Multi Me-dia: Steve 3-D

What’s a Steve 3-D??

Well, this week, I’m going to briefly explain the various identities I maintain on-line, via blogs and here on Twitter. And that’s one of them – the 360 degrees, HD, 3-D version.

In brief, there’s a pharma/healthcare me (@Impactiviti). The there’s the network business me (@ConnectionAgent).  Personal and inspirational stuff, including daily photos: that’s @StevesFree. Finally, there’s @LeadershipChat [shared with Lisa Petrilli] a place where we talk leadership and network around a weekly Twitter chat (8 pm ET Tuesdays).

For me, that’s plenty to keep up with – and it may be rather confusing for you! So, here’s how it works:

All of those Twitter accounts (and corresponding blogs) above are more topical in nature. They are concentrated sources of information and networking contacts so that if you have shared interests in those areas, you can get the “full dose” through those accounts. The people I follow and promote through those accounts are also my equivalent of “Follow Friday” recommendations, by interest area. Think of them more as streams from which to drink, than the get-together on the back deck.

What about interacting, however? That’s @swoodruff, my main Twitter account. Here, I share nuggets from all the different areas of interest, as well as take a more “lifestreaming” approach (today’s wine; family stuff; pix of great food; snarky observations; on-the-fly pictures of stuff; etc.) And here, we talk and exchange and interact. This is my broadest network, and it’s  Steve in 3-D, warts and all.

So, if you just want the simplest approach, find me at @swoodruff and let’s get to know one another. Next,  we’ll give a quick overview of the @Impactiviti account, which is the channel for my entrepreneurial pharma consulting business. If you’re in pharma or healthcare, there you’ll find a more concentrated network of people in the industry, and a higher-proof blend of news and resources.

And, of course, you’re welcome to follow multiple accounts, according to your interests. And if you’re a glutton for punishment….!

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Leadership and Power – Let’s Chat!

Tonight, Tuesday Oct. 12th, will be the inaugural #LeadershipChat on Twitter. If you’ve missed the prior notifications, here is where I announced this joint venture with my co-conspirator Lisa Petrilli. #LeadershipChat will be held at 8 pm ET Tuesday nights, starting today!

Our approach will be to take one highly discuss-able topic, and before the chat, write up our perspectives (usually it will spring from an article by a third party). Here is our theme this week: Leadership and Organizational Power. Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer is interviewed for this piece called The One Thing You Need to Get Ahead, and we both have strong reactions to it (please read it for yourself ahead of the chat!)

Here is Lisa’s post yesterday on her blog (which is excellent, by the way – subscribe if you haven’t already)! Below is my video-blog reaction. I really REALLY wanted to do a scorched-earth evisceration of the article but instead, tried to be at least halfway civil (no guarantees on restraint tonight – it might get pretty free-wheeling)! It’ll be interesting to hear your reactions and perspectives as we discuss it.

These links should be enough to get your wheels turning for the chat! Grab a glass of wine and let’s talk – just search on the term #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions. It’s one fun and fast-paced hour)!

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Four

Thanks for being such a delightful community!

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“I Went to SOBCon and All I Got Was…”

…a wonderful time with a lot of really fine people. Didn’t want nor need another t-shirt.

I’m going to depart from “Best Practices” and NOT follow the Official Post-Conference Re-Cap Blog Post Template ™. I’m a bit hypocritical that way. Instead, since my purpose for attending was primarily to deepen relationships, I’ll spend the bulk of this post talking about…people.

It’s my intent in 2010 to build deep, not wide; to get beyond 140 characters and really get to know fellow travelers on this network we’re building. SOBCon is a great venue for that – small (150 people), focused, and plenty of time for interaction. Having known Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker (the SOBCon king and queen) for quite some time, it was easy to conclude that the time would be well-spent at an event they were orchestrating.

So…the people.

Drew McLellan was one of the first bloggers I stumbled across years ago, when we both started blogging about the same time. Every interaction with him since has been high-quality and encouraging. There’s a relatively small handful of people I both like and deeply respect, and thoroughly trust as well. Drew is one of those.

It was through Drew that I first heard of Steve Farber, who spoke at SOBCon – first time I had the chance to meet him. And I cannot wait to spend more time with Steve. Not only is he a gifted speaker and author, he’s a nice guy. And funny. And transparent. You’ll want to consider buying his books on leadership – he talks about love and business in the same breath, and I deeply appreciate that perspective.

Lisa Petrilli. Only started interacting with her on-line a short time before the conference, and I’m profoundly thankful for the time we spent talking once we met in Chicago. Not only does she possess a tremendous business background, she has a very moving story to tell – this 100% Italian gal has a little imported Irish in her, due to a donated kidney. Lisa moved from relative stranger into my “inner circle” of confidants and collaborators in one weekend.

For a long time, I’ve interacted with Jon Swanson on-line, and simply could not wait to meet him. Turns out, not surprisingly, that he’s exactly what you see on-line. We have deep shared interest in how the spiritual intersects with real life, and what it means to communicate to a wide range of people. Jon may not suspect that he has been a “distant” mentor to me for many months, but he has. It was a joy to sit at the same table with him and exchange thoughts freely.

Speaking of the table, we managed to find ourselves at what became known as the “Trouble Table,” so dubbed mainly because of the presence of the delightful and free-spirited Becky McCray and Sheila Scarborough (with assists from Anthony Iannarino and Britt Raybould). We were – loud. Full of wisecracks. Loved every minute of it. Becky took this shot of Jon Swanson and me during a calmer moment…

Getting to Chicago the day before meant I could relax, take a walk, work out, and meet Joe Ruiz in the gym. We had a delightful 45-minute talk that could have gone on much longer. Looking forward to lots of future collaboration with that quality fellow from Richmond. Plus, he’s older than me. That feels good, being surrounded as we are by all these younger folks!

I fully expect to have a lot more interaction with Jonathan Fields, who led the panel I was on. Very smart guy. Ground-breaker and entrepreneur. And it was good to once again hang out the always-delightful Shannon Paul, whose 100-watt smile brightens any room, even a darkened speak-easy (that social event was very well-done, by the way).

There were several ladies that I hoped to finally meet face-to-face during the event (after a long on-line history of exchanging messages), and it was a true delight to have time with Jeannie Walters, Julie Roads, Lucretia Pruitt, and Wendy Piersall (aka eMom). All high-quality, real, thoughtful people – each of them creative and driven in their own ways.

The SOBCon event was preceded the evening beforehand by a Social Media Club Chicago tweetup, where, immediately upon walking in, I was introduced to the 300-volt Carol Roth. She had me in stitches every time we talked. Speaking of high-energy, finally meeting Phil Gerbyshak was enough to jolt anyone into full wakefulness. Ambulance companies ought to hire him to reverse cardiac arrest in patients! Fun guy.

The lovely Alli Worthington demonstrated that you can have 5 boys, and, like my wife, look absolutely fabulous in the process.

Time was WAY too short with Bill Rice, David Armano, Amber Naslund, Chris Garrett, Chris Brogan, Geoff Livingston, Scott Stratten, Shashi Bellamkonda, Shelly Kramer, and others – would have liked to spend a couple hours each with these folks and many others, but there simply weren’t enough hours in the day.

Memorable moments: A riotous meal spent scheming a self-esteem-building GPS device; daily photo-taking Riverwalks to the shore of Lake Michigan; ad-hoc branding brainstorming for  Justin McCullough with Drew M, Steve F, and Phil G; unexpectedly seeing Eileen and Frieda from Siren Interactive at the SMC event (and, expectedly and finally, Sonny Gill!); and hanging out late one rainy evening at Hotel 71 “lounge” with a whole gang of lively attendees.

Chicago is a lovely city for a springtime event. Even if you cannot find a cup of coffee at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning, you can wander along the beautiful Riverwalk and people-watch, take pictures, gawk at tall buildings, and watch the wind whip up Lake Michigan. I need moments of peace interspersed with “people-time”, and this venue was perfect – everything close by, including the ability to escape and think. I’ll be back…

P.S. I mentioned in the panel discussion my recovery from a nearly life-long struggle with depression. Here’s the backstory, written a few years back: Clearing Clouds.

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Why I Can’t Wait for SOBCon 2010

I’ve cut back this year on the number of conferences I’m attending. But I have added one new one (for me) – SOBCon 2010. Why?

    1. It’s small. I prefer the intimacy of small, focused conferences to huge, rush-around mega-events. Relaxed face time and collective thought are more valuable to me than drive-by hellos and party-hopping. Building deep, not broad, is one of my themes for 2010.
    2. Liz (Strauss) and Terry (Starbucker) have been nagging me to take part, and simply wouldn’t let me say “no” this year. Since I enjoy Liz and Terry time, it’s not really a big sacrifice!
    3. I’ll get to meet some very cool people that I’ve only interacted with on-line – Jon Swanson, Chris Garrett, Lucretia Pruitt, and others – plus renew friendships with a bunch of folks previously met. The time will be too short, in fact.
    4. I’m very excited about the theme and can’t wait to brainstorm with a diverse bunch of smart people.
    5. Events like this one are creative incubators. I fully expect to walk out with renewed energy, fresh ideas, and a mind buzzing with possibilities.
    6. I like Chicago.

That’s my top 5 + 1 – if you’re going, what are yours? And if you haven’t signed up yet – there’s still time! I hope to see you there!

Oh – and special thanks to Social Media Club Chicago for organizing a tweetup the Thursday night before things kick off. Great idea!

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Out of the Bud, into the Flower

Just out my window, red maple leaves are beginning to emerge. What were buds in my yard just a short time ago, now are becoming full-blown flowers and leaves and canopies of beautiful shade.

As it should be. The bud phase is meant to only last a brief moment, to be a quick transition to the real goal.

Musing this morning on Geoff Livingston‘s post explaining the end of his blogging tenure at the Buzz Bin, I saw the process at work. As Geoff put it so pointedly, “I have run out of things to say…I feel like I am repeating myself.” In other words, social media as a topic in and of itself has pretty much run its course. The bud phase is over. Time to move on.

While it is tempting to mourn the passing of anything that has been new and shiny and exciting, in reality, we’re on the threshold of the really good stuff. In the nascent days of computers, or of Web 1.0, the early adopters were (rightly) excited about the technology itself. But it was never about the microprocessor or HTML code, not really. It’s about what we can do with it.

Passion for new technology skyrockets, then wanes, in order to make room for the real passions that matter – how we can transform people and society and business using new tools and approaches. I have been (and still am) quite passionate about social networking. But I no longer much care about re-tweets, Ad Age rankings, or follower numbers. My genuine passion has emerged – building deeper, more purposeful Opportunity Networks that will help change how we do business for the long haul. The “corporation” as we now know it is an aging model. I’m gathering a core of like-minded folks who want to explore how to create the new “co-operation.”

Social networking and technology tools are a big part of this vision. But there’s enough information out there now about how to be part of the conversation, how to go viral, how to write blog headlines, how to build a wide audience. That’s the bud. What’s your flower? How are you going to use all these good tools and connect with smart people to make whole new movements and organizations and impacts?

It’s springtime, friends. Buds are great – but only because of what they promise. We’ve talked social media and made lots of connections and sought to introduce it to the rest of the world…all good and necessary. But now let’s transition from early adopters to long-term architects. Summer’s coming!

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It’s Time to Get Busy! (AOC 3)

It’s just about here!

The third Age of Conversation (a group-authored book on social media) is due to be released in a few weeks – the subtitle is, It’s Time to Get Busy. I’ve been privileged to add a chapter to each of the three AOC volumes, along with a cast of stellar thinkers and writers (not sure how I got in there, but hey…!)

Once again, the project was spearheaded by community-minded bloggers Drew McLellan (Iowa) and Gavin Heaton (Australia), with contributors from all over the globe. Except Greenland. Still looking for an author/blogger there…

Here’s the listing of authors for AOC 3:

Adam Joseph

Priyanka Sachar

Mark Earls

Cory Coley-Christakos

Stefan Erschwendner

Paul Hebert

Jeff De Cagna

Thomas Clifford

Phil Gerbyshak

Jon Burg

Toby Bloomberg

Shambhu Neil Vineberg

Joseph Jaffe

Uwe Hook

Steve Roesler

Michael E. Rubin

anibal casso

Steve Woodruff

Steve Sponder

Becky Carroll

Tim Tyler

Chris Wilson

Beth Harte

Tinu Abayomi-Paul

Dan Schawbel

Carol Bodensteiner

Trey Pennington

David Weinfeld

Dan Sitter

Vanessa DiMauro

Ed Brenegar

David Zinger

Brett T. T. Macfarlane

Efrain Mendicuti

Deb Brown

Brian Reich

Gaurav Mishra

Dennis Deery

C.B. Whittemore

Gordon Whitehead

Heather Rast

Cam Beck

Hajj E. Flemings

Joan Endicott

Cathryn Hrudicka

Jeroen Verkroost

Karen D. Swim

Christopher Morris

Joe Pulizzi

Leah Otto

Corentin Monot

Karalee Evans

Leigh Durst

David Berkowitz

Kevin Jessop

Lesley Lambert

Duane Brown

Peter Korchnak

Mark Price

Dustin Jacobsen

Piet Wulleman

Mike Maddaloni

Ernie Mosteller

Scott Townsend

Nick Burcher

Frank Stiefler

Steve Olenski

Rich Nadworny

John Rosen

Tim Jackson

Suzanne Hull

Len Kendall

Amber Naslund

Wayne Buckhanan

Mark McGuinness

Caroline Melberg

Andy Drish

Oleksandr Skorokhod

Claire Grinton

Angela Maiers

Paul Williams

Gary Cohen

Armando Alves

Sam Ismail

Gautam Ramdurai

B.J. Smith

Tamera Kremer

Eaon Pritchard

Brendan Tripp

Adelino de Almeida

Jacob Morgan

Casey Hibbard

Andy Hunter

Julian Cole

Debra Helwig

Anjali Ramachandran

Jye Smith

Drew McLellan

Craig Wilson

Karin Hermans

Emily Reed

David Petherick

Katie Harris

Gavin Heaton

Dennis Price

Mark Levy

George Jenkins

Doug Mitchell

Mark W. Schaefer

Helge Tenno

Douglas Hanna

Marshall Sponder

James Stevens

Ian Lurie

Ryan Hanser

Jenny Meade

Jeff Larche

Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher

David Svet

Jessica Hagy

Simon Payn

Joanne Austin-Olsen

Mark Avnet

Stanley Johnson

Marilyn Pratt

Mark Hancock

Steve Kellogg

Michelle Beckham-Corbin

Michelle Chmielewski

Amy Mengel

Veronique Rabuteau

Peter Komendowski

Andrea Vascellari

Timothy L Johnson

Phil Osborne

Beth Wampler

Amy Jussel

Rick Liebling

Eric Brody

Arun Rajagopal

Dr Letitia Wright

Hugh de Winton

David Koopmans

Aki Spicer

Jeff Wallace

Don Frederiksen

Charles Sipe

Katie McIntyre

James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw

David Reich

Lynae Johnson

Jasmin Tragas

Deborah Chaddock Brown

Mike O’Toole

Jeanne Dininni

Iqbal Mohammed

Morriss M. Partee

Katie Chatfield

Jeff Cutler

Pete Jones

Riku Vassinen

Jeff Garrison

Kevin Dugan

Tiphereth Gloria

Mike Sansone

Lori Magno

Valerie Simon

Nettie Hartsock

Mark Goren

 

Peter Salvitti

Stay tuned for final word on availability – should be within a month!

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Jason Falls is a Bonobo in Drag

Story here.

Who’s Behind the Avatar?

My friend Toby Bloomberg is collaborating with John Cass to ask a question about transparency – namely, what sort of transparency needs to be in place if “outside” agents are feeding social media content for a client brand?

From Toby’s blog post:

Social media is a hungry beast that to succeed demands content…PR agencies, advertising agencies and social media consultants are seizing an opportunity to carve a service niche from their time pressed, staff starved clients. Yes, the agencies are stepping in and taking over the role and responsibilities of implementing social media initiatives….but unlike an ad campaign or dropping a media release where no one really cares what name you use, social media is supposed to be different. Tweets and posts are supposed to be from the real people who are working for the brand…However, since on Facebook and often on Twitter “no one knows your name” seems to be the acceptable norm, 2010 will see more. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it just fact of social media marketing life? Does it really matter?

I’ll toss in a few brief thoughts:

1. Since there is an expectation set currently in place with social media (real people interacting with real people), and since violating that expectation leads to a lot of unwanted on-line attention, it’s not wise for a brand to play “let’s pretend” in social media platforms – at least, currently.

2. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing expertise to “feed the beast.” Life is full of outsourcing. Just be honest about it.

3. I’d recommend that brands who outsource the maintenance of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. establish a “brand” identity on those platforms instead of trying to pretend that there is one person behind the account. I’m OK with, say, TiVo having a brand account – as long as it is positioned as a brand account. I’m also OK with the TiVo account being TiVo Shanan if Shanan is for real (she is, apparently – and very nice!). If the platform is going to provide info and interactions from a team, fine – let’s just have accurate expectations.

4. These platforms are communication channels and we all have to take a deep breath and have a reasonable view of how companies will use them. I happen to think that the companies who advance with real personality in their social media endeavors will likely do best, but not every company is prepared out of the gate to have designated in-house personnel to “feed the beast.” We don’t need to beat these folks with a purist club and accuse them of being inauthentic – unless they’re being inauthentic! Let people get their feet wet, and outsource as they must. We should encourage brands to use social media responsibly, realizing that those who abuse it by a lack of transparency will be outed in time, and the lesson will be learned!

My 2 cents – your thoughts?

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People I Value: Amber Naslund

Social Networking is about people. And despite the ignorant caricatures of many people about social media, when you boil it down, under all the noise and trivia and spam there are some really great people.

One of them is Amber Naslund.

Why? Well, two words come to mind, and you can alter the punctuation any way you like. She’s a real professional. Real. Professional.

If you’re connected to Amber via her blog and/or Twitter, you find a person who is doing her best to do great work, as a social media professional and as a mother. And she’s very real – whether she’s pulling her hair out with a sick child, or enjoying a great glass of wine, or wrestling with how to write on her blog, you’re getting the real deal.

Of course, reality is one part of the equation. Amber is also engaging and generous. And quite fun to be around. If you can’t learn from Amber and enjoy her (virtual or real) company, you might need a prescription for something.

So, if you don’t know Amber yet, you should. She’s Real. Professional.

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Pick a Steve

I’ve been at this digital social networking thing for 3 1/2 years or so now, and it’s been a great (and educational) journey!

But there is one question that keeps pecking away at my forehead, and maybe you can help me with it. In fact, ONLY you can help me with it, because it has to do with you.

Which Steve Woodruff do you want to follow?

Let me explain. While I don’t consider myself to be schizophrenic (yet – but there are still kids in the nest here!), I do possess a few different “personas” on-line. There’s the pharma guy (with a dedicated pharma blog, Impactiviti); there’s the general marketing/branding/social media fellow (Stickyfigure blog), and then there’s the more personal stuff on Steve’s Leaves. Every one of those blogs is its own info-stream.

All of these personas and infostreams meet on Twitter – plus photos, banter, occasional spoofs, and whatever else comes to mind. Twitter is the 360-degree view, and that’s where I have the nagging question.

Do you prefer to subscribe to a person on Twitter (holistically), or a topical info-stream? Are you looking for information (primarily), developing personal/professionals connections (primarily) – or is it a solid mix of the two?

In my case, a number of my followers are from the pharma world – what is your reaction when I start tweeting on general brands or social media ROI? Or if you originally linked up with me due to an interest in branding, is the string of tweets when I’m at a pharma conference useful or just noisy? I’m sure I’m not the only “social networker” wondering about this – and I want to make sure that I’m providing value that YOU want, in a way that works best.

One idea: would there be value in setting up different Twitter accounts that would emphasize different facets/info-streams (one for pharma, one for photos, etc.) or do you just prefer to subscribe to @swoodruff and take the punishment of the full spectrum? I can see benefits and drawbacks to either approach. Is subscribing to a choice of info-streams for/from the same person a good idea or just a pain? What say you?

(full disclosure – I enjoy seeing people 360-degrees on Twitter. I can find info in a thousand places – I like the mixture of info, links, personality, creative ideas, pix, banter, shared parental angst, etc. But that’s me. I want your thoughts!)

See also: The Social Media Isolation Chamber

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Connected Dots in My Opportunity Network

Today, I’m in Orange County, California, at a small, focused workshop on the use of social media in business.

NetworkThere’s a story behind this, which has everything to do with encouraging you to create your own opportunity network.

Here’s the tale…

At some point in the distant past (maybe 1.5-2 years ago? don’t remember exactly), I came across Kirsten Wright in the blogosphere. I liked how she was writing, and I sensed something that I try to stay attuned to – young, budding entrepreneurs who use social networking and “get it.”

We commented on each others’ blogs and tweeted regularly, and in fact, I had Kirsten design a custom Twitter background for me as she was contemplating starting her own adventure as a freelance designer. But we were a continent apart and, unlike many with whom I’ve connected on these networks, our paths never crossed in real life, even as we continued to share professional perspectives sprinkled with small talk.

In the meantime, a group of us in North Jersey began to meet semi-regularly for lunch, and on one occasion Scott Bradley, a young marketing entrepreneur recently out of Boston College, joined us. Unfortunately (for us), he soon moved back to the Orange County area; since I knew Kirsten was there, I made sure they got connected.

Fast forward some months: Kirsten and Scott get to know one another, and decide to plan and put on a local workshop on using social media for business. I thought it would be so cool to find some excuse to be there, but opportunities to get to California for business had been quite scarce for a while. However, I got a call from someone who’d connected with me on Twitter because of a mutual involvement in pharma; she’d had a panelist for a conference drop out, and would I be interested in helping present at the Public Relations Society of America conference in San Diego in November??

San Diego – yeah, anytime. I’m in. Then I find out the Kirsten and Scott had to put off their workshop in Orange County (only 1.5 hours from San Diego) and re-schedule it for….the day after the PRSA conference ended. How perfect is that?!

And now, I’m learning some stuff from them, about WordPress and Facebook and SEO. I may actually need some of their consulting services in the future. Meanwhile, they continue to build their opportunity network(s) here as their entrepreneurial ventures grow.

And what will the future hold? I can’t look into a crystal ball and predict specifics, but I’m entirely confident that new opportunities for everyone in this room will continue to open up.

Is this a great time to be alive or what?

(Image credit)

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StickyFigure wins Nobel Blog Prize for 3 Years of Brilliance!

third BirthdayToday marks the third birthday of the StickyFigure blog. Hard to believe that first post (on UPS trucks – How to Waste 100,000 Billboards) was 1,095 days and 598 posts ago.

Two weeks after the blog began, it was nominated for a Nobel Blog Prize, and now, 3 years later, the ultimate honor has come to fruition!

Actually, no big international prizes were harmed in the writing of these posts. My biggest reward is interacting with you, my community of fellow thinkers/marketers/people. It’s been a great ride.

A greater proportion of my attention in the past year has been given over to trying to advance social media usage in the pharmaceutical sector (Impactiviti blog, which is a few months older than this one), and I’ve also been regularly updating my personal blog (Steve’s Leaves). But I’ll never stop enjoying the evolution of branding and marketing and social media, so, for better or for worse, you’re stuck with StickyFigure. Thanks for sticking with me all this time!

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(Image credit)

Google’s Sidewiki and Pharma – Uh Oh.

Take a look at the screen shot below, from Pfizer’s homepage. Believe it or not, I, or anyone else, can now leave comments “on” any website (such as Pfizer.com) using a new tool (currently in beta) from Google, called Sidewiki.

PfizerSidewiki2

Game-changer? You bet.

While the use of Google’s Sidewiki has ramifications across the entire web, for every type of site or industry, I’m going to focus here on the pharma industry. Because in pharma, it’s all about controlled messaging via corporate sites, and by and large, the idea of people being able to freely comment on (just about) anything is anathema.

The locus of control has just shifted. You can turn off comments on websites and blogs, but now, people can have their say, and the comments are accessible right there via Sidewiki when people come to your site.

How does this work? Google is not the first to try to allow user-generated commentary on any site, but they are certainly the biggest and most sophisticated. All you have to do is have a Google account, download the Google toolbar for your browser (currently IE and Firefox), and activate the Sidewiki capability. That’s it. More detailed explanations of how it works and how to get started are here and here.

MackSidewiki2

I decided to go to fellow pharma blogger John Mack’s site and leave a Sidewiki comment there (above). Now John allows (and welcomes) comments, of course, but with Sidewiki, that is irrelevant. And even for those sites where comments are reviewed before approval, Sidewiki allows commentary completely apart from the intervention or approval of the site owner.

How will this change the game with regulatory issues? Well, it’s a big monkey wrench. A pharmaceutical company already cannot control what people say about it, or its products, on various sites. But now people can express themselves with annotations that are, in essence, sidebarred on company sites! Can a company be held liable for, say, off-label discussions that happen on Sidewiki in association with a product site?

It’s a good thing that the FDA will hold hearings in November about the use of social media/Web 2.0 in pharma communications, because we now have a new issue to put on the table. How does industry and its regulatory bodies view user-generated content that cannot be controlled, yet exists in conjunction with company-sponsored sites?

Some question whether the adoption rate of Sidewiki will be significant enough to make a huge difference. It’s a fair question, but I don’t believe that’s the point. The really important thing is: the wall has been breached. I’m not sure there’s going to be any going back as this kind of (pretty much inevitable) approach evolves.

The rules of the game just changed again.

UPDATE: Fellow industry blogger Phil Baumann was thinking about the same theme today! Read his valuable thoughts.

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Plodding

One of the appeals of social networking is the “instantness” (is that a word? should it be??) of it all. You can create a blog in minutes, open a Twitter account painlessly, set up a profile on Facebook or Linked in and start connecting – all free, and all (pretty much) immediate.

So why do so many people start with a burst of energy, and fall by the wayside?

ploddingBecause like so many other ventures in life, real success comes through plodding.

Those who truly succeed in building strong networks and positive reputations do so, not by quick-fix schemes, but by the steady, day-to-day drip of plodding forward. Adding value with regular posts. Exchanging messages over time with quality people. Encouraging and helping people getting started, with no expectation of return. Being there and showing up.

Yes, these platforms are tools, and yes, there can be business strategy behind it all. But what else is behind it? Dare I say love for others?

The love of couples with strong marriages, and the love of parents for kids, also contains a major element of plodding. Day-to-day displays of warmth, kindness, and selflessness. Noticing the little things. Making the small and important gestures. Showing up.

Social networking is really not all that different from so many other ways that we create and maintain relationships. Yes, it’s easier to get started. But at the end of the day, it’s plodding that makes things happen. Just like in business. Just like our physical neighborhoods. Just like everything.

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The Blog Slave

When you started blogging, it was pretty liberating, wasn’t it? Finally, a format for expressing your ideas! No barriers of time or distance to an audience. And once you started mixing words with other bloggers (and eventually meeting those people at conferences and tweetups), the energy continued to flow.

slaveUntil you became a blog slave.

Blogging can be a delightful tyranny. As you build an audience, as you see more incoming links, as you check Technorati rankings or see your name for the first time on the Ad Age Power 7,545 list of marketing blogs (OK, they say 150, but it doesn’t seem to stop there…), you begin to feel the pressure. You don’t want to lose your standing. Your momentum. Your ranking. As they say in academia, publish or perish.

Dump that emotional ballast overboard as fast as you can, OK? Because you are not the sum total of your ability to produce. Your value is you, not your writing output.

I read today how blogging friend Beth Harte feels a need to suspend writing on her excellent blog, The Harte of Marketing, for a season. As part of her post, she says this:

As well, I know social media is quid pro quo and while I try my best to keep up with other blogs (reading and commenting), comments on my blog, etc. I am falling WAY short and for that I am terribly sorry. I would completely understand if people stopped commenting/tweeting my stuff.

Well, the fact is, other things really are more important than obeying Master Blog (as Beth discusses in her post), and Beth’s value to me is not tied to her “production.” She is a friend. She has nothing to prove. Her blogging production couldn’t possibly be top-notch anyway if she’s doing it out of a wearied sense of duty. Treadmills aren’t usually where we get into a creative zone.

Beth doesn’t strike me as the type who wants to live like that. She’s a community-builder. And I would like to hope that putting my keyboard aside for a time would not cause the wonderful people in my network to drift away or be less than the great people I know they are. Otherwise, I’ve failed to build and be part of a community. Or I’ve associated with a bunch of artful fakes! (which I don’t believe for a nanosecond).

If you’re strictly building an “audience” for your “production,” then it will be hard to avoid the slavery. Blogging will be a chore. At times, yes, all the creative and interaction work can be a bit of a slog now and again. But let’s never become slaves, trying to produce bricks without straw, and expect that of others. That’s when I quit for good!

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Progressive Publishing

This idea’s been brewing for about 5 years, ever since I spilled out some proto-ideas on a train ride with a pharma training professional (who has urged me to “follow the light” on this one – thanks, Susan!)

We all see how the new on-line/social networking tools have radically changed publishing. Here’s where I think it COULD lead:

Context: The bits and pieces

We used to see published materials as somewhat static: a daily newspaper, a monthly magazine, a completed book. There were authors, there were bloggers, there were journalists, there were speakers (with some overlap among them). Media came to us in various formats and from various scattered sources. Often these publications had with a short shelf-life (expired relevance) or a long shelf-life with little ability to update (books with second or third editions).

Current: Multi-channel and Evolved communications

Now, with blogging (especially), we see that people can publish immediately, iteratively, collaboratively, and build an audience over time. Some authors are launching blogs in conjunction with books, or, increasingly, using their blog to build a platform and audience which makes publication of a traditional book more successful. We’re living in a transitional period where “fixed” published media is becoming “mixed” published media, and the mix is getting richer (printed words, blogs, micro-blogs, pictures, videos, etc.) Chris Brogan‘s blog, speaking engagements, and upcoming “Trust Agents” book is a prime example of this approach, as is Greg Verdino‘s upcoming book.

Ahead: Progressive Publishing and Personal Subscriptions?

SubYouWhere is this heading? Here’s what I think. We’ll no longer think of blogs and books and YouTube channels as distinct and discrete entities. Let’s say you have been writing on a specific topic on a blog for years and there is traction there. Your blog pre-builds your audience, which is enhanced by a YouTube channel with brief videos, Twitter blurbs, etc. Then you decide to write a book, but here’s the deal: for the ($22.95) price your customers not only get a copy of hard-back book, they have access to a private network where you progressively share new, updated, and enhanced content – the publication is now a progressive process. Yes, there is free stuff out there to continue to hook new customers, but people are no longer buying a fixed entity (this edition of this book) – they’re buying progressive thought over time. Including, perhaps, the thoughts of others in the community built around the publication.

Information is moving too rapidly to remain in fixed formats. That’s why I think progressive publishing is inevitable.

What does evolve into further? Personal Subscriptions. Let’s say I think Chris Brogan (or Ann Handley, or Valeria Maltoni, or David Meerman Scott, or…) is worthy of being “followed” as one of my inner circle of advisors. I now pay to subscribe to that person (not just buy their product), and with enough subscriptions, that person is now free to crank out, progressively, a ton of great content and advice in multiple formats to their own growing community. Keep up the good work, the subscriptions continue and grow. Falter, and people vote with their dollars annually. The music industry may very well head in this direction as well.

None of these concepts is particularly new or earth-shattering – a lot of this is happening in various ways already. It just seems to me that it’s moving inexorably toward a different publication model, one that is person-centric rather than product-centric, one that is progressive rather than fixed or staccato.

Your thoughts? Would you pay to “subscribe” to key thought leaders? What new models of publishing do you see developing?

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Why I Won’t Stop Blogging

Steve Rubel announced last week that he was going to stop “blogging” in favor of “lifestreaming” (the sharing of more immediate snippets of micro-media), and this opened up some interesting discussion among bloggers, well-summarized here by Louis Gray (and I agree with Louis’ perspective).

Now I do admit that I am re-examining the tools for on-line sharing of networked communications, spurred in part by the expanded capabilities of the new iPhone, which will allow for simpler sharing of photos, video, and audio. I’m playing with Posterous as a way to have a one-stop media  distribution center (digital sharehouse?), and some of this definitely falls into the “lifestream” category.

But stop blogging? No way.

There is value in sharing a beautiful picture, or a quick audio, or an interesting link, or a snippet of thought. The conversation and easy banter on Twitter and Facebook is enriching, no doubt. But for development of thought, more detailed analysis of ideas, ongoing discussion of topics, and 360-degree expression of personal and/or business message – you simply cannot replace a blog.

We live in an increasingly fragmented world which encourages the development of shorter and shorter attention spans. I don’t see that as necessarily a good thing. Writing a blog, and reading a longer-form post by others, forces us to think, to develop a train of thought, to react to more detailed explanation and argumentation. I hope we never lose that. A life stream is one thing. A well-crafted blog, over time, becomes a thought-river.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble writes an interesting piece on the enduring value of a blog vs. the more ephemeral entries on micro-blogging sites. Plus, Chris Brogan on Strategic blogging. Both of these perspectives make it clear why blogging is not going away.

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Good-bye, Social Media – Hello, Networked Communications

So, today Steve Rubel announces that he is done “blogging”, and now is fully committed to a more full-faceted path called “lifestreaming.” His post is titled So Long, Blogging, Hello Lifestreaming!

What he’s doing is, in fact, not that radical – we’ve been moving rapidly in this direction for a while. Because the fact is – the real issue isn’t whether we “blog” or “micro-blog” or “Tweet” or “Facebook” or whatever. Those terms and brands are temporary labels we have for the early-on way we’re now using technology to…share. To express ourselves, and connect with others.

We’re evolving rapidly in ability to share, not just via long-form formats (books, blogs), but also quick thoughts, pictures, videos, music, and whatever else. Each of these things ended up with their own terms, and have been ranged roughly under the moniker “social media.”

I’d like to adapt Steve’s title to say good-bye to social media. The term, that is; which really isn’t adequate to describe what we’re doing. For some professionals, the term “social” is an immediate turnoff. And we’re sharing more than media – we’re communicating/connecting/collaborating in multi-faceted ways. There is a social element to it, of course, and media is part of this gig. But the term isn’t scalable.

So….hello, Networked Communications. That, in fact, in all facets, and no matter how it evolves, is what we’re doing, on both personal and professional levels. Whether it’s community-building, tweeting, sharing media, marketing, lifestreaming – it’s all networked communications (which, by the way, includes the off-line component of how we relate to one another).

We’re going to burn through existing and new platforms over the coming years, and they’ll get more sophisticated in their abilities to let us network and communicate. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Posterous, blogs, Flickr (perhaps even my dream platform, Metamee) – the bits and pieces  don’t really matter, they’ll evolve and converge. Each of them is an Expression and/or Connection Engine, all enabling our brave new world of networked communications. Which is same world of networked communications we used to have, amped up on tech steroids.

We’ve always communicated. We’ve always had and built networks. Now we have quickly-evolving tools that will let us more effectively express ourselves and connect with others, for marketing, for fun, for socializing, for enterprise efficiency, for help…for whatever we do.

Good-bye, “social media.” You were a nice first love. You’re not going to die, you’re becoming bigger and better. But with upgraded capabilities come better titles. I’m moving on to Networked Communications. ‘Cause that’s what we do.

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Free eBook: Getting Started with Social Networking

8 Ways Social Media Gurus will both Hate and yet Leverage the Impending Death of Social Media

twitterdeadVarious not-to-be-named Internet experts have announced the impending Death of Social Media™. This has caused distress among the “twittering classes” of social media gurus, who see their lives, emotional well-being, and even livelihoods threatened by this shark-jumping portent of doom.

Nonetheless, the virtual world as we know it will not end. In fact, this will simply be another evolutionary step forward – yet another way for the Guru Strata™ to maintain their position of influence in that series of tubes we call the Interwebs.

Here are 8 ways to leverage the Death of Social Media while still proclaiming to hate it:

    1. Launch a new conference series, “Preparing for the Death of Social Media in 140 Characters.” ™ Beside soaking the masses for registration, charge Apple $25 for every Mac laptop and iPhone seen on the premises.

    2. Charge for a blogging course, “How to blog about the demise of blogging” and give away to all registrants the 29 biggest secrets to AdSense revenue that will die along with your blog.

    3. Put together a conference called, let’s say, UnBlog Chesapeake, ™ collect loads of money from the masses, and then bloviate forth with expertise on how gurus can unwind their social media involvement and find real jobs.

    4. Do sponsored tweets, lose all your followers, get a little bit of revenue while the getting is good, then proclaim how your experience shows that we are at the tipping point of the Death of Social Media.

    5. Charge thousands for a new research report on how the Death of Social Media will lead to the demise of social media gurus, but the ascent of a new Guru Strata class, the Trendalyst. ™ Wait. I think we’ve already got this..

    6. Create a campaign to help millions erase their Facebook profiles with a new tool, the CleanMyFace. ™ Charge extra for zapping MySpace.

    7. Open a series of Micro-blog Recovery Centers ™ where the truly addicted can come for daily appointments, pretend to tweet with make-believe friends, and feel “connected” once again before facing the real world.

    8. Shave your head and write a book called “Islands” ™, a follow-up to the “Tribes” concept, extolling the virtues of every man being an island in a desolate wasteland of human disconnectedness.

As for me, I think I’ll launch a site called AllFlop, where we can easily track (by topic) the dead pool of all those deceased social media apps.

Yep, great times are ahead. Now’s the time to get ahead of the curve by ripping down your blog, erasing your tweets, and showing the rest of the world how to enjoy the Death of Social Media. Don’t be left behind!

UPDATE: Part 2 of this vital series is here: Bye-bye, Social Media Die (the new anthem for the end of social media).

(do I really think Social Media is dying? Of course not. Here’s how I see the evolution unfolding…)

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“Ann Handley” Exposed

AnneH2During the recent MarketingProfs B2B Summit, a rogue band of “bloggerazzi” stumbled across a revelation that has rocked the blogosphere.

Mild-mannered social media maven “Ann Handley” (aka @marketingprofs) is a cover persona – a living avatar, if you will – for the marvelously-talented but long-lost film and singing star Anngelina Handlyee. The stunningly beautiful Ms. Handley was always the object of speculation among B-list bloggers, who wondered how such a dynamic luminary could be found humbly pumping out content in the obscure corners of the on-line networking world.

AnneH3Appearing Monday at the Marketing Profs event in a fetching black Maltoni 2-piece complemented with an original Armano handbag, the radiant Ms. Handley suddenly grabbed the mic and began to belt out show songs, much to the surprised delight of the gathered crowd. Her rendition of Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston” was accidentally captured on blogger Beth Harte‘s iPhone Shazam music-recognition program, which identified the possessor of the world-class pipes as none other than the mysterious Handlyee, who had gone underground in 2001 after suffering fame-induced vertigo and a broken left pinkie nail.

AnneH4The bloggerazzi quickly gathered around the iPhone, and marveling that there was indeed an app for everything, decided to expose Ms. Handley then and there as the famous star Anngelina Handlyee. Not just any public humiliation would do, however. The news was tweeted, first in a mocking DM to Anngelina (who looked positively ravishing on Tuesday morning in a tan Verdino number), then to the entire world, even with #mpb2b Retweets to increase the humiliation.

Soon a long line formed, seeking autographs, DMs, RTs, pictures, and any mementos of the occasion that could possibly be re-sold on eBay, including Anngelina’s smashing Collier earrings or her classic Jason Baer bottle opener. The gorgeous Ms. Handlyee handled the adoration with grace and poise, though a poisonous glance at blogger Amber Naslund implied that future MarketingProfs post written by this bloggerazzi figure would likely go unpublished, though probably not unpunished.

It is unknown what future roles on stage or film the lovely, but flatter-proof Ms. Handlyee may play, now that she has been “outed” from her self-imposed obscurity. However, she may not be alone in her fate. There are blogger rumors about Olivier Blanchard and the disappearance of a certain famous singer from Graceland…

Oh – here’s the real MProfs B2B Forum review

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MarketingProfs B2B Forum Re-cap: The Book

B2BForumForeward

The MarketingProfs B2B Forum was held on June 8-9 in Boston, MA. Boston, for those unfamiliar with the location, is home to Fenway Park (for you baseball junkies), Samuel Adams (for you beer junkies), and Chris Brogan (for you social media junkies). It is also the home of the largest money pit ever created before the TARP program, called the “Big Dig.” But that’s not relevant, actually. What is relevant is the startling revelation concerning “Ann Handley” that came out during the week. More on that in a later chapter.

Preface

renbostonThe Forum was held at the Renaissance Hotel, originally designed in 1781 to house the Continental Congress, and recently refurbished to include indoor plumbing, glass windows, and color TV. Oh, wait, that’s the Philadelphia one. Sorry – the Boston Renaissance is quite up to date, actually. Nicely designed meeting space, helpful staff, even a semi-reasonable set of power outlets in meeting rooms. And the MarketingProfs staff had the logistics and organization nailed. Especially nice – the open area used for breakfast roundtables and other informal gatherings.

Acknowledgments

This event could not have been possible without the labors of Roy Young, Allen Weiss, the great MP team, and the inimitable “Ann Handley,” whose secret life was finally revealed during the Forum. More on that later.

Chapter One – The Keynotes

BarrysmYou’ve heard of great timing? This B2B Forum had it. The very week that Twitter hit the cover of TIME magazine, the author of the article, Steven B Johnson, spoke to the assembled acolytes on “Why Twitter Matters.” He was engaging, funny, and very effective in his story-telling approach to presenting (Twitter as analagous to coffeehouses of a couple centuries back), and his well-designed (simple!) slides. The next day, we were treated to Barry Schwartz, professor at Swarthmore University, speaking on the topic of “Practical Wisdom,” drawing from a book he has written on that same theme. Very thought-provoking; the biggest response on the Twitter back-channel seemed to be to his distinction of job/career/calling. I got to sit next to him at lunch without realizing, at first, who he was – he proved to be as engaging in person as he was once he got up on the podium.

You want Peg Mulligan’s take? Sure you do. And Becky Pearce’s notes? Coming right up.

Chapter 2 – The Sessions

JayBaerAs always in a conference like this, there were some great sessions, and some less so, but things started off with a bang when Sandy Carter of IBM discussed some very interesting – low-cost AND effective – social media initiatives her division of the company has employed. KD Paine kicked off the second day with a nice talk on Measuring Value in Social Media. Both days also featured Hot Seat Labs, where experts critiqued, live, the web efforts of various companies represented in the hot seat panels. Overall, there was good variety in the workshop sessions, with 2-4 concurrent sessions going on at any one time. Plus, there were one-to-one therapy sessions with social media practitioners that attendees could sign up for, to get personalized expertise. Nice.

You want handouts? Why sure…here they are.

Chapter 3 – The Gastronomy

TweetupB2BI’ve been to conferences where you would not bother to write about food and drink. Not this one. The lunches included meals at round tables followed by keynotes (nice approach), and the Tuesday morning breakfast roundtables were a smash hit. Tables were set up to discuss various social media/emarketing themes, with discussions led by experts in the field – discussions were lively and helpful. Everyone loved the Monday night Tweetup, with tapas and libations, which was open not only for the conference attendees, but also to local folks who could not attend during the day but who wanted to join the socializing. And, the Monday night dinner featured strolling magicians doing card tricks – these guys were really good!

Chapter 4 – The Tweeting

MackJayThere were probably about 20 or so of us tweeting regularly throughout the conference. That makes it a bit noisy, esp. when Mack Collier and Beth Harte are contributing. :>} Mike Damphouse made some nice summaries of the tweets here and here, so I don’t have to repeat them. And Jay Baer had his own take right here. Suffice it to say the the Twitter back channel was active as usual, and many of those “outside” who couldn’t attend were suitably jealous as they read the #mpb2b tweets. Heh.

Chapter 5 – The Attendees

RoundtableThis show had about 275 people, and it was quite a mixed group. A solid majority seemed to be just discovering social media and how it can be put to use in business. Having been to a number of conferences top-heavy with “experts,” this was refreshing – a lot of these folks are in the day-to-day trenches of marketing and they’re trying to understand what many of us now take too much for granted. So there was less bleeding-edge posturing and more nitty-gritty dialogue – nice.

Oh, you wanted pictures? See what Robert Collins put together on Flickr.

Chapter 6 – The Revelation

AnneH1This turn of events was so cataclysmic – the revealing of the true identity of “Ann Handley” – that it had to be published separately, for fear that the crush of traffic would make this summary unavailable.

You’ll never think of Ann the same way again.

Because she’s really someone else.

Here’s the explosive story…“Ann Handley” Exposed.

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Appendix

A collection of blog posts is being assembled here (B2B According to Me) regarding the conference. Even Mack Collier liked it. There you will find links to the other posts put up by bloggers who are trying to butter up “Anne Handley” enough to win a free pass to the M Profs Digital Mixer in Chicago later this year. But I don’t play that game. No sirree….

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Why I Follow…Chris Brogan

EVERYONE follows Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) on Twitter. Well, there is that one fisherman in Papua New Guinea…but everyone else has already found Chris and subscribed to his tweets/blogs, right?

But why? I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ll give you two reasons why I do. First, he exemplifies what social networking is all about. His tweets are a great variety of news, resources, one-on-one conversation, and funny commentary. And I like 140-character humor, which is my second point. The guy is funny. Here’s a comment of his from this morning that almost had me snorting coffee:

“I believe if you get in the “expert” line at the TSA and you’re a doofus, that’s automatic grounds to be tazed.”

If you’re going to get started with social networking, I think one of the best things you can do is find examples. Learn by how others do it. And Chris is unmatched in that regard. Plus he’s a friendly guy in real life, which counts for a lot.

So, that’s my #FollowFriday recommendation for this week. Why do you follow Chris Brogan? Or, better yet, why do you follow someone else? Share on your blog and on Twitter…

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Why I Follow…Kirsten Wright

For today’s FollowFriday recommendation, I return to the West Coast to spotlight another person I’ve never met, but certainly exchanged plenty of messages with – Kirsten Wright (@kirstenwright).

Kirsten has recently ventured out on her own as a freelancer; you can find her at Wright Creativity. I had no trouble discerning many months ago that she has a strong entrepreneurial streak (though only in her 20’s), and I like to see the kind of initiative and creative thinking that Kirsten has consistently displayed in her blogging and other networking efforts.

Kirsten open shares and dialogues on-line, as I’m sure she does in person – perhaps one day I’ll find myself in Orange County and finally get to meet her. She also worked with me on the design of my Twitter background, all done remotely, and she showed herself to be very customer-focused in that endeavor.

If you want to have a friend who likes to write and make nice designs, follow Kirsten. She’s a keeper…

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Why I Follow…Craig DeLarge

Once again, we come to a Friday on Twitter, and once again, I abstain from making a de-contextualized (is that a word??) list of recommended followers in favor of simply putting the spotlight on one.

Today – fellow pharma social media guy Craig DeLarge (@cadelarge on Twitter).

Thus far, it is rare to find people within pharma companies who openly and transparently network on-line. In fact, I can count the ones I know on one hand. Craig is one of the first I met, and he has been networking quite generously for a long time.

His blog (WiseWorking) is full of interesting ruminations. He tweets as well, but he’s one of those folks whose on-line presence is strongest on Facebook. I kinda use Facebook. Craig knocks it out of the park.

But the best thing is meeting him. He’s a wonderful conversationalist, a smart guy, full of ideas, and very personable. He lives out loud on-line – sharing very openly – and he’s that way in real life too. I had dinner with Craig and another fellow this week and we could have gone on for hours. I’m better off knowing Craig, and I expect that you will be, too. [Oh...and yesterday was his birthday, Facebook tells me. A belated Happy Birthday as well!]

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