Category Archives: Blogging

Social Media Curriculum: Beginner or Advanced?

Companies are all over the map in their embrace/avoidance of blogs and other social media. Some, especially tech firms, have given virtually free reign to their employees to launch blogs and talk directly to customers. Others are paralyzed by concerns over governance issues and the possibility that some corporate blogger will disclose something that doesn’t adhere to corporate policy or catches the probing eyes of the SEC.  

Even the experts can’t agree on how to approach corporate blogging. In the true spirit of this new medium, a curriculum of sorts has organically sprung up for social media marketing. Start with Jeremiah Owyang, a Forrester analyst who posted on the “three impossible conversations for corporations” (1. Asking for Feedback; 2. Saying Positive Things about your Competitors; 3. Admitting You Were Wrong.) Good, solid advice for the social media novice. 

David Churbuck retorted that those tips are way too basic to be useful for most corporate marketers, who he believes are past the Blogging 101 stage and are seeking more advanced education:

This corporate blogging stuff isn’t a two headed chicken in the freak tent anymore. This is mainstream baby. Anyone writing posts about “impossible” corporate conversations has to step it up – talk about the serious stuff, like – contravening corporate policy by privately resolving a blogged customer support issue and having the blogger publically state the solution and thereby set a precedent for all future complaints. Let’s get into that one and you’ll earn my respect.

Challenged to provide his own advice (as someone who lives the stuff daily), Churbuck offered a couple of Blogging 201 primers: one on the risks of a no-questions-asked blogger appeasement strategy, the other a broader list of 10 topics that he’d like to see more discussion about:

  1. Tool and platforms
  2. Pronouns
  3. Metrics
  4. Rogue SMM
  5. How to do SMM/SEO right
  6. Going Uplevel
  7. Organizational Ownership
  8. One vs many
  9. Review mechanism and buddy systems
  10. The politics of being a know-it-all

The pundit and the practitioner have both agreed to dig into these and other social media marketing topics over the next few months, which is good news for any marketer trying to get his or her arms around this brave new world of “customer engagement.”

Of course, any curriculum would be incomplete without some backround reading: I’ve provided a bit of that with a dusted-off interview I did in 2005 with Lenn Pryor, who created the Channel 9 website for Microsoft in 2004 that serves as a touchstone for current social media marketing.

Nielsen’s Top Trends of 2007

If it’s December, that can mean only one thing: an endless stream of Top 10 lists. Some interesting tidbits from Nielsen’s look at what it considers the year’s top media, consumer and advertising trends:

  • Top TV Program “Buzzed” About Online: My Name Is Earl (No. 10 on the list: Battlestar Gallactica. Battlestar Gallactica???)
  • Top US Market for Adults Who Have Read/Contributed to a Blog within the Past Month: Austin
  • Top 3 Consumer Packaged Good Sold in US Retail Stores: Carbonated soft drinks ($17.6 billion), Milk ($12.8 billion), Cigarettes ($7.8 billion)
  • Top US Advertiser (by US Spending on Traditional Media): Procter & Gamble ($2.6 billion). Question: Why measure just traditional media?

The full list is downloadable here.

New Blog Alert: Business and Networking

Former CMO mag colleague Constantine von Hoffman has a new blog called Business and Networking, which if you knew Con or follow his other online exploits would immediately conclude that he’s playing it way too straight with the name. Anyhoo, he has a nice post today on the evolution of social networking from standalone site to online feature, keying off a post by Wired’s Chris Anderson. Con talks about the folly of businesses jumping on the social networking bandwagon without considering the need to provide good content as a hook for snagging like-minded enthusiasts:

Content/information that is aimed at a specific — not general — market. People already know where to go connect with everyone, now they need a place where they can connect with someone in particular. But don’t throw up a site and say it’s for Left-Handed Truffle makers and expect the Left-Handed Truffle makers to come flocking to you and provide all the content. Saying you’re aimed at a group is not enough. You have to give that group something beyond the ability to share videos, etc. That something is some sort of information.

As I pointed out a few months ago, I agree that the next big social networking movement will be toward niche/special-interest groups, not full-blown, category-owning destination sites like MySpace or Facebook. And as I noted on Con’s post, businesses can succeed as facilitators for users who share common interests, but they can’t force-feed community to their customer base.

‘Fake Steve Jobs’ Blogger Outed

The author of the funniest blog on the planet, Fake Steve Jobs, was unmasked today by the New York Times. The writer is Dan Lyons, a former PC Week colleague who’s now a writer/editor with Forbes. Quoth Lyons via the NYT:

“I’m stunned that it’s taken this long,” said Mr. Lyons, 46, when a reporter interrupted his vacation in Maine on Sunday to ask him about Fake Steve. “I have not been that good at keeping it a secret. I’ve been sort of waiting for this call for months.”

Lyons is now getting plenty of buzz for his efforts. Tech bloggers have turned from speculating on who the author was (pre-exposure) to alternately praising Lyons’ wit or castigating his hypocrisy. Me, I’m firmly in the pro-Fake Steve camp; the writing is brilliant, the posts laugh-out-loud funny. I can’t wait to read the book.

The Blog as Public Record

Back when I had a corporate job, we used to tell employees, Don’t put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t want forwarded to another person. The blog has streamlined that principle: no one has to forward your blog posts, because they’re already there, naked,  for anyone and everyone to see (and possibly take offense to). David Churbuck reminds us of this in a post about his interactions with a journalist; even though he did a phone interview with the reporter, the scribe found a juicier quote from is blog and chose to use that in the upcoming article. David’s conclusion:

Hence, if I continue to blog in the same voice and tone, I can expect to get quoted saying that things bluntly suck or rock, or that  the best use of Second Life is trying to get virtually “laid”, or that X is a moron, Y a frigtard, and Z a knuckle-dragging mouth breather. This gives me pause, particularly since I tend to put a different filter on my spoken utterances in the presence of a reporting reporter. 

The concept of blog as public record also should give pause to nitwits like this guy, who was blogging anonymously (or so he thought) while he was a defendant in a medical malpractice suit. Apparently he was providing a running commentary of the trial:

In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff’s case and the plaintiff’s lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.

Nice strategy. After admitting under questioning that he was the blogger named Flea, the defendant settled the case the next morning – for what the Boston Globe reported to be a “substantial” fee.

We’re just beginning to see the courts address the issue of libel as it relates to blogs. The Media Law Resource Center is keeping a tally.

Libel, slander, disclosure of trade secrets – those are the things that corporate marketers and lawyers freak out about when deciding whether their executives or other employees should launch a blog. Traditionalists will no doubt use any news of blogger lawsuits as proof points against unfettered corporate blogging.

That’s an overreaction. The spontaneity of blogs provides a refreshing departure from heavy-handed oversight from marketers who expect everyone to stay “on message” and from corporate lawyers who see potential lawsuits around every corner. But bloggers – regardless of whether they’re on their own or representing their company’s brand – have to be smart about what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. In other words, don’t expect that no one will notice or care about what your write because it’s “just a blog.” 

Obligatory Cross-Link: The New Rules of Marketing and PR

David Meerman Scott has just published his latest book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and was kind enough to include me on his list of acknowledgements. In Blogistan, that means I am required to link back to his post and also publish the list of all the other bloggers to whom he gives a virtual shout out:

As I told David, I look forward to reading the book and will post my thoughts about it here once I’m done.  

Anti-Buzz Marketing

Not a new story, but I read this morning that the organizers of this year’s Pan American Games, the Olympics-like competition among countries in the Western Hemisphere, are prohibiting athletes from blogging from the July event in Brazil. These forward-thinking leaders are also strictly limiting the use on the Internet of photographs and video from the games. Given that the Pan Am Games command virtually zero interest in the United States, I can see why these visionaries would take every step to guard against overexposure. To borrow from a true visionary, the Fake Steve Jobs, what a bunch of frigtards.