Talent Talks

Originally uploaded by baralbion

Anyone involved in the hiring, management and even firing of staff knows that talent is a major challenge. Simply FINDING the right candidate for a role at the right time can be a major challenge.

And when it comes to social media and associated marketing roles, the challenge is intensified. Where, oh where, does one find people with the balance of skill, experience, business acumen and initiative that marks out a great social-media-oriented professional?

It was with the aim of closing this gap that I established the SocialMediaJobs.com.au job board. I wanted to “connect the connectors”.

This week, Phillip Tusing interviews me about how the board started and how it is working for both employers AND new hires. Read it in full here.

A Blast from the Past

Many years ago, at the height of the dotcom failure, a site emerged that echoed the emotions and worries that many of us held. It was called OddTodd. On this site, Todd turned his hand to storytelling with a bit of Flash thrown in … he discussed the ups and downs of being "laid-off" via an animated series of flash cartoons.

Along the way, he explained what a day-in-the-life of a retrenched employee was like; discussed the difficulty of getting a job when you don't have a job; and battled with the concept of having a holiday (when you don't have a job or any money). He created characters, games and so on … essentially, Odd Todd was Clay Shirky's cognitive surplus in action — just 10 years early.

Interestingly, Todd is still going strong — and he still leads with the first five episodes that he ever produced. Perhaps, in these harder economic times, his stories will become once again, allegories for our daily desperations. While I hope this is not the case, his diligence in "creating a way through adversity" is a lesson for us all.


When Todd Andrlik put together the Power 150 list I was amazed. He brought together a series of available metrics to rank 150 of the top marketing blogs in the world — not only was the approach sound, but the effort involved to identify, calculate and so on would have been a significant amount of work.

Later, when the Power 150 came under the auspices of Ad Age, it expanded to cover several hundred marketing and related blogs from across the globe. And while the calculations and rankings have become automated, Charlie Moran from Ad Age continues to refine and grow the list as a great resource.

However, with the growth of Twitter and other micro-blogging platforms, the conversations and discussions have shifted away from the more static blogs. Not content with the asynchronous comment-and-respond discussions offered by blogging systems, we are now turning to all-in, open conversation on Twitter. Mack Collier, for example, now spends a significantly larger amount of time on Twitter than he does on his blog … and he is not alone. And this is where the Power 150 loses a little of its shine — as it only covers blogs, it is missing more of the "conversation" than it is covering.

Recently, Armando Alves, built upon the Power 150 to produce the Twitter Power 150 – a ranking that assesses the top 300 blogs together with the Twitter accounts of the bloggers – to produce a single score across the blogging and micro-blogging formats. The change in rankings is amazing. Seth Godin, who unassailably leads the Power 150, but does not use Twitter, scrapes into the top 150 at #144.

Be sure and take a look at the full list over at Armando's site. What do YOU think? Is it a game changer? Is it a more relevant way of quantifying marketing's social media conversations?

My Dog Can Fly

My dog can fly
Originally uploaded by J. Star

Sometimes you just need a little time out to recharge.

For some it means withdrawing into a cave; for others it means a beachside holiday. Some will travel abroad. Others stay closer to home.

This week I am hunkering down with some good books. I am aiming to dig into the Future of Your [bleep] series again, and hoping to clarify some new thinking on storytelling, personality and what it means to live in this Age of Conversation.

I will be a little disconnected — but I have scheduled a series of posts to continue the conversation. I will check-in from time-to-time … and will certainly respond to your comments next week.

And now, I am off to teach my dog to fly.

You Are What You Tweet

As we gear up for what is likely to be a challenging year, it is fascinating to look back 12 months to see what was BIG, or important or "going to happen" … and see what has changed in the intervening period.

Last year, I participated in an interesting meme looking at my patterns of media consumption. How is it different this year?

Find out in my latest MarketingProfs post.

Oh, and also check out Beth Harte's awesome discussion on ghost writing and social media.

What the Tweet?

At year’s end we all begin to turn our attention to the future. We re-evaluate the trends that have ebbed and flowed, and we look over the horizon towards that as yet, undiscovered country.

Joe Pulizzi rounded up a number of folks to get their content marketing predictions for 2009 – and Scott Drummond pulled together a mammoth list of predictions over at MarketingMag. I won’t be making predictions this year – there is more than enough speculation out there. However, I will put forward a couple of facts that mat be useful for you to consider.

Back in November I felt that social media was mainstreaming … and it seemed an opportune time to encourage marketers (in the midst of planning for 2009) to CONTINUE to innovate despite (or perhaps “especially because of”) the changing economic conditions:

For marketers still finalising their budgets for 2009, I would recommend setting aside a small experimental budget for social media. Hive off 5% or 10% of your MEDIA budget and contact EXPERIENCED agencies and consultants (email me if you need recommendations).

But even back in November, I felt that social media could go one of two ways in 2009. Because fear is the enemy of creativity and innovation, there was the possibility that marketers would fall back on the “tried and true” – investing their marketing hopes in traditional advertising strategy and patterns of media spending. But I also felt that with the lower costs, the more precise targeting and killer metrics, that a stronger digital mix (with an emphasis on “social”) would prevail in 2009. But the overwhelming reason for my optimism lies in the fact that our AUDIENCES have already shifted – consumption and engagement patterns have been transformed – and if we want to now REACH an audience, we must participate with them on their own terms.


Interestingly, as Hitwise recently announced, Twitter (the most social of social tools) is experiencing phenomenal growth in Australia -  517% year-on-year. And it is not just for “personal use”. Traffic patterns for December 2008 and January 2009 indicate that Twitter is being used in the workplace (Lucio Ribeiro has even put together a list of 20 Australians you should be following on Twitter). And when I hear the Asia Pacific President of SAP (where I work), Geraldine McBride, mention Twitter in a kick-off keynote address, it seems clear that not just “change” but “transformation” is under way. 

As Renai Lemay noted (in an article I found via Twitter), both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull have joined the service. And while some of the leading Australian Twitter folk interviewed suggest “it's the fundamental architecture of the service that is driving growth” – I would suggest another case. We are all herd animals. We simply go where our friends go. And as a marketer or planner, that is compelling enough for me. What about you?

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Snooping Out the Clues to Your Personality

I am currently fascinated with personality … in understanding how our personalities manifest, and what our artefacts, our stories and our living spaces tell about our lives. Interestingly, much of what we disclose either on purpose, or inadvertently, provides a much clearer picture of our "selves" than other profiling tools such as MBTI and similar frameworks.

This has all come about because of this intriguing book, Snoop, by Sam Gosling. I will be doing a more thorough review over the next week or so. But in a nutshell, the book explains what clues you should look for when assessing someone's personality. More interesting for me, is the insight that can be garnered from a Facebook profile or a website. There is even a Facebook application that you can use to assess the impression you are leaving others!

However, when it comes to the personality of your business, Rohit Bhargava is the person you should turn to. Not only does he work, daily, on the helping companies inject life into their products and services (with the 360 Digital Influence group at Ogilvy in New York), he is also the award winning author of Personality Not Included – a book that steps you through this process. Take a look at this presentation on how he got his book published … and see if there are aspects of his personality that you can gather from it. Then, later, after reading Snoop, look again and see if you were right. It's fascinating, I promise!

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Leave Your Shoes at the Door

sign for nice peopleOver the last few days I have been interested to see the many and varied reactions to David Armano’s efforts at fundraising for his friend, Daniela. You can read the original post here (and Scott Drummond’s excellent coverage here).

While there are a number of supporters, there have also been a number of detractors. David, himself, has come out and admitted that this has turned out in a way that he had not predicted:

On that note, there are all kinds of attention being drawn to this including criticism. To say I knew what I was getting into would be inaccurate. My initial concerns were for the safety of my own family, not what the pundits have to say about this … I am not a fundraiser. I'm a dad, husband and full time employee—and an imperfect one at all three. Belinda and I decided not to sit this one out. It's really that simple.

Some of the questions that have been raised go directly to the heart of social media … what does it mean to be “connected”, where does responsibility overlap “connection” and what happens to our TRUST when money is involved?

Scott Henderson, for example, writes a provocative post claiming I Gave $10 to David Armano to Help Daniela and Now I Regret It and Mark Mayhew seems to have spent some time visiting various blogs questioning the trust that been placed in the David-Daniela story. I am sure there are plenty of other articles available – both positive and negative.

David Armano simply activated his network to change a situation – he asked people to donate a small amount of money. In doing so, he put the trust of that network to the test. He put his credibility on the line. He opened his personal actions to the scrutiny of the world (or at least the several thousand connections he has created over the last few years). In doing so, he has raised over three times the amount that he had aimed for (which was $5000).

We have seen the power of social networks before. A similar approach raised over $16,000 for Variety via The Age of Conversation (and Age of Conversation 2 continues the tradition) … and I have been involved in a number of more personal projects that benefited particular individuals. And let’s face it, the job of a marketer is to encourage people to participate (in a relationship of some kind). However, this is not simply a matter of raising awareness, or even raising funds – once it takes hold, these SOCIAL projects become MOVEMENTS and grow quickly beyond our grasp.

As Spike Jones from Brains on Fire explains, a movement can begin with a single conversation:

If that conversation is filled with honesty, transparency, true interest and a LOT of listening, then the first seed is planted. The movement has begun in one mind and one heart. And that’s usually the beginning of something powerful, meaningful and full of potential that gets realized more every day.

And this is what David Armano has begun. It is what a great number of people have participated in. For many, it is their first time. Perhaps they found their participation thrilling, exciting. Perhaps, like Scott, they felt worried afterwards. But this is exactly what social media is about. It is going beyond the merely social. It is moving quickly from words to action. It is about risking your trust. It is not always strategic. It is not even always tactical. But it is ALWAYS personal (for someone) – which, again, is why businesses find it challenging to get started.

Take a look at this great post by Mack Collier and his discussion with Olivier Blanchard – “The point [of social media] is really to help people connect better”. It is through social media that we begin to not just “connect” but find the place where we BELONG.

So if you get involved in a social movement like this … remember, leave your shoes at the door. It’s not “safe” in the way that you would normally consider “safety”. It’s not controlled by an administrator. It’s not overseen by a government department. You might think, after the fact, that your participation could have been different, more tempered, focused.

But your participation marks your initiation into the tribe. You can never unlearn this experience.

The rules are different. And now, so are you.

UPDATE: Alan Wolk has a great post on this topic, and Scott Henderson follows-up yesterday's discussion after chatting with David Armano.

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Mining for Gold: Sean Howard

I have always been a fan of philosophy and theory. I love digging into ideas and concepts to understand where they come from. But sometimes the theory and philosophy is too complex for me to grasp … or turn to something more tangible. And it is these times where I turn to my friends like Sean Howard.

Sean’s Craphammer blog takes deep, complex thinking and translates it into useable ideas. He readily explores the concepts that are at the heart of being human – boldly taking on challenges, opportunities and new experiences – and bringing his learnings into the world of business.

But it is not all work … Sean is also known for his bombastic good nature. He has shocked and surprised us all with his willingness to push the limits – while doing so in a way that threatens no one – except good taste;) … and can be counted on when heavy lifting is required.

If you are new to Sean’s blog, here a few rolled-gold posts to give you a sense of his excellent work:

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