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5 Social Media Gifts I Want From Santa

Matt Singley and Santa Clause Christmas 2010

All I want for Christmas (besides this creepy photo) is on my Social Media wish list

The holidays are upon us! Some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Solstice, some celebrate Christmas. No matter your preference, I think we can all agree it’s a great time to reflect on the year behind us, be thankful for what we have today, and look to next year with hope and expectations.  Given the spirit of the season, I’ve put together a little list of things that I’ve asked Santa Clause for this year…in social media.  It’s a crazy list for sure, but if my 5 year old son can ask for a trip to the moon (and expect it to happen) I can dream big too!  I’m going to put out a plate of extra-special cookies and hope that ol’ Saint Nick brings me…

  • Hyperlinks within Tweets. Can you imagine having an extra 20 spaces or so (that’s what a typical bit.ly link takes up) to say whatever you want? Instead of a tweet looking like this: “Check out this post I wrote about the upcoming Facebook Page Admin Controls and let me know what you are looking fwd to http://bit.ly/g7B3Zc” (exactly 140 characters) it would look like this: “Check out this post I wrote about the upcoming Facebook Page Admin Controls and let me know what you are looking fwd to the very most y’all!” (still 140 characters but with more room to chat!)
  • Robust Admin Controls for Facebook Pages. I saw a sneak peak of them a while back when Facebook accidentally rolled out some new changes (you can see what I saw here) and it was definitely a step in the right direction.  Still, I would like better Insights (analytics) and the ability to ban users from a page without just flagging them.  I don’t want to wait for somebody at Facebook to *maybe* get around to it at some point. I get REALLY tired of the “first” and “gay” comments that go up on large pages all the time, but I have no tolerance for users that use hate language, attack individuals, constantly swear or link to porn
  • Overlay for YouTube videos. No, not just annotations, I want to be able to overlay the videos with graphic images.  You know…put a floating logo in the bottom corner (clickable of course), insert a graphic in the background…neat things like that. Sure, I can do this in a video editor then upload, but I would like to use full controls within YouTube proper so I can make cool SWF commands happen
  • Lists for friends in Foursquare. I treat Foursquare in a similar way as Twitter but with slightly tighter control.  Knowing that, I have a lot of “friends” on Foursquare that I would like to break into smaller groups so I can check on them in a more controlled and manageable way.  Kind of like Twitter Lists, but for Foursquare.  Foursquare Lists, anyone?
  • Dynamic backgrounds on Twitter. Everything else with Twitter has advanced over time…why not the backgrounds? Since the redesign, putting together a nice background (within the whopping 40 pixels on the left for people that view the page on a 1024×768 screen) has been a challenge to say the least.  Instead of outdated CSS and a static image I would love some basic HTML function so I could put up links to my other pages

We’ll see if I’ve been naughty or nice, I’m hoping to get these simple gifts under the virtual Christmas tree this year.  As you head into the weekend (hopefully with loved ones), I will leave you with a paraphrase of a famous work:

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And wrote up the meta tags, then turned with a jerk,

And laying his mouse aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his keyboard, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all coded like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he uploaded out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

What You Need Is Right In Front of You

social media helps you find what customers want

Sometimes what you need to help you make decisions is right in front of you, you just don't want to see it.

You Just Can’t See It. Or you don’t want to see it.

Over the roughly two decades that I’ve been involved with business, either as an entrepreneur, an executive director or a social media strategist, I’ve heard the same frustration voiced over and over again, in almost every market I’ve worked in.  After hours, weeks or sometimes months of seemingly endless meetings, late-night war room strategy sessions and presentation after presentation of focus group reports, eventually the people in charge of making the decisions for the direction of an organization bury their face in their hands and declare in frustration and defeat, “if only we knew what everybody wanted from us, we could just give it to them“.

This has applied to product development, marketing campaigns, service implementation…anything and everything a company (for profit or not) could possibly put together to offer a group of people.  “If only we could find out what our customers want…

Studies are ordered.  Thousands of dollars…or millions…are spent on consultants and burned up in labor hours.  When the senior management team meets to discuss, debate and dissect the data, 20% of the organization’s labor dollars are being paid out for each hour they cannot figure out what their audience wants.  At some point or another, late into the night, one of the people around the tables feels the frustration of a seemingly insurmountable task.  They want to be home with their family, they want to get back to the work they were hired to do instead of trying to figure out puzzles…they want to solve the mystery of how to move forward.  But how? And then the idea is presented:

We should try social media. I know we already have a Facebook and Twitter page, but instead of just posting something once a week, why don’t we ask the people that follow us what they want, and then listen to them? Also, why don’t we pay for a monitoring service so we know what people are saying about us and even our competitors? People are already telling us what they want, we just need to listen, reply and implement”

The silence only last for a moment, before a chorus of “we will lose control of the message” and “we can’t create a forum for negative comments” starts. The boss makes an expression that is a combination of fear and patronization and simply says, “that’s too risky, we’re not doing it” before starting a discussion about when the best time to meet again will be to tackle this impossible chore.

Sometimes what you need is right in front of you, you just can’t see it…or worse yet, you don’t want to see it.

5 Reasons Why Facebook Places Won’t Succeed

Perhaps you have heard of Facebook Places.  If not, your one sentence summary is this: Facebook has introduced a new service that will allow users to “check in” to places and share their location with their friends.

The majority of speculation from those watching this roll out is that it is going to destroy other location based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrll, Loopt, etc.  I don’t think it will, and I’ll give you five reason why I think this.

First, let’s start with one reason, and one reason only,that Facebook Places might succeed: they have a user base of over 500 million.  The sheer volume of that might let it see life into 2011.

Now, on to why I think Facebook Places is nothing short of “meh“.

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The Myth of Social Media Strategy

I’ve spent a lot of time discussing strategy with different groups this week, so it’s fresh in my mind . Good thing, as my title is Senior Director of Social Media Strategy. I’ve also been looking at a lot of requests from potential clients and outside groups that all want a response that includes a “Social Media Strategy”.  The thing is, 99% of the time, they really don’t want a strategy…they want operations and tactics, and we can’t even give those to them because they don’t have goals in place.

Strategy is one of the most overused and misunderstood words in all of marketing, perhaps in all of business.

  • “Build a Facebook sweepstakes application that lets users share and win” is not a strategy…it’s a tactic.
  • “Be the best widget company in the social space” is not a strategy…it’s a mission.
  • “Get 100,000 Twitter followers by the Holiday season” is not a strategy…it’s a goal.

The big short circuit, of course, is that many people aren’t working off of the same page.  They’re not even working out of the same book, because clear and measurable goals have not been set.  If somebody approaches you with a mission to accomplish, and you answer with a lot of tactics, more times than not both sides will be frustated with the outcome because Goals and Strategies have been left out of the process.  The frustration won’t be evident right away, it takes time to realize that the different expectations are worlds apart. Without measurable goals, how do you know if your work will be judged as a victory or a failure?

The big problem with social media strategy, or any strategy for that matter,  is not that it doesn’t exist…it’s that it cannot exist as a stand-alone; it needs other pieces to work.

A social media strategy is not the victory itself, it is the path to victory. But if you don’t know where you are going, how can you plan a way to get there?

The Stats On Internet Pornography

I think everybody knows that pornography is amazingly prevalent on the internet, but sometimes it takes an infograph to really put it in perspective.  Personally, I wish these statistics weren’t so extraordinary, but unfortunately they are, and it is news worthy.  I’m writing about this here because I’m seeing more and more pornography (spam and otherwise) being shared within social networks and I think it’s only going to get worse.

Check out the info-graphic below (I usually call these things data porn, but somehow it just seems a little too pointed in this case), among other things you’ll see that:

  • The average age at which a child first sees pornography online is 11
  • 20% of men and 13% of women fess up to watching porn online at work
  • 35% of all internet downloads are pornograph

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Social Media And A Generation Of Passive Aggressive Users

I’m very fortunate; I have a job that allows me to work with some amazing brands. As such, I get to see a side of social media that many people probably don’t spend a lot of time looking at; comments from other users. A lot of comments for a lot of users. One of the great things M80 does so well is page moderation, and since we handle a lot of accounts that have hundreds of thousands…even millions…of fans on their Facebook pages, we are pretty good at quickly assessing spam, trolling, flaming and all sorts of online behavior.

As much as I dislike the general nastiness that can occur on a brand wall or in comment threads, I have to admit that it really gets to me more than just about anything when it’s done by younger kids. Although it’s aggravating to have to delete or defend against a minor (they even have an acronym…ATYO which stands for “annoying twelve year old”), as a father myself I’m more incensed by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any parental monitoring.

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Facebook Rolls Out More Robust Insights

Facebook announced at F8 They Will Roll Out More Robust Insights and AnalyticsI’m not at the F8 conference today, but I have been reading the news and keeping up with the announcements.  So far, the most exciting stories I have read have to do with Facebook Insights, the dashboard for page admins. If you run a fan page (now called a “like” page, I suppose) for a brand, agency or just for yourself, this is important information.

To date, the Insights have been underwhelming.  They have covered only the most basic information, and as somebody who works with big brands to engage and guide the community, I’ve got to say they have been less than helpful.  It seems that all of that changes today, however.  Facebook has announced “Facebook for Web Sites” and have already published full documentation about it.  The insight to user behavior should be interesting, as Facebook says:

“Once your app is up-and-running, you can get detailed analytics about the demographics of your users and how users are sharing from your application with Insights.

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Mediagazer Aggregates Today’s Must-See Media

Mediagazer media aggregator siteI’m been looking over a new media aggregation site called Mediagazer.  My initial thought was, “great…another aggregator that will simply clutter up a lot of content and put it in a needle-in-the-haystack format”, but those thoughts were dismissed as soon as I really started looking at it closely.

Mediagazer is a new effort from the uber-popular tech sharing community Techmeme, and is their first news vertical in almost four years. It bills itself as a site, “which will focus on the content production and distribution business, organizing topics as wide as journalism, blogging, video production, e-books, and digital distribution technologies”, and sure enough it does all of that.  There are a lot of good content assimilation sites, but I think Mediagazer will stand out as a leader if it can get enough good press early to build momentum.

Mediagazer allows you to share with Twitter or Facebook easilyI really like it’s easy-to-share buttons, with the ability to send information linked to either Mediagazer directly, or the original source of the story.  I think that is a brave and noble feature, most aggregators are trying their very best to drive as much traffic as possible directly to their own site (increase in traffic = increase in ad revenue), so the ability to link directly out is a fairly cool and risky idea. They do have sponsored news aggregation prominently displayed in the right column and halfway down the main page with no signs of traditional banner and display ads…yet. I also like the sharing simplicity, obviously aimed at social networks as the only two options are Twitter and Facebook.  Honestly, those are the only two places I ever share news anyway. Naturally, Mediagazer is also on Twitter, although thus far it appears to simply be a feed from their headlines as opposed to an interactive, engaging account.

I like the navigation and sharing potential from this site, so I’ll give it a try as a news source for a couple of weeks to see if it makes it into my regular lineup.  If you try it out, let me know what you think: is Mediagazer just another news aggregator, or a useful service for finding and sharing information?

Social Media 2010 Predictions

I really do try to stay away from writing “prediction” posts…most of the time you’re not going to be right, and it’s really easy for people to point out what you were wrong about. That said, I’m a bit of a masochist at times so I’m going to post this up here on the first day of 2010 because I think this year will reveal significant evolution in social media. If you are in the field either professionally or as a casual but interested observer I would love to know what you think the next 52 weeks will hold for this new medium of communication.

  1. Agencies will gobble up consultants. This is one of the biggest game changers I think, because a lot of the talent that is freelance now will be on payroll for an agency.  I already saw this starting in 2009 with amazing folks like James Whatley moving to 1000heads and Dave Armano going to Edelmen.  Heck, I even joined forces with M80 and I’m incredibly happy to be there. This change is going to be driven by three forces I think….

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