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190 posts categorized "Blogs, Podcasts & Vlogs"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How To Interview Anyone: 5 Lessons From Amazing Interviewers

One of the most popular forms of content creation today is interviews ... but great interviews take a lot more than just coming up with a list of questions.  The sad fact is, not everyone who creates interviews to post online is actually good at doing them. So you might wonder, what do the people who ARE really good at it already know?

Over the last month I've done over 30 interviews as part of launching Likeonomics (that's more than one a day). Across that time, I've done everything from answering emailed questions to sitting in a broadcast TV studio. Apart from getting good at sharing soundbites, the last month has really given me an up close look at almost every style of interviewing you can imagine.

Through that time, there were a few interviews that really stood out - and five in particular which I have singled out and included in this article. Together they offer some valuable lessons for anyone who needs to produce and publish any kind of interview.

IMB-Anna-Farmery1. Prepare like a pro. (From: Anna Farmery)

Anna Farmery was an early influencer to get the book, and her Engaging Brand Podcast was one of the first interviews I did for the book. Within 30 seconds of starting the interview, it was clear that she had really read the book and thought about it (you would be amazed at how many interviewers don't). Her questions were fair, insightful and challenging in the right places.  Having her among the first helped prepare me for several of the interviews and questions I would get later during my media push for the book.  And the interview experience remains one of my favourites - all because she took the time to prepare like a pro.

2. Invent your own style. (From: Laura Fitton - aka "@pistachio")

IMB-Laura-FittonA recognized celebrity on Twitter, Laura Fitton (@pistachio) is an early pioneer of the "tweet chat" interview format - where she hosts an hour long conversation on Twitter (aggregated together with the hashtag #beonfire) where guests interact in 140 character bursts with a real time audience asking questions and making comments. It's a jarring experience because of the breakneck speed of questions and comments, but pretty soon you get used to the stream and realize how amazing a conversation you can have when you're forced into sharing soundbites, and without every saying anything verbally to anyone.

IMB-Katya-Andresen3. Add value to the interview. (From: Katya Andreson)

When Katya Andreson decided to feature Likeonomics on her very popular nonprofit marketing blog, she asked me to respond to a very pointed question about how nonprofits could use the ideas in Likeonomics. I shared two responses for truths that nonprofits should share and she used both in her blog post. It would have been easy to stop there - but she didn't. Instead, she added her own take, a few lines of commentary and then a link to a wonderful video to demonstrate the points we both had made in the post. That additional effort made the piece her own, and engaged her fans - all because she took the high road to add value to an interview instead of taking the lazier "cut and paste" route.

4. Dig deeper to get the full picture. (From: David Siteman Garland)

IMB-David-Siteman-GarlandNot many interviews challenge me to dig backwards into my past before I even imagined doing what I do now - and definitely no one got me to share the types of embarassing stories that David did ... but this is part of what has helped him to build an audience of more than 100,000 subscribers to his Rise To The Top "Non-boring" Podcast. He does an amazing job of establishing a rapport with his interviewee quickly and then asking deeper questions. Combined with a keen sense of what his audience of entrepreneurs really want to hear about, this makes his show and style a winner.

5. Work with the tools you have. (From: Sree Sreenivasan)

IMB-Sree-SreenivasanAfter participating in a seminar for about 75 students at the Columbia Journalism School, Sree Sreenivasan (Dean of Student Affairs) and I were walking towards the direction of his apartment in NY. During our walk, he pulled out his phone and started recording our talk. The "interview" features our unrehearsed conversation amidst the background sound of traffic (my rolling computer case along the sidewalk). Sree is an accomplished professor and journalist and teaches some of the most well known journalists in the world all about social media. If anyone knows about broadcast quality, it's him. Yet he's not afraid to just press the record button and walk down the street. It's the best proof that great interviews don't always require soundboards and mixers.

Do you produce your own content or have you had an interview with someone that really stood out?  Share your own tips about what makes a great interview or interviewer in a comment on this post!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yahoo's CEO And The Modern Believability Crisis

IMB_IrishLiteratureI don't actually have a degree in Irish Poetry. I share this because recently at a few events I may have mistakenly mentioned that I did. See, I studied English literature at Emory University in the late 90s. While there, I took exactly two elective classes specifically on Irish literature and as most people who study that field already know - Emory has one of the best collections of Irish literature and poetry in the world. So I did focus on Irish Poetry, but the degree that I earned in 1997 was a BA in English Literature. 

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, you can hardly blame me for getting more specific this week. As anyone watching the story of Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson stepping down because of accusations that he falsified his educational credentials knows - small exaggerations can become big controversies. The fact that it has become enough to cause the downfall of a newly minted CEO of a big brand like Yahoo says a lot not just about our watchdog media culture, but also about the most important weapon that your enemies have today to take you down ... the Internet.

IMB_YahooCEOScottThompsonThe fact is, today most people are predisposed NOT to believe anything that a large company or one of its officers says - this is the modern believability crisis where people just don't trust in the institutions around them. In this low trust world, if the media and blogs report that a CEO claimed to have earned a degree he didn't, people believe it without question. Why shouldn't they?  After all, they don't know him personally. But what if they did? 

What if you did? Would Thompson's resume gaffe still have been as big a deal?  I started this post by confessing the truth about my education to you. I didn't mean to lie to anyone. When I tell people I studied Irish Poetry, it is the truth. But I didn't earn a piece of paper that says that, so technically I tok . While you are considering whether or not you feel misled by my exaggerated claim - consider this question as well: what if Thomson had his own platform such as a blog to clear the air and tell his story in his own voice?

The fact is, as we live in a world where people believe fewer and fewer messages associated with corporations, the only real solution is to find a more human way to make connections. We believe the people that we know and like - whether they happen to be CEOs of big brands or marketing bloggers. It may also be the best recent argument for every CEO to start their own blog - or at least their own personal platform to talk directly to the people they manage and those who are influenced by them. 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Paulo Coelho Can Teach You About Storytelling & Writing

IMB_PauloCoelho1Sitting in a hotel room tonight putting the finishing touches on a presentation I am giving today on storytelling, I got an irresistable update to a new blog post over on Tim Ferriss' blog featuring a podcast interview with one of my longtime inspirations as a writer - Paolo Coelho.  His book The Alchemist is a life changing experience for anyone I know who has read it (including me). So when Tim published his interview, I immediately listened to the whole thing. I highly recommend it. 

In the midst of finishing my presentation and also putting the last edits together on my second book, the timing was perfect for the interview ... which perhaps explains why I've spent the last hour procrastinating on finishing my presentation and writing this post instead. But if you aspire to write anything from a book to a great blog post, I guarantee that some of Coelho's tips below will help. Here are his frequently "tweetworthy" quotes that I wrote down from his audio podcast:

On Inspiration: "I procrastinate, check some emails ... then I start. I write my books very quickly because I cannot stop."

On Confidence: "You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have."

On Simplicity: "What counts in a good story is the person inside. Keep it simple."
On Trust: "Trust your reader. Don't try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination."

On Writing: "I write the book that wants to be written. Behind the first sentence is a thread that takes you to the last." 

On Expertise: "You cannot take something out of nothing. When you write a book, you use your experience."

On Critics: "Writers want to please their peers. They want to be recognized. Forget about this. Who cares? You should care to share your soul and not to please other writers who will write a review that nobody is going to read."

On Overcoming Stagnation: "If I don't feel inspired, I need to move forward. You need to have be disciplined."

On Research: "If you overload your book with a lot of research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and to your reader.  Books are not there to show how intelligent you are. Books are there to show your soul."

On Notetaking: "I use notes to take them out of my head. I will never use them the next day - they will be useless."

On Story Arcs: "There are only four types of stories: lovestory between 2 people, lovestory between 3 people, a struggle for power, and a journey."

On Style: "Don't try to innovate storytelling. Tell a good story and it is magical. I see people trying to work so much in style, finding different ways to tell the same thing. It is like fashion. Style is the dress, but the dress does not dictate what is inside the dress. What counts is the person."

On Notetaking: "If you want to capture ideas, you are lost. You are going to be detached from emotions and forget to live your life. You will be an observer and not a human being living his or her life. Forget notetaking. What is important remains, what is not important goes away."

On The Alchemist: "I wanted to write a story about my life. But I don't know why I chose a shepard. I've never been a shepard. When you write a book in one act, it is not such an effort to write it."

Thanks to Tim for offering up access to the mind of one of the most prolific and inspirational modern fiction writers - and to Paolo Coelho himself for taking the time to sit down and take all of us behind the scenes on how the magic really happens. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 Big Brand Lessons From The Corporate Social Media Summit

Yesterday I spent the day at the Corporate Social Media Summit, a big gathering of some of the best minds in leading social media efforts on behalf of large corporate brands. The event was put on by the team at Useful Social Media - and that indeed was the theme of the day as panelists offered real case studies, answered tough questions and generally demonstrated that there is real hope for large corporate brands to actively use social media to generate real business value in multiple ways. Here are some of the biggest lessons that 10 brands featured on Day 1 of the event shared in their presentations:

1. American Express* - "Altruism has a long tail."

Uniquely qualified to talk about the impact of altruism, American Express Open Forum VP of Social Media Laura Fink went behind the scenes of the hugely successful "Small Business Saturday" campaign that American Express launched back in November of 2010 to create a day where consumers could get rewarded with a $25 statement credit for shopping at a small business location. According to Fink, the campaign engaged more than 1.2 million small businesses around the country and also helped those businesses to see a 28% sales lift on the day of the promotion. Perhaps more importantly, it showed that doing something good can generate a real business impact for customers as well as for the big brand putting on the campaign.


2. Union Pacific - "Never underestimate local communities."

One of the largest railway companies in the United States, Union Pacific has also been around for nearly 150 years. To celebrate this heritage, Senior Manager of Media Technology Tim Mcmahan shared a case study of a crowdsourced competition that Union Pacific held to get people to vote on the ideal route for one of their old steam engines to take on the "Union Pacific Great Excursion Adventure." The voting was split into several rounds, with some fierce competition from unexpected locations. Through each round, Mcmahon shared that the consistently surprising result was that smaller towns like Tuscola, IL were routinely outpacing big metro markets like Chicago. The point, he noted, was that sometimes the most passion for a campaign like this can come from smaller local communities for whom winning may be a bigger deal. Across the campaign, there were nearly 200,000 votes recorded, over 100,000 email addresses captured and the brand plans to reprise the campaign next year.


3. Coca-Cola* - "The most important number in social media is 360."

Through the brilliant video below, Coke's Director of Digital Communications Ashley Brown told the story of a big ambitious PR idea which turned into the largest social media campaign the brand had ever done. The mission was to send three lucky travelers on a journey to all 206 countries around the world where Coke was sold. The trio embarked on their journey on January 1, 2010 and anyone could choose to follow their travels and adventures on the website Expedition 206 (which sadly doesn't seem to be available online anymore). Their goal in each country was to find what made people happy - which Brown noted was perfectly on strategy for Coke to build on their existing brand platform and marketing campaign centered around the idea to "open happiness." The answers they got ranged from family to music to dancing to soccer (yes, they made it to the World Cup in South Africa). Through the lens of this beautiful social experiment disguised as marketing, the team managed to reach what may be the most profound conclusion of all ... that happiness is always simple, whatever form it takes.

4. Best Buy - "Nobody owns social media."

IMB_BestBuyGina In one of the most eye-opening talks of the day, Gina Debogovich shared some big lessons learned from her time over the last 3-4 years building up the Best Buy customer service and social care center to what is now called the "Twelp Force. As a former customer care person herself, she talked about how Best Buy uses the overarching mission of "creating meaningful communications in the virtual world" to guide all of their efforts. They have an inner circle of about 26 team members dedicated to social media at their team, and then an extended 3000 employees who are actively encouraged to use social media and offered lots of different forms of training on how to do it. Her team is a resource that individual stores can use for advice on such tasks as how to effectively use Facebook specifically for their store. In addition, their team is the only customer care team in the world who currently has their own production studio for creating content such as their Best Buy Unboxing feature. In one case, Gina shared the unheard of stat of how they managed to reduce the volume of one "call driver" (customer service lingo for a top reason that people call a contact center) by 50% simply by producing a video to answer that question.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Gina spoke.

5. Samsung - "Negative experiences are our biggest opportunity."

Samsung is a brand that has made lots of strides recently in integrating social media into their customer service, and has been very active in joining conversations about their brand online. One of the leaders of this, Jessica Kalbarczyk (@samsungjessica) shared her insights about how her small team of four colleagues manages to engage people online about Samsung, and help solve their problems. For Jessica, coming from a marketing and PR role into one more focused on customer service was a fulfilling role because every day she manages to address real problems and change consumers experiences one by one. Anyone in a marketing role who has suffered through never ending meetings about social media without a real vision or tangible outcome will easily be able to imagine how nice a feeling it much be to actually solve real problems and the sense of accomplishment that would offer on a daily basis. As part of that, she shared a point of view which is common among customer service pros ... that they would much rather find negativity and have a chance to fix it and change that consumer's perception. Marketers, on the other hand, tend to run scared in the opposite direction from any negativity. There is clearly a lesson here about the necessity of integrating marketing and customer service more closely.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Jessica spoke.

6. Dell - "Forget ROI and focus more broadly on business value."

At the top of most analyst's lists of brands that have managed to integrate social media into their operations in a real and tangible way would likely be computer maker Dell. During his talk, Richard Binhammer from Dell shared a historical perspective of how social media became integrated into the organization, and one of the most powerful points in his presentation was where he shared the six business areas which have fully embraced social media for different business reasons - marketing, product development, sales, online presence, customer service and communications. While other brands focus on one of these at a time, Dell has reached a point where they can "inhale and exhale at the same time" as Richard shared in his talk. Ultimately, his biggest point is that "ROI" is such a restricting term when it comes to describing what social media can offer and there is a much stronger way to describe the real value behind it that we need to think about including in more of our discussions.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Richard spoke.

7. Southwest - "Have fun and be human."

Fun and airline are not two words that anyone would typically use in the same sentence, yet Social Media Manager from Southwest Airlines Alice Wilson devoted a good part of her talk about how Southwest creates a more human brand by using an irreverant voice. The questions that keep many other large brands up at night in terms of making sure they have backup for employees who are running social media channels, or mapping everything back to some specific campaign or column on a spreadsheet don't seem to matter as much for Southwest. They have guiding principles around their social voice, yet Alice shares that most people who speak out for the brand "just get the hang of it." Without that formalized training or overly bureaucratic approach to managing every aspect of Southwest, the brand succeeds because they have such a strong culture that people start to take it on as their own from day one and this translates into social media.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Alice spoke.

8. Kodak - "Real time listening pays off."

Kodak is a brand that has won a lot of respect for how forward thinking they have been in moving into social media over the past several years, even publishing a guidebook which was available for the attendees on how to use social media and what they had learned. In his talk Tom Hoen, the Kodak Director of Interactive Marketing, shared a number of examples demonstrating the power of listening. In one example, the brand awoke to a barrage of negativity from fans of a Nickelodeon TV show called Degrassi because there was a rumor that the brand had pulled all their advertising due to the show's sometimes adult themes. Fairly rapidly, they were able to use social media to diffuse the rumor (it was actually just a natural pause in flighting for their ads) and engage those angry voices - leading one person to share on Twitter "Now I feel bad. I told the Kodak people to eff themselves sideways, and they sent me a tweet being all nice." Aside from the newly found good feelings, Degrassi and Nickelodeon offered up 2 free spots to Kodak during their season premiere. Not a bad ROI for engaging a few irate teens.


9. New York Life - "Brands need to trust their people."

An unexpected voice at the event came from Gregory Weiss, the AVP of Social Media for New York Life. He started with an entertaining look at the hypcritical nature of business, and how many large brands are afraid of what their employees might do with social media even though they let those same employees have phones and use fax machines and talk to people outside of the company. His main point was that if you can't trust your employees to do the right things and make the right choices, then maybe you need to hire better people. He offered several real tips for using social media in a corporate environment, including supporting your existing sales force, getting on the agenda of new hire initiations so you can tell them about social media, and even simple things like encouraging people to add your social media properties to the end of their email signatures. A point I took away as well, though he didn't mention it was about the importance of picking your battles. Apparently, New York Life also has a vetting process they use internally before any social media property can link to an outside website. That might seem like overkill for many brands, but Greg manages to work around it without making it a big issue.

10. Pepsi - "Reward people for everyday behaviour."

The last presentation of the day came from Josh Karpf, who focuses on an area that more brands should consider having as part of their marketing efforts ... digital research and development. His group runs many forward thinking experiments on how to use social media to engage consumers, and he shared some real examples and hard data from a few of their efforts around trying to offer couponing as a layer on top of geolocation and encouraging people to check in. For one campaign with Hess convenience stores, they found that using a Foursquare promotion in a particular location offered a 47% boost in volume of purchase over previous weeks where the campaign was not running - a great result for the retailer. On the Pepsi side, they interesting learned that coupon redemptions were much higher when offered to people as a reward for some type of behaviour, which seems to offer the logical conclusion that people are more likely to follow through a claim the discount or product from a coupon if they feel they had to "earn" that coupon in some way such as by checking into the gym for 10 days in a month.


*NOTE: Several of the brands mentioned in this post are current or previous Ogilvy clients. In particular, Coca-Cola and American Express are both clients and some Ogilvy team members may have worked on both of the campaigns mentioned. In both cases, I did not work in either campaign and also have not been compensated or encouraged in any way to write about these two brands or these campaigns. I am also a contributor to the American Express Open Forum website.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How Australia Uses Social Media To Celebrate Immigrant Experiences

IMB_AfricatoAustralia2 Australia has a unique problem that almost no other country in the world would be able to understand. With a population of just under 20 million people, the country is one of the few places on Earth that anyone might be able to describe as underpopulated. The vast distances most people must travel to get from their home countries to Australia is certainly part of the reason - and the long history of violence against the native aboriginal people (much like the US history with the Native Americans) has led to drastically reduced native population.

Until just the last few decades, Australia was a place which also held onto a fairly racist immigration policy - legislating first against all immigrants, then against Southern Europeans (such as Greeks and Italians), and then against all others until finally in 1973 the country finally adopted the same open immigration policy as most other developed countries of the time.  Slowly, the country began to actively court people from all cultures to come to Australia. When I lived there from 1998 to 2003, I remember being struck by how invested the government was in getting people to join the culture and become Australian. They even had television ads where the call to action was "become a citizen."

Last year, the Australian TV channel SBS launched an interesting documentary series online designed to celebrate one sector of the immigrant experience - people who had come from Africa and built their lives in Australia. Told with an interactive website featuring videos of real people - the campaign offered an inside look at the success stories and real lives of African immigrants in Australia.


It is exactly the kind of campaign that every country should do more of. The immigrant experience is a critical part of the success of many countries, and recently it seems to be under a sort of undue scrutiny from many cultures as reactions to fundamentalist groups, potential terrorism and misguided fear mongering have led to a new rise in popularity for isolationism.

Preventing immigration is not the solution. Australia may have been one of the slowest countries in the world to realize the value of an open immigration policy - but now they celebrate it with campaigns like this one. Let's hope other developed countries can follow their example.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

5 Things I've Learned About Blogging After 6 Years

I am spending the end of this week surrounded by fellow bloggers at the annual Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas and it is one of my favorite events of the year both for the quality of the show and speakers as well as for the singular focus on blogging as a topic.  This year, I have the privilege of doing a keynote session with Doug Ulman, the CEO of LIVESTRONG, where we will talk about how his organization has managed to go from a cause to a movement and what role social media has played in that evolution.

Aside from this great topic, though, I have spent a considerable time leading up to this event thinking about the topic of how to consistently create great content and keep a blog up to date. It is something that I personally struggle with all the time, as my blog is a personal one and is not something that I rely on to make money or support my family with. As a result, it is sometimes tough to keep up a commitment to post here. My philosophy over the six years of writing this blog has always been to write only when I have something meaningful to say and the time to do it right.

The challenge of knowing what to write about isn't easy. But the biggest advice I can offer is to get over your "blog guilt" for not writing more often and try to create situations for yourself where you can most easily be successful at continually creating great content.  Here are a few tips to do that:

  1. Keep an archive of ideas. I have a document where I write down all the ideas for posts that I have. I keep it on my computer and consistently add to it. Sometimes there are ideas that I have which I keep there for months until something else comes up which reminds me of it and then I post about it. My recent post about the GAP logo was one example. I had the idea for that post some time ago, but it was only when the whole issue with GAP changing their logo and then reverting back to their old one came up that I was reminded of it and the topic for the post became timely once again.
  2. Half-write posts and always title them. Often I will get inspired to write something into a post but not have enough information or research in order to finish the post.  Writing half of the post is something I can do in 10 or 15 minutes, even though I know doing the rest of it may take another hour or two.  So I will write what I have in my head, and put a title on the post so I can remember the main point I was making. Then I have something I can return to when I have a bit more time and the process of writing doesn't have to start with a blank screen.
  3. Always include links and always try to click them. Links are great for providing context, but they can also connect your blog post to other things that are out there. By clicking your own links, you can subtly let the person or organization who you linked to that you wrote about them.  Because most people pay attention to their web stats, they will see where the link came from and either visit through a Google Alert or similar tracking method to come back to your post.
  4. Think creatively about your content. One presentation that I did several years ago which I am still proud of was called the "25 Styles of Blogging." It was created to outline several types of blog posts that any blogger could use to keep their blog content fresh and interesting.  I am embedding it at the end of this post so you can easily read and digest those tips as well - they continue to help me when I hit a wall in terms of what to write about.
  5. Create your own set of rules for what works. After you have been blogging for some time, you'll start to get a sense for what works best in your area. For me, using conventions like numbered lists to share thoughts or incorporating images or video tend to work very well. I know that I focus on having a blog where I am not just identifying something interesting, but sharing a definite point of view about it and whether it is good or bad. This is a mix of forming a writing style and knowing what your readers want to read and it is vital as you start to build your audience on your blog.

Today and tomorrow I'm looking forward to reading and hearing many more insights from the attendees and speakers at the Blogworld Expo. You can follow the conversations live on Twitter by tracking the hashtag/keyword for the event: "#BWE10"

The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging ... And When To Use Each One
For more advice on blogging from previous posts on this blog, check out my Blogging Advice page on the Personality Not Included site.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

5 Marketing Lessons From Fast Company's Influencer Project

IMB_FastCompanyInfluencerProject1 Who is the most influential person online? That is the tantalizing question behind the Influencer Project, a brilliantly conceived marketing campaign from Fast Company magazine dedicated to getting people to engage with the idea of online influence and pass along their participation to their entire social networks. The Influencer Project is a simple site that gets you to register with a few details, include your photo and then spits out a custom URL for you to use in all your influential efforts online. The more people you get to click on your URL, the more influence scores you can generate for yourself. (Note - the link above is to my personal URL)

IMB_FastCompanyInfluencerProject2 The payoff, as with many of these types of campaigns, is personal reputation and bragging rights - but for the growing ranks of people for whom social media offers an additional limb upon which to balance their virtual identities this reputation is more important than money. It could be considered a simple journalistic effort to do this, but if you look at how the project has been executed, it offered a great case study on how to use the power of the Internet to engage people and build an audience online.
  1. Have a strategic message behind your campaign. The idea of seeking the most influential person online could have been done by any publication, but the fact that Fast Company has chosen to do it sends a strong message about how they want to be perceived: as the magazine that people who are highly influential online read. There are plenty of choices to fit this category, but Fast Company has long been one of my favourite printed publications that I actually subscribe to in print format and read every copy of cover to cover because of their dedication to merging the worlds of online and offline together to paint a picture of the future of business. It is why I have written for them before and why I often recommend the magazine to colleagues.
  2. Make it easy to spread the word. Core to this idea is the fact that every participant gets a shortened URL to use for their own bio. This URL is what anyone can use to pass along the promotion to their social network and is also the primary way that the site can measure your influence. You can also integrate your Twitter and Facebook profiles, but unlike other promotions that can turn into popularity contests through the number of friends and followers you have - the Influencer Project is focused on actual action. The more clicks you generate, the higher your influence score.
  3. IMB_FastCompanyInfluencerProject3 Support your promotion with your core business. In the case of Fast Company, their business is producing editorial content. Instead of just sticking a banner on their site and sending out some emails to their subscribers, they are also integrating the Influencer Project into their editorial by releasing a series of interviews with influential people online. The first was with Gary Vaynerchuck and presumably the others they do will help add more context to the idea of influence online and take advantage of Fast Company's editorial voice as a way to bring more people into the Influencer Project.
  4. Have multiple payoffs to attract more participants. The ultimate payoff, as I noted above, is the ego stroke that having your photo appear larger will give and that will likely drive many people to participate. Fast Company will also publish a large photo in their magazine with a spread of all the participants as well - which adds a dimension to the reason for participating and likely will attract people for whom the online credit may not be enough.
  5. Integrate long term brand assets with a short term campaign. One mistake many marketers make is to drive a lot of attention and engagement around a short term effort without generating any longer term value for their brand. Fast Company has the Influencer Project, which will have a definitive start and finish, but they also integrate it with their branded Facebook and Twitter pages, which are longer term assets for the brand. By doing so, they can use the spike in activity around the Influence Project as a way to build greater long term value for their brand and a bigger base of engaged people that they will be able to promote content and activities to in the future.

Rohit's Custom URL for the Influencer Project:

Update 07/07/10 - For more context on this campaign and how it attempts to track influence, check out Amber Naslund's great post countering Fast Company on how they are confusing ego with influence. She has a great point about how this is an overly simplistic and ego driven way to track whether people have influence online. Though I agree it is an incomplete metric in terms of influence, I still think there are many marketing lessons you could take from this effort as I talked about in my post - but I found her alternate take on the campaign made me think more deeply about it and I highly recommend you read her post and decide how you land on this campaign for yourself.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The 12 Types Of "Social Media Experts" - Which One Are You?

There is a fundamental problem among social media experts today. Some people have argued that the problem lies with people who are rushing to call themselves an expert without having the necessary experience. Others create some sort of artificial metric to try and put some parameters around who should be allowed to call themselves an expert and who should not. The easier way out (which I myself have taken on occasion) is to excuse yourself from the entire debate by saying that no one is REALLY an expert and we are all just people who use these tools and try our best. Since coming back from SXSW, I have been thinking about this and realized that none of these methods really works because they all assume that a "social media expert" is a single type of person.

To be sure, there are some people working in social media who really shouldn't be - but I don't believe this number is as high as others would say. Instead, I think that many people who could be great at certain roles are simply trying to fill the wrong role. So, to help, I thought I would share what I think the 9 types of social media experts really are. And in true social media fashion, since 9 is such an uneven number ... let me know what you think the 10th would be. I will add the best suggestion for a 10th to this list. Thanks to all the great suggestions, I have added 3 more types of Social Media Experts to this post and updated the title to share 12 instead of 9 types. Thanks for all the great comments!

  1. The Pretender - This is the person who everyone loves to hate. The newly arrived and minted "expert" who has barely used any tools beyond Facebook and Twitter, has hardly any friends or followers, and bases most of their thinking on what they just read from the dozen or so social media "gurus" who frequently share free advice on their blogs.
  2. The Trainer/Teacher - Being a great teacher is a gift, and not many people truly have it. If you are a natural trainer or teacher, you have the ability to make complex ideas that are part of social media easy to understand. After listening to your direction, someone new to using the tools and thinking about social media will feel dramatically more comfortable using the tools and (most importantly) why they should even bother.
  3. The Professional Speaker - Popular sentiment is to treat these people as the biggest blowhards in the industry because they get up on stage and get paid to talk about social media. It is the existence of this type of expert, however, that often creates the inspiration and excitement about social media as a whole. Once again, not everyone is necessarily good at taking this role - but listening to a great speaker about social media can create a real impact across the entire industry. Speakers may be the rising tide that can lift everyone else's boats.
  4. The Content Curator - I have blogged at length about how I believe content curators will be among one of the most important social media jobs of the future. While some may equate the job to that of a digitally savvy librarian, I see the role of a curator as much more of an editor about a particular topic. The curators are the ones that can help us make sense of the exploding amount of content online. The almighty search algorithm won't be enough.
  5. The Event Organizer - In social media, there are lots of great events. From the more official conferences and summits to the less formal meetups and tweetups. If your gift is in creating really engaging moments for people to gather in real life and to facilitate those moments, you might fit this category. The Event Organizer, too, is vital for the social media industry to thrive because they are the ones that drive the real moments where virtual relationships become real.
  6. The Community Manager - Having a great community manager may be one of the most difficult roles to fill on a digital team, because the skill set can be quite elusive. A great community manager is dealing with real conversations in real time and reacting to those conversations transparently. If you happen to have these skills and use them well, you could easily grow into the very center of an organization's entire social media efforts (a great place to be).
  7. The Content Creator - This is one of the most public types of social media experts because their expertise is on display consistently. Content creators are great at writing thoughts in blog posts, sharing their every thought via Twitter, or creating video. In the right role, content creators can become indispensible assets to a team and generate highly original content to engage an audience.
  8. The Marketing Strategist - If I have one intention with this post, it is to point out very distinctly that not every social media expert should automatically be put into this category. If you are a marketing strategist, you know the best way to use social media to achieve a marketing objective such as promoting a product or service. You don't blindly create a "platform" for a client with every social media tool, or consider "start by listening and then engage people in a conversation" actionable strategic advice. Instead, you are able to solve a real business problem with a smart plan for using social media, and entirely capable of admitting which business problems social media may not be the best solution for.
  9. The Designer/Builder - In some ways, this is the most important type of social media expert - because these are actually the people who make real solutions. Strategy is great, but at some point you need a real execution plan and these are the experts who can get it done. More importantly, they will also be able to provide advice based on experience for how you may want to implement your plans, and what strategy or tactics you may want to stay away from.
  10. The Networker/Connector [Added 03/24] - This additional category, suggested by several commenters, is the person who actively uses social media to make connections with people both online and offline. In some cases these individuals may be HR professionals, but in most instances they are simply people who actively believe in being social online and use their connections to introduce people to one another. In the best case they are the ones that enable real connections between people - but in the worst case they can also be shameless self-promoters. (Suggested by Maxiosearch, Ann Marie van den Hurk, APR)
  11. The Evangelist [Added 03/24] - Often in the role of speaking for a brand and putting a human face on an organization, the Evangelist is the person who uses social media to promote a belief, product or organization. For this individual, social media is a way to share content and engage in conversations about something they are passionate about. As some readers pointed out, this could also be someone who preaches the use of social media internally within an organization. (Suggested by Phil Simon, Ingrid Hein, Russell Pearson )
  12. The Entrepreneur [Added 03/24] - One category that several readers alluded to but no one specifically suggested was the category of innovator or entrepreneur. This is the person who sees everything in social media and decides that their expertise is in creating a new tool or platform to share with the world. The creators of popular services like Foursquare or Twitter might fall into this category, as well as anyone who has ever launched a new service or app to solve a particular need or desire. Entrepreneurs are the ones who use their expertise to create something new in social media and drive innovation.

You might be tempted to read into this post that there are certain types of experts that are more valid than any others, but except for the first type I strongly believe that each has an important role to play as organizations and businesses of all sizes get smarter about how and when to use social media.  If you work in the industry or interact with those who do - my simple plea is that we all need to get better about understanding which of these roles we are particularly good at and focus on that.  As a whole I can think of nothing better to help legitimize and grow the entire area of social media and the groups who are able to benefit from using it well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Consumer Reports & Consumerist Help Shoppers Bite Back

IMB_ConsumerReportsAd One of the most visible effects of the social media revolution is the relative power that is now in the hands of an individual consumer when it comes to spreading a positive or negative experience with your brand to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Shoppers have a voice and it is now far stronger than the occasional review on Amazon or comment on a blog post. As the new holiday shopping season descends in the US, at least one organization is starting the season with an open call to consumers to make their voices heard.

Today Consumer Reports placed a full page ad in the USA Today asking holiday shoppers to "bite back" against retail practices that they hate. In an announcement about the campaign, the Consumer Reports team shared the following stats from a survey run on the Consumerist (a popular blog that is now part of the "Consumer Reports family") about what consumers dislike the MOST:
  • 72% Stores that never open all of the checkout lanes
  • 68% Fake "sales". If something is always 20% off, it's not on sale
  • 67% Coupons that exclude almost everything in the store
  • 52% Pushing store credit cards at the register
As we head into this holiday season, watching out for your shoppers biting back isn't just a lesson for those of us who work in retail sales. Consumer opinion will continue to drive purchase, and this will take the form of everything from idle tweets to wall posts on a fan page. Listening to conversations about your brand, products and industry and participating in the conversation is consistent advice from those who "get" social media. This holiday season for many brands, it may be even more than good advice ... it may be a necessary survival tactic.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Women Of Personality eBook: Second Edition Launches

About six months ago, I created an ebook based on a surprising truth that I had uncovered in the year since my book had come out. Over that time, I received emails from many people talking about how they had found Personality Not Included to be useful in solving their own marketing challenges. Within them I noticed a trend ... that the majority seemed to be coming from women. Clearly, I thought, the idea of using personality to stand out in business is an idea that somehow women entrepreneurs not only understand, but were also actively using intuitively.

Wanting to explore this a bit deeper - I invited 20 visionary women to each contribute a few paragraphs sharing how personality has helped them to achieve their personal success and what advice they might offer to up and coming female entrepreneurs about achieving similar success. That turned into the first edition of The Personality Project: Women of Personality, a free eBook which was released in April of 2009. Today, I'm proud to share the second edition of that ebook, with another 20 contributors bringing the total stories to 40. It's still free and available for download at

I am also embedding it below and if you follow the links to see it on Slideshare, you can get a downloadable PDF version:

I'm really proud of this effort and though I realize it is self serving in that it promotes the idea of personality in business that I wrote a book about - but the eBook is free and the ideas and stories in it are still very inspiring. If you enjoyed this ebook, please share the link to either this post or link to download it from the online page. I'll also be compiling a list of links and mentions from the contributors and others below - so if you do happen to write about this or share it, please use the tag "wop2" or "wop" so I can easily find your post and include it here!

Posts About WOP2: