Here’s a Suprise…New Year Predictions!


It’s not really a surprise, but it is always fun to start off a new year looking into the crystal ball. I’m gearing up for the annual “prognostication podcast” with my colleagues at Minnov8 this Saturday and I thought I’d just share five that I’m offering.

Mobile, baby, mobile…laptop sales will remain high and though small screen netbook sales will hold steady in the short -term, they will begin to decline as the adoption of mobile platforms like Android proliferate. The mobile industry will see growth and opportunity in devising new ways of charging for services that are internet data driven not voice driven. Mobile providers may very well wake up and make it easier to switch devices, though I’m not sure how they will be able to address the subsidizing of handsets without a “minimum contract period”. The bottom line is that portable is where it’s at and consumers will be more open to accepting the screen size of a mobile device rather than purchasing a small netbook.

Twitter use by the masses will decline…though much of it wasn’t there to begin with. The amount of activity on accounts that aren’t associated with, and used by social media enthusiasts, online professionals, and junkies will fall even more dramatically as other services like Facebook, and mobile applications offer similar advantages. This is not to say that Twitter is over. It isn’t. Twitters core users, audience, and niche will become more defined. Twitter as an aggregation and sharing tool will continue to grow…perhaps endangering the future of services such as Digg and Delicious.

Marketers will (hopefully) begin to understand the difference between selling via social media and communicating with customers…Okay, maybe that won’t kick in completely in 2010 (in general, marketers tend to be bit slow in understanding intangibles), but we will see progress.  In addition, the future of more and more services (Foursquare, GoWalla, etc) is based on the need to deliver real value…not just ads…quickly to users. It’s too easy to drop a service, block an application, or ignore a campaign for marketers not to understand value to consumer. (Note: The heavy use of GPS and revealing one’s current location to the world will give mainstream users the heebie jeebies and hamper some adoption of this part of the service.) One more thing on this topic…Social Media and Social Media Marketing/Advertising are not the same thing. Ads are less effective than content that provides value. Those that provide value also gain trust and that confidence, both of which can be monetized if done effectively. [Read more…]

Social Media: Keepin’ it Real

Every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded that our busy lives are influenced by…what’s the word I’m looking for…buzz, spin, hype, BS? It’s no different for those of us who work in media and marketing. Even I, who considers himself ‘a voice of reason’, get intrigued by the latest new and shiny theory, service, or technology that comes down the pike…and believe me there is a heap of ‘new’ that takes up every lane of that pike on a daily basis.

At a recent Social Media Breakfast there was great discussion highlighting many theories on managing and marketing within social media, both business to business and business to consumer. The room was filled with comments and thoughts about what this new medium is all about, how companies felt about it, the tools that we can use to participate in and monitor it, and more.

Don’t get me wrong, we need do explore “what could be”. We need to talk in big picture terms, we must look forward. We also need to get giddy about new toys that, from a perch at a coffee shop with free wifi, allow us to reach our audience. (We all have audiences whether they be customers, followers, viewers, etc.)

What this conversation sparked in me was a need to remind myself, and perhaps others that work in marketing and PR, that our job is not necessarily to set the trends, make things popular, make the service a priority…that’s what our audience does. Our job is to follow their lead, not the other way around. If we are truly marketing to, building relationships with, or communicating in general with our audience we must do it on their terms.

With that said, marketers, I thought I’d list some of what I think are  realities. Here goes…

Social Media is two different things.

Social=relations, interactions, and communication between people.
Media=the channel to carry a message…nothing more. (By the way, that’s true of all media. It’s a pipe.)

People don’t like advertising.

Hard to believe I know, but people are not attracted to media because it offers businesses the opportunity to sell something to them. People know that being exposed to an ad is the price of admission for free media. Yes, they expect advertising, they tolerate it, but they would rather live without it and will avoid it. Witness the rise of Tivo and DVR.

Social Media is not “Advertising” Media.

The rise of Facebook, Youtube, even text messaging was precipitated by people wanting to communicate with other people. Not because they needed one more place to be sold something. If we as marketers treat this medium as just another way to shill, we’re going to screw it up and drive the audience farther away. Don’t try to advertise here…be social!

You audience has precious little spare time.

How dare we think that all our audience has to do is sit around and
type, search, click, and download only to be “sold to”. Answer the
question, “What’s in it for me.”

Only Facebook and text messaging matter…right now.

It’s that “They set the trend and decide what’s popular.” thing. Yep, Twitter is growing, YouTube is huge, blogging is great, but right now, the crowd is on Facebook to socialize electronically and are more than satisfied with text messaging as a way to stay in touch. These two are the lake…hunt where the ducks are!

Portable is vital!

Notice I didn’t say mobile. That would imply, it needs to be a
phone. I don’t think it does, though if you’re looking to deliver a
message to somebody, it makes a whole lot of sense to deliver it to them via something
that already have. But, if they can wear it, carry it easily, put it in their pocket…take it with them…you’ll get
their interest.

They can talk back!

If you can’t spend time listening and responding, stay the hell away from social media. This medium is about engaging in a conversation and a relationship. Make sure you’re ready to commit to that. No one likes to be invited to a party at your house to be ignored.

Some companies/brands/people don’t want to participate.

Conversation can lead to a greater depth of knowledge about all the participants. Some companies love the thought of learning more about their customers but have absolutely no interest in letting them know more about them. In fact, some people see absolutely no reason to share their “status” or share a video clip. That’s just fine. Please do your best to help them learn about this medium. But remember, the ones that “get it” can always better at it.

There are no rules.

Perhaps the reason many mediums are struggling is because someone at some point decided that “This is how you do it!” They made the rules, decided the proper etiquette, wrote the book and became the expert. Playing it safe and playing by the rules became the strategy of choice. I love the guys that say, this is what you can and can’t do with Twitter or should or shouldn’t post on Facebook. It’s a brand new medium, let’s wait awhile before we try to make it predictable. Find what works but also spend time finding out “what else” works.

So there are some realities that I see. There are plenty more. Aren’t there? What can you offer that will help all of us “keep it real?”


Incommunicado vs Communicado(?)

My week is offering me two extremes in communication. Monday I spent the day with my family at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine here in the Twin Cities. Today I’m at Blogwell, a social media gathering at General Mills, on behalf of Minnov8. The difference? I was “kicking it old school” on Monday with no electronics (except my camera) allowed on the course. Today, I’m live blogging, uploading video and taking photos for the entire event….Laptop, phone, Flip camera all in tow.

Monday would have been a great opportunity to go nuts with photos, video, and tweets galore (Yes, I’m one of those guys.) But sorry, “no cellphones please”. I’m sure this is to cut down on the talking and cellphone alerts that would inevitably interrupt play. Remember, this is a place where you don’t even clap out loud. 

I have to tell you it was a bit refreshing to not worry about ‘sharing’ my experiences with my followers and friends. I felt absolutely zero ‘social media’ guilt. That is until I saw some guy in the bathroom (a rather elegant outhouse I must admit) texting on his contraband phone. For a brief moment I thought I was letting my peeps down by not smuggling in my phone. Then I thought, “Hey wait a second. Get with the program guy.” Follow the rules! Golf is all about rules. Imagine if Davis Love stepped in Tiger’s line because he didn’t feel like following the rules. Anarchy!

Today on the other hand, is another story. The folks at GasPedal have invited Minnov8 to cover the Blogwell event at General Mills this afternoon. As I mentioned above, we’ll be bringing all of our social media geekery to bear…and we’ll be doing it live via a rather cool service called ScribbleLive. It’s a great service where we can set up an event via our Twitter login info. Not only can we enter comments in real time, we can format the look and feel, upload video (though I found embedding via YouTube was faster and more reliable at this point), add photos, post to Twitter, and more. We can also embed the whole shootin’ match on a page at Minnov8. Check it out.

What a week of exploring both ends of the always on, always connected world. You still can choose not to be. BTW, I did choose to upload some photos from the PGA to my photostream on Flickr. (Yeah, I know, I’m what people outside of the social media biz…the real world…call “one of those.”)


The Cluetrain…Express

The Cluetrain Manifesto serves as a must read for anyone who wants to best understand the connected world. It really serves as one of social media’s guide posts, emphasizing the human and conversation factors above the technology. It also has been key to the best practices of social media.

That said, there are still many who have not read it. Maybe you have used the excuse that you haven’t had time to read the book. (I know I have a shelf of books waiting for that mythical “What can I do now?” time period.) Maybe you have made other books a priority. Maybe you are waiting for the Cliff Notes version. You can’t say you don’t have the money…the text is free online.

Thanks to a heads up from
Paul Fabretti, you can view a slide presentation put together by tecorporation and SODB. I still recommend you read the whole Manifesto, but if you can’t do that right now, I’ll settle for the Cluetrain Theses if it helps anyone better understand the social media concept. Take a few minutes to scroll through this slide presentation via Slideshare and hop on the Cluetrain…express.



Is Keeping Up Holding You Back?

This morning…7am…me, at the computer. This
morning…11:30am…me, at the computer. Holy crap! I haven’t showered
yet much less seen my kids. I think my wife said goodbye before she
went to work? Did the dog get fed?

it! This has happened to you. Especially if you work anywhere in the
online, interactive, social media or IT space. You have to know what’s
going on, who’s doing what, and have “they” released the next big

I’ve talked about this all consuming online world into which we’ve
entered before. The “time suck” is incredible and no amount
of apps, systems, gadgets or gizmos will ever satisfy the need to know.
This morning was typical for me if I allow myself to paste my eyes on
my computer screen. I check my email, read my many newsletters, review
the feeds in my reader, I scroll through the latest posts on Mashable,
Engadget, LifeHacker, etc. I follow the links to the beta invites, try
out the new apps, build an icon with the latest…er…icon builder.

Every time I make a presentation, participate on a panel,
or talk to clients it’s the number one question: “Where do I find the
time to keep up?” As I’ve said before and as Harvard Ph. D Alexandra
noted in her post…You don’t. And that’s OK.

goes on to make a very important point. While I’m spending all this
time keeping up, I’m only furthering someone elses project, system, app
or gadget and not spending anytime on my own. The quote of my day was
from Samuel…

“The minute you stop trying to keep up, you open a far more exciting possibility: getting ahead with what matters to you, your team and your business.”

truer words were never uttered. The “time suck” will kill your plans
for your business, family, or global domination if you let it. Cut your
time “keeping up” in half. You’ll suddenly find more time
to spend furthering your own goals.

That next big thing?
Believe me, if it is “big” enough you won’t miss it. On the other hand,
you might even be responsible for it…if you make the time.

Patience Is Relative or “Give it a second!”

I have often commented to friends (maybe you’re one of them) about my patience with the speed of the technology I use. I often catch myself in front of the computer, on my cell phone, or standing in line thinking, “C’mon already!” only to stop and think to myself, “Relax, remember the typewriter, pay phones, carbon paper, car trips for the love of Pete!”

Well, my friend Mark Swift forwarded me this vid from Conan featuring Louis CK, who brings it all into perspective. I knew I wasn’t the only one…

Know Now…Or Learn Very, Very Soon

I caught a great post from Ed Kohler on his blog Technology Evangelist. He took some time to outline  25 Not-Very-Technical Things Journalists Should Understand in 2008. I noted that he chose not to use 2009…implying, of course, that journalists need to know it now, not for the future.

Even if you have never picked up a reporter’s notebook there are plenty of things on the list that, if you intend to communicate these days, you should know. Businesses need to connect to current and future customers, parents need to connect to their kids, employers need to connect with employees, etc. You will surely need to use the web to connect. If you don’t know now, learn in the near future. So let’s take a look at a modified list. You should know…

  1. The what where and how of a blog.
  2. How to embed photos and videos on a website or blog.
  3. What is, and how to buy, a domain name.
  4. What is, and how to use, an RSS reader.
  5. How to do some advanced searches online.
  6. How Wikipedia (or any wiki) works and changes over time.
  7. How to join conversations on blogs.
  8. How to upload photos and video to the web.
  9. How to record audio.
  10. How to shoot video.
  11. If you are trying to reach specific audience, how to measure a your content’s performance.
  12. How to use Facebook and LinkedIn. (MySpace as well if you anything to do with music.)
  13. How to use Twitter.
  14. How to find experts on the web.
  15. How to secure your laptop.
  16. How secure your browser to limit access to what your kids can see.
  17. How to keep your personal information safe online.
  18. How to back everything up…in more than one place.
  19. How to delete all the stuff you’ll never use or knew existed on your computer.
  20. How to be honest and real online. Not as easy at it may sound.

So I ended up with 20. What did I miss?

Drowning In Information

Help! Between my endless stream of traditional media info and my new “I can find you anywhere.” media information hydrant I feel like I’m treading water just trying to keep up.

(Cue the dun-ta-dah ‘to the rescue’ music.) I’m here to help ma’am (said in my most Dudley Do-right voice). It’s so easy to get carried away in trying to suck up all the info you really want. But c’mon, you have a life, or at least you should. Since Tivo, and podcasting have helped you tame the radio and TV info management issue, allowing you to watch and listen on your terms, I though it might be helpful to share some tips from some interactive friends for taming your online world.

Greg Swan points out that there are “Information Hoarders”, the junkies that can’t seem to get enough info. If that’s you this should be of some real help.

We’ll get to the web in a bit. Let’s start with your own little slice of info heaven, your computer. After years of e-mails, documents, downloaded photos, applications, widgets and what not, you have a treasure trove of info that caters to your interests both personal and professional. Now, if you could only find it…

First, from the makers of online search (and possible owners of the free world), try Google Desktop search. This bad boy brings the Big G’s search capability to your entire hard drive and your MS Outlook sent and received. To bad it can’t do the same for your kitchen junk drawer. Swan shares his ‘word of the day’; taxonomy to point out that it’s a good idea, if you haven’t already, to start tagging your files with the words that will make you remember them. Put that word in the file name or on the document itself.

[Read more…]

Taking on the Difficult Subjects

My friend Mykl Roventine passed on a link to author Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project site and her “11 tips for broaching difficult subjects” post. Ya know there’s nothing like a list to provide fodder for discussion…and this one has a few interesting points.

Most on the list are great tips, but there are some that I would, let’s say, modify. So here is the abbreviated list (in bold) with those modifications where needed:

  1. Don’t stall. Oh yeah, get it taken care of quick, but…
  2. Don’t start off angry. Sometimes tough, but can be easier with #3, #4, and #5.
  3. Pick your moment. Think of how the timing will impact you and the one you are talking to.
  4. Think about why the subject is important to you. Helps determine #5.
  5. Are you certain you need to discuss the difficult subject? This is probably the best one.
  6. Don’t ruminate about worse-case scenarios. A friend of mine calls this “writing the script”, avoid it.
  7. What’s the worse that can happen? Okay, now wait a minute, I thought we weren’t suppose to do this (as Rubin points out.)? A combination of #5 and #6 is really what she’s going after here. So let’s make this “10 tips…”

[Read more…]

Social Media: Get it or Don’t Get In
Part 2-Running(?) With the Big Dogs

Here it is…the second post on the topic of Social Media and where it fits with what you are doing.  As I mentioned in my previous post a busy week of Social Media centered gatherings really highlighted the level of understanding and involvement by individuals and companies in using it for a marketing tool.

A panel discussion facilitated by the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association and moderated by Gage Marke
brought together representatives from General Mills, Target, Fingerhut, and Best Buy to talk about what their companies are doing in Social Media. The short answer? Not much. Beyond providing a system for “Ratings and Reviews” most were taking a fairly wait and see approach.

That’s not to say that these guys aren’t incredibly knowledgeable, they are. They are in that frustrating positon of trying to turn the battleship that is a big company to be able to react to a rapidly developing conduit to their customers.

[Read more…]

Social Media: Get it or Don’t Get In
Part 1-Twitter

Yep, there is a real need for traditional media and marketers to understand what social media is really all about. The point was proven to me on multiple occasions last week. As I work with and listen to companies that have done the same thing the same way for so many years, many of them touting themselves as forward thinking or even cutting edge, I am amazed at those that just don’t get it!

The “it” is how you build a relationship with people and then turn them into customers. It is not how you can bombard them with messages that they have no desire to take in. It is moving beyond sheer volume of audience to quality of audience. Nope, measuring it is not given to you in a box with a bow as it is with the incredibly imperfect system from Arbitron or Nielsen. It’s measured by success. Did you draw the people, make the sale, and start a relationship that lasts beyond both?

Over the past week I had multiple opportunities to see where the art of marketing via social media is falling down as well as where it is reaching new heights. There is quite a bit of info so, hating long posts, I’ll address this in the next few days…making it  all a bit more digestible.

[Read more…]

Today’s post…blah, blah, blah…

Any question in anyone’s mind that we are all stressed for time? If there is consider the “blah, blah, blah” or, as Seinfeld made famous, the “yada-yada”, or one I hear more and more, the “da-di-da-di-da”.

Blah-Blah is defined by Webster’s as “silly or pretentious chatter or nonsense” and yada-yada, it’s first use tracked to 1948, is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “Conversation glosser-over, similar to blah, blah, blah” These are a “stop me if you’ve heard this” for any discussion, story, or joke.

In the online world there are a ton of sites and applications reducing the blah, blah. Just look what Sony is doing with Minisodes. If you can reduce a 30 minute TV show to 5 minutes, there’s some blah, blah, blah, plenty of yada-yada and a smidgen of da-di-da-di-da.

Of course, you can’t forget about the likes of Twitter or Utterz. Their sole mission is to eliminate yada-yada. Even much of online advertising is getting shorter. Wha-hoo!

I’ve always been a big believer in editing. In fact, when editing I prescribe to the “cut it in half” mentality. Too often we get caught up in hearing ourselves talk or reading what we have written. If you hold true to being merciless, (something allot of Hollywood producers seem to lack these days) you’ll never need the blah, blah, or the yada-yada or worry about somebody doing it when they quote you…or playback your presentation.

The down side is that we could eliminate much of the art, the character development, the storytelling that makes any form of communication richer. Knowing not only what to edit but when to edit is crucial.
Whether you’re strapped for time or catering to technology make sure you are cutting out the real yadda-yadda, the genuine blah-blah. Not the good stuff that makes the content compelling.

(Extra: While looking back at the Seinfeld Yada-Yada episode I came across this great exchange…

Elaine: …Anyway, guess what? Beth Lookner called me.
Jerry: Ooh. Beth Lookner, still waitin’ out that marriage.
Elaine: What are you talking about? That marriage ended six months ago. She’s already  remarried.
I gotta get on that internet. I’m late on everything.

…I had to share. What great writing…and no blah, blah, blah.)