Archive for September, 2009

Hello gimmick.  Yes, I mean you.  You are a recent headline from one of my email newsletter subscriptions.  And you’re trying to sell me something with a gimmick.  You got me to click through, to open that email.  Which is often the hardest part.  But what made me open it was the fact that you’re using a gimmick to sell social media training.  At it’s fundamental level in my definition of social media, it’s about transparency and value and relationships.  Aka – avoiding the gimmicks.

I applaud you for wanting to bring it to the masses, to show people the ‘do-it-yourself’ way to success and empowerment.  I think that you will probably be successful in driving leads for your courses as well, as gimmicky headlines do often work in email campaigns.  But you’ve struck a nerve with me, setting a precedent for gimmicks in the social media realm by using that as your sales tactic.   I don’t like gimmicks on a good day.  They’re not transparent.  They’re bait.  And again, yes, bait has its place in the world.  But not here.

I understand that you have targets to meet and people to show results to.  But don’t you see?  That’s the part that is changing.  For me, today, those don’t matter.  My ideas and targets and goals have changed.

So, to many, you may still work.  And while you still work you will continue to exist.  But for now, I’m going to try a different road.  One without gimmicks… and see where I end up.

Sometimes it’s just difficult to get a whole idea out in 140 characters or less.  Even in a whole bunch of short bursts of 140 characters or less.  Today is one of those days.

@amacisaac had an interesting tweet earlier today.   Her statement:  FYI: Social media is not a ‘community’.  It’s a technological platform.

My question:  Is she right?

I think it depends on the definition of social media.  To many, social media means Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Myspace and Flickr.  To others, social media means word of mouth.  To me, it means connecting, empowering and sharing.

If social media is Twitter and Facebook, then yes.  Those are not communities.  Those are technological platforms that allow communities to grow around them based on common interests.

If social media is word of mouth, then it’s people dispersing information to their community, so community is involved, but it’s not really part of the definition of social media.

If social media is connecting, empowering and sharing, then it is absolutely all about community.  It’s about creating and participating in many different kinds of communities online and offline.  There are communities that grow around a platform, like Twitter.  Twitterati is an actual term people have identified with.  Folks like @mrrocknroll have built connections with their followers on Twitter, and refer to themselves as ‘Tweeple’.

And then there’s the whole ‘social media community’.  It’s all the people who have an interest in how social media is being used today and the new tools that are being developed to support it.   And it’s made up of all the people, like Angela, who have an idea as to what social media means to them.

Social media, Twitter, Facebook, whatever you’re talking about… they mean different things to different people.  So, just like everything else on the web, there’s no black and white here and there are no rules.  It all depends.  What is it to you?

Dear web people

Posted: September 25, 2009 in Uncategorized

I am a person too. Every morning, my alarm is set for 545. I never actually saunter out of bed until 745…

I never have people over to my apartment. Why? Because I hate cleaning and my place is already a mess.

I don’t make my bed in the morning because I think it’s more comfortable when I crawl into an unmade bed.

I don’t like cooking because I believe food tastes better with the TLC from others.

You’ll rarely find beer in my fridge because I believe the most interesting conversations can be had at the pub down the street.

My space is my own and until I trust you implicitly… You will never see where I live.

I believe that trust is earned. But that a certain amount of trust is necessary without question to foster good relationships and steps forward.

I believe that there is enough good in this world to foster the change we all want to see. And I believe the web and social media will bring us that.

I believe that my belief in the good of humanity is strong enough to promote good from others.

I believe that information wants to be free… And in the next 2 yrs it will be so.

And I believe in myself and in you to inspire the change you want to see in others.

I wrote this blog post, what have you done today to inspire a change in others?

I value a genuine answer over an answer that’s been spun off in a certain way.  I think there are definitely times and places for each case, but when it’s something like ‘What do you like about this?’ or ‘What don’t you like about that?’ I will value the answer that doesn’t sound spun.

This, my friends, is where I think some companies will fall down when they attempt to engage people, whether employees, potential recruits, or the public using social media.  It’s so OBVIOUS when we’re being marketed to.  Social media exploded because people were tired of corporate speak, tired of hearing some wordy answer that didn’t actually tell them anything, or wasn’t reflective of the way things really are.  That’s what I LOVE about where social media and the internet are going to take us.  We get to talk to real people.  And if they sound fake… we can then head in search of an actual real person.  One who will tell me what they think.  It’s at the click of a button.  It’s that easy.

If I wanted to know, for instance, what it was like to work for a company, I wouldn’t go to their careers site.  I don’t trust the spin they put on it.  As well intentioned as it is, I know the kinds of people they look for.  The ones who stand out as good employees.  They’re well spoken, well liked, of all different ages, generally on a good career path… but who would really believe that all of your employees are like that?   It looks great on the company website, and you know what?  That’s probably the right place for it.  After all, there’s a brand to represent.

Now, what about sites like glassdoor.com?  I first came across this site in June, 2008.  I was surprised that employees were allowed to rate their CEOs, submit salary reviews, etc.  All anonymously.  You couldn’t see what others were saying about other companies unless you contributed something about your company.  It’s now about a year and a half later.  The site is still there… and it’s still growing… and everyone can see the reviews. The top of the page now says ‘A free inside look at over 28,000 companies’.  28,000!!!!!

I did a search for reviews for ‘Communication in Calgary’.  There’s a review from a “Shaw Broadcast Services Communications Specialist.  What this person had to say about the company on September 30, 2008 was:

Pros

The leadership team at Star Choice is very accessible. They are genuinely interested in the welfare of their staff and appreciate their contributions. Star Choice, a Shaw company, offers a wealth of advancement opportunities and offers a top-notch benefits package which includes an employee share purchase program, stock options and an educational reimbursement program along with the more traditional health and wellness benefits.

Cons

Somewhat lower than industry standard salaries for some positions. Being a Shaw owned company, the big decisions are often made by stakeholders outside of Star Choice. Promotions are not always given to the best qualified candidate.

Advice to Senior Management

Keep up the recognition. Engaged employees stick around for the long haul.

Now being that it is only one review about Star Choice, and I, being the average person, would probably poke around a bit more  to see if anyone else had similar experiences.  But you know what?  This idea… this being able to seek out independent information on the internet.  It’s not new.  Shocking, isn’t it?  Where’s the first place you go to look for information for a new car you’re buying?  Or maybe you want some reviews on a travel destination?  You look it up online.  And there are THOUSANDS of independent reviews that you use in your decision making process.  If there are enough good reviews, or enough negative reviews, chances are there’s something to them and you’ll most likely take their advice.  If it’s one or two, most people would give it the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to just one bad experience.  We’re all human after all.  But, we’re making our decisions before we ever even go talk to the company directly.  Why?  Because most of them aren’t involved in the conversation.

Now, we’re gaining the same types of reviews for other areas of our lives.  We’re able to make important decisions that we often base on the feedback from others.  How is it any different from asking your neighbour working at XYZ Company how they like their job when you’re doing your job hunt?  It’s not.  If your neighbour said he hated it and was on the hunt for a new job because management was terrible, what’s the likelihood that you would then apply for a job there?  Pretty slim.  What’s the likelihood that you would discourage somebody else from working there?  Much higher.  (Given that you actually trust your neighbour as a source).

So, with enough positive reviews, or enough negative reviews, that becomes the trusted viewpoint.  All areas will eventually follow the same trend as travel and product reviews.  What’s our defense?  Create a positive experience.  And ensure the message you are portraying is actually the message that your customers (employees) would also give.  It’s too easy to poke holes in a message that isn’t backed up by experience these days.

Maybe you’re an employer looking to kick start some new messaging?  Or maybe you know one.  Here’s an idea:  start with your employees.  Find out why they love working for you, and base your messaging on that.  It’s what they’re out there telling people anyway.

A few recent events and blog posts have me thinking about who my trusted sources of information are.  They come from all places, online and offline.  But most recently, the post from @ChrisBrogan LinkedIn Want You to Make INtroductions and an analogy given at the last Third Tuesday Calgary (#ctt) from @shelisrael have me thinking a little bit more.

LinkedIn is giving away copies of Chris Brogan’s new book, Trust Agents to the first people who introduced 2 LinkedIn connections to one another via Twitter.  It’s a great way to easily introduce new people to one another and share your networks.  And only takes a couple of seconds.

Shel Israel talked about how social media is like the conversation over the backyard fence to him, and his connections are like his neighbours.  Over time they build trust and some people become your ‘go to’ people for certain topics.

So, in an effort to share some of my network, I’d like to point you to my first ‘Go To’ sources of information.  If it’s an area you are looking for someone to talk to about, these people are a great place to start!

Music

My first recommendation is @dkachman.  This guy goes to more concerts and knows about more music than anyone else I know.  He’s my first ‘Go To’ guy for new music recommendations and concert alerts.

Words

Whenever I’m in search of just the right word, @juniper_gal is my resource.  That woman has the perfect word for every situation.  If you ever find yourself in conversation with her, pay attention to her choice of words.  They’re picked with care, and come out so beautifully.

Podcasting

There is nobody I’ve met who matches the knowledge and passion for podcasting that you will find in @darylcognito.  Running podcasting bootcamps (the next one is in early November) and generally just being an all around awesome guy, he’s who I would send anyone to looking to start out.

Social Media

For beginners, there really is only one place to start.  I’ve talked about him time and time again (and in the post once already), but seriously, start with @chrisbrogan.

And in some shameless self promotion for a project @rjmcleod and I are heading up, stay tuned to @yycsocmed and @yegsocmed for more localized social media resources.

Alright, that felt kind of good.  I think this may be the new format for my follow fridays.  Perhaps a longer list is in order as I discover more first line ‘Go To’ people.

Who are some of your ‘Go To’ people?  I am looking for a new dentist… or any dentist for that matter.  Any suggestions?  Are they on Twitter?