Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don't Be A Social Media Expert. Please. Don't

There are a lot of brain surgeons, calligraphers and armadillo breeders out there who can rightly be called an "expert." They have trained for years, have the experience and impressive credentials to back up their claim.

There are 277,000 Google results for "social media expert" and over 44 MILLION results for social media expert. (I did two searches, as the former is specifically looking for that phrase, especially if it's used in a job title.)

So, a few days ago I threw out the question: Do we need to add the words "social media" to job titles these days? The way things are going, clients who need some PR or communications work, expect the agency to include some social media strategy as a given. I wonder if it gives them some comfort -- or stomach knots -- if the person dealing with their account is a social media "expert"? Why does that person feel the need to add the E-Word?

Unfortunately for the E-Word people, social media is changing constantly. Fortunately for everyone else, social media is changing constantly. So that means, the minute you think you know *everything* about it ... guess what? It just changed! So, how can you be an "expert" now?

Granted there are a LOT of people who understand a LOT about it -- and you all know who they are if you hang around in the social media goldfish bowl long enough -- but these guys are constantly learning from each other, swapping tips and strategies, meeting offline at events and recommending other people to follow.

I honestly can't think of one social media "expert." If anyone can claim that right, feel free to contact me and make an offer for this domain name. I bought it on a whim, but now wonder too if domain names with "social media" in them are stating the obvious?

Man, I love this stuff.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Twitter Replaces "Replies" With "Mentions"

Twitter has now replaced the "Replies" tab with what it calls "Mentions." Now, you can find all references to your Twitter name even if it doesn't appear at the beginning of the tweet.

This is one enhancement I've been waiting for.

Twitter Needs Someone To Be A VIP Concierge

Twitter is looking for a full-time person to engage with celebrities on Twitter, make sure they're happy and also to encourage new ones to start tweeting. Won't pay much (by Twitter's admission) but could be a sweet gig.

Apply here.

HT: TechCrunch.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

What To Tell Your Mum About Twitter When She Phones

"Hi mum, yes, believe it or not that funny sleepwalking dog video from Aunt Mabel can screw up your computer. It's called a virus. And no, she probably didn't send it either, that's a spam bot. No, not a spam hotpot.

"OK, where were we? No, mum -- Twitter is not full of twits. So, what is it then? Hmmm. Good question. Put it this way: we're talking on the phone together right now. We're catching up and swapping our latest news. Twitter is exactly the same ... with two differences.

"Firstly, you write your updates instead of talking about them. Secondly, anyone can listen in, and they can respond too if they want. Don't worry mum, if they're like the nosy old guy across the street who talks about his cats all the time, you can block them from seeing your conversation. And you know what else? If you really get to like your neighbours, you can follow them and see what they're talking about. And they won’t mind. Yeah -- I knew you’d like that part!

"OK, I know you're keen to start chatting to people, but slow down a bit. You talked for too long then. There's a word limit on each piece of the conversation. In fact, mum, it's only 140 characters to be exact. Don’t panic, you'll learn to get to the point.

"And you know that gossip you like to pass on over the garden fence to Mrs. Scratchett. Guess what? That's called a ReTweet. It's a great way of spreading some news, and someone else gets the credit. You may even get noticed on Fridays if someone recommends you as a Follow.

"So, mum, do you understand more about what Twitter is now? Great. Now can you please pass me to dad, he wanted to know how to make some beer money off social media.

"Hello? Hello?"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Captain Obvious, Third Office On The Right

Do we need to add the words "social media" to job titles these days? Isn't it a given? Just throwing it out there ...

PitchEngine Gets First Investor

A simple status update on Facebook: "PitchEngine just inked first investor. bootstraps loosened, engine refueled. sky's the limit."

Great news for PitchEngine and its founder, Jason Kintzler. I've been touching base with Jason on and off since last year when I looked at PE for some client needs. He's a decent guy and always responds in a prompt fashion. I'm curious to see what's coming down the line for PE with the extra funds.

That brings me to the issue of mixing my social media contacts. I am linked to Jason (and a few other bloggers, influencers etc.) on Facebook. But there's only about eight people in that "professional friends" group. When I add them, I mention the fact they'll see photos of me with silly hats on and a pint in my hand. If that doesn't scare them off, then they're in my (online) personal life.

I only have professional contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter, with a few exceptions. The friends who aren't on those two networks won't mind me saying that they "don't get it," "see no value in it" or "haven't checked it out yet." That's cool; they are all very successful and happy people in their own careers, and don't really need to be on a social network.

But that doesn't stop me trying to introduce them to that world! I believe once they dip their toes in, it will be like a light dawning and they won't look back at how useful these activities can be.

Until then, I'll see them on Facebook and everyone else on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We Don't Need No Education, We Just Need Some Follows

[Apologies to Pink Floyd for the lame pun attempt above.]

The Guardian reports on a story that British kids "will leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication." This is an excellent move by all those concerned in drafting the proposals.

Stories abound of students using out of date textbooks and reference works, so by the time they enter the workforce they are already behind. This seems a bold move to introduce the kids to new forms of communication, such as social media, at an early age so they can familiarize themselves as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

People Are The Killer App

I just read Jason Baer's interview with Beth Harte, and saw her quote: "@bethharte: It's about the 'who' not the 'what.' People want to connect with ppl."

As I said in the comments section ... "Finally!" I was referring to my post back in December 2006 about Web Who.0. Just now, at 12:17 a.m. (I am a night owl) this thought struck me:

PEOPLE ARE THE KILLER APP. (Yes, caps lock for me shouting in realization.)

Social media is just the software really. It has no life without its users. Sometimes you get a successful reboot, or sometimes the Blue Screen Of Death, but when something really great happens, then people are the one app that will always be needed, no matter what comes along in this exciting wave of transparency, immediacy and community.

Press that On Button and install some People into your daily life.

It's Not The Size Of Your Twitter That Matters

Important stuff first. Had a great meeting this morning at Fran's greasy spoon with a LinkedIn contact. He owns a design company and has a roster of non-profit clients needing some social media help, so I "pitched" my services over a relaxed brunch. I love those types of meetings = informal chat, get to know each other, see where it goes. If nowhere, at least the coffee was great!

Next up, Dave Fleet has a really good list of Canadian government departments using Twitter, some missed opportunities sprinkled in there too. Working with Ontario's Ministry of the Environment at the moment, I like the way things are going. It's time.

Finally, there's no other way to ask this, but how does your Twitter penis measure up to mine?

Monday, March 23, 2009

CP24 Viewers Don't Use Twitter Much

I watched CP24 (Toronto's local news channel) at lunchtime today; they were discussing Twitter, its uses, pros and cons etc. There is a poll on the website that I voted on, but was astounded by the low numbers of CP24 viewers who use Twitter -- only 10%, from (as of writing) 3,567 votes.

That really surprised me as I thought Toronto was one of the social media hubs in North America. I know that Facebook has a large chunk of Torontonians, and that people are still finding their feet with Twitter, but still ...

Or am I too expectant? Anyway, screenshot below and here's the link to the poll.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Senior Vice-President Of Space Invaders

What a cool job title if it was real! (And maybe -- unofficially -- it was for Toshihiro Nishikado, circa 1978, the lucky developer of the game at Taito. Must have been great going to work on the world’s most popular video game at the time.)

So, job titles in this social media day and age. Chief Engagement Officer? Not new, but has a nice ring to it. Social Media Manager? Hmmm, not so good -- no one in social media wants to feel like the conversation is being “managed” or “guided,” however subtle.

More specialists are being sought in this field as companies feel the urge to jump on board, listen to their communities and get involved. What is an apt title though? Social media will be here for a while, but if not, and there’s a new fad on the scene next year, who wants a job title that might be out of date in 12 months? Is it better to be specific when calling yourself a Social Media Specialist to ensure you are relevant for the here and now, or do you play safe and plan ahead, go a bit more generic, say Digital Media Specialist? [My most recent title was picked for me, full disclosure.]

In the past, everyone knew what the CEO, President, Vice-President and intern did -- the titles were in daily use, and everyone got used to the hierarchy. But now, there are more Conversation Analysts, Community Managers and Social Media Strategists around. Can people pick and choose their own, or will the market level out and we all agree on titles?

Be realistic, choose wisely … or you could be yesterday’s Senior Vice-President of Space Invaders.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It’s Hip To Be Square

I’ve been working with Echo Communications for a couple of months on a consulting basis. They are involved with the social media PR for Nissan’s new car, the Cube. I haven’t worked on this account; it’s being handled by Tony Chapman at Capital C.

Jennifer Wells at the Globe and Mail gave it a cool mention today.

I’m giving it a shout out as it’s interesting to see how the landscape is changing as more brands move away from traditional PR, or, at the very least, automatically consider social media as part of their strategy. It’s not the latest fad any more ... it’s here, it’s staying and it’s very exciting.

So guys, if you have your blog monitoring set up as I expect you do: Good luck!

Make Money In Social Media On April Fool’s Day

Toronto, April 1, there are three consultants telling you how to make money in social media, once they’ve charged $25-$35 for tix.

Registration does include one free drink: mine’s a Margarita with a large pinch of salt please!


Please Do Not Summon The Fail Whale

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Questions, Questions, Give Me No Answers, But To Cut A Long Story Short I’ve ... Started Blogging Again

I was out shopping this morning and an old guy stopped me on the street and asked: “John, why on earth did you stop blogging on a daily basis? Why?” I thanked him for his question and went on my way. It did get me thinking though.

Why did I stop blogging? Actually, I didn’t. I just wasn’t writing so much here; most of my blogging was at GCI Canada’s blog (which has since been taken down, shame) or commenting on other people’s blogs ... which to me is still blogging, as I put as much thought into my comments as I do my own personal posts, otherwise what’s the point, right?

So, today I am back with a vengeance, serving this blog’s readers (hi mum) with the regularity they deserve!

I started Make Johnny Cash back in November 2006 after getting laid off, and used it in two ways: (1) to promote myself and document my job search, and (2) because I started the Beer.com blog (which has since been taken down, shame) and missed writing my thoughts every day.

So, I intend to write about Web 2.0, social media, the Internet, networking, cool people/companies/tech, curries and anything else that takes my fancy.

Today, I am kicking that off with a hat tip to a blog that has flown under the radar for a while, but gives a nice kick in the pants to the social media scene, and all of us that live in that little bubble. Let me introduce The Drama 2.0 Show. No idea who writes it, but there’s humour, insight and some swear words too, so it’s NSFW if you have a text to speech gadget on your computer at work.

This week alone, targets have included Andrew Keen, Michael Arrington and yesterday’s subject, Gary Vaynerchuk. As the writer says on March 12: “This is the shit you won’t find in Mashable.”

How true.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You Left Me, You Really Left Me!

Apologies to Sally Field for today’s title, but it seemed to fit in well with the theme of knowing when to un/follow someone -- not just in Twitter -- but in social media in general. It’s usually the case of full steam ahead in the beginning, adding people left, right and centre, only to find that … hmmm … people start to drop like flies after a while.

I’ve been using Qwitter for quite a while now, and it seems to work very well. It sends an e-mail update when a follower leaves you. And it also mentions the particular tweet that (possibly?) caused them to leave. I had two people depart after I tried to find a sad trombone sound. I mean, who couldn’t use a “Wah Wah Waahh” every now and again?

The upside is that new followers come in and take their place, so in the end the numbers even out. And the great thing is that the whole un/follow process means my Twitter community is constantly refreshing itself organically.

As mentioned before, I find a lot of value in following people that might not be in the social media or PR world. It brings a whole new raft of ideas to the table in learning how they become successful in their respective industries. Too much inward looking into the same fishbowl gets pretty boring and can make you stale.

Steven Hodson looks at the other angle: Could social media implode from too many friends?

He asks the question: “At what point does having all these friends become just ridiculous b******t because we really don’t know who these people are and for the most part we don’t care just as long as they follow us back?”

I can see Hodson’s point, but I thnk he is using “friend” in the wrong context. I have very few friends on Twitter or LinkedIn. I call friends on the phone and be social; I don’t need to see that they are having a coffee in Starbucks in 140 characters or less, or that they’ve updated their profile to say they now work as a director of marketing = I already know! If they really are a good friend then I probably bought them the coffee or provided a reference for them in their job hunt.

People too often mix up friends with colleagues with contacts with acquaintances (the latter is the most appropriate in defining the social media community: a. Knowledge of a person acquired by a relationship less intimate than friendship; b. A relationship based on such knowledge; c. A person whom one knows).

Friendships can take years to cultivate; acquaintances can take minutes.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two New Clients

It's been an exciting couple of weeks for my freelance biz. I am now working on some projects for Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Silver Recruitment.