Social Media: Start Here

You are considering how “social media” fits into your current or future business strategy.

Or, you are already on board with social networking but have to convince colleagues or clients who are skeptical.

Here’s my advice: Don’t start with social media. Start with the much bigger trends, which are making social media inevitable.

It’s all outlined here: The New Normal: Networked Communications. This Slideshare explains that technology-fueled Trend Currents (not current trends!) are shaping society in such a way that the use of social media/networked communications is inexorable – and inevitable.

If you’re looking for help educating professional colleagues and clients about how networked communications are (inevitably) re-shaping business, let me know. That’s my consulting/speaking sweet spot.


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[This post is the summary of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and this final post – Social Media: Start Here]

Networked Communications (part 6): The New Digital Neighborhoods

Your community used to be your extended family, your neighbors, your schoolmates and members of various community groups.

The ties were physical and, by and large, local.

They still are – but now we take part in whole new neighborhoods. Communities built around shared interests and common causes, all brought together with digital tools.

The new neighborhoods are found on digital networks. They’re local, global, temporary, permanent, rooted in the past or purpose-built for the present and the future.

And businesses that don’t recognize this sea change – people who remain rooted in legacy thinking about communities – will lose a wealth of opportunities. People are fed up with being bombarded with one-way, manipulative marketing messages. They want to hear from people like themselves. People in the communities they choose (or even create themselves).

And just as neighbors always have, they have a powerful influence on each others’ buying decisions. Not in the game? Not part of the discussion? You lose.

Involvement in social media is not a difficult decision, when this larger context is understood. We want to be where customers are. We want to influence communities, generate neighborhood referrals, and build tribes. The fastest growing businesses will be where the most efficient networked communications occur. Social media is crucial to any strategy of reaching people “where they are” now. Because where many of them are gathering, and talking, and influencing, is on-line.

If your co-workers or clients have cold feet about social media, simply ask if they have a smart phone. If they use the Internet. If they are on Facebook. If they use these tools and more to…connect with people. If they’re influenced by ratings on Amazon, if they’ve used Yelp to find a good restaurant, if they’ve used LinkedIn Answers – all of that is taking a dip into the pool of on-line neighborhoods.

Customers are swimming in those pools, some in the shallow end, but increasingly, many in the deep end. Seems counter-productive to sit on the sidelines when buyers and influencers are already in the game…

[This post is part of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and the summary post – Social Media: Start Here]


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The Question I’ll Never Ask You

“Will you be my virtual friend?”

My kids accuse me of having a host of virtual friends. Wrong, kiddos.

I have a network of very real people – friends, acquaintances, colleagues, clients – some of whom I just haven’t met face-to-face yet.

They’re no less real than anyone else. The fact the we “pre-met” and communicate via virtual platforms doesn’t change that.

By all means, let’s connect. But there’s no virtual person in the relationship. Perhaps we should stop talking about “real-life” and “on-line” friends and just be…friends.


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The Influencer Project


If you missed this event, you can download the full mp3 file and the .pdf transcript of all the 60-second clips right here.

Here is what I had to say in my minute of fame:

My main secret for building influence online is to identify gifted up-and-comers that are just getting into social media, but clearly have the right stuff, have good experience, have drive, have a message—but really need help getting launched on platforms like Twitter or in blogging. By coming alongside them and becoming an advocate, and taking their material and exposing it to a broader audience and connecting them to key people, you end up creating for yourself an advocate for life.

This is someone who will absolutely feel a debt of gratitude to you, and will be your biggest fan and supporter. And one of the keys for digital influence is not having the biggest number of connections; it’s really having the most rabid advocates. And when people feel a sense that you are a helpful, very unselfish helper in their growth then they will absolutely help you in your growth.


What happens when you get 60 of the web’s leading thinkers each sharing how you can increase your digital influence – all in 60 minutes?

Find out on Tuesday, July 6th at 6 pm ET. Here’s the scoop: The Influencer Project.

(Disclosure – yes, I somehow got included in the 60. Clerical error, I believe….!)


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Google Me and Metamee

The rumors are swirling around that Google may be working on a Facebook killer (code-named Google Me).

If they’re smart (and they are smart over there at Google), they’ll be designing something far more ambitious and far-reaching than the walled garden over at Facebook.

We need an entirely new way to approach on-line networking. And Google already has a lot of the bits and pieces (Blogger, Voice, Buzz, Profiles, Gmail, Maps, commerce solutions, etc.) to pull it together.

What could this master portal look like? I sketched out a series of ideas in some blog posts two years ago (One Interface to Rule Them All) that generated a good bit of discussion. To date, no-one’s come close to building this (code-named Metamee):

Links to the entire One Interface to Rule them All series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

plus…The Ideal Social Media Interface

Google Me, meet Metamee. Make this and I’ll throw everything else out the window. How about it?

[Note: it appears that Cliqset is taking some steps in the right direction with a brand new version…]


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Backing up to the Cloud

Like most people who do a lot of work on computer, I’m not ENTIRELY smart or consistent about doing backups. Fortunately, I haven’t had any hard-core disk crashes of late, but the idea of cloud-based backup (with something like Mozy or Carbonite) appeals to me because the process is automated, and the data is somewhere else in case the house burns down. I’ll probably pull the trigger on one of those services this month.

But what about all the on-line stuff – blogs, pictures, twitter, etc.? I was excited to see that a group including Jason Falls is launching a service called Backupify (formerly Lifestream Backup – yes, the name change was a positive step!), which will provide continuous backup of your on-line assets via an Amazon cloud-based service. They support a whole bunch of on-line content repositories (see the home page) – wouldn’t mind if they added Yahoo Mail, actually (any way to grab LinkedIn data also?)

In fact, they have a nice offer going, which I’m taking advantage of right here and now – a free year of premium service for blogging about Backupify (more here). Yeah, I like freebies like everyone else. But this is no tchotchke – I have countless hours invested in my on-line content. I’d like to make sure it doesn’t evaporate at some point.

As more and more of our “stuff” migrates to on-line platforms, this type of service will be invaluable. And it will be nice to mute that faint but distinct voice in the back of my head that I’m playing Russian Roulette with my data…


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Feed People

If you’re involved in Social Media/Networked Communications as a marketer or businessperson, one of the key questions you ask yourself is: How can I add value to my community?

Take that question and look behind it to see this (more important) query: What are the unmet needs that I can address?

Always, a big need is targeted information. So, feed people.

Here are a few starting points:

    1. Almost every audience needs consolidated and/or curated content. Did you know that with a few hours work, you can create a public information portal using free (& quite simple) tools such as Pageflakes or Netvibes? And by subscribing to targeted blog and news feeds, you can filter out the most important information and post or e-mail it to your target audience. Doesn’t take much time, but adds tremendous value.
    2. And speaking of e-mail, don’t overlook this tried-and-true method of communicating. Many of us assume that our audiences are as tech-savvy as we’re trying to be. Usually, they’re nowhere close. So as you find technology and solutions* that help move the needle for regular folks to become a bit more advanced in their use of tools, share…using good old-fashioned e-mail and a personal touch. With all the networked communication methods I use, I still tend to get the best response via targeted e-mails (and, if you want to add a new twist to this, use a webcam and send a free video e-mail using a service like Eyejot.) You can become valuable to your network by introducing them to new advances, but by still using the communication methods they know and understand.
    (*Good sources for this kind of info: Lifehacker. TechCrunch. AllTop.)
    3. We all like diversions. So find interesting stuff, and share it. What are some of my main sources for finding offbeat and interesting items that my audiences enjoy? Here’s a few: Neatorama. Book of Joe. Coudal Partners. PopURLs.

It doesn’t take any special talent to become an information aggregator, curator, and communicator. It just takes a relatively modest amount of daily time, and steady effort. Your audience and network will really appreciate it, because they often do not have the time, and when you become a trusted and interesting source, you win.

That’s a few suggestions. What ideas, and other helpful sites, would you add (use the Comments)?


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