The Only Social Media Resolution that Matters

This week I’ve read scores of articles and blog posts listing year-end social media resolutions, tips, tricks, best/worst strategies and more. On the cusp of the New Year, it’s normal to look back and look forward, but the trend is more than a little overwhelming. That’s why I’ll make it easy for you; there’s one thing you should resolve to do in your social media efforts, one word that runs through all of 2011’s best practices and will be part of every single social media success story in 2012.

That word is engagement.

Perhaps it’s not earth shattering, but in 2012, individuals and brands can no longer afford to just “be on” social media. Using social media platforms to simply broadcast a message is unacceptable; those who put effort into building their communities will (and already do) matter more than the ones that are only interested in selling and promoting.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t do social media well without being social.

Lose your automations. Give credit for your inspirations. Follow/friend/circle liberally…but not so liberally that you miss potentially interesting content. Listen more than you talk. Show gratitude. Be serious without taking yourself too seriously.

There are hundreds (thousands?) of social media platforms, and it’s likely that 2012 will see the birth of many more. With a million channels to connect, it’s easy to forget that there’s only one way to build something that matters. Engage and you will reap the rewards.

Happy New Year, friends. I hope to hear more from you in 2012 than you hear from me…and I wish you and your families happiness, health and success.

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NAUGHTY OR NICE: Credit Where it’s Due

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the fifth and (thankfully) final installment.

Pardon my French, but Twitter is one big circle jerk.

Maybe that’s overly crude, but I think you know what I mean. A particularly interesting or valuable link can be shared dozens, sometimes even hundreds or thousands of time. When you follow many people in a specific sphere of influence, it often seems like the same people are sharing the same links from the same websites over and over again. Except there’s a major difference in how some of us share links, and even though it can feel like there’s no law on the “Wild West Internet,” there’s one rule that too many people have no problem breaking.

If you didn’t write it, credit the person who did. No exceptions.

Let’s examine how a specific link was shared by two different Twitter accounts today:

5 Social Media Articles to Unwrap and Enjoy Today j.mp/uJtYwn via @pushingsocial

— Stanford Smith (@pushingsocial) December 23, 2011

Stanford Smith writes for (and runs?) Pushing Social. He wrote the article and Tweeted the link, including his own handle. Was that redundant? Perhaps…but perhaps not when you consider that Michael Corley read Stanford’s post and thought it was valuable enough to Tweet WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION.

I have nothing against Michael Corley and feel a little bad for calling him out like this. Michael, if this gets back to you, I hope you realize two things: 1) it’s not personal; and 2) it’s unlikely that anyone besides the two of us know about this blog post.

I realize that 140 characters is a significant limit, but there’s always room to credit an author. Sometimes you want to squeeze an editorial comment into your Tweet, but I promise, your audience does not appreciate your personal opinion nearly as much as the writer appreciates getting recognized for his or her efforts. In fact, I believe that leaving out the author (or at least, the website) from your Tweet is akin to plagiarism.

That’s right, I said it. Plaigiarism. It’s an ugly word, huh?

Image copywright is likely owned by Fox and/or Matt Groening. But who cares, right? It's the internet. I invented Bart Simpson!

I urge you to remember this lesson the next time you share a link on Twitter. Writing is a cumbersome, often unrewarding task. Even if you’re not technically claiming credit for someone else’s work, an unattributed link *feels* like that to the author. Believe me, linking to an article without crediting its creator is a naughty, naughty no-no.

It’s the season of giving. If you think something is valuable enough to share, don’t be a Scrooge and deprive credit from its source.

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Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope you and your family have a warm, safe and happy holiday season. Thanks for reading!

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Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume

12/20 – Printing your face on a business card

12/21 – Social Media Interns

12/22 – Breaking a Promise

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Breaking a Promise

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the fourth installment.

I’ve got writer’s block today, but it’s not because I’m lacking a topic. It’s not because I’m at a loss for words, either. It’s because I got some bad news yesterday that has yet to scab over and start to heal.

I’m OK. My family is OK. I don’t mean to be melodramatic and there’s definitely nothing for anyone to worry about. I promise. I just can’t blog. It’s that simple. No need to raise any alarms. I hope to share a new post (and perhaps some details) tomorrow.

So if you’re here to read my “naughty or nice” review, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Suffice to say, breaking a promise to one’s limited blog readership is extremely NAUGHTY.

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Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume

12/20 – Printing your face on a business card

12/21 – Social Media Interns

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Social Media Interns

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the third of five reviews.

Last week, I asked my Twitter followers to help me identify some naughty or nice trends for this series. One follower was especially exuberant about her topic – unpaid interns running a company’s social media presence. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you six passionate comments from Vik Gill:

  • “Nonprofits so cash-strapped they have to use unpaid interns for social media [is a] bad idea!”
  • “Why would you trust the social media presence of your business to somebody who has no social media work experience?”
  • “The fact that a student has been playing around on Twitter and Facebook does not a social media expert make.”
  • “Unless you are giving interns the most trivial tasks, the amount of damage they can do to your brand is unquantifiable.”
  • “How much do you really know about social media if you think someone with no experience is the best person to build your brand?”
  • “Using social media interns creates limitations that arise from a business model that requires free labour to sustain it.”

I’ll cut Vik some slack for the improper spelling of “labor” because she’s British and they think they invented the language.

Do you really want this "dude" to be the online voice for your brand?

Vik’s points are spot-on. When we are uncomfortable with a task, we instinctively want to stick the responsibility on someone else. Interns are young, so they know computers; interns are free, so it makes sense to assign them the duties that don’t generate any revenue.

And if you accept those conclusions, I look forward to your 2012 tales from the unemployment line.

It’s easy to assign your interns (or even younger/entry level employees) to social media. It may even seem logical to do so. But social media is increasingly becoming the way corporations, nonprofits, peer groups, causes and more engage their audiences. Our online ambassadors need to be passionate and knowledgeable if they hope to grow and indoctrinate supporters. Interns often have enthusiasm, but it’s not their job to personally invest…it’s their job to figure out what they’re good at and what they want to do with their professional lives.

At the same time, it’s hard to determine social media ROI. It can often feel like we’re shouting into the ether. It may even seem like our Tweets and posts and likes and shares are often a colossal waste of time. But they’re not. One fan’s passion can spread to thousands of his or her peers. It’s difficult to do social media well, but is it any harder than a hundred other tasks in our competitive marketplace? Skimping on social media is just a cop-out for business leaders afraid to invest in something they don’t completely understand.

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s comforting to see that most successful brands have accepted the fact that not doing social media means money left on the table. In 2012, here’s hoping that more will realize that doing it incorrectly can jeopardize their future.

Oh, and if you couldn’t figure it out, using interns to run your social media community is a big, fat naughty!

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Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume

12/20 – Printing your face on a business card

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Printing Your Face on a Business Card

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the second of five reviews.

Remember that scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman and friends swap business cards and swoon over “Bone” backgrounds and “Silian Rail” lettering? A lot has changed since Wall Street of the 1980s – and it hasn’t all been because of the OWS movement.

In today’s business world, we’re all looking for an edge…yet most of us overlook the competitive advantage we can gain from our business cards. Rather than order up another batch of 500 boring corporate cards from Office Services, why aren’t more of us using customization to better create a lasting impression?

What better way to be remembered than by printing your face on your business card?

A few months ago, I used an About.Me perk to order business cards from moo.com. Instead of being forced to use the same corporate information as all of my colleagues, I could completely customize the card’s text. I inserted a QR code to direct people straight to a web page of my choosing. And while there were hundreds of gallery options for the flip side of my card, I decided to let my face do the talking.

As you can see above, I was so enthralled with my custom card that I designed and printed another version. Now, I have a standard size card AND a “mini” card. Again, it’s all about being remembered, so if we’re already thinking outside the box, why not experiment with different images and sizes?

When I hand someone my custom business card, I *always* get a reaction…and most of the time it’s positive. Even if our conversation wasn’t especially memorable, I can count on my card triggering a bit of recognition a day, week or month later. Sure, the words that come out of my mouth may be boring, but who can forget this face?

Don’t we all want to stand out? Don’t we all want to be remembered? While unconventional, my custom business cards are both professional and quirky – actually, they’re a lot like me.

That’s why I say that printing your face on a business card is NICE.

What do you think? Am I participating in an exercise in vanity? Am I being more foolish than innovative? Should Patrick Bateman invite me over for a conversation on 80s pop music? I want to hear your thoughts.

Coming tomorrow: an analysis of who should be running your company’s social media community.

Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume


NAUGHTY OR NICE: Listing Your Klout Score on Your Resume

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the first of my five reviews.

These days, you don’t have to troll much on the internet to find someone ranting about Klout. Though it was widely well received upon launch, an increasing number of critics are popping about of the woodwork, declaring the online influence metric unethical and even opting out of the rating system. Still, as long as research points to a clear correlation between high Klout scores and CTR, page views, inbound links, etc, it’s safe to say the controversial service isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

Since I try to update my resume annually (even when I’m happily employed), I recently considered adding my modest Klout score to the standard name, address, contact information section. I already list my LinkedIn custom URL, which I know has been accessed by prospective employers in the past. Why not, I wondered, also let hiring managers know that I have been independently rated as having an “above average” online influence?

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one pondering that question, because last week I stumbled upon the #happo (Help a PR Pro Out) Twitter chat and the “Klout on the resume” issue was raised. To my surprise, it seemed like the majority of chatters thought listing one’s Klout score on a resume was a bad idea…and a few people went so far as to suggest it could hurt a prospect chances to secure an interview or get hired.

Why the overwhelming sentiment against Klout?

After reading his Tweets, I engaged Arik Hanson to get some answers. Arik, whose website offers some excellent PR content, was kind enough to simplify his take into this 140-character bite: “[Klout] A) is not entirely reputable/credible, B) screams “look at how cool I am”, and C) has little/nothing to do w/job performance.”

I pressed Arik further, asking him if his opinion would change if he were hiring for a job that required social media savvy (a community manager, for example). Wouldn’t a Klout score then be a good metric for evaluating applicants? Arik said that, for him, it still would not be valuable…but he deferred to Amber Naslund for her expert advice.

Amber, a social strategist and author, confirmed Arik’s take. She explained that “Community management success does not equal volume of activity, which is what [Klout] tracks.”

Since the Klout debate has only just begun, and early public opinion seems to be decidedly against, I have decided to forgo the addition of my score on my 2012 resume.

So if you’re keeping score at home, kiddos, listing your Klout score on your resume? That’s NAUGHTY.

What do you think? Has anyone had any positive or negative experiences listing a Klout score on his or her resume? So far, I’ve only heard about theoretical…but I’d love to know if anyone stumbled across this in real life.

Stop back tomorrow for an examination of a thoroughly modern take on personalizing your business cards.

CAPTION CONTEST: Yo Yo Ma

Last night, the Chicago Community Trust threw a party commemorating its 96th anniversary. As befits such a prestigious institution, many A-listers showed up, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and celebrated cellist Yo Yo Ma.

A photo of the latter has begun to circulate the interwebs today, and before the context is known, I’d like to host a caption contest. Here’s all you need to know: yes, that’s really Yo Yo Ma. Yes, he’s on the bathroom floor. And yes, that’s a wombat.

Photo via Peter Sagal

Best caption wins an as-yet undetermined prize…and my eternal respect. Post your caption in the “reply” section below!

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UPDATE 12/15: There’s a YouTube video (of course)!

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UPDATE 12/26: OK, I’m calling it. For the quality and quantity of his submissions, Matt Boresi is our #YoYoWombat caption contest winner. Matt is a Chicago-based Opera and Musical Theatre professor and librettist. To learn about his stuff, visit hilliardandboresi.com, or follow him on Twitter @unclerocco (17 years and over is best) for general musings.

Don’t Thank Me for ‘Favoriting’ Your Tweet

NEWS FLASH: there’s a lot of mean spirited activity on the internet. People and brands – especially popular ones – are easy targets for “haters” and “trolls” who enjoy nothing more than being part of destructive mockery. If social media is truly about social interaction, you’d think I’d be in favor of any effort to exhibit good manners during online interactions. And that’s true…with one exception.

For the love of all that’s holy, don’t thank me for “favoriting” your Tweets.

Like many social media addicts, I check Twitter dozens of times throughout each day. It’s not uncommon for hundreds of Tweets to have filled in my timeline between visits and there’s no way for me to click on every link and read every story without being completely unproductive in my offline life. My solution: click “favorite” on those tweets that seem especially interesting, then read the links when I have time to digest them. Pretty logical, right?

Yet recently, perhaps in response to the growing anti-social masses, I’ve received more and more “Thank you for favoriting my Tweet” mentions. Besides the superfluous verbiage on my timeline, these people are missing the point – I favorited your Tweet because you shared solid content…don’t go wasting my time now!

There is obvious value in thanking someone for a ReTweet or mention, because that’s an intentional interaction. When someone RTs you, they promote you and your brand across their network…it is validation, acceptance and applause. When someone favorites your Tweet, however, you can’t know their motives.

Like most things social media, a little help from Inspector Google revealed I’m not the first to think about what a favorited Tweet really means. Mark Suster polled his followers and found that 90%+ use “favorite” like I do – as a way to save something to read later. 5% said to really “like” something (the way folks commonly use Facebook’s “like” feature) and 5% said “a bit of both.”

My own informal Twitter research yielded similar results. Tweeps Jennifer Price and Nick Savarese both said they use the favorite button as a bookmarking tool so they can read links later. Jen, a really smart philanthropy consultant and blogger, said she stopped using the favorite button because “I was getting so many ‘thanks for liking/supporting’ type of tweets” that were “creeping me out.”

Yes, my sample size was hardly reflective of the vast Twitterverse, and Suster admits that his was far from a comprehensive study. Yet I think the answers we both found are a fair representation of how people use the Twitter favorite button.

If we’re all simply favoriting Tweets as a way of adding something to our to-do list, is that really worthy of a thank you? Are the thankers simply overcompensating for widespread anti-social behavior? Are they desperately seeking validation? Or perhaps I’m being too harsh on them? Should good manners always be welcomed, no matter what?

What do you think?

Facebook and the Zombie High School Reunion

Mrs.matthewsm1th’s high school class celebrated its 10 year reunion last weekend, but they did so without my better half. “Why would I pay $200 to hang out with people I never really liked?” she reasoned. “Especially when Facebook tells me everything they’re all doing for free.”

I had a nice little rant planned about how reunions have been killed by the proliferation of social networks, but some Google research proved that I’m hardly the first to come to this conclusion. Instead of regurgitating the same old anecdotal stories and cherry picked stats, I thought I’d instead offer a few tips to the reunion industry to help it come back from the dead.

You know, like a zombie (and you thought the title was all about search engine optimization).

If you’re part of the organizing committee for your high school reunion, here are five ideas you can implement to ensure that Facebook doesn’t drain the life blood out of your guest list:

1. Real Life Superlatives – whatever happened to your high school class’s “Most Likely to Succeed?” Did he launch a successful internet startup and sell it to The Man for a cool $500 million? Or did he drop out of college and focus full time on fantasy sports management from his parents’ basement? At your next reunion, recognize the guy or gal who actually DID succeed and watch as the registration list fills up with Wall Street, Silicon Valley and lottery winner types. (TARGET DEMO: Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerds!)


2. Arm Wrestling Contest – OK, so maybe the life success barometer won’t entice too many blue collar types to attend, but a physical challenge? Sign me up, coach! TARGET DEMO: jocks and the “Jersey Shore” types. Plus, anyone who likes jokes about Lincoln Hawk.


3. Who Wore it Best? – inspired by the asinine and ridiculously popular feature in US Weekly, a panel of catty class fashionistas reviews reunion styles and passes judgement. TARGET DEMO: women who make themselves feel better by saying nasty things about other women. Also known as 98% of women.


4. Baby-Free Zone – most of the people with whom I went to high school have kids…and most of those people use their kids’ faces as their Facebook profile picture. No more passing around iPhones or making the unwed/barren feel bad about their disposable income and regular sleep schedules. After all, reunions should be about the people, not the procreations. TARGET DEMO: the childless…and the people who hate their own kids.


5. Embrace a Cause – did you really think a philanthropy-inspired blog could leave off a philanthropy angle? Each guest picks one cause close to his or her heart. $10 of everyone’s registration fee gets pooled together and, at the end of the night, one charity is selected at random to receive the funds. TARGET DEMO: anyone with a heart.

Got any more Zombie Reunion ideas? Please share them below.