Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Onion and The Oscars: Let's move on!

Onion Oscar Tweet

BANG! Imagine seeing that pop up in your news feed.

Now, this is a bit of a tough one to tackle, as I have to say that in my opinion, calling a nine-year-old girl a ‘c_nt’ just isn’t very funny. But since when has not being funny been classed as a crime? In the UK we’ve handed gold-plated careers to the likes of Bobby Davro, Keith Chegwin and Jason Manford off of the back of our love of traditional unfunny-ness.

Once again, to reiterate: The tweet, in my opinion, wasn't funny in the slighest.

But I think what we’re seeing here is an attempt by The Onion to prick the balloon of pomosity around The Oscars ceremony - alot like Seth McFarlane did whilst presenting it. They just picked the wrong target. An easy target. It was a cheap shot. And they were right to apologise to Quevenzhane Wallis.

But it wasn’t racist. And it wasn’t something that the whole of America, and the world at large, should get too worked up about.

I love Twitter. And I love social media. I love communicating. It’s my job. The ability that social media has to connect people around the world instantly and without borders is something to be applauded.

When charities like Oxfam hand over their Twitter account to a Syrian refugee for the day so you can find out what it’s like to live their lives from the comfort of your home or office - that’s powerful. You don’t get many people tweeting about it though, do you? What a great opportunity - a great real-time event.

Getting annoyed about a tasteless Oscars tweet isn’t a good use of your time on earth. It’s silly.

I think that the biggest mistake The Onion made in all this was to not pick their battles more carefully. In it’s quest to gain engagement, retweets and followers, it dived headfirst into a pit of angry vipers, just waiting for something minor (no pun intended) to get annoyed about. It was a shit joke that went down badly - but we’ve all heard much worse. So step away from the keyboard!

Here’s a thought: Maybe in the UK and the rest of the western world, we should concentrate on the real shit that’s going on - good and bad. Let’s get our priorities in proportion, and try and be a bit less knee-jerk. This Tweet will be forgotten next week, and we’ll move on to another outrage, but there are always more important things to be engaging with: our friends, family, loved ones, and the world around us.

The Oscars by comparison really isn’t that important. It’s chickenfeed for the mind, and trying to elevate this event within an event merely crystallises this. Move on.

The world as it appears on Twitter? That’s only 140 characters of it. That’s so far from the full skinny it’s untrue.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Why most social media blogs are shit

I’m bored. I mean seriously, seriously bored.

I’ve been checking out the latest blogs in and around my industry, and to be perfectly honest, I’m a little bit disappointed in what I’m seeing in out there. I thought I had this whole blogging thing licked! But it turns out I’m wrong.

Do you want to know what the secret of writing a good social media blog is?

Fresh content?

Great advice?

Crisp, engaging copy that jumps off the page?

Strong imagery or branding?

Nope - none of the above really matter. What matters is how many times you can mention how important social media is to keep on writing the same article over and over again.

You know - the one about how social media is a transformational platform, how your company really should be on there, how it’s the wave of the future.

Let me repeat that: to be successful, keep on writing the same, tired, shitty articles over and over again.

You also need to back this up with a few speculative tit-bits about how social media drives sales, gives tangible ROI and had single-handedly saved the Bolivian Unicorn from extinction.

Do we really need more articles of this kind? Do we really need another article with a headline like this? Or this? Come on. It’s getting boring now. You’re supposed to be an expert. Crafting a blog post out of one bullet-point on a Powerpoint presentation is weak, and if you are going to do a top five/ten/twenty social media list, or a really vague ‘duh’ guide to a platform, leave it to the pros like Mashable.

Aim for the niche. Aim for what you’re good at. Why are you a good social media marketer? Why are you a good community manager? What’s your niche? What makes you special?

Nobody wants to read the same old shit anymore - it’s time to step it up. Write something you’d want to read for a change. Write for yourself, and people like you first. Let the high-traffic blogs handle the simple questions. Your role as somebody that knows about social is to share real, tangible knowledge. Your thoughts. Your opinion. Give me something contentious.

Challenge me! Because we’re not being challenged enough as an industry at the moment. We just let people drink from the fountain of social media and froth over how many likes or follows their business gets. And then we wonder why when we go into a meeting with a client that all they want is a useless app to grow their fan numbers - or how a social plugin can ‘force’ somebody to like or follow them.

Let’s make more of an effort - how’s about it? You don’t even have to take up arms. All you need to do is write about what interests you about social media, and do it when you feel like it.

The eyes of the world aren’t on you - trust me, there are meteors to duck and books to read. The moment you feel that pressure is the moment you stop writing well. I know that all too well. This blog is probably littered with more than a few shit articles. But I don’t want to write any more of them.

And neither should you. So what do you say? Let’s do it - let’s stop writing shit social media blogs!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Pointless ego-shine: The LinkedIn 'Top 5%' email

LinkedIn Logo

I, like many other people this past week, received an email from LinkedIn telling me that I was one of the ‘top 5%’ most-viewed users on LinkedIn.

Wow! That’s brilliant, isn’t it? Since being identified as one of this top five percent of viewed profiles, I’ve been inundated - literally inundated - with job offers and opportunities from some of the biggest brands, startups and charities in the world. I’ve been offered a place on the board of Facebook, given the opportunity to be the majority shareholder in Google, and been offered the role of mentor on the next series of the X-Factor over here in the UK. I've even got my own unicorn now, delivered personally by Adam Ant and Morrissey.

I feel like I’m a member of an exclusive club - one which may not entitle me to free Nandos, or a cookie with my Subway, but one where at the very least, I can claim to be one of the top TEN MILLION people on LinkedIn.

Tremble before me,  minions, as I wield my trusty resume sabre of doom, and bring it down upon you with great vengeance. Tremble at my fragile credibility! RAAAAAARRRRRR!

Seriously - this is one of the poorest emails I’ve ever received from a company. Talk about flimsy marketing.

Here’s an idea for people: rather than tweeting out a fairly insignificant stat about being one of the top viewed profiles on LinkedIn, you start using it to network, market yourself and put yourself in the best position possible to find a new challenge on there?

Being one of ten million doesn’t make you stand out from the crowd. I don’t count any number that large as rarified company.

Concentrate on YOU - what do you want to get out of LinkedIn? An ego-shining? Then go for it, share that worthless five-percent stat.

Here’s what I want to get out of LinkedIn:

  1. I apply for a role, including a link to my LinkedIn profile in the covering letter.
  2. Hiring manager looks at my details, wants to check if I have any recommendations (NOT box-ticking endorsements - actual statements people have taken the time to write).
  3. Hiring manager looks at my profile, realises that I am the real deal, and a good match for the role (I hope), proceeds to contact me for an interview.
  4. I get the job by impressing with my mad skills (as Jesse Pinkman would say).

That’s it. That’s what I focus on with LinkedIn. Everything I do on there is to build networking connections, talk to like-minded professionals, to find out more about the industry I work in, and to help find new work.

I don’t care about being in a percentile. I care about having a useful profile, highlighting my skills, and finding new opportunities to work and connect. If one person looks at my profile, and offers me a role in part because of it, then that’s worth more than being part of a 10 million-strong backslapping brigade.

LinkedIn: please don’t send an email like this again. It’s annoying, it’s spam, and it’s just pure, brazen clickbait.

I thought you were above this. Clearly not.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The key to social success: Balance, Variety and nine steps to improve your social posts

How are you getting on with that social media strategy? Is it going OK? Are you reaching enough people? Are you meeting your goals?

Yes? No? Do you have the answer yet?

You probably should, you know. We are way, way past the stage in social media when you can just have a fiddle around the edges and hope that it’s OK.

It’s like email - it’s not going away, you can love it or you can hate it, but really, you’ve just got to knuckle down and use it now, because that’s where a lot of your potential clients are there.

Chop. Change. Optimise.

Find out what works, and find out why it works.

Think about what you are feeding your audience. Think about the type of audience you want. It can’t be everybody. If you try to please everybody, not only will you fail - you’ll also become irrelevant.

Optimise your social presence! Cultivate a following that is interested not just in what you are offering, but what you are as a business. That’s hard. That’s why it needs to be done. All of the biggest rewards come after you solve a really hard, really big problem. Defer your gratification. Choose the road less travelled.

It’s hard to be useful in social media - and that’s why so many companies get it wrong.

Before you post anything socially - can you answer the following questions?

  1. Is it timely? Is this appearing at a time you know your audience will be around?
  2. Is it relevant? Is it relevant to their lives, or the world around us?
  3. Is it fun/interesting? Does it make you smile? Would you send it to a mate to cheer them up? Is this something you think your fans should know about, or NEED to know about it.
  4. Will you reply to comments on it? Are you willing to take part in a conversation around it? If not, then it’s probably best not to put it up.
  5. Does it reflect your business or brand? Does it reflect your brand’s values?
  6. Would you engage with this? Would you (honestly) respond to this if you saw another friend posting this in your news feed?
  7. Would your nan be offended by this? Not your real nan – your internal nan. What I mean by this is – put yourself in another person’s shoes. Would this content offend that person? If so, then probably best not to post it.
  8. Would you click on it? Does the information provided really make you want to click on the link? If not, how can you improve what you’re doing?
  9. Does it ask too much of me? Am I asking somebody to like, +1, share, retweet and enter something all at the same time? If so, you’re probably asking too much!
If you can’t answer yes to these nine questions, then don’t post anything. It’s really that simple.

Remember - good social posting isn’t about the amount that you post - it’s about getting the balance and variety of the posts right.