A Lens Cap, a Pegshot, and a Shitty Envelope

Last week I was at social media week New York.

I went to the Obliterati party on Thursday night.

Whilst mingling and pretending I know how to take pictures, my lens fell off my camera…never to be seen again.  Needless to say, I was mildly distraught.

See? “=(“ = sad and “=\” = mildly sad.

But wait…

Phil DiGiulio (@holaphil) found it!  Just when I thought all was lost…

Yea…he even added a picture using his awesome website, pegshot.  He also used his service earlier in the week to provide the public immediate coverage of an elevator he got stuck in with Ann Curry, Jeff Pulver, and others…

Within moments, Patrick Johnson spotted the tweet, put tweet and tweet together, and excitedly tweeted that shit in my direction… tweet.

We then connected, and Phil offered to mail it over to me.  He’s the man.

Finally, my lens cap and I would be reuinited!!!

Until the envelop ripped on both sides and the lens cap fell out in the mail…

So the moral of this story is uhhhh…

The Social Web is Driven by Fame

Warning: Bold statements ahead…

Photo cred: JM Abania

It seems, and I’m basing this off literally no factual information, that people who participate on the internet are entirely driven by fame.

Everyone looks up to our great leaders, hollywood actors and rock stars. They dream about what it would be like to live in their shoes.  Now, with the social web and everyone building their own audiences, fame has become attainable by all, and therefore an even stronger force.

Feel free to comment if you’ve seen this in other spaces. In the social media space it’s pretty evident…

Check all that apply:

  • You spend a lot of time and effort on getting the people who are considered to be “famous” to recognize to you.
  • You tie your level of success directly to the level of recognition for your brand.
  • If you can get someone of considerable web fame to respond to you regularly, you in turn become more famous.
  • More fame brings you more confidence.
  • You believe “internet fame” and “authority” are synonymous.
  • The more famous you get, the more opportunities come your way.
  • Sometimes, you feel like you’re not good enough to talk to someone who is more famous than you are.
  • Sometimes, there are actually pricks who think they’re too good to talk to you because you’re not famous enough.
  • If no one responds to you, you get a little depressed.
  • If everyone responds to you, you feel like a king.

All of these may not apply to you, but I bet at least a couple do…

Fame is why badge systems are becoming so popular on websites.  It’s why forums give participants different ranks.  It’s why “power users” exist. Anything that allows users to gain some level of notoriety, even in niche communities, will grow because the social web is driven by fame.

How much are you focusing on fame?

Too Much Networking Makes Bad Marketers

Photo cred: Andy Beal

A marketer’s ability to do their job relies on how well they understand their audience…

Same goes for you PR professionals. You too advertising pros!

…so unless your audience (the one you were hired to understand) consists of mostly marketers, focusing so much time and effort on them will not make you much better at your job.

One could argue that lately, many professionals are equally (or more) concerned with building their personal network as they are with being good at their job.

This is especially an issue for young communications professionals and students.

We’re just starting out, and the first thing we now learn isn’t to start studying people and marketing, it’s to use social media to network and build a personal brand.

When you focus on interacting with other communications professionals all the time, you lose touch with the people that you’re supposed to understand…the ones you’re getting paid to understand.

Learning how to reach out and engage with communications professionals will usually be very different from engaging with other people.  If you’re focusing too much on the former, you’ll quickly find yourself failing at the latter.

A communications professionals has to understand what people want, what triggers them, what turns them off, how to reach them, how to build trust with them, etc… and strictly communicating with other marketing professionals will only take you so far.

Is the value of a professional’s network starting to outweigh the value of their ability as a professional?

What happens when we focus more on meeting communications professionals than on becoming a better communications professionals?

CNN Relies on Social Media in Haiti Earthquake Coverage

Firstly, my thoughts are with all the people suffering in Haiti after this horrible tragedy.  The Red Cross tweeted that you can help by texting “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to relief efforts.  If you know of any other ways to help, let me know and I will add it here.

This just went up on Mashable… 9 Ways to help Haiti

As I was just watching the news on CNN, there was a clear presence of social media in their reports on Haiti.  In fact, it was ALL social media.

They were pulling pictures from twitter and facebook, they used google earth to show you where the earthquake took place.  The only piece of investigative journalism they did was interview the people posting up twitpics!  I also saw other media sources commenting on pictures, asking the person where they took the picture? (the extent of their background check)?

They provided literally NO original content.  The CNN employee sitting at a computer monitoring social networks was doing the same thing as any other web savvy user seeking out news.  They were as investigative as anyone using twitter search as they filled in time by scrolling through the same 10 pictures they found on twitter, and teaching us about earthquakes…

It’s great that they’re implementing social content into their coverage, but now it just seems like they’re relying on it…

When social networks become an investigative journalist’s best resource, do they still have a purpose?  Are they no better than automatic filters, choosing which information we get to see?

Note: I realize that this may be an exceptional case.  Among other variables, as I was watching the news, it was still very unsafe for reporters travel into Haiti.  Still, I believe it’s a possible trend worth discussing.

EDIT: I just want to point out that this post was meant to discuss a possible trend.  It was not a statement of the current situation.  The day after writing this, once CNN was able to get to Haiti, Anderson Cooper showed us that good journalism still exists and how important it still is.

It’s Easy to Half-Ass Social Media

Photo cred: Rennett Stowe

The biggest downfall of social media for business is that it’s really easy to half-ass and think you’re doing it right.

You can set up a twitter account, create a facebook fanpage, and start a blog in a total of 10 minutes. Literally.  So if you’ve done that much, you’ve literally done 10 minutes worth of work. You’ve scratched the surface.  Knowing why and how you will use those tools however, is where the real work comes in.

The reason many continue to question the value of social media, and many fail to draw any value out of their efforts, is because they’re not putting the time and effort into it.

If you read this post, it should pretty much clear up any confusion you have.  Huge props to Amber Naslund for writing such a great post.

No seriously. Stop reading this post and click that link.  It’s so simple, and yet one of the greatest posts I’ve read about social media.  It’s marketing 101 stuff, that we sometimes forget, but is so essential.

It explains very simply, how much thought and planning should be going in to your time spent on social media platforms.

If you’re half-assing it on social media, it’s probably because:

  1. You haven’t thought about why you’re using the tools in the first place.
  2. You haven’t set objectives with specific goals that you aim to reach (and can measure to determine your success).

Are you tweeting just to tweet, or are you tweeting with a purpose.  Do you have a specific goal in mind?

It’s easy to half ass social media, but not if you want real, identifiable results.  To access the business value in social media, takes as much time and effort as any other business strategy.

12 Lessons from Successful Social Media Journeys

We hear so much about the “best practices” in social media and what they’re doing right.  Won’t there be much more to learn from their journey to social media success, rather than the success itself?

Every journey has its mistakes and its lessons.  If we share what we’ve learned from overcoming our obstacles, we can help others avoid making similar mistakes.  We can better our industry.

Photo cred: Andrés E. Azpúrua

So I interviewed six people that we’ve known to be “social media success stories” and asked for the lessons they learned along their journey.  Welcome to The Spinks Blog,

These companies/professionals truly showed their commitment to honesty and transparency, by sharing the mistakes and obstacles that they’ve faced.

Here are 12 lessons that can help guide you through your own journey.

1. Don’t force yourself into the conversation

Traditional marketing meant interruption.  The goal is to catch the attention of the audience and get your message across.  In social media marketing, it’s about joining the conversation, and no one likes it when their conversation interrupted.

“When you are reaching out to someone, do not try to interfere in any way.  So instead of just providing an answer, we may open the conversation with “can I help?”  If they want assistance, they will respond.”-  Frank Liason, Comcast

2. You CAN be too personal

Transparency is a big aspect of social media engagement.  It’s highly encouraged by many social media consultants.  Every time you post content, however you have to think about what you’re saying, and how they might react.  If you don’t have to say it, and it might offend some people, it’s probably better you didn’t  share.

“I remember during the first Presidential debate I was following much of the discussion via Twitter search. During that debate Jim Lehrer tried to control both candidates.  Not thinking it was political, I tweeting “Jim Lehrer for President.”  I did not realize that some people view him leaning one way or the other, but responses I received made that clear.  So much for being too personal!” – Frank Liason, Comcast

3. You can’t just jump in and expect success.

Simply investing in social media won’t help your business.  You have to be ready to truly engage and to build a relationship.  Money won’t buy relationships.

“Coming in and saying we’re x company and have x name so we’re going to throw a bunch of money at this space and it will give me credibility.  If you haven’t put in tons of value, communicate etc you’re not going to do well.” –Keith Burtis, Keith Burtis Consulting

4. You have to show results.

Measurement measurement measurement.  You’ll hear a lot about measurement in the social media space because it’s so important.  If you’re not measuring, there’s no way you can tell what’s working.

“It’s all an experiment. At the end of the day we still have to prove ourselves.”    –Keith Burtis, Keith Burtis Consulting

5. Separation of personal and professional networks for employees.

It’s great to get your employees involved in your social media presence.  Most companies would consider themselves lucky to have the type of engagement that Zappos’ employees being to the table.  It’s important however, to avoid a situation where your corporate presence take over your employee’s personal interactions.

“I think a lot of employees feel that they have to follow everyone who follows them (especially other Zappos employees), and at some point they are overwhelmed trying to follow too many people, at which point they just decide to give up on Twitter completely instead of unfollowing some people.” –Tony Hsieh, CEO – Zappos

6. There is such a thing as too much content.

Organization is key.  If you have too much content, users and customers can be overwhelmed and will leave with no value.  Make your content easy to find and browse.

“We have over 400 employees tweeting… Our blog site is actually an aggregation of blogs from a lot of different areas of the company. There is so much content there that even I’m not able to read each and every blog entry, so my guess is that most of our own employees probably aren’t able to either.” –Tony Hsieh, CEO – Zappos

7. Social Media is an addition, not a replacement.

Social Media isn’t just a fad. But it’s also not a silver bullet.  While social media brings a lot of opportunities, traditional tools and methods still have their place.  The key is to find a balance, where you can use both traditional, and new media together.

“One of the biggest challenges is the perception that Web 2.0 is more cost effective than traditional media and can replace more traditional approaches. The fact is you need both traditional and new technology approaches to fundraising, and new technology approaches require following many of the strategies used to successfully deploy traditional methods.” – Scott Bennett, VP of Marketing, American Cancer Society

8. Social media is not an end.

It doesn’t matter how many followers, readers or fans you have.  If you’re not tying those numbers back to your bottom line (even if it’s in the long run) you’re not successfully using social media tools.

“ACS has discovered it’s best to think of social networks as a means to an end versus an end in and of themselves. Social networks, like traditional media, can be leveraged to reach certain audiences to accomplish broader strategic goals. – Scott Bennett, VP of Marketing, American Cancer Society

9. Know your audience.

Every site and community is a bit different from the next.  The way you approach people on facebook is very different from how you should approach people on linkedin.  Forums are “peer to peer” focused and will probably remove any promotions.

In customer service writing an email response to a complaint, using a template is more acceptable.  When replying to a complaint in the comments section of a blog post, it has to be more personal and less “canned”.

“We thought all of our twitter followers would be interested in discounts and deals. While people are interested in receiving information on ticket deals, it took us a while to learn that Twitter was an incredibly powerful channel because people finally had the opportunity to speak to someone at Cirque directly.  We realized its much more informational, and back stage kind of insights.” – Jessica Berlin, Cirque Du Soleil

10. Reward the customers that want to be rewarded.

If there are perks that you offer so select individuals, like family members…why?  Is it helping your business?  Shouldn’t you be rewarding the people that count: your customers.  They’re the ones that will really appreciate the rewards, and return the favor.  Reward your evangelists.  Show them how much you appreciate their continued business and support.

“About two years ago we began doing a “Friends and Family” promotion for our employees.  We quickly started seeing the special rate appearing on Facebook pages and word spread quickly.  While at first, our execs were upset… it took that for us to really recognize that people’s networks are now much bigger and they are eager to share information with those networks. We [now] know these are people who are interested in Cirque and they should be the ones rewarded for taking the interest in following us.” – Jessica Berlin, Cirque Du Soleil

11. Use what you have first.

Look at the content you’re currently producing and resources that you already have.  Can you make it more social?  Mayo Clinic asked their employees to use flip cameras when conducting their interviews that are typically just used in written articles. The videos were shared across social platforms helping them spread the same content they’ve been creating all along to entirely new audiences.

Don’t be so quick to bring in a social media expert, or hire a social media consultancy.  Look at where you can incorporate social media with the employees that you already have.  Ask them to wear just one more hat, to learn and to grow.

Set someone loose from inside because they already have the culture and the trust from internal people.  If the program gets killed, its okay because you’re not spending more money on it.” –Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic

12. Learn along the way.

I’ll leave you with this important reminder.  I know, in #5 I mentioned that you have to prove results.   That doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment. Be willing to try out new things, to learn and to grow.  Making little mistakes, and tweaking the process along the way isn’t just alright, it’s recommended.

Companies think about all the potential horror stories that they’ve heard.  The key is to make minor adjustments along the way.” –Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic

So as you embark on your own journey implementing social media in your business, remember that we all make mistakes along the way.  It’s all part of the journey…and yes, even the “success stories” had to make some hurdles along the way.

What lessons have you learned?

Social Media Has No Borders

This is a guest post from Grace Boyle, a 20-something adventurista. She lives in Boulder, CO and does Business Development for the tech startup, Lijit. She blogs at Small Hands, Big Ideas where she writes about the startup world, career and daily inspirations.

This last weekend I took a trip back East, to Burlington, Vermont. It’s the last place I called home and where I attended college.

Before the epic reunion with my girlfriends began, I had to stop by my beautiful campus of Champlain College. My marketing professor, Elaine Young, who taught me about Twitter, internet marketing and blogging in college asked me to speak in her Marketing 250 class. Of course I obliged.

Elaine began her class; it was informal, real and honest. Elaine began to talk about #u30pro. I giggle to myself, as I just spoke with David Spinks on Twitter and in my inbox I have the #u30pro newsletter, where my recent blog post was featured. The students enthusiastically talked about joining in on the conversation (tweeting is part of their homework, Elaine is so smart) and what they learned.

Furthermore, as I tweeted I was in the classroom presenting on blogging and transparency a Twitter and blogging friend (who also happened to live in Burlington, Vermont) sent me a DM for an impromptu coffee date.

I immediately told David the students in this very class were talking about him and #u30pro. Right away, I thought to myself, it’s a small (social media) world. Here I am, Friday morning in Burlington, Vermont with a small group of students passionately talking about blogging and social media. We talk about the same blogs, the same people and many of the same ideas. Only difference is the filter to our lens and place in life.


Photo Credit: WeHeartIt

It’s Like the Social Media (Verizon) Network

We get caught in our world – tweeting and blogging from your favorite coffee shop or the same desk each day. We forget, we’re enabling a worldwide network and everyone you’re talking to really is real! More than likely, your paths will cross and you will meet.

It’s interesting, because my gratification aha comes at a time when other blogging friends have been talking about blog crushes and the blogger is real. It’s like the Verizon Network always behind you, available if you need them. This is your own Social Media Network, tiptoeing behind you, smiling, holding their smart phones and laptops.

Making It Real

Starting this year, I have had the privilege of meeting up with blogging and Twitter friends in real life (IRL). It’s exhilarating because some are just as you imagined, some surprise you. It keeps you on your toes and gives way to more layers. I even had a blogging friend who moved to Boulder stay at my apartment before she got settled and found her own place. That’s right, social media has me welcoming a “stranger” into my home (yes, I’m being facetious).

It sounds cheesy, but the line, “The world is my family,” really holds true. Think about how special this is. You can interact with these people every day. Share stories, ideas and thoughts, regardless of their geographical location. You can talk through e-mail, skype, chat, groups or Twitter. This means, you are never really alone. This means you can travel virtually anywhere in the world and find a connection. This shouldn’t feel claustrophobic; this should feel enlightening as it broadens our senses and connecting capabilities.

These tools (we use every day) are bridging the gap to great connections. Borders don’t exist and barriers dissipate. I owe many friendships and my current job to social media. There’s something to be said about a connection and whether it’s 140 characters worth or a 500-word blog post that makes you smile, it’s worth it.

I will end with this quote by Charles Eames. It speaks measures on how powerful a connection really can be: “Eventually, everything connects-people, ideas, and objects. The quality of these connections is the key to a well-lived life.”