Excuse Me, You Have Some Twitter On Your Facebook

blog-illustrationTweets on LinkedIn. Tweets on blogs. Facebook and Twitter updates on blogs. Blogs on Facebook. It seems that many people don’t want anyone to miss a single word they ever say. Duplicate content is becoming the norm. I brought this up on Twitter recently, and quickly got a bunch of responses from people agreeing that it is a bit noisy. Some said that they hate it but do it themselves because they thought it was just what you were supposed to do. But as far as I know, no one is supposed to do anything in the social media space. If they are, then they neglected to give me that rule book.

This over-connectedness and need for everyone to read everything you ever write or say online is starting to overwhelm me. The thing is that oftentimes those with whom you are connected on Twitter may also be connected to you on Facebook and/or LinkedIn or subscribe to your blog. They’ve seen it already on one of the other platforms. For me, I see each venue as having a unique function. There is some cross-pollination going on in my various online arenas, but overall each platform has its own audience. Each platform also lends itself to unique styles of communication that don’t always translate well on a different platform. Even though I am not your cubicle type, I am finding the need to compartmentalize my social networking use.

Welcome to my compartments

LinkedIn for me is purely business. I try not to get too personal there, using it for business networking, promoting my business and my blog with business related content, and looking for new clients and other business uses. My Blog also serves a similar purpose. I generally write about issues and ideas related to what I do – marketing, writing, design, and branding stuff. I leave personal stories out of it unless they’re part of a larger story that relates to what I do. Hopefully people will read what I write and some even hire me.

Mix n Match:
Twitter for me is easier to mix personal and professional content. The short format lends itself to allowing me to quickly share a myriad of things – pictures of my puppy, links to interesting articles on business subjects of interest, quick chats with my virtual friends, and just random observations of the strange, funny and interesting things I find or think about. I tend to be a bit more liberal with Twitter followers. Let”s face it, the majority of the 1001 people I have following me on Twitter are people I have never met and probably never will. Some are real friends, online friends and people I have worked with or might work with, but the vast majority are complete strangers.

My real friends:
Facebook, on the other hand is beginning to define itself to me as the place to connect with my friend-friends, not my “friends.” I do have a few business related connections there, but I’m thinking about dropping them and keeping it purely personal. I don’t necessarily want potential clients or colleagues reading my chatty comments or stupid insider jokes with old friends. I see this as a place for me to really relax and stay in touch with friends and family. I generally keep business out of it. My real life friends and family don’t care to know my thoughts on marketing or writing. Those people care more about the recipe for that tasty roasted red pepper dip that I make all the time.

Stop and think about the various platforms you use and how they can each be utilized in unique ways to do whatever it is that you do. Go ahead, Tweet on Twitter, write on your Facebook wall, update your status or start a discussion on LinkedIn, and cross-promote now and then, but I don’t think the world is going to stop turning if someone somewhere misses something you say.

Do you use each platform in different ways? What do you think?

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Is New School Marketing Really That Different From Old School?

oldschoolhouseMy online friend John Cavanaugh’s recent post got me thinking about the hot rivalry between new school vs. old school marketing. We all know those feel good buzz words like transparency, conversation and engagement, but I question their truth in meaning in the online world. I am realizing that the new way of marketing is not as different from the old way as we are often led to believe. It all depends on your perspective and your approach.

Putting a business out there with a blog and on Facebook and Twitter is a good thing. It allows consumers to at least feel like the company is accessible, but does it really offer that transparency that everyone says is so essential? I think it’s more like translucence. No company is going to be completely transparent. Most companies and organizations highly monitor their Facebook posts, blog posts and Twitter feeds. They are most often manned by PR, marketing, communications or customer service people within the organization. In other words, trained professionals well-versed in the company’s mission, style, philosophy and message. These people are in fact crafting their posts to serve the best interest of the company. You know, just like advertising, only folksier.

I submit that social media usage by business is simply a newer form of advertising. Let’s face it, a Facebook page is designed to generate interest in and attention to a brand (just like advertising), with the added bonus of actually hearing and seeing what people are saying about you (just like focus groups). The point of a business gaining fans, followers and subscribers may seem like it’s about building a “community,” but when it gets right down to the core, it’s about getting a following of existing or potential customers to like your brand, with the end goal of selling whatever it is that you are selling to them (just like advertising). It’s a powerful way to get consumers to try your Kool-aid, like it, then buy it (just like handing out free samples in the grocery store). The more fans, followers and subscribers you get, the more people start talking about your brand or business around the web, which in turn builds brand awareness (just like advertising).

So I propose that we stop the bickering between the new school and the old school and realize that we’re not as different as we may think. I suggest we stop using the word “transparent,” adopt the more accurate word “translucent” instead, and just feel hopeful that businesses can no longer get away with being opaque.

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Dish Network: A Profile In Poor Marketing

DISH POSTCARD019A few weeks back, this direct mail piece came addressed to me from Dish Network. It features a picture of an olive-skinned and black haired beauty on the front and handsome dark haired, stubble-bearded man on the back. Beyond that, I cannot tell you what it says because it’s written in Arabic. My husband and I first had a little chuckle about it, but the longer this piece sat on my desk, the more it bothered me. It appears that it was sent to me because of the ethnicity of my last name, however I have a distinctly Armenian name, not Arabic. Although Armenia is in the general area of many Arabic speaking nations, Armenians actually do not speak Arabic as their native language; they speak Armenian. Different culture, different language and different alphabet altogether.

I found out that Dish Network is on Twitter, so I quickly tweeted them asking to be connected to someone in their marketing department to discuss an issue. I swiftly got a tweet back saying that I should DM them with the specific issue so that they can be sure to “connect me with the right person.” As succinctly as possible in 140 characters, I stated that I was offended by being ethnically targeted with a direct mail piece and wanted to discuss it with someone. Silence. A day passed and I sent them another DM, asking to please be connected to someone who could discuss this with me. Silence. I went to their web site, found a customer service email address and sent a message explaining the situation in detail, why it bothered me, and again asked to be connected to someone who could address this with me. Silence.

So here’s what’s so wrong with this entire scenario from a marketing, customer service and social media perspective:

1. If a company is going to send out a direct mail piece, then they better be darn sure they know who they are targeting.

2. Making an ill-informed assumption that someone with a name from a certain ethnic group speaks a certain language is wrong for several reasons. In my case:
- Armenians aren’t native Arabic speakers. Some Armenian may speak Arabic, but that’s not typical. Clumping everyone with heritage from that region of the world into a general category of Middle Eastern and making assumptions based on that, negates the richness of Armenian culture and the myriad of other cultures that grew from that region.
- I am a 2nd generation Armenian-American. Not only do I not speak or read Arabic, but I do not even speak Armenian (except for a few words like girl, yogurt, dog and how are you) and can’t read it at all. I happen to speak and read English as my native language.
- For all the Dish Network marketers know, I may not even be Armenian. I could be from any ethnic group, and simply married to someone with an Armenian name.
- Even if my heritage were from an Arabic speaking culture, why would it be assumed that I speak and read Arabic?

3. If a company has a presence in social media, then they are essentially inviting people to contact them with comments, suggestions or problems. If a consumer does contact them via social media with a problem, then they are obliged to answer. What’s the point of being there if they don’t? To just have the appearance of being accessible?

4. If a company tells someone that they will connect them with the “right” person, then should connect them with the right person, not just ignore them.

5. If a company has a contact email on their website and someone takes the time to contact them, explain a problem, and ask for assistance, then they should respond to them, not just ignore them.

Yes, I admit, this post is a bit of a rant, but I am angry that I have been targeted and profiled in this way. I am angry that I tried to contact Dish Network to discuss this and was even invited to do so. But instead of offering me some kind of response, they chose to ignore me instead.
Moral of the story:
1. Direct mail campaigns based on ethnic or racial profiling are probably not a good idea.
2. If a consumer has a problem or complaint, then it’s probably a good idea for the company to respond (in English).

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Pay No Attention to that Guru Behind the Curtain

ozYou all know the scene: Dorothy and her three friends return to Oz with the broom in hand after a harrowing near-death experience dealing with the witch and all those flying monkeys, only to have Toto pull back the curtain and expose the wizard as the charlatan that he truly was. In our world filled with online gurus of all types and sizes popping up on Twitter, LinkedIn and the Internet in general, it’s important for businesses to know how to smell the difference between the real deal and a faker. With the ease of self-promotion that comes with using the Internet also comes the ease for anyone to claim guru status in order to try to win business.

Here are a few red flags and tips on how to be sure that you are working with someone who knows what they are doing:

Using the word “guru” to describe oneself

In its original form, guru was not a self-proclaimed title. It was something bestowed upon a religious leader who was thought to have power, knowledge and insight into God to guide followers from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. I don’t think they were talking about Twitter followers. If anyone describes themselves as a guru in their bio, I suggest running the other way.

Is the walk the same as the talk?
I came across a blog the other day that is a great illustration of this point. Calling this site a blog really was a bit of a stretch because there were only a few entries over the course of several months and they all were brief announcements promoting speaking engagements this person had lined up to impart his wisdom on how to build business through the use of blogging and social networking. The only problem was that right next to the post was that little blue box announcing that he had 4 feed subscribers and a little blue bird announcing that he had 58 followers on Twitter. None of his posts had comments or Re-Tweets. Looking at his Twitter feed, all his Tweets were link backs to his “posts” on his blog promoting his speaking engagements. Now would you trust that this guy holds any wisdom regarding how to build business through social media? Don’t think too long on that one.

That’s what Google is for….

It may sound obvious, but Google search the person’s name or business and take a look at the results. Hop on LinkedIn and take a look at the profile. See what the person’s credentials are or what he or she has done in the past. You can tell a lot about a person with a couple of clicks.

The proof is in the pudding
On the Internet people can claim to be a writers, designers, social media specialists, web designers, or business advisors. Heck, some people even claim to be 16-year-old girls but turn out to be 50-year-old men. It’s up to you to know for sure with whom you are dealing. Ask to see a portfolio of work or references from previous clients. If the only thing a supposed marketing guru has ever marketed is the marketing of his or her own marketing guru-ness, then beware. You be the judge.

You get what you pay for

To a certain degree, this statement is absolutely true. It’s not necessarily true that the more expensive someone is, the better, but I can guarantee you that anyone who is willing to write some copy for you for $20, design a logo for you on spec, or suggest a tag line for your business for free on LinkedIn is not going to be providing you with great results. Pay fast food salary (or no salary at all) and you’re guaranteed to get work at the caliber of a squished hamburger and floppy fries or less. Do a little research to find out what the going rate is for high quality work and negotiate from there.

Size doesn’t always matter

With crafty methods of getting more followers on Twitter, don’t always think that the more followers someone has guarantees a higher level of expertise. I actually get the opposite feeling sometimes when someone has an exorbitant number of followers…it makes me think SPAM. Remember, Charles Manson had a lot of followers too.

Money, that’s what I want
Another red flag is the use and overuse of the dollar sign and images of piles of money on someone’s Twitter background, blog or website. If money is the primary concern of the message, then losing yours should be your primary concern.

Finding great talented people to accomplish what you need help with is actually pretty simple. When you are looking to hire someone to work on a project for you, use common sense. Do your homework, understand the going rate and maybe most importantly, trust your instincts.

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The Lawlessness Of Twitter’s Wild West

cowboyWhat to tweet or what not to tweet, the rules of behavior and usage for Twitter abound on the internet. Most humans desire some rules to live by, whether it’s through religion, government, family, workplace, or self imposed ethics, most people get a certain level of comfort from knowing the parameters within which they should or are expected to operate. The problem with trying to apply rules to Twitter use is that everyone is inventing their own rules as they go to suit their own needs. Like it or not, Twitter is like the old wild west and like those days, it is a bit of a free-for-all.

I started writing this post to express my opinion about such things as ghost tweeting, sponsored tweets and spammers. Then I thought about it a bit more and realized that I’d just be contributing to the already incredibly long list of posts about Twitter do’s and don’ts (this one I thought was particularly amusing). There are a myriad of ways to use or not use Twitter and a matching number of viewpoints about which is “right” and which is “wrong.”

There are people who use Twitter to write books one tweet at a time, people who use it to link to naked pictures of themselves, people who use it for customer service, for marketing, for shameless self promotion, for entertainment, enlightenment or inspiration, for posting affiliate links in the hope of making some cash, for posting random thoughts, or for posing as someone else. Whatever the use, whatever the motivation, no matter how many people scream “that’s wrong,” the same number will scream “says who?” When there are no rules, people will make them up as they go or some will not operate under any rules at all. So one of my resolutions for the new year is to try to stop being so irritated by those that are not using Twitter to my liking. I will simply do what they did in the wild west and in a blink of an eye I’ll take my gun out of its holster, aim, and fire directly at the block button.

Image courtesy of www.PDImages.com

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