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January 2009

Social and the Superbowl, finding the synergy

99904243_c62c3e6cdf_b A few weeks ago an experienced agency veteran told me that "We are all snakeoil salesman".  He was suggested that our discipline is that of selling refreshment by broadcasting that message, even in the absence of a product that actually refreshes.

I beg to disagree.

I could not market snakeoil as anything other than an ironic accessory for hipsters.  Because the media world I live in is not one of broadcast messaging (for the most part).  I live in a world of conversation.  Broadcast messaging has it's place, but in my world, conversations cannot be bought or sold.

Conversations cannot be generated or seeded, they cannot be created by a brand or media property with white space alone.  Conversations can only be inspired, participated in and fostered.  You cannot force me to talk.  You're welcome to join my table.  But if you would like me to share your message, you're going to have to earn my advocacy (for the most part).

There is no 30 second spot equivalent in social media.  There is no easy mass appeal solutions.  There is no superbowl for social media.

Your microsite may have become a Facebook application, your widget may now be an iPhone app, but without cultivating a meaningful presence or relationship, without tying your efforts to a campaign and your campaign to a brand and your brand to a relationship, what have you accomplished?

This weekend, millions of us will watch brands gamble millions of dollars on fantastically overproduced commercials interrupted by what is often a less than exciting football game.  We will sit glued to the screen as Coca Cola releases their newest expression of excitement, Doritos shows off yet another prosumer inspired vision and beer companies attempt to make us laugh by (a) creating comically awkward social situations or (b) utilize animals as actors in non-traditional settings (hilarious, that one always gets me).  We will see 3 million dollar creative gambles.  And as always, most will fall short of their promise, leaving only a few memorable spots that may be discussed in the weeks ahead.

But for mass reach, there is nothing like the Superbowl.

Your 30 second spot in the superbowl is only as meaningful as

(a) it is remarkable and

(b) your follow through you offer the day after.

Would your company, client or brand be better served by investing $3 million on mass eyeballs or $3 million in sustainable relationships, in better customer service, in truly remarkable social responsibility?  And if you are investing in the former, don't you owe it to yourself to invest equally in the latter?

If you need to drive awareness with everyone, make a big splash.  Go for broacast TV (and online video).

But if you want to drive your business in the long term, think beyond the splash.  Earn your marketing.

Because social isn't free, and while it may be intuitive, it sure isn't easy to get going.  Nobody can market snakeoil in this social world.  And no, there is no social Superbowl, no way to buy millions of eyeballs for millions of dollars.

Don't substitute shortcuts for marketing. Use them only when appropriate. 

Don't just broadcast, kickstart and converse.

redefining innovation : 2009

1163936688_835fc98975_b Innovation.  We all use the word.  But what does it mean?

About 18 months ago, I asked this question, and got quite a few fantastic answers.  This year, I would like to broaden our apparatus, asking this question on LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and on this blog. 

The goal of this project is as follows:
To create a crowdsourced definition of innovation.

And in the interest of keeping this interesting, all answers will be published in my first ebook: Innovation in 2009.

To participate please do one of the following:

  • Submit your one line definition of innovation in the comments below.
    • Innovation is...
    • Innovation means...
  • Tweet your definition of innovation and include the hashtag #Novate

Please feel free to share this project on your own blogs as well as through any other relevant social channels. 

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...Special thanks to all of the bloggers below for participating in our first project.

Greg Verdino, NESTA, Brent Edwards, C.C. Chapman, Mike Arauz, Catherine McQuaid, Ryan Karpeles, karl long, Joseph Jaffe, Valeria Maltoni, Doug Meacham, Matt Dickman, Scott Monty, Ed Roberts, Paul Soldera, Cam Beck, Jason Peck, CK, Miko Coffey, Will Humphrey, Anthony GohKevin Lelland, Anthony Kuhn,  and Steve Woodruff

Looking forward to working together once again!

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social media and political insensitivity

(Disclaimer: I have never read the Quran. I enjoyed having Mein Kamph in the bathroom for some light reading in college.  The views expressed in the videos embedded below are not my own.)

Fitna How do you tolerate intolerance?  Should you?

A member of the Dutch Parliament is being called out by the Dutch courts for insulting Islam, comparing the Quran to Mein Kamph. 

My Question
Is the democratization of media always a good thing?  Is it a good thing that one man has the right to stand up and reach hundreds of thousands via YouTube to share this non politically correct perspective?

Does the web celebrate the niche because the mainstream media doesn't serve their needs?
Is this a good thing for democracy?  For humanity?

Original Fitna Interview (part one) video below

Dutch Commentator on the Political Retribution over Fitna video below

My 2 Cents
I'm not sure that humanity is bettered by voices that call out one another's religious beliefs.  Nor am I convinced that assimilation is the answer to multi-culturalism.  But I can say I am proud of a culture that allows even the most un-PC people to voice their un-PC opinions.

With this in mind, is it acceptable for a PC country like Indonesia to block this content?

your social efforts aren't social, are they?

Spectacle Think about it.

  • Your widget - is it a conversation?  Or a tool?
  • Your blog - is it a two way conversation? or a publication?
  • Your "viral video" - is it part of something greater? Or a tactic?
  • Are your listening, monitoring or measuring the conversation? Or none of the above?
  • Your influencer relationships - are they relationships, or paid friendships?
  • Your "blogger outreach" - are you forming a relationship, inviting their participation as a two way street? Or are you sending a form letter pleading for free distribution of your campaign?
  • Are your campaigns executional? Or are they part of a broader relationship-building effort?

The key differentiators:

  • Are you making a statement or participating in a conversation? 
  • Are you:
    • a conversational brand,
    • a social object,
    • a broadcast message or
    • a social enabler?
      • Do your efforts reflect this reality?

The truest test of a brand's commitment to a relationship:
Does your customer support online, on the phone or via mail/email offer to same level of support as your social/twitter team, marketing agency, social agency or pr agency?

Key Takeaway: It's easy to care about a relationship in a silo.  It's much harder to commit to that relationship across the board.

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Like this post? Share it on twitter!

Inspired by Joe Jaffe's post and the follow up discussion with Craig Daitch in the comments.

influence in the fishbowl, a twitter story?

Fishbowl Once upon a time, on a small undiscovered island in the mid pacific ocean, one caveman grunted at another caveman.  Soon a few cavemen joined together and started grunting at each other, but every time that the first caveman grunted, everyone else paid attention.

To this small group of cavemen, the first grunter was the most influential caveman in the world.  He yielded lots of social influence.  But while everyone respected him, they served the man with the biggest knife.  Thus was life in their fishbowl.

Little did they know, just a few hundred miles away, deep undersea tubes were carrying fiber optic cables around the world, enabling the spread of information at blinding speed.  And to many of the homes and offices connected to this network, Seth Godin was the most influential man in the world.  But while Seth was the man they looked up to, they generally followed the directions given by their bosses and clients.  Because bosses and clients pay the bills.  Such is often life in the digital fishbowl.

And while all of those connected homes and offices were admiring their influence and this little world they had created, the world continued to spin all around them.  Millions more watched American Idol, oblivious to both the cavemen and Seth Godin.  Still millions more suffered the fear, genocide and oppression of life in a third world country, nearly all of them oblivious to the cavemen, Seth Godin, American Idol and even Twitter!  Is all of life a fishbowl?

Was the first caveman a successful communicator?  Is Seth any less so?  Is Ryan Seacrest?

Communications success is not one size fits all.  Success is about your results based on your goals.  Life is not about your followers, your "twinfluence" or your reach.  Life is about the journey, those we encounter along the way and the meaning of those encounters.  But in today's multi-platform world, we cannot measure influence by a single platform alone.

To suggest that one is influential on twitter is almost as absurd as to suggest that my friend is influential on her cell phone.  On her cell phone, she has hundreds of contacts.  And thousands of people have her in their cell phone contact lists.  And whenever she calls they generally pick up the phone.  Does this make her linfluential?

So the next time you hear someone speak about the latest twitter influence grader, blog metric or ratings numbers, ask yourself: is this the measure of my success, or a rough representation of someone else's?  Does the temperature of the water in my fishbowl determine the traffic intensity on the local highway?  Is my influence real

Isn't influence relative?

inaugurations and celebrations: why?

3004284537_de861a4a79_o Does anyone remember the words of hope and inspiration of the last inauguration?  With generally high approval ratings (in 2005), we (as a whole) celebrated our fight for freedom and democracy.

While my colleagues will be celebrating with free pizza (what agency doesn't give out free pizza at every noon-ish meeting?), I will be joining my friends back home in the place where this all started - social media.  While I'm oversees on vacation, there's nothing quite like a live Hulu stream (Anonymous Mode in Chrome solves overseas IP address blocking) and chatting it up on twitter.

When I shared my plans with my wife, she asked an interesting question, Why do we care about inauguration speaches?  And even if there were meaningful, inspirational and realsitic sentiments being shared, why does this inauguration feel more like more than a political event?

I believe that inaugurations are generally like Superbowl pregame shows.  We're excited about what's to come, and with lots of media hype behind what is often a meaningless speach, we're driven by our friends, family and colleagues to believe in it's importance.  

However, as Obama chose to frame his battle cry of "Yes We Can" into "Yes We Did", this inauguration has become a victory parade.  We are celebrating our own achievements, our own investments in Obama the brand, Obama the man and Obama the movement.  We are celebrating our moment of achievement when we as a nation, elected Barak Hussein Obama.

Here's to hoping that both he and we can live up to the hype, live up the progress, and once again become both a nation inspired and a nation climbing towards better peaks.

the difficult art of cold pitching - Chris Abraham's pitch to the AdAge Power 150

Cold call Call it ePR, blogger outreach/relationship management, networking, social media activation or social marketing...  at it's heart, this is the practice of speaking with the community;  enlisting bloggers and the community at large, to speak about your efforts and on behalf of your brand.

  • If you have a relationship with a blogger, you can leverage this relationship to drive your brand/client.
  • If you do not yet have a relationship, you have to start building one. 
  • If you need something done today, and don't have a relationship, you need to resort to the daunting cold pitch: pitching your product or service without any prior interaction.

Chris Abraham, a noted blogger and popular twitterer, recently sent out a private email message to many of the bloggers on the Ad Age Power 150 list, asking them to register their contact information. 

His note was personal, personable and extremely well written.  It felt like he was really speaking to me.  No, he didn't mention any of my previous posts.  And yes, there is a strong likelihood that this letter was a form letter.  Nevertheless, this letter feels somewhat warm, an incredible accomplishment for a cold pitch.

The Pitch
Hi there Jon

I wanted to reach out to you since you're a current fellow member of the AdAge Power 150 with Future Visions. Please excuse the form email but there are over 780 current Power 150 members. I am popping you this note for two reasons: first, I would like your help to do something with this list; second, I just want to update you as to what I am up to.

To create this list, I collected the OPML file free off of the Power 150 page on Adage and expanded it into a list with names and emails. I would love to share the list with you so please pop me an email if you would like a copy. I was hoping we might figure out a way to keep in better touch as a group of marketing, PR, and advertising bloggers. Please shoot me any ideas you have. I was thinking we could create a community group to share news, ideas, and opportunities to work together. On that note, I am the president and COO of Abraham Harrison LLC, a firm specializing in social media PR, blogger outreach, online engagement, and online reputation management. I would love to schedule a call so that we can explore possibilities to collaborate.

On a personal note, I have started blogging for AdAge and have had so much fun with that that I am looking to find as many opportunities to blog as I can. Please let me know if you know of anything or if you would like me to guest blog. Also, if you're in the DC area I would love to get together. To be honest, I would love to meet you the next time I am in your neck of the woods.

Thanks so much and I appreciate your time and attention.  I wish you a very fine 2009 with much luck and success.


<note: Lots of contact information was provided, but I have deleted it out of concern for Chris' privacy>
So what do we think?  Is this a cold pitch done right? 

Note: After reading this letter, I'm still unsure of what will be done with my contact information.  Is this being gathered as a closed list/community for AdAge?  Is this a contact list for his firm?  Will my contact information be shared with anyone outside of this community?