How To: Recognize Social Content

Posted on May 11, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The King is Dead – Long Live the King

Content is King. That’s what “they” say. I disagree. The King is dead long live the King. Quality content then, that must be King, possibly a prince but still not a King. The real King in the world of content is Social Content. The easiest way to define “Social” content is as the confluence of organizational/brand driven content and user generated/consumer generated content. It resides at the point where ownership and authorship lines blur such that it is hard, if not impossible to see where one ends and the other begins.

At the Social Media Breakfast in Austin on Friday 8th May I was fortunate to be on a great panel with @lionelatDell and @natayanap both of whom are extremely smart thought leaders in the area of content. Below is the video excerpt of me explaining my definition of Social Content.

Letting Go to Gain Greater Control

This is all part of the movement within communications for brands to come to the realization that they do not own their brand, nor do they own the content that surrounds their brand, they share the same role as other content producers. By recognizing this and becoming a part of the community of content producers they can in fact regain some of the control that they so fear losing.

Some brands are already recognizing this and trying to make moves toward including a more social experience throughout their content. Right now most brands are focused on Social Media as a way of producing social content. Unfortunately simply having a page on Facebook, or a few hired hands on Twitter does not make for social content. Of course its definitely a step in the right direction and no one can reasonably expect brands to change over night.

What Does it Look Like?

So what does Social content really look like, what are the potentials, and why should brands really care?

Social content looks like a conversation, to market researchers it would probably look like the output of a well crafted focus group, the big difference is that the brand wouldn’t be setting the agenda, they would be just another participant. Offering pointers, advice and amplifying restrictions that are both internal & external so that the community can gain better understanding.

The potential for Social content is endless, I foresee brands being able to included customers and potential customers in the entire production process from ideation, design, testing and ultimately sales and marketing.  After all if you had helped design a product wouldn’t you talk about it?

Imagine a computer company that wants to produce a laptop that meets the needs of a group of users that it has identified as being a missed opportunity. Now instead of simply holding focus groups, and then designing some clever marketing collateral to help promote the product, what if the company was able to actually engage the audience in the design process, having the engineers work online in a collaborative environment with the intended users, helping them all gain from each other in the different ways the computer will be used.

Having assisted in the design and development, the sales and marketing team could then work with the same group of collaborators to design the promotional material that would help sell the product.

This is what Social content of the future could look like. Will all brands embrace this? Very unlikely, but for the few that do, they are likely to be the ones who set the stage for real content.

Video courtesy of @bryanperson

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The Death of Twitter

Posted on April 6, 2009. Filed under: Observations, Social Media, twitter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

People Pyramid

The death of Twitter is a much discussed topic. The April Fool’s posts this year about Google buying Twitter and then some of that being revealed as real potential brought it to the surface again. Originally it was felt by some that Twitter would cease to be an effective communication tool as soon as big brands started using it. That hasn’t happened, brands are using Twitter and for the most part it has had little or no impact on Twitter users in general, at least in a negative way.

What Will Kill Twitter?

So if the arrival of brands didn’t kill Twitter what is the next big threat. Unfortunately that threat has already arrived and woven itself into the very fabric of Twitter, no not the spam-bots, but the MLM’ers. Those people who have got the lastest and greatest get rich quick scheme, all of which is vaporware. They sell courses on how to sell courses, they write e-books on how to write e-books, they sell you a plan that you only have to sell to 10 other people before you will see money just roll in.

Now they have turned their attention to Twitter. There are already people selling Twitter user courses, which in of itself, while a bit of a head-scratcher, is not too awful, but now there are those who are selling Twitter based get rich quick schemes. They vary from schemes that guarantee you 7000 followers in 24 hours to tools that will get you 20,000 followers in a month.

What’s The Harm?

I am all about the freedom to use Social Media in the way that best suits your business model or in fact your personal goals, there have been way too many people who have tried to write the “Social Media Rulebook”. So why are MLM or Internet Marketers as they now prefer to be called (no offense to real Internet Marketers) a bad thing for Twitter and Social Media in general? The main reason is that they are experts at “gaming” the system, they will use every shortcut they can to provide an image of knowledge or influence. That is how their business model works. This past week I have been followed by at least half a dozen Twitter users who have less than 500 updates (which gives you a sense of how long they have been active on Twitter) but have 20k followers and are following a similar number. How can you possibly grow an organic following of over 20k followers in a month? You use tools like Tweetgetter or other services that charge up to $10 a month to provide you with 1000’s of followers.

Where this has an impact is that it skews the ability of both new users of these tools and brands to be able to recognize those with influence and those with just numbers. Unfortunately at this point a lot of people are still associating the two. Tools like Twitter Grader and Twinfluence used to be both fun and provide some indication of at least how popular a user was, now they have, in my opinion, become redundant. A recent look at Twinfluence showed the top users are no longer Barack Obama, Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble or any of the other usual suspects, the users in the top ranked places are people who have made major gains in their follower numbers. Now I am not claiming that they have used any of these tools, maybe they are just Twitter addicts who spend hours searching out great Twitter users to follow and following them – but if you think that it probably takes about 1 minute to perform a search by topic, then another minute at least to identify a Twitter user from the list returned by Twitter Search then clicking follow that would be 40,000 minutes – or nearly 28 days of non-stop Twitter activity, no food, sleep or bathroom breaks!

Image by Dan of Future’s Past via Flickr
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Cool Tools on Twitter this week

Posted on November 6, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I have been writing about new applications coming out for Twitter here and on Mashable for a while now, but its just not possible to keep up with all of them.

I decided to feature a few each week and get you involved in deciding which application you think is cool.  Now that can mean what you want it to, cool/useful, cool/easy, cool/cool.

Each week I will promote three Twitter tools that either I have found or that have been recommended to me, they won’t be in the same category so this isn’t choose one or the other.

This weeks entries are:

Misko Knows – This allows you to Tweet recommendations for Books, Music & Movies. It includes links to amazon so that you can get more info and buy the recommended item.  Nice use of Twitter.  It is missing a few features that I would like to see, but overall I like the interface and its about as simple to use as the developers could have made it.


 Twitter Karma – This tool allows you to see who you are following, who is following you and where the follow is mutual.  This is a great way for you to manage your account especially when you start to follow large numbers of people.  You can make multiple selections and choose to bulk follow, bulk unfollow those people.  Its a great way to catch up if you have had a sudden influx of followers that you haven’t had the opportunity to follow or a great way to thin out those you are following but are not receiving a follow back.


Think of this as Evite for Twitter. It allows you to post events from your Google Calendar directly to Twitter.  Its a great way to let people know that you are having an event.  Tweetups can be organized this way, after all where better to promote one than on Twitter?


If you havent used any of these tools go take a look and come back and vote.  I am not saying which one I like best yet, Cool Tools Thursday is all about you and your opinion 🙂


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What 3 things are you trying to control?

Posted on October 16, 2008. Filed under: Business, Management, Observations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

According to the United States Marine Corps, 3 is the magic number.  The Marine corps operates on the rule of three’s.  Each leader is only responsible for three units at any one time.

This got me thinking, how many things are you trying to control at once.  Do you ever manage to control more than three successfully, do you ever manage as many as three at once?

If I think about my day today, I am trying to build out our marketing plan, seeking new partners, seeking new customers, thinking about tomorrow’s blog entry, waiting for responses from potential vendors, getting organized for Innotech-Austin.  In other words more than three things.  Which begs the question am I doing any of them effectively? I see lots of posts, tweets and comments that contain remarks about how busy everyone is at the moment.

What if I determined at the beginning of the day that I was only going to focus on three things that day, but really focus on them. Would I be better at them, would I get better results?

There seem to be no end of self-help business management books, websites and blogs out there all with their own recipe for how to achieve success, or to build effective habits.  I am sure some of them work.  But trying to take those on, wouldn’t that be one of my three things?

I like the simplicity of the rule of three’s, I don’t have to think about it too much, I don’t have to learn any complex matrix formats into which I have to push my work day.  Do effective things have to be complex?  Or is that just a myth perpetuated by business schools?  That’s not meant as a knock at business schools, I just wonder at the sometimes extremely complex solutions that come from some of my colleagues. 

But perhaps therein lies the problem, perhaps the rule of three’s isnt complex enough. Perhaps it over-simplifies very complex issues.   I would counter that by saying its possible to utilize the rule of three’s even for even extremely complex thought processes.  By breaking them down into sets of three problems, clearly identifying individual stages and grouping those by like, related, associated or dependent problems.  Revisiting my day, perhaps I should focus on only three prospects today, only three vendor solutions, and three blog topics as a short-list.

Of course the question is how I organize the other things on my to do list under those three things in not more than groups of three.  Now my simple system is starting to sound increasingly complex! Or perhaps thats the point, I am, like so many others, trying to do too much.  Perhaps this is what the rule of three’s can teach us, once you get beyond trying to control three things you are trying to do too much. So fall back, regroup, reorganize and refocus. 

So if you were only going to try and control three things today what would they be?

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