10 Things Meteor Strikes and Asteroid Near-Misses Teach us About Social Networks

meteor russian

1. Interplanetary

2. Collisions

3. Or

4. Fly-bys

5. Teach

6. You

7. Nothing

8. About

9. Social

10. Media

…except maybe that shallow link-bait blog post headlines really miss the mark.

OK, now on to a more substantive post, about floundering Carnival cruise ships and Facebook branding.

5 Spectacularly Successful Strategies for Faking Authenticity

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Microsoft Announces Minus, New Social Network for Pharma

While high-profile social networks like Facebook and Google+ have recently made splashy announcements to try to gain the attention of the masses, Microsoft has been quietly, and brilliantly, working on a new social network custom-designed for pharma.

Steve Woodruff, the Pharmaceutical Connection Agent, was given an exclusive sneak peak at the platform, dubbed Minus, which is being launched today to a beta audience of one pharma company, one patient, and 25 lawyers. While detailed screen shots were not yet approved by Regulatory, a mockup of the interface was obtained, showing the sensitivity of Microsoft designers to the constraints of pharmaceutical industry communications. (click to biggify —>)

Steve Ballmer, President of Microsoft, beamed as he read a carefully prepared and vetted statement to members of the press, who were not allowed to ask questions or engage in dialogue during the announcement. “Here at Microsoft, we understand legacy systems, bureaucracy, and the need to consider the past when developing for the future. That’s why we’re the ideal partner for the pharmaceutical industry to create a social platform that will reflect how controlled, one-way, non-interactive communications can occur in this modern world of digital networks. This is what social media is all about – MINUS all that social stuff.

“Now, please view these 17 slides of disclaimers, safety warnings, software contraindications, and approved uses for Minus.”

The announcement was hailed as a great advancement for an industry dogged by difficulties participating in the public, free-wheeling world of social networks. “For years, we’ve struggled with how to communicate with the public in a safe, controlled manner that will keep us out of trouble,” said one VP of Marketing, whose identity could not be revealed due to privacy concerns. “Now, we can get our messages out there on the Twitter and the Facebook by using this Minus thing to…to…say more stuff. You know, join the conversation.”

While it wasn’t yet clear who exactly would participate on the Minus platform, this was viewed as no barrier to adoption. “We’ll just pull a Google+ on everyone and make it limited rollout for everyone in pharma who has a Klout score of 82 and above, or who has a value of 1,000 or more on Empire Avenue,” explained Ballmer. “That ought to get us to critical mass in no time.”

To appeal to its target audience, Microsoft enlisted the avatar of ancient Uncle Sam Wilson as the key figure in its marketing campaign. “Old Sam had just the right look-and-feel that we wanted to accelerate uptake of the platform,” said VP of Minus Biz Dev Sam Wilson IV. “Doesn’t he just exude social control?”

Addressing the thorny issue of user-generated content in a regulated environment, Ballmer scoffed, “UGC is so 2009. We’re looking to the future by hearkening to the past. Remember the good old days of DOS? Guess what computing kernel powers Minus?”

Reporters were encouraged to submit questions via an analog “Suggestion Box,” all of which would be reviewed by an approval committee and selectively answered within 3 weeks via a special Minus application using U.S. Mail.

(please do not tweet or share this link without prior authorization from a qualified lawyer. Any harm that comes from using this blog post in a way that it was not intended must be immediately reported to proper authorities. 9 out of 10 regulators surveyed approved this message)

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Recently on Connection Agent:

5 Reasons Why Twitter Might Soon Be Dispensable

Why Google+ Could Succeed

Build Your Own Opportunity Network (free e-book)

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Unconstructive Feedback – A Leader’s Guide

When Lisa Petrilli and I launched Leadership Chat last year, one of our hopes was that we would, at times, provide a point-counterpoint perspective.

Turns out that we actually agree on an awful lot, though we do tend to approach things from different angles.

But this week, we’re on opposite sides of the fence. Lisa writes about Giving Constructive Feedback in this 8-point post. And that’s all well and good – but what about those leaders who really want to excel in Unconstructive Feedback? Who’s giving them guidance?

I am. So, in the interests of conforming to the recently-enacted No Stupid Left Behind Act, here are my eight counterpoints:

1. Delay is critical. Disassociating feedback from action will help create the desirable sense of confusion that keeps employees on their toes. It is best to wait a day, a week – even a year – before telling George, “Hey, that time you talked about our company history in the presentation to that client? – it was too long-winded.”

2. Keep it vague. What you want is maximum guilt feelings spread over the widest possible range of behaviors. Instead of focusing on a specific typo in an email message, and the potential confusion that it may have caused to a small group of people, simply say, “Your writing leaves a lot to be desired.” That sort of generality will encourage better performance in all circumstances!

3. Focus on the abstract. Instead of looking at how a particular behavior impacted a particular circumstance – the why and how – move to higher levels, such as, “You’re a superb demotivator. Why don’t you stop it?” That way, any number of behaviors and attitudes can be ranged under one overarching criticism.

4. Exaggerate everything, being sure to put each criticism in the worst possible light. Remember – people don’t understand context. So just bring the maximum firepower for maximum effect. The question you always need to ask yourself: “Can we go all scorched-earth on this transgression?” Make it memorable!

5. Make it hard-nosed. Underlings have to be kept in line. You’re not there to make friends. You were made a leader to enforce policy. Period. Remember – you can’t fix stupid, but you sure can enjoy yelling at it!

6. Keep ‘em guessing. While criticizing undesirable behaviors, be sure to leave the alternative along the lines of, “I’m really expecting you to do better.” That way, they never quite know if they’re getting it right, which could lead to complacency.

7. Monitor behind closed doors. Tell them they’d better get it right, and that you’ll be watching. They were hired to do a job and they need to know that you’re not there to babysit. If they want a coach, they can go back to high school and join the football team.

8. Let them know that they are right on the bubble. The best workers are those who fear for their jobs continually. Use the word “expendable” liberally when upbraiding them for their marginal performance. This will extract the maximum effort from their dissolute souls.

Lisa, I know you meant well. But, really – I have far more “leaders” on my side. My principles are embedded in so many organizations, and they are passed down from generation to generation by countless corporate scribes and practitioners. In fact, I’ve been meaning to tell you – all of your blog posts really leave a lot to be desired – I’m expecting better! :>}

(yes, dear readers, all of the above is sarcastic spoofery. If only it weren’t so common in practice, however!)

So, what do you think – Steve’s view of feedback, or Lisa’s? Join the discussion on Twitter tonight during #LeadershipChat (8 pm ET) and let’s talk about how to give constructive – or not – input.

(Image credit – Wilted Rose)

PLUS – big news! Special guest host joining us for next week’s LeadershipChat (July 5th) – author and all-around smart fellow Guy Kawasaki (we’ll talk about leadership principles from his book Enchantment). Don’t miss this one!

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Announcing the QWERTY Thirty in Social Media!

There has been a proliferation of lists lately circulating in the blogosphere/Twittersphere: 40 Brilliant Women that Must be Followed or You’re Done For. Awesomely Hunky Men in Tech.  99.5 Clowns (still waiting for Gary Vee to publish this one).  You know, arbitrary feel-good lists that allow us to pat people on the back and tell them we think they’re cool. Plus, it’s linkbait.

So I thought this morning I’d make up my own: Awesome People Who Are On This List Because I Said So.

No gender. No reason. Pure, arbitrary choice.

But wait! This should be a community project! We all should have our say-so. Have you come across someone who uses a QWERTY keyboard to express their awesome? Or even their not-too-awesome? Then help create the QUERTY Thirty list:

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2.

3.

4.

5.

…..

30.

Go ahead – create this list by adding your favorite people in the comments. Put ‘em on this stellar list just because you say so! The list closes at 5 pm ET. That’s arbitrary, too.

(what if we end up with 746 names? Simple. We’ll just round it down to 730 to keep things rhyme-y!)

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Book Review: Pick a Title. Any Title.

Bloggers always like to be first getting out a new book review on their blog and through Twitter, in hopes of achieving maximum retweet exposures (MREs).

So, since my friends Jay Baer and Amber Naslund are about to launch their awesome new book The Now Revolution, I thought I’d cheat a little bit to get the very first review out of gate (video below). I like MREs just as much as the next blogger. And, hey, there are efficiencies here – have you ever heard of the Reusable Book Review (RBR)? Yeah – I’m trademarking that.

Tomorrow, return here to very same URL to view my thoughts on Ann Handley and CC Chapman‘s Content Rules. And the day after, Scott Stratten‘s UnMarketing. Because if you don’t send it, I still review it with my patent-pending RBR technology!

(Actually, I do have a couple real video book reviews coming up here on Connection Agent this week – stay tuned!)

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Become a Certified Quora Ninja!

(yes, this is a spoof. Only a pixie-dusting unicorn can make you a real Quora ninja!)

Yes, you too can become a Certified Quora Ninja!

Quora is the hottest thing on the social media circuit today! All the hottest names in networking are advancing their personal brands, and beefing up their subscriber numbers, by asking and answering earth-shattering questions on the most relevant and authentic site going!

With our 15 years of experience navigating Quora, we have the chops to certify you at the Expert, Guru, or Ninja level in no time! For just $995, our 2-hour webinar can transform you into a question-fielding black belt who will be envy of the social media crowd. You’ll be a sought-after speaker at South-by, and your Klout ranking will go through the roof in just days!

Here’s what you’ll learn in this dynamic and ground-breaking course:

  1. Setting up an account in Quora (bonus: using Twitter to log in!)
  2. Creating your profile – 7 hints even the experts don’t know!
  3. How to ask a question that ends with a question mark.
  4. The art of the answer – how to obfuscate and sound intelligent doing so!
  5. Hyperlinks – your best friend on Quora. The ninja-click explained step-by-step
  6. Selling yourself based on superior knowledge you don’t possess – the 5 keys.
  7. BONUS! The ninja method of cut-and-paste research to amp up your expertise!

What will you get from this amazing course? A huge well of in-depth knowledge from the experts. Big props from social media lemmings who will turn to you for expertise and substance-abuse counseling. And, a coveted digital Quora Ninja Certificate (suitable for computer wallpaper or Twitter background graphic) that proudly proclaims your new status among the elite! Click to biggify —->

Just forward $995 by Paypal TODAY – this is a limited-time offer, and only a handful of visionary ninjas will be anointed before this course is closed forever!

(post inspired by this lunatic profile on LinkedIn—-> (click to biggify),                    discovered and shared by my friend Olivier Blanchard, Chief Social Media Ninja-Puncturer).

Disclaimer: this is a spoof. Any hope of turning you into an expert by means of a bogus course on- or off-line is strictly imaginary. The ConnectionAgency does not guarantee that, by taking this or any other course, you will be investing in anything worth more than a virtual sheet of 20-lb. paper. Title, taxes, dealer prep and options not included. Void where prohibited by common sense.

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10 Can’t-Miss Predictions for 2011

I don’t usually do year-end prediction posts, but after reading so many enlightening missives from brilliant thinkers, I was hit by a sudden flash of inspiration – a massive and luminous outpouring of the blindingly obvious. So, here goes – my can’t miss social media marketing predictions for 2011.

  1. More people will search for stuff on-line in 2011. It’s been growing every year for quite a while now, and the big surprise is, that this behavior will continue to occur.
  2. Mobile is going to be big. Really big.
  3. E-commerce will explode onto the scene. As people discover that they can buy things on-line, they will do more of it. Books, music, toys, pet food – you name it. Disintermediation is the key word here. Big for 2011.
  4. Apple will introduce flashy new versions of its hardware and software products. And people will buy them. In fact, some people will wait in long lines to buy them – and others won’t.
  5. A lot of people will do a lot of stuff on Facebook, which will have more users in 2011 than it has now in 2010.
  6. Very important people will be profoundly embarrassed by revelations made about them via the Internet.
  7. Market valuations for software vendors will go up and down while fluctuating during the year.
  8. Companies will try to sell stuff using social media, and social media purists will be so upset about it, they’ll whine on Twitter and blogs.
  9. Everyone will hate SxSW’s method of choosing panels by popularity contest, but a million bloggers will beg for votes on Twitter anyway, while saying how much they despise doing so.
  10. People will discover that if you join smartphones with location apps with coupons you can cause a lot of people to make a lot of noise on-line about it, and generate stoopid company valuations.
  11. (Bonus) Content will rule. There may even be a book about it (hey – had to get a plug in there for CC and Ann!)

What about you? What are your profoundly insightful predictions for the exciting year ahead?

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See prior spoofs :>}

Don’t Be That (Social Media) Guy

Just. Don’t.

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Facebook taken over by TSA

In what has been described as a “friendly, sort of” takeover, the social networking site Facebook has been merged into the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The announcement was made in Terminal C of Newark Airport. After reporters and their personal items were screened, they were allowed to line up 12-deep to hear the head of the TSA, John T. Pistol, announce that Mark Zuckerberg had arrived at an “understanding” after several hours of enhanced frisking and being run repeatedly through a high-intensity X-ray machine.

“It was obvious that our attempts to protect the American people were simply not enough. Senior citizens were sometimes boarding planes without being subject to public humiliation, and once a right-wing blogger named Benjamin Jefferson Washington actually boarded a flight in Milwaukee before he showed up on our ‘No Fly’ list.

“Now, with Facebook, we’ll be able to extend our protective arms well beyond the airport, and monitor virtually all Americans in real-time. Except young males from certain Middle Eastern countries, of course – that would be social profiling.”

Changes to the Facebook interfaced were already evident this week, with subtle wording changes (Edit my Profile is now Profile Me) and random pop-up interrogation boxes for those who upload any photos. Also, each Facebook user is required to undergo a hands-on patdown by a TSA employee before changing any user information on their profile. “Instead of a captcha, we’re going to use a gotcha. Way better!” said Pistol.

The most controversial change involved the threat of uploading naked pictures taken in TSA scanners to user profiles. “We’ll have all your full-body X-ray pictures stored and matched to your Facebook profile, and if any user does something wrong, we figure we’ll just randomly expose 1,000 others by changing their profile picture to the bare view for 24 hours. That way, we won’t be profiling any individual or group, while still maintaining a focus on the privates of the individual.”

Asked about the issue  of violations of privacy, Pistol stared blankly ahead for a few moments, then replied, “Why do you think we chose Facebook, anyway?”

Scanner image credit

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See prior spoofs :>}

No Longer Running in Circles, Armano Unveils the sVenn Diagram

After a recent post put him over the Annual Blog Circle Allotment Quota, designer/blogger David Armano has just launched his newest information explanation creation, the sVenn diagram.

“My audience was getting tired of the same old Venn diagrams, and frankly, so was I.” explained Armano. As you can see from the trajectory of my graphics over time, I simply overused the circle metaphor to the point of radius overload. It was time for a change.

“For the last month or two, everyone’s been demanding squiggles. So that’s the heart of my new design motif, the sVenn.”

Not everyone was thrilled with the abrupt change of direction. “I’ve always liked Venn diagrams myself,” complained Alan Wolk, while feeding his pet toad. “Armano is taking a perfectly good mechanism for pretending to understand information design, and deconstructing it into an atomized mess of disparate graphical entities.

“Besides, you can’t do squiggles in pastel.”

Top American Social Media Idol designer Kristi Colvin had a different perspective, however. “Look, Venn diagrams are at least as old as AOL disks. We need something new, something fresh, something that can encompass all levels of both meaningful and meaningless, all in one package. The sVenn is perfect for this – a brilliant move by Armano. And my Uncle Sven is going to be thrilled that he’ll finally have his 15 minutes of on-line fame!”

Armano was reticent to show the full suite of his new sVenn diagrams, as they are under Patent Review for a New Method for Creating or Saving 1 Million Jobs, but he did pull one sample out of his gallery, an identity design for a social media guru formerly known as Scoble. “As you can see, with one sVenn, I’ve summed up every aspect of Robert’s Scoble’s his identity. Just wait ’til you see my latest, the sVeen, which will be the new lovemark for Gary Vay-ner-chuck (@garyvee).”

In other social media news this week, social media agency maven Darryl Ohrt described the Olympic sport of Curling as “riveting.” He was promptly unfollowed by 1,500 people on Twitter, though three Canadians did add him to their RSS feeds.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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(if you don’t subscribe, 75 neighborhood starlings will be deprived of suet…)

Steve Jobs to Unveil Apple’s new iPants

All the hullabaloo about a new tablet has been a carefully orchestrated hoax, according to a source inside Apple who leaked plans for the elaborate announcement of a brand new platform from the stylish technology company – iPants.

Reportedly, Steve Jobs was behind an elaborately planned launch that included a 7-figure payoff to American Idol to feature General Larry Platt singing what will be the theme song for the new product, “Pants on the Ground.” This YouTube meme went viral just before the big Apple unveiling in order to generate awareness of a major cultural problem in the inner city, that of ill-fitting pants.

“We plan to conquer the ‘denim divide’” Jobs told insiders in a leaked e-mail. “For too long, Apple has been known to produce high-priced products for elitists. Now, with iPants, we’ll use our technology and fashion sense to reach a whole new demographic – jeans-wearers who are not designers or techies, but regular folks who are simply not aware that jeans should be on the waistline.”

Leaked photos showed that iPants device, secured to any belt that has sufficient bling to generate a small electrical current, will deliver a mild but uncomfortable electric shock to the wearer whenever the pants droop over 6 inches from the ideal waistline location, determined via real-time sub-space transmission technology married to GPS triangulation. Wearers who have iPhones and Twitter accounts will also possess the option of a Foursquare auto message, such as, “I just got zapped by my iPants at Broadway and 33rd.”

It is anticipated that Jobs may actually drop his famous jeans during the product announcement ceremony to demonstrate the iPants shock, and rumors are swirling that the audience will then get a preview of the long-rumored iBriefs, currently under hush-hush development in the top-secret textile section of the Palo Alto campus.

For General Larry Platt, who recently signed a recording contract to belt out a series of operatic duets with Sarah Brightman, the announcement will come as a major lift to his once-floundering career as a zeppelin test engineer. “I thought that the Balloon Boy kerfuffle might help elevate my professional opportunities, but now, starting with iPants, I plan to evangelize Apple products in every city, or at least on YouTube.” When pressed for future plans, Mr. Platt would not comment on the stylish matching black hat and turtleneck he was wearing, only stating that the “iThreads wi-fi network you’re detecting has nothing to do with these wires in my clothes.”

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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2009 – Links you Might Enjoy (again?)

I have a bookmark folder in my browser called Stuff. It’s where I put interesting, weird, and funny stuff to spice up various posts.

So, here’s a collection of some of that Stuff from the past year. Eleven links – because I’ve had enough Top 10 lists! Enjoy!

Since you’ll need a cup of coffee to browse through all these, we’ll start with 50 Beautifully Delicious Coffee Designs

50 Brilliant and Creative Advertisements for your Inspiration

Worst album covers of all time

YouTube – blast into space, spectacular fall to earth.

The Big Picture from Boston.com – Human Landscapes

The Crisis of Credit visualized (a brilliant animation explaining the financial meltdown)

13 Fantastic and Fun Image Generators

Incredible pictures formed by thousands of soldiers

YouTube – comedian Brian Regan on Airline Stuff

Rain

60 Stunning Satellite photos of earth

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Impolite Company

You know how people tell you that there are certain topics never to be discussed among “polite company”?

I don’t get that.

“Just remember, we never discuss combustion, or split-second decisions, in polite company. That’s the received wisdom. Avoid those issues or people will think you’re a boor.”

“Really? Those are the two forbidden topics?”

“Yes – they make people uncomfortable.”

“Dang. Because the house is on fire, and we all need to get out NOW!”

“That’s impolite!”

“OK.”

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Mystic Speaks

I was quite surprised to discover this week that my dog, Mystic, is actually considered to be quite the successful marketer in her circle of influence. In fact, she has quite a social network, and, as I discovered when I sat down to interview her (between doggie treats and luxurious naps), dogs can teach us a lot about influence and branding.

Me: Mystic, you seem to be pretty popular in the neighborhood after one year. What would you say is the essence of your Personal Brand?

Mystic: Well, for me it’s all about what we call canine benchmarking. It was clear in our walks around town that best practices in the area of impression management meant a head held high, a glossy coat, and turn-key approach to adding value by sniffing backsides. The rest just takes care of itself.

Me: Did you approach this challenge by trying to define your own niche, or did you seek synergistic partnerships with other leading canines?

Mystic: I took a both-and approach. Obviously, when you’re a startup, you’ve got to achieve some sort of critical mass, so I made sure to relieve myself in the sight of some of the bark-leaders in the neighborhood. Eventually, once I had some best-of-breed backers, I had to recontextualize in order to unleash my own brand positioning. Which usually involves lying on my side and drooling.

Me: What metrics do you use to ensure that your brand is top-of-mind, and not mired in the long tail?

Mystic: Just remember two words. No, not “Down, Girl!” Trend Analysis. All the canines in this vertical maximize insights from these data points.

Me: Final question: I’ve been told that you – and perhaps some other influencers in your sub-group – roll around in your own…you know, doo-doo. What’s up with that?

Mystic: Every dog quickly learns about leveraging recurring assets. When the input/output ratio is unbalanced in the supply chain, you have to morph past deliverables into current value-added resources.

Me: In other words, you just harness back-end action items to produce a fresh brand presentation.

Mystic: Exactly. Can I go out and pee now??

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Hitting the Pinnacle of Buzzwords

I freely confess to hating business buzzwords and jargon. Like David Meerman Scott and many others, I find the practice of repeating technical-sounding phrases in an effort to appear knowledgeable to be pompous and counter-productive.

It’s an over-leveraging of verbal resources. Yes, I went there.

Now, at the same time, I love a broad and deep vocabulary. Words like “obfuscation” (which means, if you’re not familiar with it, the use of words to obscure rather than clarify meaning). Obfuscation is a great word that actually nicely describes what buzz-jargon does.

I have found one company (which will remain anonymous) which has managed, over time, to establish a new benchmark in meaningless blather. Every trip to the well of this company’s jargon pool brings forth a new wealth of meaningless bloviation (look it up – another favorite vocabulary word). I thought I’d share just a bit from the latest press release, for your edification and amusement:

____________ today published a strategy pharmaceutical companies can apply to reinvent growth for established drug brands. Addressing the total context of change reshaping the operating environment, the approach shifts the center of gravity in pharmaceutical brand management, focusing on market collaboration and novel linkages to create new health and business value. Available for download through the _________ website, the strategic brief builds on the concept of ‘health ecosystem design’ introduced by _____________ as a new model for competitive strategy, regionalization and employer initiatives, and account-based sales to integrated delivery networks.
_____________ has pioneered a methodology for market strategy defined in 21st-century terms, an approach that enables an evolutionary leap in solutions for growth and competitive advantage. The firm was the first to introduce ‘marketing ecosystems’ as a framework to synthesize strategy, media, content and distribution platforms for in-line products.

Now, I ask you – do you have any CLUE what is being talked about here? Oh, and this company’s tagline now is: A New Grammar for Strategy. Enough said.

Lesson: talk about your business in plain English. Leave obfuscation to the pros….

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David Armano Wins Nobel Prize for “Really Cool Drawings”

(why not celebrate our third birthday with a fresh social media spoof?)

Today, it was announced that globally-recognized artist and hat-wearing aficionado David Armano has been awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in creating “some of the coolest graphics on the planet.”

Full CircleAccording to Hans Blimsted, Swedish Nobel judge of Peace and Social Media Stuff, Armano’s work, while somewhat confusing to the average mind, is full of soft, pastel-y colors and will certainly, over time, contribute to world peace and to the entire re-architecting of business processes across the world.

“Take his use of circles within circles,” said Blimsted, in announcing the award to a hushed audience of twelve Swedish professional curlers, joined in a live stream by countless bloggers and Twitterati around the globe. “Just gazing at those round shapes reminds us that the world is one, we all are one, and by moving toward a social business design in new collaboratories, we can calibrate a new ecosystem of holistic frameworks. Umm…folks, I just read the notes – you make sense of it.

“Plus, he does dots and gently curved arrows. That means peace in any language. Well, most. Actually – what do all those little arrows mean anyway?”

dachis_ecoShocked bloggers reacted with a mix of exuberant exultation and petty jealousy. “I couldn’t be happier for David!” declared Cathleen Rittereiser, just before unlocking the “local” badge on Foursquare. “Of all the circular-thinkers I follow, David has always been the most well-rounded! And if the President can get one for sounding cool, David should get one for looking cool.” On the other hand, Dear Leader of PlaidNation Darry Ohrt sniffed, “The guy doesn’t know colors at all. Pastels-pshaw! When has he ever done anything in plaid? Amateur!”

Rumors that Barack Obama had actually declined his Nobel Prize in favor of Armano were quashed when the President strode out of the White House wearing a cowboy hat and proclaiming that he was at least as cool as Chicago’s Austin’s favorite designer. “Armano didn’t deliver the Olympics for us, but with his circles and my teleprompter, we’re going to run rings around those pesky petty tyrants around the world. Now that’s some hope and change, baby!”

Mr Armano could not be reached for 140 characters of comment, as he was encased in his studio creating the next-generation 550-circle graphic of intergalactic business interoperability.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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Weather Channel Classic Launched!

WCCThe Weather Channel, after listening to years of strident input from viewers everywhere, has launched a new channel – WCC (Weather Channel Classic) where every description of the weather is 100% accurate.

WCC provides day-old forecasts – called backcasts – to show you, with unerring precision, what the weather was like for the past 24 hours. Or, if you subscribe to WCC Premium Gold Plus, you can go back and find out exactly what the weather was for any date in the past 30 years!

“We’ve had complaints for, oh, just about forever that forecasts simply aren’t accurate enough,” said Joseph Cumulata, Director of Statistical Analysis at The Weather Channel. “‘Chance of rain: 60%. 80% this. 50% that. Blah, blah, blah – just give us the facts!’ they keep telling us. So, with WCC and WCC Premium Gold Plus, we’re going to give you the facts. 100% everything. Because we want to bat a thousand too, sometimes!”

A new crew of weather backcasters has been hired, who will do the usual magic wand waving over colorful maps, but who only require a maximum IQ (and body temperature) of 98.6 to read a teleprompter and get the weather description right. “We’re going to save a ton of money,” declared Charlie Nimbus, director of Programming at The Weather Channel. “We can put up doe-eyed models and half-brained pretty boys who will dazzle with their perfect smiles while giving perfect forecasts…er, backcasts. Everybody wins.”

AltoStratusWCC was soft-launched in beta markets full of older people (Orlando and Phoenix) who tend to be more sensitive to the nuances of weather, and more demanding that weather descriptions be perfect so that they can figure out if they should have ventured outside. “I love WCC!” exalted Bertha Perambulus, who has been watching the channel several hours a day for 3 months now. “The backcasts correspond perfectly with the achiness I felt in my joints during last week’s low pressure, and in my sneak peek of WCC Premium Gold Plus, I was able to see that big rainstorm roll right in that ruined my 40th high school reunion in 1998. I don’t know how I lived without it!

“Plus that cute backcaster, Alto B. Stratus – I can’t take my eyes off of him!”

Assuming a successful uptake of the new Classic Channel, the company is already in discussions with Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann to come on board for a new venture, the Weather Channel Smackdown, where opinions about upcoming weather will be debated in live, free-for-all screaming matches.

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ROI – Solved!

blanchardThe very thorny problem of Social Media ROI (Return on Investment) was finally solved this week by the brilliant research work of social media guru  Olivier Blanchard (aka The BrandBuilder).

Olivier, well-known throughout the blogging world as a marketing finance expert and bike-rider, dug deep into the world of virtual metrics and came up with a reliable, scalable, and reproducible method of calculating the financial impact of social media.

Eschewing traditional measures such as dollars invested vs. dollars realized, increased sales, and boring data points like that, Olivier applied his guru-like creative expertise to come up with a totally new and relevant series of measures – the “Blanchard Scale” (BS).

Since social media is relatively new and there is so much indirect impact on business, the Blanchard Scale bypasses hard numbers for new measures that take into account the subjectivity and wishful thinking of social networking efforts.

The Scale is summarized thusly, and works best if pronounced with a faint but distinct French accent:

- The Chihuahua (CH) – the smallest measure, a chihuahua of social media impact means that somebody saw something you did somewhere. If you get re-tweeted on Twitter, that’s an extra (or, venti) chihuahua.

- The Nutella (NU) – a Nutella of social media impact is when at least one comment on a blog or one Twitter dialogue ensues. A Nutella unit is often considered a measure of social media “sweetness”. If the dialogue is re-tweeted on Twitter, that’s a NU-CH.

- The Blanchard (BL) – also called a “glop”, this is a totally subjective impact measure which indicates that a bunch of really cool stuff is going on over several platforms, even if we can’t quantify it. Most social media campaigns are considered a success at a 5-Blanchard level post-launch.

- The Brogan (BR) – formerly labeled the Godin, this rarefied measure of impact is only achieved when you go viral, which means that there must be some money changing hands somewhere, and probably we’re going to get some. A 3-Brogan campaign is the gold standard in social media ROI. Occasionally augmented by a Vayner, which currently hasn’t been fully defined, but is definitely kinda loud.

- The Kaw (GUY) – only achieved once so far, all top bloggers want to be “that Guy”. Guess what – you’re not.

Prominent blogging gurus and experts were dumbfounded by the simplicity and utility of the new Blanchard Scale. “I give it 2 ‘heh’s up!” proclaimed social media expert influencer Jason Falls, who once had a post “go Blanchard” on his Social Media Explorer site. “I think all my clients will want to employ these targeted metrics, which are perfectly suited to describe whatever it is we’re trying to make happen. We’ll get people used to some CH-sized returns, then go straight for the big bucks with a double-Brogan campaign!”

Known for delivering consistent Nutella results for her many clients, social media guru Kris Colvin was ecstatic at the release of the new BS scale. “Olivier let me work with a beta version, and except for some spurious Kaws and a couple of transient Chihuahuas, I was able to provide some very soft calculations to my clients on the preliminary possible projected impact of their social media endeavors, right down to the nearest glop or two. Brilliant! I still think there should be a “Colvin“, however, tied to YouTube views…”

Doing BS calculations can begin immediately after downloading the Blanchard Scale from the BrandBuilderROI website. You simply make up your own price and get right to work, which is good practice for utilization of the tool. Those who use the Scale for a week receive a free “I’m a Full-of-BS Social Media Guru” certificate, suitable for scanning and posting on a blog sidebar.

Apart from a 975-work blog post on the subject, Olivier was reticent to share much about his next endeavor, the Nutella Channel, created to spread recipes using the new blanchard cooking scale. It is rumored, however, that a new micro-measure, the “Gill“, will be introduced when the upcoming Book of Blanchard and new on-line video channel are unveiled.

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Zappo’s “heels” the Barefoot Executive

zapposUPDATE: See end of this post for a major news update. The REAL reason why Zappo’s was acquired by Amazon!

In a masterstroke of brand protection, Tony Hsieh of Zappo’s, the Internet’s most famous shoe store, has bought out his main competitor, The Barefoot Executive for an undisclosed sum and a social network to be named later.

“Our shoe sales have been growing like crazy!” stated Hsieh, who measures corporate results via bottom-line profits and top-line Re-tweets. “However, we’ve noticed a disturbing trend among our ‘executive’ customers – a drop-off in sales like nothing we’ve seen before. Market research indicated that Carrie Wilkerson – the Barefoot Executive – was clearly the influence causing many Presidents and CEOs to walk around shoeless. And they’re key influencers – clearly a trend we couldn’t allow to continue. Can you imagine entire companies loaded with barefoot people trying to emulate the boss? Ewwww!”

Calling a company brainstorming meeting on Twitter using the #stopcarrie hashtag, the consensus was reached that no other shoe retailers were, in fact, worthy of competitive mention. Problem #1 was actually the Barefoot Underground – about to get worse with the release of Carrie’s upcoming business/networking/barefoot fashion book – and there was only one method that could be employed to stop this anti-footwear phenomenon.

“We bought her out,” exulted Mr. Hsieh, refusing to go into the financial details except to say that it was in the “high five figures” of pairs of stylish executive shoes over the next 10 years. “Plus, her impending book will now be re-named ‘The Well-Shod Executive,’ and will feature her discussions of the relative merits of heels, pumps, flats, and bling-blingy boots in each chapter.”

Barefoot smA quick bump in shoe sales was already recorded when Carrie, using her famous Hypno-Eyebrow Webcam Method (HEWM), recorded her first video extolling the virtues of wearing the latest fire-engine red spiked heels while blogging from home.

The surprise move may be a portent of a new trend to come. Rumor has it that @themarketingguy, Jay Ehret, is in discussions with a hair-growth company to trade in his bald pate for something more lush. Not to be outdone, Jason Falls was recently spotted pouring his favorite bourbon down the drain while talking earnestly to a marketing rep for Tab cola. Even Twitter founders Ev and Biz, famous for going against the money-making tide, were recently spotted with AOL t-shirts.

Carrie could not be reached for comment, being tended to in a local hospital after twisting her ankle rollerblading with a pair of spiked purple PamelaMartins.

UPDATE: It was announced this week that Zappo’s has been acquired by Amazon. Beneath all the congratulatory blah-blah about synergy and growth, the REAL reason has now emerged (with thanks to @techcrunch for hacking into Zappo’s computer network and unearthing secret files…).

It turns out that the announcement of the Barefoot_Exec acquisition sent the shoe business into a sudden tailspin, as thousands of former customers began returning shoes in order to join the Carrie Cult and go barefoot. The only way to halt the slide, secret documents reveal, was to “be acquired by a major book retailer and seek to quash the release of Carrie’s upcoming book.”

The documents also reveal, in conjunction with Twitter documents already purloined and published, that Twitter has finally decided on a monetization strategy and plans to acquire the new Amazon/Zappos combo, since “this 140-character market is proving blasted hard to make a profit from! Let’s sell some other stuff!”

It is not know if @barefoot_exec will be allowed to tweet on the new Twamazapp platform. Stay tuned to TechCrunch for further details…

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You’re Being “Tivo’ed”!

tivocomm

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Free eBook: Getting Started with Social Networking

Bye-Bye, Social Media Die

This is part 2 of the Death of Social Media™ (part 1 is here, wherein we recount how the doomsayers are predicting the demise of SocMed, and the haters are rejoicing). Alan Wolk and I were exchanging. via Twitter, ludicrous traffic-inducing blog headlines about this doomsday scenario, which is how this 2-part “series” was birthed.

For those of an earlier generation, the lyrics and melody of Don McLean’s “Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie” will remain forever embedded in perma-memory – if you’re not familiar with it, here’s a performance on YouTube, and here are the original lyrics.

Now, onto the show…

Bye-Bye, Social Media Die

A short, short time ago
I can still remember how that Twitter used to
Make me smile
And I knew that if I had my chance
I could make those people tweet
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

Did you write a blog for nerds
And do you have faith in Zuckerberg
If the Scoble tells you so
Now do you believe in baiting links
And can Brogan save your blog that stinks
And can you teach me how to Plurk real slow

Well, I know that you’re in love with Guy
‘Cause I saw you tweetin’ on the fly
You both linked up your tribes
Man, I dig those linkback vibes

I was a lonely soc med guru schmuck
With a pink MacBook Pro and a rubber duck
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the Soc Med died
I started singing…

Bye-bye, Social Media Die
Drove my traffic via bit.ly
But the stats were awry
And good old boys were linkin’ Godin and Guy
Singing this’ll be the day that it dies
This’ll be the day that it dies

I clicked an URL whose link was blue
And I pinged it for some happy news
But it just crashed my Chrome and went away
I scanned my feeds as I had before
But all I got was 404′s
I couldn’t even read Olivier

Well now, at their desks the tweeters screamed
The bloggers cried, and the spammers schemed
But not a word was written
Not even by Laura Fitton
And the gurus I admire the most
Loren, Ev and Kevin Rose
They made a name, then it was toast
The day the Soc Med died

We started singin’…

Bye-bye, Social Media Die
Drove my traffic via bit.ly
But the stats were awry
And good old boys were linkin’ Godin and Guy
Singing this’ll be the day that it dies
This’ll be the day that it dies

(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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White House nukes LA to get fresh earthquake photos – Obama apologetic

nukeRealizing that the Administration did not have any fresh, updated photos of earthquake disasters, chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel today secretly ordered the destruction of most of Los Angeles by dropping a thermonuclear bomb in order to trigger a massive earthquake.

The city is now a glowing ruin, with casualty estimates in the millions. However, “we got some really great aerial shots, since our entire fleet of F-15′s was deployed with high-speed cameras. A few – well, actually 23 – planes were incinerated in the event, but with live satellite feeds, those who had the nearest-angle shots actually gave their lives for something worthy – great close-ups of an earthquake-inducing mushroom cloud captured via live satellite feed. Awesome!”

quakeThose not instantly killed by the thermonuclear explosion were buried under tons of rubble by the Richter 8.8 quake which followed, leaving a 34-mile valley of destruction coursing across Southern California. Remote cameras had been set up in advance to capture the carnage, and some of the shots “rivalled our best footage of Air Force One circling Lady Liberty!” exalted Emmanuel, clearly pleased that his careful planning had paid off.

Rumors that Hugo Chavez’ latest book was airdropped over the stricken city just before the cataclysmic blast were promptly denied. However, Arlen Specter is said to be re-considering his switch to the Democratic party, because “I’ve already got Three Mile Island hanging over me. Now this? I’m toxic enough already!”

Al Gore immediately chartered a private jet to fly over the area on a mission of mercy, dropping coupons for carbon credits on any surviving victims who may be concerned about the impact of nuclear fallout on climate change. “It was the least I could do,” stated Mr Gore, before jetting off to another celebrity-studded Save the Earth gabfest. Meanwhile, a swarm of ACORN community organizers donned hazmat suits and spread throughout the affected area, restoring polling places and registering the dead for the next election cycle.

obamaReporters were careful not to fault President Obama for the event, as there really had been a great need for better disaster images which was met by the carefully-orchestrated photo op. Nonetheless, the President did apologize, promising a prompt review by a blue-ribbon panel of congressional supporters who will ultimately blame FEMA and former President Bush for the fiasco. Obama is tapping former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and former Illinois governer Rod Blagojevich to head up re-construction efforts.

The handful of surviving residents of Los Angeles were infuriated by the episode, but ultimately supported the President, realizing that the damage was nothing a few quadrillion dollars of debt couldn’t fix. The Obama plan to nationalize Hollywood will actually continue to move forward, however, with Bank of America being secretly charged to buy the distressed assets of the immolated industry.

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River of Post-Twit Notes Floods Fargo

A veritable yellow-snowstorm of printed 140-character “tweets” dropped from the sky over Fargo, ND yesterday, threatening to overwhelm levees already strained by an ice-clogged river.

fargoposttwit2

The founders of the on-line micro-blogging service Twitter chose Fargo for the unveiling of their new Post-Twit note service, a fusing of old world and new media communications, because “the swollen Red River is the perfect illustration of the massive growth of our Twitterstream – and beside, all the soon-to-be-defunct old media companies were already on the ground to cover the ev [140-character limit exceeded]“

Hundreds of thousands of yellow 3.5 inch square paper notes rained down on the city, each with a 140-character maximum “tweet” printed on it. “It’s the perfect way to introduce all the unwashed masses to Twitter, ” stated Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter.  “A lot of these flyover country folk are still stuck in the old printed paper world, so we figured we’d flood them with micro-messages on Post-it notes, just to get them acclimated to the many advantages of Twittering in a format they’d understand.”

The Post-Twit note initiative came about when Twitter, which has never made any money, applied for federal TARP funds and was granted $150 billion dollars because it was a money-losing operation that was still “very cool!” according to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Twitter quickly bought the bankrupt Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper and decided to merge branding into the new “Post-Twit” format. As a bonus, all former subscribers to the Seattle newspaper will get a free, 140-character summary of the news on a note stuck to their door each day.

Twitter’s bold marketing ploy of blanketing middle America with Post-Twit notes was almost derailed when 3M, the manufacturers of Post-it notes, began unveiling a trademark lawsuit. However, this problem was quickly solved by some creative congressional maneuvering. Using their  $149.95 billion remaining in TARP funds after the newspaper purchase, Twitter submitted its plan to purchase GM. However, Chris Dodd secretly changed “GM” to “3M” in conference negotiations, so instead of an automobile company, Twitter ended up owning all the assets and trademarks of the Post-it note parent company (which will now be renamed “DM”).

Reaction among the Twitterati was decidedly mixed. Guy Kawasaki proclaimed “Holy Kaw!” and immediately launched an Alltop category, while Pete Cashmore of Mashable wondered why they didn’t just drop a bunch of iPhones on the city and be done with it. “Who needs this old technology? With AT&T’s new 4G underwater wi-fi technology, what better opportunity for a co-promotion!” Even former social media user Barack Obama weighed in with some videotaped commentary.

Post-Twit notes gathered out of the floodwaters in Fargo included some gems as, “About to head out to the gym with my new sneakers”, “Haha LOL”, and “Does anyone else have a dead slug on their iPhone screen?” Exhausted residents of Fargo seemed heartened by the attention shown by having multiple airplanes dropping Post-Twit notes all over town, though one polite homeowner indicated that “some help filling sandbags might have been slightly more appropriate under the circumstances. If that’s OK – I mean, we really don’t want to be a bother.”

Twitter next hopes to promote Post-Twittering to Topeka, Kansas, or Dumfries, Iowa, whichever is struck first by a natural or man-made disaster.

Twitter is still in negotiations to purchase old-line communications giant AT&T, which it plans to rename RT&T.

Oh…and Happy April 1st!

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