Why use a screen name?

Why use a screen name?

Screen name – good idea, or no?

I was inspired by this post in Angela Connor‘s blog. If you don’t know Angela Connor, I urge you to check her out; her blog is extremely insightful and is one of my favorites.

Her ideas make a great deal of sense, and I think some of this is why the Blizzard forum experiment in real names for users was such an immediate and egregious flop.

Masks

The ‘net, like it or not, is for many people a place of masks. You pretend to be younger and thinner than you are. Or you pretend to be unmarried. You pretend to be a Klingon. Or you’re a teenager and pretend to be an adult. Or you pretend to be another gender or richer or lovelier or more conservative or whatever.

And the masks can be freeing to many. Perhaps they were freeing when the ancient Greeks donned them while performing “Oedipus Rex” for the first time. I think there is more of a place for them than perhaps we’d all care to admit. Because there seems to be a value to being able to spread war paint (or lamp black) on one’s face, or wear a Halloween costume.

Unreality

screen name
Halloween Costume Close-up (Photo credit: trustella)

And this is not the same as our reality. It is related but not identical. Maybe the librarian who goes out for Halloween dressed as a dance hall girl wants to be known as someone who takes risks (and maybe foolish ones, at that). But when the morning after rolls around, she’s back in the library helping others do research.

Anonymous Commenting

This kind of anonymous commenting allows for something like this. Because the sympathetic guy who’s really seething inside gets to call people out. He gets to be a bully and be an all-around racist jerk (I have worse names, but don’t wish to besmirch my blog). But then he surfs to a different site where he can chat up the ladies with his sensitive New Age guy demeanor. And then when the time to log off comes, he goes home and kisses his wife and plays with his children. And this is all one guy.

Facebook

To comment openly through a full, correct name (usually) medium like Facebook would be to cut off the dance hall girl. And it would stifle the racist jerk, the ladies’ man, and any number of other secret selves in favor of a drab and ordinary world. Even on a news site, which is pretty much the definition of drab unless there’s some sort of a hot story, the jerk, the dancer and the Romeo all want to be free.

Who’s Real?

But we shouldn’t take their opinions as seriously as the real people. Because, even though those personae live in real people’s skins, it’s the real people who vote, marry, pay taxes, work, make the news and are members of our real society.

The trouble is telling them apart and knowing which one is real.

Can you always tell? I bet you can’t. Not always.

screen name

The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition, a Book Review

The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition

The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger is one of those books where you are being given a message.

That message

The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition, a Book Review
Cover via Amazon

A pounding, relentless message.

Here’s a message.

Oh yeah, a message.

Look, a message!

You get the idea.

And what is this grand and glorious message? It is this: Markets are Conversations.

Um, okay. That’s it?

Yeah, that’s it. Oh and by the way, markets are conversations.

You just told me that.

More of it

Yeah, well, they are. Did I mention that markets are conversations? Oh and by the way, marketers and PR people are mean and nasty and awful and they and other typical business people are a vaguely (and not so vaguely) sinister stereotype whereas all of the people (who these typical business people and PR personnel are is somehow not included therein) are righteous, pure, just and true. They are individuals and deserve to be communicated with, and listened to, like all individuals.

Uniqueness?

Like, uh, I’m unique, just like everyone else?

No, no, no! You’re a unique and wonderful and special personal with marvelous gifts and enormous accuracy in understanding good and positive and possible markets, all the while making fun of typical business people who obviously not only do not have a clue but are also, let’s face it, heartless, cold, inaccurate, not listening, not worthy of the time of day or a significant study and otherwise should be ignored and forgotten, left to die on the vine.

But me, I’m a marketing type. The kind you said was evil.

So you are. Well, you’re evil, then.

Cut it out already!

You don’t even realize that I get it, this thing you are talking about, this point you keep dancing around as you keep beating the same old tired drum. Markets are conversations! Okay, great. I get that. And I have read it before although, in fairness, it was likely copying you. But after that — and after repeating this mantra at least a good 16 or so times in your book — what else have you got to say, other than that the creature known as Business as Usual needs to die? Fine, I get that, too. I’ve worked in traditional corporations, and I know that the work there can feel soul-killing. But at the same time, there are people who thrive in such environments, people who are pleasant, intelligent, respected and even, at times, hip.

Out of touch?

But, but, but, those people are supposed to be like Richard Nixon in wingtips on the beach, so cluelessly out of tune with everything that they cannot possibly be reeled in.

Reeled in, to the Cluetrain way of thinking?

And at some point, and of course I am exaggerating, but the bottom line is, the book decries business as usual and stereotypical thinking, yet it turns right around and stereotypes the very people who it claims need to change the most. That is, of course, a lovely and time-honored way to get people to listen to you and change their methodologies to your way of thinking: make fun of them and make them feel small.

Not.

Where is it going?

So somewhere along the line, Cluetrain feels like it lost its way, like it cannot figure out how to be brief. Like it cannot comprehend that talking down to people — while it criticizes business as usual for talking down to people — is more than a little ironic, and that they are not on the happy end of that irony. Like it has almost become the very thing it says not to be: a business method and rule and playbook.

The positives

There are interesting observations in here, to be sure. But they are bogged down by overlong tales of this, that and the other diverting digression. The Internet is full of people who are spouting and selling hokum! Yes, well The Refreshments said that before, and better: the world is full of stupid people. This is not, sadly, news. Oh and big business is not nimble and providing individual attention is lovely and wonderful, but hard to do if you’re very large and/or if the number of individuals you’re addressing is huge. This isn’t front-page material, either.

One nugget

There is one nugget of interest: when you’re dealing with said enormous number of individuals, you generally don’t need to address them all as individuals – you just need to work with a few and the others will see that you care about individuals. And you’re pretty much set there. This makes sense in a Groundswell (a far better book, in my opinion) sort of a way, in that there are more people online who are reading and lurking versus writing or critiquing, so a message to one can be like a message to a thousand.

All of that panning for gold, and only one nugget? Perhaps I am cynical, and I’ve clearly read far too many Internet marketing books lately for my own good, but The Cluetrain Manifesto just left me cold. Although it did, happily, remind me of this video:

2/5

Four Important Social Media Stats

Four Important Social Media Stats

Four Important Social Media Stats for you! This post is, in part, a riff on Four Great Free Tools and Four Important Stats. And I like the important stats. As for the four free tools, I’ll reserve judgment for another day.

Four Important Social Media Stats
Twitter Logo (Photo credit: Jon Gosier)

STAT 1

    • 53% of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets, with 48% of them delivering on their intention to buy the product. (ROI Research for Performance, June 2010) – However does this takes into account what essentially looks like spamming (e. g. buy this stuff!) versus what seems to be more sincere mentions of products, e. g. someone says I love this new Gatorade or I think my New Balance sneakers really make me faster? I know it can be difficult for a large-scale survey of tweets to tell the difference between the two. However, if there is that much of a return, then I figure, the people either know or, perhaps, they just don’t care.

STAT 2

    • The average consumer mentions specific brands over 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. (Keller Fay, WOMMA, 2010) – Just what  does this mean? I mention products all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m touting them. Ugh, I hate what they did to my conditioner! Why did John Frieda have to change it? And that is a far cry from I want some more of that Amy’s Low-Salt Marinara Sauce with Basil – sooo good. Since the stat doesn’t mention whether the mentions went positive or negative, I suppose it’s a corollary to the old saw, that any press is good press. Note: sentiment analysis is better than it used to be, but still has a ways to go.

STAT 3

    • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted — nearly 12 times more — than descriptions that come from manufacturers, according to a survey of US mom Internet users by online video review site EXPO. (eMarketer, February 2010) – This is how viral marketing works, kids. Because if a company can send out its minions to tout a product, even if not 100% positively (and it’s more believable that way, as it doesn’t look like mere puffery), then folks eat that up. Astroturfing Nation, here we come.

STAT 4

    • In a study conducted by social networking site myYearbook, 81 percent of respondents said they’d received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site; 74 percent of those who received such advice found it to be influential in their decision. (Click Z, January 2010) – However, this may be more of a function of the pervasiveness of social sites versus their influence. E. g. I truly only hear from some of my cousins through Facebook. Do I give their opinions more credence than I do passing acquaintances’? Sometimes. But do I get this Facebook-based advice from them because we don’t pick up the phone or send snail mail or meet in person (we’re too far away to do this, anyway). To my mind, this is almost like giving the phone company credit for marketing strategy if we chat on the phone. We don’t. Instead, we use Facebook. I think this is a potential confusion of medium versus message.

So, are social sites really that important? Is Twitter really that targeted? Do consumers really trust their pals more than they do slick, conventional marketers? Probably maybe, not really and yes. And it’s up to the Social Media Marketer to separate the wheat from the chaff with these kinds of stories, and see what’s really going on.

What do you think?

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Five Ways for Charities to use Social Media

5 Ways for Charities to use Social Media

First of all, here are 5 Ways for Charities to embrace the modern and use social media to help them. Because I still love an older great blog post on five possible uses for social media for charities.

5 Ways for Charities to use Social Media
English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I think these were good ideas (the Twitter Twibbon was one of them), I suspect that charities could go further. After all, much of social media is free. And free is one of charities’ favorite words (along with cure, and donation, I suppose).

Some Ideas

First of all, how about using Facebook and LinkedIn to promote charitable events? While these RSVPs are often unreliable (a yes often really means maybe, a maybe means “I might get to it if nothing better comes along” but at least no still means no), this could serve as a way to get the word out.

Or what about keeping donors informed of totals by tweeting them? Hence if a $1,000,000 donation total is desired, how ’bout keeping donors informed on how it’s going by using Twitter? And this would be in place of an old thermometer bar.

So could volunteers check in with foursquare and get badges? Uh, why not? In addition, I’d love a blood donation badge. So long as it wouldn’t be an emergency, well, why not?

How About Another 5 Ways?

Maybe.

I’m sure there are plenty more where that came from. Got any ideas of how charities could use social media? Toss ’em here, if you like.

For more information, see the December 30, 2010 blog post on Social Media Today.

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More Than This

More Than This

As I skip through my online life, I am reminded that so many of us see the world as being divided into online and offline personae.

Managing Your Friends
Managing Your Friends (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

A Division

There are many folks who separate the two, and may even do so successfully. Online friends are online. Offline friends are off, although emails are exchanged, and there may be a Facebook friendship there or an exchange of tweets. But that’s it, right?

But then there’s the moment when a Facebook friend introduces you to another, and it’s for some purpose or another, such as playing Scrabble. Or a LinkedIn connection who you’ve never actually seen – just some networking friend of a friend – suggests coffee.

A Collision

And suddenly the worlds begin to collide.

Who’s online? Who’s off? Does it matter? Should they be separate? Were they ever?

A Confrontation in a Dark Alley

And what about trolls? What are the differences between their online and offline personae? The person who is nasty to you online, do they really behave that way face to face? I’ve got my doubts, but hey, you never know. Maybe they really do have a misshapen nose, from all of the times its been broken by someone they’ve insulted.

A Hug in Person

But most of the time, there is little difference between the online and the offline world. At least, that’s been my observation, when I have met people and have had occasion to hug them in person. Sure, online we have some time to reflect on what we’re going to say. And we can ignore and unfriend and step away from the keyboard. Real life, offline, doesn’t really work that way. But a lot really is similar, and I can attest that it’s a blast to meet people who you’ve never seen before. I have honestly never had a bad experience.

Normal precautions, of course, should be taken. Don’t meet in some unknown, private place. Don’t leave without someone knowing where you’re going. Get information as you can before departing. Don’t be stupid.

But go out and meet ’em. Meetings, gatherings, conventions, whatever you want to call them, they bring online people even closer. It’s a lot harder to flame someone if you know them.

Oh, and I can practically guarantee – once you’ve heard someone speak, you’ll hear their posts in their voice from then on.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

With the end of my first Social Media class came a request for our overall impressions of how things went. Hence, I prepared Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522.

Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

My classmates and I were also tasked with showcasing what we felt was our best work.

I was so very pleased that I had a few works to choose from, but I narrowed my choices down in order to save some space.

My reflections essay included comments about the video and essay portions of Module #4, Module #9, Module #10, Module #11,  and my Final Project; that video is duplicated below.

Module Four was about the Ad Astra Star Trek fan fiction writing community. Module Nine was about the Facebook page that my partner, Kim Scroggins, and I created for our ‘client’, the as-yet undiscovered Rhode Island rock band, J-Krak. Module Ten was about the creation and growth of the Twitter stream that we made for J-Krak. And Module Eleven was all about our less than successful experiments in spreading the gospel of J-Krak to MySpace and Google+ (the former was a particularly abysmal showing. At least our client’s presence on Google+ assured better placement in overall search results).

The class was great fun, and I could not get enough of studying for it. I have never, ever had a course like this before, where I was so into it that I could not wait to study, and I did all of the extra credit because I wanted to, and not because I necessarily needed to. That has never, ever been my experience with a class before this one. This overwhelmingly positive experience has given me the incentive to not only finish my Social Media Certification training, but I am also rather seriously considering going on and getting my Masters’ Degree in Communications, with a concentration in Social Media.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #14 – Final Project ICM 522

Final Project ICM 522

These videos together comprised our final project for Quinnipiac’s Social Media Platforms class, ICM 522.

Final Project ICM 522

At this point in time, I have a short break before starting ICM 524, which is the Analytics class. I am taking it with the same instructor, Professor Eleanor Hong.

In the meantime, here are our project videos.

My partner, Kim Scroggins, went first. I would love it if you could take the time and watch her video, too. We were a true team and really enjoyed working together.

And now here’s my half of the presentation. One of the things that I made absolutely sure of doing was to thank my partner. This was absolutely a team effort and it would have turned out far differently if we had not gotten along as well as we did.

We went over our general experiences with J-Krak and the many social media platforms we tried. We made every effort, I feel, to engage our audience and garner buzz and attention for our ‘client’. We set ourselves up for a rather difficult task, which was to try to get a small measure of fame for a rock band that was not even online in any way, shape, or form when we first started this project.

MySpace was recalled as a failed experiment. Google+, for the most part, was a failed experiment in engagement, but it did help us with improving our search engine optimization efforts. Twitter and our blog were somewhat in the middle. Twitter worked out fairly well as we were able to join the overall conversation. However, the number of our followers remained fewer than the number of people we were following. The blog had an ever-increasing number of followers, but we received few comments. Our best social media platform? Spoiler alert – it was Facebook.

Thanks for watching! Next week, I’ll post my impressions of the class overall.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #13 – Review of the J-Krak Communities

Review of the J-Krak Communities

Once again, this was a week where we did not have to create a video. Instead, we conducted a review of the J-Krak communities that Kim Scroggins and I had created. We compared our efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and MySpace. We also reviewed our efforts in the blogosphere.

Our efforts were all as strong as we could make them (at least, I believe so), but our levels of success were certainly all over the place. We ranged from exceeding our thirty follower requirement for Facebook in about an hour, to nearly no engagement or followers in Google+. Although, in all fairness, the number of views on Google+ was fairly impressive. We were about to join the overall conversation in Twitter. Our experience on MySpace was, we felt, a waste of time. And our blog had a decent following, and the followers were, by the end of the semester, beginning to tip more heavily into the realm of true followers, as opposed to our classmates, friends, and families, who would follow us in order to be nice and help us out, versus people who were truly interested in our message.

Review of the J-Krak Communities

Instead, we wrote up a PowerPoint slide show to get together our strategy for the final two weeks of the semester.

We spent time over the past week performing a lot more social listening and analysis. We grabbed screen shots of all sorts of things which ended up in our final project, which I will post next week.

J-Krak Final Project Presentation

I hope you enjoy our presentation about our review of the J-Krak Communities.

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