails and so on, it is a wonder today’s knowledge workers are able to live productive work lives. There are incursions from our private and digitally-social lives that add to the noise while also offering promise — tools like Twitter, Plurk, Facebook and even YouTube threaten to both liberate our thinking from the structures of the enterprise and sink our productivity.

As Marci Alboher says:

Distracted? And how. Beeped and pinged, interrupted and inundated, overloaded and hurried – that’s how we live today. We prize knowledge work — work that relies on our intellectual abilities — and yet increasingly feel that we have no time to think. For all our connectivity, we often catch little more than snippets and glimpses of one another.

With the average knowledge worker switching tasks every three minutes, returning to the original task half an hour later, it is clear that we are facing an attention deficit.

However, this does not necessarily take into account the leaps in productivity offered by this new mode of working. Anne Zelenka talks about the clash of working cultures and expectations brought on by the Web 2.0 world, characterising this change as the difference between "bursty" and "busy":

The busyness economy works on face time, incremental improvement, strategic long-term planning, return on investment, and hierarchical control. The burst economy, enabled by the Web, works on innovation, flat knowledge networks, and discontinuous productivity.

Clearly businesses contain a variety of people. I most productively work in the bursty model, though I can also operate in the busy mode. My guess is that we need a mix of both. But rather than characterising "bursty" types as having low attention, my view is that it is not about attending to tasks, but achieving outcomes. Don’t look at the HOW of things, look at the RESULTS.

For a comical view on those suffering from Web 2.0 distractions, take a look at Twitterwhore.   

Toying with Technorati and URLs

Technorati unplugged
Originally uploaded by nfolson

It should have happened ages ago, but I have been delaying it and waiting for it to go away. But now I am making a more concerted effort.

That’s right, I am playing URL hockey with Technorati.

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, then no doubt you use my Typepad URL — servantofchaos.typepad.com. And while this will always work, over the last six months or so I have been changing the way that I reference my blog … using www.servantofchaos.com.

Now while I don’t plan on moving away from Typepad at anytime soon, I would appreciate it if you could update your bookmarks. Thank you kindly!

JK Rowling @ Harvard

When I graduated from university, Peter Weir, the Australian movie director was awarded an honourary doctorate and gave an excellent speech on the need to be innovaive, persistent and to think critically. It was a great speech, and while I cannot remember much of it now, I do recall the feelings that it elicited.

Some of those feelings were reignited while watching JK Rowling’s Commencement Address at Harvard, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”. You can watch the whole thing at the Harvard Magazine site, or on YouTube in parts. I have embedded part 1 below. Enjoy.