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Too many options, too little time

(ps – total rant)

Why do we consistently need to focus on “Who is the next Google killer?” or “What is the next Twitter?” Google is here and it is successful, Twitter has a loyal following and is continuing to grow in numbers. Can’t we be happy with what is at our finger tips and continue to review what is new and integrate that into our daily life? Can’t we live with enhancements to the current offerings rather than look to transplant ourselves somewhere else? What is our obsession with moving from one thing to the next?

Now don’t get me wrong, I love technology and innovation and am glad that we currently have at our disposal the tools that we do. I use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms to stay informed and keep in touch, but I am not looking for the next replacement to any of those. I have also worked in Social Media for over 12 years, so I am very glad to see where it has come from, but…..

With the options that are current at our fingertips, it is overwhelming, IMO. Some people are here, some are there, and some are not anywhere. How do you choose where to go and who to interact with?

This reminds me of when I was growing up – OMG, I am starting to sound like my parents now. Back in the day, we had minimal TV channels and things were on at certain times of the day – no TiVo, no DVR, just live TV. I remember running home from school or waking up early so that I could watch a show and when I would run into my friends, we would talk about it, because that was the only thing that was on TV, or the only option that we had. (I love my DVR and love that I can fast-forward through the commercials).
For kids, and adults for that matter, it is tougher now and the conversations begin with “What shows do you watch?” or What are your favorite games?” and if you don’t watch the same shows or play the same games we initially think that we don’t have anything in common with that other person. 

Is it just me, or are things beginning to move a little fast? Is there such a  thing as too many options?

When I heard about Four Square day  last week, on 4/16, I got a little excited. I had thought that it was a great idea. I found that one of the cities around me (Manchester, NH)  was participating in the day. I looked at the local sponsors and tried to figure out how I could participate, given the fact that they were “passing out” a special badge to those who participated, I could not pass that up.

After looking at the Four Square day website I noticed that there were not many locations participating. I then went to the Facebook Manchester page and noticed that there were other places that were participating that were not advertised on the Four Square official page. Hmmmm, why not? Was this because Four Square did not promote this that heavily? Was it because the agency that was running the Facebook page did not upload the events into the Four Square Day page?

I am sure that the event was a success and got the word about to local businesses that were either unknowing of Four Square or unsure of what the benefits would be. 

The promotion in my eyes seemed rushed. There did not seem to be much promotion over the event in general, a centralized location to find businesses that were participating, or a straightforward way to participate, from a business or end user standpoint. Maybe I am being a little harsh, but, as many others I really see the benefits that this application/tool has for local businesses.

For those of you who participated, what are your thoughts? Did you find it easy, or do you think that it could have been organized better?

ps. For some reason when I logged into the location in the area that was sponsoring, I did not receive the badge. I am not bitter by any means, am unsure why I did not get it, but still think that it could have been better organized.

When we talk to our clients about Social Media, we talk a lot about creating, building and growing relationships for the long haul. While you definitely need to retain your current audience (whether it is your partners, customers or employees, it does not matter), you also need to figure out how to engage with a new audience, or those who may not be aware of who you are and what you do and acquire new individuals. This is not specific in the B2B or B2C world; it is about business in general. When I was at eBay, we went by the rule of the 3 A’s – Acquisition, Activation and Activity. This is a good framework to think about when you are thinking about Social Media. How do you plan to acquire a new audience, activate them and get them involved, while at the same time engaging with your current audience? How busy is your website? Are you doing the right SEO steps to place higher on the result pages? Are you engaging with your audience and putting a personality behind the brand? Are you providing a compelling and interactive experience once your audience visits your site? Does your audience on your website know that you have a Twitter or Facebook account and vice-versa? How are you communicating on these platforms and broadcasting messages to them? I came across the following graphic a few months ago, and modified it slightly to update it with current Social platforms:

* original viewed on www.socialmediavision.com/social-media/

Now when we describe Social media and how it relates to your website, we envision this concept of the wheel. Your website is at the center of it all. You control the content of your site and the organization of that content – now granted user generated content (UGC) you may not control, but you do have the right to enforce policies so that you can remove specific pieces of content if they violate those policies.

You can leverage SEO techniques in order to get your ranking higher on the search results pages for the larger search engines (I realize that YouTube is one of the largest search engines, but I place them in the Social aspect for this purpose).

You can also leverage these external Social Networks in order to create brand awareness and drive an audience back to your website – after all, is that really not the reason to have a presence on an external network – to drive people back to your website and increase your brand awareness? As I mentioned on a follow up blog post from my webinar a few months ago, leveraging these external networks are only 1 aspect of a Social strategy, you should not put all of your eggs in 1 basket.

Once you are able to drive people back to your website, what are they looking for, and how can you provide them with a pervasive web experience (I also borrowed that term from @rustyw who I believe coined the phrase).

Whether it is Blogs, reviews, ratings, forums, profiles, testimonials… you could go on and on with the different ways to provide your audience with a great interactive experience on your website. But the key is finding the right way to do it.

*cross-posted on Ektron.com and eBizq.net

There are so many overview blog posts from SXSW that I almost did not plan to write one up, but then thought, “Why not?”

The event is great on many different levels. The networking opportunities are never-ending. There are so many people there (attendance increase +40% compared to last year) that you run into people that you know (or recognize) on every corner. There are a lot of smart people that attend the event, and I was very happy to network and meet all of the people that I met. This was my 1st year attending, and I will say that it did live up to most of my expectations. I do have 1 complaint that I have heard many people talk about, and I also wanted to add in my .02.

Sessions
Everyday there are a ton of sessions. The variety of topics that were covered ranged from “Protecting your teenagers online” to “How the porn industry leverages Social Media.” I think that the variety in sessions really displays how important Social Media is in everyday life, both professionally and personally. An increase in variety though, generally means an increase in sessions – which ends up being a decrease in quality and watered down content.

I was only able to attend about 5 sessions the entire time that I was there, but I was also informed by people that have attended the show before that 5 was actually a good amount. To my dismay 2 of the sessions were “iffy” at best and not billed up to what there were supposed to be. I have also read that the Keynote with Twitter CEO Evan Williams on Monday was a disaster, with ~80% of the people leaving before the end (I was not there, but that was the general feeling from the people that I had talked to).

First, let me say that I respect every speaker at SXSW and all of the sessions that were held. It takes a lot to get up in front of any crowd, create a descriptive presentation, present it and take questions. I have done this a couple of times and I still get that pit in my stomach beforehand. Sometimes I am able to walk right through the presentation and everything works out, and sometimes I am off of my game and lose my audience. I get that, which is why I am a professional speaker. I also accept that. You only get better at things through practice.

While I was sitting in some of these sessions, I started to wonder how many times that some of these speakers have ever sat up in front of a large audience and ran through a presentation. How many have ever attended SXSW, sat through a session and thought, you know what, this session could have been better, and here is how. It is very important to experience an event like SXSW before you jump into thinking that you can submit a session, get it voted on and then you are off to the races.

In closing, I really do want to say that I respect all of the speakers at SXSW. It is easy to judge coming from the outside. I just hope that in the future, that we can improve the quality of the sessions.

Just like in real life, you do not want to be that person that only comes around when they need something.

Over the last week (since i have been laid off) I find an amazing shift (maybe it is an obvious one for most) in the way that I find/read/learn from information on the web.

Prior to last Thursday, my daily activity – outside of working – was checking in with Facebook to see what my friends were up to, reviewing my Google reader to check up on the blogs that I subscribe to, and getting on Twitter for a little while to make sure that I was not too out of touch and keeping up with the key leaders out there. Linkedin was truly an afterthought and took a major back seat. Yea, I may read the weekly status updates emails that they send, but they did not interest me that much.

Before:

  1. Facebook
  2. Google Reader
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn

Now:

  1. Twitter
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Google Reader
  4. Facebook

Future:

  1. Equal distribution

I have began a major shift in my activity within the above services, and I feel bad for the ones that I had ignored in the past, and feel bad for the ones that I am temporarily ignoring at the moment.

The fact of the matter is that you really need to think about the Networks that you have and leverage them all equally – within reason. There are many people in all of the above areas that can help you out. I have had at least 1 person in each of these areas reach out to me over the past week to discuss a potential opportunity. Thankfully!

Thoughts?

Mike

Employment

I am currently employed at Bose as the Digital Platform Manager, leveraging Ratings & Reviews and Community content to increase customer acquisition and retention

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