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No, Not Everything Relates Back to Social Media

May 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Please note: This post originally showed up on my personal blog.

As a few of my colleagues have written on this blog, social media has been blowing up ever since the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death a few days ago (although I don’t think “blowing up” is necessarily an appropriate term, given the victim). Searches on Google for Bin Laden went up by over 1,000,000% after the story broke of his demise. It was the single most-tweeted event in Twitter’s short history. Overnight there were tens of thousands of blog posts analyzing the mission, giving opinions on the ethics of it, and mostly celebrating the death of this terrorist leader.

However I have come across a few blog posts that have tried to somehow relate his death to social media or digital marketing. I find this to be completely reprehensible and unethical. In a clear attempt to grab hits during the hottest news event of the past decade, people are trying to write about the lessons that marketing professionals can learn about the mission to capture or kill Bin Laden and even the lessons that can be learned from his death itself. These are the same people who try to write about what social media managers can learn from Lady GaGa’s latest single or Justin Bieber’s world tour. They use weak arguments and far-fetched comparisons in order to write these posts in a thinly-veiled attempt to get as many page hits as possible. As I wrote about earlier, Paul Gillin says that “hits” is merely a term for “how idiots track success,” and in this case I can’t help but think these are the exact same idiots to whom Paul was referring.

Allow me to step off my pedestal for a second and say that I don’t think that in all cases these bloggers are bad people, or even bad writers, but merely people who thought they had an idea for a good story and decided to run with it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it seems in more cases than not, these posts are simply an attempt to latch onto the news story of the week and garner an extra few page visits. If I wanted to I could write posts with titles like “What Megan Fox’s Leaked Sex Tape Can Teach us About Social Media” and sit back as my blog hits set all time highs, but the I’m positive that the slimy lack of morals would be so potent it would somehow turn my future children into serial killers.

An image search for "smug" returns a picture from American Psycho. Coincidence?

So please, for the love of all things that are good and pure and true in this world, stop trying to relate every flavor of the week back to social media or digital marketing. These are powerful tools that have changed the way we think about business, journalism, social interaction, and countless other things; let’s not exploit it’s power in order to feel good about ourselves for a brief moment. Getting all those hits might swell your head a bit, and you might end up dislocating your shoulder patting yourself on the back so much, and then you won’t be able to write about anything. Which may not be a terrible thing.

Categories: Uncategorized

Social Media Supplements, Not Replaces, Traditional Media

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Note: This post originally appeared on my personal blog.

I participated in a Twitter chat last week hosted by @fabian_boehm under the hashtag #socialcan where we talked about some general social media topics, including how honestly people read blog posts before posting their opinions about them. One of the questions posed was “Do you think social media will ever replace traditional news?” I responded that I didn’t think traditional media would ever go away and that social media would just enhance the news experience. Unfortunately in 140 characters it’s hard to get your whole point across, so I thought I might write this post and elaborate a bit.

When Captain “Sully” Sullenberger expertly landed a plane in the Hudson River and evacuated every passenger safely, it was spread around Twitter before any traditional news team even caught wind of it, just because one person near the crash happened to have a smartphone with them and took pictures and tweeted about it instantly. This event caused some people to declare that social media was on it’s way to replacing traditional news sources, but I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

That mustache alone accounted for half of the saved lives.

Let me start by saying I wholeheartedly believe newspapers are on their way out. Not the organizations themselves, but the notion of printing news on physical paper. That business is a sinking ship, with advertisers pulling out at a rapid rate and daily/weekly papers closing down every day. Kick and scream all they want, these newspapers have to come to grips with the fact that news is freely available on the internet and always will be. On top of that, online news can be updated as stories unfold and aren’t a day old, like their dead tree counterparts. Paywalls for online news sites may seem like a good idea, but as the New York Times recently found out, there are always going to be ways around those.

Having said all that, we will always need traditional media sources for reliable information. The way I get my news is either by perusing news sites like CNN, The Guardian or any other number of free resources. When I see news stories on my Twitter feed I click through to them and if they’re behind a paywall, chances are there’s a free version of it on another publication. If a blog reports on a story, I take it with a grain of salt and try to get the story from a reliable news source. We can’t forget that journalists are trained and paid to objectively report news (except for a few of those Fox News types) and that should always be our #1 source for credible information. Blogs are for opinions. Social media will never replace traditional news because they’re two separate entities that can work in perfect harmony. Using these tools in the correct way will turn you into an all-knowing current events rock star, just like you always wanted to be.

Categories: Uncategorized

Marketing and Star Wars

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Note: This is from a post I wrote last week.

If there’s one movie trilogy that has taught me more lessons than I could ever possibly hope to absorb, it’s Star Wars. Parallels can be drawn to one’s own life in almost every scene from the original three movies. Don’t get me started on Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith, I’ll just get angry. I mean, seriously, has there ever been a bigger disparity between quality of movies? One could argue Grease and Grease 2 had a large gap in enjoyability, and from what I hear Godfather 3 was a pile of crap, but nothing will ever break my heart like the first time I heard Jar-Jar Binks’ voice. George Lucas, I love you, but I hope you burn in Hell for creating Jar Jar Binks.

 

I can't stress enough how much I hate Jar Jar Binks

Here are a few lessons I believe marketing professionals can gleam from the three greatest movies ever made, and make no mistake, these are the three greatest movies ever made, according to people who love awesome stuff.

  1. Let the Wookie win – In this case, I am referring to the notion of picking one’s battle. A small, insignificant argument over minor details in a campaign can turn into big problems if you constantly push back. Let the Wookie, or in this case your client, win a small argument, even if you know you are right. This will make them happy, and happy clients make for fun work. This goes doubly true if your client also happens to be a Wookie.
  2. “There is no try” – This famous line by Yoda was a major turning point in Luke’s Jedi training on Dagoba. Trying is not enough, especially when you’re working on a deadline and you need an answer. I don’t know of a single client who would be satisfied with an answer of “we tried” when explaining why none of their latest marketing efforts show any improvement. That’s the difference between Jedi Masters and young Padawans. Jedis get results.
  3. Make sure she’s not your sister before you kiss. Now hear me out on this one. Besides being very good advice for anyone on a first date, this can also draw parallels in the professional world. You want to make sure anyone you go into business with isn’t related in some way to an old client or a competitor or anyone else that could draw bad blood. Negative vibes always find their way into an office, let’s try to limit them as much as possible
  4. Always keep your mentor’s words close to your heart – Whenever Luke was facing a difficult task he would close his eyes and hear Obi Wan Kenobi speak words of wisdom to him. This always calmed him down and helped him accomplish his goals. In your own life you are going to meet people who give you amazing advice, and you’ll want to make sure you remember it. You never know when you’re going to need to recall it to save your own butt (or a princess’).

May the force be with you.

(Sorry ladies, I’m taken).

Categories: Uncategorized