Sword and the Script

Four under-recognized but entirely useful social networks

New social networks used to be greeted with enthusiasm – Friendster, Friendfeed, MySpace.  Each one got a little better, gained users, then fell off the radar.  Today the big three – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – dominate with eyes on Google+ to see if it’s going to make it.

Even so, there are a number of smaller networks that follow a path of launch, traction, an explosion in media coverage, and then they settle into something of a slower growth pattern.

There was a time, for example, a while back when you couldn’t flip open your RSS reader without seeing Quora in the headlines.  Long before its Android application or Facebook’s acquisition, Instagram too had this trajectory where hobbyist techies propelled the network, or app, or whatever we’re calling it these days, into the mainstream.  Pinterest is enjoying this lift right now.

Sometimes a network makes it and some settle comfortably into their niche.  Quora is one I think fits this category.  When I first logged in, I was addicted, quite literally losing sleep in fascination.  Quora in my view has settled a bit, but it’s still interesting and useful.

I think Instagram would have followed a similar path if it hadn’t been acquired.  There’s enough photographers and wannabe photographers that enjoyed the tool.

Despite the buzz it’s getting now, I don’t think Pinterest is going to make itRead More…

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Social media comments: abuse of a writer

Big name tech bloggers.  You either love them or hate them.   I suppose there’s a third option:  love and hate at the same time.

These guys and gals can be subject to a lot of criticism.   Old school journalists cite their quick posts as cavalier and lacking thoroughness. Entrepreneurs tackle their opinions.  Everyone keeps the traffic flowing.

I was taken aback today by the sheer viciousness of the commentary following MG Siegler’s link on Google+ to a blog post he published about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram.  It appears to me he’s turned comments off on his blog, but there isn’t a way to do that for Google+.

I won’t rehash the vitriol here; you can review them on the link above, but suffice to say MG’s been called every name in the book in response to what I thought was a pretty good post. Read More…

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Can PR Support Thought Leadership? (Or Are They Mutually Exclusive?)

Note: This guest post is by Grant Crowell (see bio below), a freelance writer who I met through Twitter and recognize as a savvy contributor to ReelSEO which online video and its impact on search marketing – two areas of growing importance to PR pros.

>>> Recently I came across a rather intriguing debate on if public relations (PR) deserves to be associated as a means of providing thought leadership. My interest originally perked up when I came across a quote Forbes.com contributing writer and business analyst, Haydn Shaughnessy, who’s provided extensive coverage on thought leadership in the social enterprise:

[Thought leadership] is not PR… it has been confused with PR – but it is not relevant to what we understand by public relations. Thought Leadership is not about controlling perceptions – it is about leading them. But leading them in tangible ways. It is not content fodder to bolster the brand. It is all about planning and advocating a route to a new way of doing business, and in ways that reflect well on everybody involved.” Read More…

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Smart things: benevolence and fiascos 4.7.12

I’ve become a pretty avid scuba diver, with 70+ dives under my belt, and as you can probably tell from the many photos I use for this blog (that’s a photos of a giant Grouper nearby), but I’m working on another type of diving:  skydiving.  Uncle Sam has trained me to mountain climb and rappel from helicopters, but I never could get jump school out of him, so I’ve decided to do it myself.

While I’ve gone tandem, there’s something about that leap of faith at 13,000 feet – with a 40 second freefall – when you’re on your own.  I’m a firm believer that adversity, challenges…fear of bouncing off the earth…they build character.  There’s nothing wrong with a little fear – it keeps you on your toes.

At any rate, I’ve been delayed twice this week due to weather – thunderstorms one day and high winds the next.  But perhaps tomorrow, with some gentle westerly winds, I hopefully will knock out both Category A & B dives.  Can the Easter Bunny deliver some clear, calm sunshine to Virginia? Warmth would be nice too.  Word in the hanger is it’s about 15 degrees up there right now.  You can read a post about my tandem dive, with a viral marketing twist here.

And smart things for the week:  Read More…

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Why companies are more prone to social media crisis

 Why would a business deflect the opportunity to speak to customers?

I got an email today, no two, from vendors.  You know the kind…the emails from no-reply@company.com.

Digital River sent me one today that closes by saying, “This email message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.”  Likewise, Dominion, who has had social media crisis events previously, wrote “Please do not reply to this message; it is simply a courtesy reminder.”

Companies are full of tactics like this – the endless phone tree mazes of press this number or that number – that customers must navigate in an endeavor to reach a live human being.  It’s a waste of time.  No wonder so many customers turn into social media complainers.

Just yesterday, PR Daily’s Michael Sebastian wrote a post titled, For brands, it’s the Teflon Age of PR disasters.  He begins by saying, “Mini-public-relations crises flare up constantly” – and that’s true, but there’s a cause.  I’m suggesting when companies send emails from no-reply addresses, it’s logical to wager that’s a systemic indication that that company is also going to be prone to online flare ups. Read More…

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Lessons from migrating from Blogger to WordPress

Though a relatively late bloomer to the blogging community, there are several reasons why I blog, one thing that stands out for me in hindsight is how important a decision it is to choose a blogging platform.  For this blog, my personal blog, this blog, I’ve used Blogger since my first post in 2009 but in the past couple weeks I’ve made the leap to WordPress.

Blogger is easy.  It’s simple.  It’ll allow you sound control over your blog’s style, theme and personality.   However, because it’s simple, it misses many of the new innovations a more professional platform offers.

Google simply hasn’t devoted the resources to keep Blogger current since it acquired the company in 2003.  For example, you cannot write custom URLs for your blog posts in Blogger.  It’s a simple feature, incredibly important for SEO, yet it hasn’t been rolled out.

I’ve considered migrating to WordPress for a long time and as I tip-toed to the edge, Google would announced new features that made me think they were turning it around. That made me pause. Read More…

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7 insights from a social media marketing study

The Social Media Examiner is out today with its 4th annual survey of social media marketing; 3,800 marketers answered the survey.  Thanks to Adam Sherk for the tip.

Statistically valid?  Perhaps not, but it’s an impressive number of respondents and provides a solid indication of how things are shaping up.  To that end, some of the outcomes are equally impressive. Several things jumped out at me:

1. Social media remains important to business.  No surprise here that 83% of marketers agreed or strongly agreed that social media was important to business.  What was surprising is that 54% of solo business owners strongly agreed with this statement.  That is small shops, with limited time and resources, see the most opportunity in using social media tools.  Is that because they are low cost, or because they are valuable? Read More…

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Three PR lessons from April’s fools

By virtue of sheer numbers, April Fool’s Day must be growing its marketing spend each year.  It’s got a long way to go to catch up with the monetization of Christmas, which for retailers now starts before Thanksgiving, but the Web was alive last Sunday, April 1st, with the marketing of fools.

Google ran about a dozen such pranks (round up), BMW introduced a driverless running coach, surely you heard about Richard Branson’s trip to the earth’s core, and even the media got in on it when Forbes declared Mitt Romney had exited the race for the Republican nomination. I don’t think Forbes will be getting any exclusives from the Romney camp.

Of all the jokes, gimmicks and playfulness two stood out for me:  PinPal’s social media dating experiment and PR pros on strike.   I’ll skip the latter, because I’ve said all I think I’m going to say about that here for now; if you really want to know what I think about the root of PR’s problem, read this post or this follow-up.  Here’s the skinny on the former:  Read More…

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Smart things: measurement, crisis and bad PR 3.31.12

Back in town.  Back to blogging.  Back on track this week, after a brief hiatus, to a weekly “smart things” post.  Celebrating the new template and migration to WordPress from blogger. There’s still a few bugs to be worked out, but it’s a success in my book.  I plan to do a post next week and share some of the thoughts I have after going through the process.  Hint:  WordPress is way better!

The photo nearby?  That’s a 36k view of the Sinai Canal at the tip of the Red Sea, shot from a Boeing 747 (my freedom bird home) with a little help from Instagram.

Here’s this week’s smart things:

1.  Boiling down measurement.   Einstein is often cited as saying, “Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.”  That’s the point I take from Denise O’Berry, a long time small business writer, in her post Are You Measuring the Right Thing?  We should measure so we can make decisions; we make decisions so we can improve;  Denise boils it down to a few smart sentences:

You place an ad in the newspaper. One thousand people read the ad. And you consider it a   success even though no one bought your product or service. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Read More…

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Is Google-bashing useful?

Yesterday Google announced Account Activity a new feature designed to show users data across all their user accounts.  I’d venture to guess this is a response to growing criticism about search giant’s efforts to unify all of its services – an effort that began with Google+.

For example, AllThingsDigitial wrote recently that Google hasn’t explained why users would want a unified online identity.   It strikes me as rather intuitive (although there’s a case for diversification as well), but a week later, Google announces account activity; a step to respond to the critics.  Read More…

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