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August 2010

Updated: Eating Humble Pie


Updated:  Yesterday I vented here about people who act like they know it all.  In retrospect, the post was a bit harsh and I've updated this post to better reflect my sentiments.

None of us know everything.  What I love most about this industry is that most of the people who have built a great reputation are genuinely nice people.

The only people that claim to know it all are by and large chest-thumping.  So please, before you come into a meeting or presentation with the attitude that you know it all (acting like a jerk who is a guru of all things social), please consider the list below:

A true expert:

  • knows how all the major digital social platforms work
  • knows why each of the major digital social platforms work
  • appreciates how to tap into the behavior that drives users in social
  • knows all of the various technology considerations in developing in these environments
  • appreciates and knows how to work with paid media
  • appreciates and knows how to work with traditional and digital pr
  • appreciates and knows how to work with creative agencies
  • appreciate and knows how to work with CRM and DR partners
  • appreciates and knows how to facilitate with measurement and analytics
  • has the appropriate partner relationships to bring these technologies to life
  • knows how to organize a team and process to make everything work
  • has the leadership to manage a cross discipline team
  • has superb patience and team work skills
  • is able to guide and participate in a team alongside those who think they know more than they do, but be able to land the ship with the best possible solution
  • understands the brand's business and communications needs and opportunities internally and externally
  • is super creative and well spoken, articulate and able to present beautifully
  • is a master politician who know how to navigate the real world that is corporate business to get social done
  • is a great project manager and facilitator who can scope out a project and hit each goal and milestone
  • knows what he or she doesn't know and knows who and how to engage to fill the gaps
  • has proven repeated success in all of the above

Nobody has everything worked out, knows it all and has the perfect answer to everything.  Nobody.

Don't act like you do.

The people who really get this space don't have all the answers and generally acknowledge that they don't.  They have some great consideration sets. They have great thoughts.  They have great discussions.  And I urge everyone to join the discussion.  The more that you engage, the more that you will realize you have so much more to learn.

If you want to be viewed as smart, spend more time reading that you do writing.  When you do start doing, please be sure to engage all of us so we can learn together.

All of us could use little more informed, creative, strategic, smart, personal, collaborative thinking.


The future is built by Guides

3084577531_c486ce591b_b Yesterday I ranted about how we don't have enough collective knowledge and experience to have a theoretical social guru and how important it is for all of us to play nicely, share our thinking and collaborate.

Today I would like to focus on the positive side of that story.  To Shel Holtz's point, few people call themselves gurus and those that rant loudest about these gurus are generally in the industry themselves.  I think the backlash around gurus is less about how people introduce themselves (Hi, I'm a jerk!) and more around the attitude of people who behave like jerks (Look at how smart I am!).

This post is about the behavior of people who facilitate success in social versus the behavior of those who spend a bit too much time pontificating.

Smart people act less like omnipotent geniuses who know it all (jerks exhibiting guru behavior) and more like partners who have subject matter expertise.  I prefer to think of them as Guides.

What is a Guide?

When I was in college, I took a few years off and went to study abroad in Israel.  While there, we frequently went on hikes that seemed to never end.  Yet somehow, our pathetic very NYC approach to hikes melded with the reality that was the journey when we had a great Guide.  Our Guides were typically somewhat loony yet were always very personable.  They knew where we needed to go based on a discussion with us before we set off, they chose the right paths and they worked with us to help get the group to our destination.  Somehow, these Guides got us from Point A to a very distant Point B.  We never thought we could have made it, but the Guide made it work.

A Guide is familiar with the community dynamic and the tools of the trade.  A Guide has walked a similar road before and has a great approach towards getting you to where you need to be.  A good Guide is agile and works with the brand to adapt their knowledge to the brand's needs.  And best of all, a Guide knows that there is a lot that isn't known and actively explores the white space together with the brand.

What makes Guides different?

Guides empower.  Gurus/jerks talk.

Guides listen and interact.  Gurus/jerks pontificate.

Guides explore.  Gurus/jerks demand.

Guides have a destination.  Gurus have a thought.

Guides are informed partners.  Gurus are minimally informed pontificators.

Finding the right Guide

Ask your proposed Guide about their previous experience, both professional and personal.  Ask them about the specific channels and approaches you're considering.  Ask them about the teams they worked with.  Ask them about the other agencies and consultants they worked with. Lastly, ask yourself Is this someone I would like to be stuck in an airport with?

  • If your Guide has a robust resume and limited personal presence, they may be a professional but probably can't lead your customer engagement without additional support.  This is OK, but it's important that you bring the right people into the team to fill in the gaps.  Also, if they exhibit jerk/guru behavior, avoid them.
  • If your Guide has robust personal presence and limited professional experience, don't look to them for business leadership. This is also OK, but it's important that you bring the right people into the team to fill in the gaps.  Also, if they exhibit jerk/guru behavior, avoid them.
  • If your Guide takes all the credit or has all the answers, you have a Guru on your hands.  Avoid jerks whenever possible.
  • If your Guide has real personal and professional experience and talks about exploration, partnership and collaboration, explore further.
  • If your personalities don't click, this isn't the right Guide for you.

The Mickey Mouse Conclusion

Mickey Mouse was a brilliant concept.  Walt Disney was a brilliant creative mind.  It took a team of Guides that each knew their own area of expertise (animation, marketing, packaging, distribution, design) to bring this concept to life.  When Guides come together, they become a team and creative a beautiful, meaningful product.

In other words, this is just business as usual.  Smart people, great teamwork and an open-minded approach to a focused strategy make great things happen.

spam matters, spam hurts

Danger spam The following is a real conversation:

Friend: So what are you working on these days?  Some new hot technology nobody will ever use?

Me: I'm working with a couple of big pharma brands on social media strategies, wise guy (edited).

Friend: You mean like getting my page flooded with junk for cheap pills?

Me: No, this is actually a pretty regulated industry.

Friend: Tell that to BRAND X (edited).  All they do is send me spam.  I can't believe people really use that stuff.  I'd never use it.  They just feel so dirty.

Those of us in this industry forget that spammers only send spam because real people click.  Right now, somewhere out there, there is a suburban mom clicking on a fake email from her bank and giving away all her account information to a spammer.  Somewhere else, there is a teen clicking on a message that appears to be coming from Facebook and giving away all of his personal information to a spammer.

That mom isn't going to trust her bank and that teen isn't going to trust Facebook.  Neither brand did anything wrong.

What marketers should do about social spam

When you monitor social media, remember to occasionally glance through the spam filter.  Share this information with your legal department.  Get cracking.  Because if you're doing a good job building the brand, somewhere out there there is a spammer trying to piggyback their next gig on your hard work.


The Facebook Gospel: The death of the "Death of"

3815387018_af1767d770 Something funny happens whenever a new competitor or even a new player comes to the tech scene.  People talk about the death of.  Hulu was the death of YouTube.  Every new Android phone is an iPhone killer.

If Facebook had their way they wouldn't become a replacement for every website or service on the web.  Facebook doesn't want to replace Flickr or Amazon.  Facebook wants to be the gateway to and smarts behind your experiences across the web.

Facebook started along this path with Facebook connect and more recently with Social PlugIns and the Graph API, but I'm pretty sure these are only the beginning.  Whatever today's rumored check-in announcement will be, I can guarantee you that they will position it as opening up new opportunities for existing services like FourSquare rather than a proprietary service.

Why the Facebook Gospel Works

At it's core, Facebook's approach is to empower other services with the data and network Facebook already has.  This works for Facebook for two reasons: this distributed network creates (a) new data for Facebook and (b) extended network value to Facebook's users both on Facebook and across the web.

This will generate not just extended utility to drive increased platform usaage but direct revenues as well.  Eventually these relationships and broader data could power smarter advertising on Facebook and a network of Facebook engagement ads across verified third party sites.

What does this mean to mobile?

Right now, most of our mobile interactivity with Facebook is about either (a) Facebook's mobile app or mobile web site, or (b) pushing data back to Facebook from third party apps.  What's noticably missing is the push messaging from Facebook.  This push messaging is what powers the serendipity of FourSquare and unlocks untold value in the "background check-in".  Smart push messaging via a distributed network will unveil new creative experiences far beyond simple check-ins and even loyalty programs at retail.

Facebook is sitting on the edge of something big and most importantly, something unique to Facebook's core equity offering.  Good for them.  Now it's time for smart marketers to ask, what can this do for me?

book review: microMARKETING


Summary: Remarkably refreshing content.  Size matters, but meaning matters more.  Ignite a passion and the few will engage the many.

UntitledReal Review

Every business book feels the same.

Take one fairly rational point and blow the hell out of it.  The first chapter sets the stage, the second introduces the concept and framework and the next six or so chapters present case study after case study.  If it's a book about social media, three or so of those chapters will be about how big business just doesn't get it.  Finally (mercifully) the final chapter wraps it all up with a summary, some filler and a plug or two.

Greg Verdino's  microMARKETING follows a similar approach but just doesn't feel like a business book.  It feels like a book about people.

Greg focuses a simple yet profound premise (in my own words):

It's not just about scale and it's not all about the long tail.  It's about meaningful interactions that ignite the passion to embody and share.  These small interactions ignite movements that net remarkable results.

Having introduced his/her hypothesis, most authors go on to bore us with case study after overworn case study.  However, where most business books tend to feel monotonous, Greg's personality, writing style and personal passion keep the book moving.  His presentation is remarkably fresh and punchy.  Sure, he covers Susan Boyle and many of the usual suspects, but he also hits on a number of pretty fresh examples, like Samsung SSD Awesomeness and B&H.  And best of all, Greg gets his points across without belaboring the point.  Short and punchy stories keep the pages turning.

Another remarkably noteworthy aspect of this book is the lack of big brand bashing.  While Greg is sure to give his clients the space they surely occupy in his day-to-day thoughts, there is a noticeable lack of the usual they don't get it messaging.  On behalf of all of us, THANK YOU!!!

Bottom Line

If you like Greg's blog, speaking style or presentations then you'll love his book.  It's roughly 260 pages of Greg doing what he does best, telling a story...  plus a few pages of filler exercises to make sure you've internalized everything you've just read.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, now you go buy it.