May 26, 2009

Comment with caution

The best part of Web 2.0: Everyone has a voice.

The worst part of Web 2.0: Everyone has a voice.

Tell me if you’ve ever had this experience. You’re browsing your favorite newspaper’s Web site and you find an interesting article. So you read, and then you notice a link at the end of the article to an entire section devoted to reader comments. Thinking it would be interesting to browse through others’ thoughts on the story, you click.

Thirty seconds later you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake. The personal attacks, ignorance, hatred and profanity make reading comments unbearable.

After a few experiences like this, level-headed readers might come to the conclusion that comments are at best meaningless, and at worst bigoted, destructive and hateful.

These awful comments can be found everywhere, and it’s unfortunate that a vocal minority has the power to shed an ugly light on any group, person or belief simply by leaving a comment at the end of a story or video.

Therefore, it’s up to reasonable people like you and me to set things right. Here’s an assignment: Leave a constructive comment on something you view on the Web this week. Be thoughtful, say something useful and avoid personal attacks and profanity at all costs. Remember the three rules of commenting:

  • Only cowards leave anonymous comments

  • Only simpletons use profanity

  • Never say anything in a comment you wouldn’t say to a person’s face

  • Also, remember this: Usually it’s only the really passionate people who leave comments. The people with strong opinions. Comments do not represent the feeling of the general public… even though it might seem that way.

    May 21, 2009

    Make it exclusive

    I had a great meeting yesterday with some representitives from TxtWire, a mobile marketing company.

    They made a comment about mobile marketing that I thought applied well to social media marketing.

    When an organization is sending mass texts to all the cell numbers they've collected, the number one priority for those organizations is to make those text messages compelling and exclusive. Otherwise your customers will drop like flies.

    Likewise, if your company is on Twitter and is simply sending shorter versions of the boring emails people already delete, you can bet you're going to lose some followers.

    Go write a message on Facebook, Twitter or your blog and make it exclusive! Give them a reason to follow!

    May 15, 2009

    Social media marketing according to Seinfeld

    I’m fascinated with social media. I love the connections we make with each other, and I love what it’s doing to businesses in every industry.

    I’m also a huge Seinfeld fan. Bordering on obsessive. I know virtually everything there is to know about Seinfeld.

    So I thought I’d use the greatest television sitcom of all time to help me answer this question: Why are companies around the globe devoting more and more money to social media marketing? Let’s take a look at quotes from two episodes of Seinfeld (courtesy of to see if we can’t shed a little light on our question.

    First, from “The Yada Yada”:

    Elaine: Guess what? Beth Lookner called me.

    Jerry: Ooh, Beth Lookner. Still waitin' out that marriage.

    Elaine: What are you talking about? That marriage ended six months ago. She's already remarried.

    Jerry: I gotta get on that Internet. I'm late on everything!

    Jerry is like any business in our social media world. His frustration represents the frustration of any industry which believes the same formula that worked for businesses in the past will work in this new era of communication. Those who won’t change with the times will constantly find themselves a few steps behind.

    Social Media is changing the way businesses communicate—it doesn’t matter if they’re trying to reach a customer, the media or even the government. Social media marketing means embracing a new way of communicating with your stakeholders. It means it’s time to kill off your old antiquated notions of advertising and public relations, and start moving toward true two-way interaction with your publics.

    Now, quote number two from “The Butter Shave”:

    Kramer: Did you see Bania's set last night? 'Cause I read on the Internet he killed.

    Since social media has given us the power to create, humans everywhere are discovering the joy they find in sharing their opinions on the Internet. They meet together and chat, and, as Kramer noted, they’re very good at sharing information.

    An increased emphasis on social media marketing means an increased effort to be where your customers are. Millions and millions of people are conversing with each other every single day on the Internet. Many of them are talking about your industry. Some of them are even talking about your products.

    Are you going to ignore that conversation?

    The era of cold corporations disseminating information to mindless consumers is dead. It’s time go to where the people are and join the conversation. It’s time to listen.

    If you’re still not sold, I urge you to visit, Google Blog Search or Twitter Search and type in your company name, your industry or your product. See what I mean? People are talking.

    Take it from Jerry. Don’t get left behind.

    May 14, 2009

    The three "C"s of blogging

    Quick story: I was talking business with my wife last night. We both have jobs in Social Media, so we often talk business. Anyway, she was telling me about a presentation she would be giving soon entitled “The three Cs of Social Media.”

    I smiled, but it was the nervous kind of smile one might flash while in the presence of a mind-reader… or a plagiarist (just kidding, dear).

    Anyway, I told her about my idea for a post entitled “The three Cs of blogging,” and she flashed the same smile.

    Great minds think alike, I guess.

    Blogging is a hobby of mine. I enjoy expressing myself, and I operate under the assumption that someone, somewhere (probably in Malaysia) likes what I write.

    During the course of all this blogging, I’ve picked up a few principles I try to live by when I write. I call them the three Cs of blogging.

    1. Content. If blogging were Lincoln Logs, content would be the long fat pieces you use for the foundation. You can’t build a good cabin without long fat Lincoln Logs, and you can’t build a good blog without compelling content.

    Before you even begin blogging, identify your area of focus. What will you write about, and who is your audience? Start by filling in the blanks of this “Focus Statement”: My blog will be where ______________ come to learn about _______________.

    Once you identify your theme and your audience, write passionately. You probably wouldn’t be blogging at all if you didn’t have a little passion, so let it shine through your writing. Write with emotion, and keep it light. I got a great piece of advice once: Write like you’re trying to make your two best friends laugh.

    2. Consistency. Nothing kills off readers like inconsistency. One post to your blog every third month just won’t cut it. Before you start your blog, figure out a schedule and stick to it.

    You don’t have to post every day, but your readers should know when they can expect a new post. And they should start to get antsy when that post doesn’t come.

    I have a good friend, for example, who posts to his blog just once a week. One post a week isn’t much, but we all know that post will be there every week.

    3. Communication. So you’ve created a new blog and you’re extremely proud of your work. The writing is crisp, the sidebars are filled with crazy widgets and ideas are buzzing all the time.

    Problem: no one knows about it.

    Now it’s time to promote yourself. Remember that audience you identified earlier? Well, find those people and tell them about your new project! Send emails, encourage people to subscribe to your posts and be your own publicity agent.

    Promote your blog (in an authentic and not-annoying way) in other forums. Tweet about it, Send links through Facebook, leave comments on related blogs and otherwise keep your friends updated. No one will read your blog if they don’t know it exists.

    So what do you think? Feel a little better about starting your own blog? I hope so. Please leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to follow my own advice and tell everyone about what I’m doing here.

    May 13, 2009

    Care enough to create

    I wish I could claim ownership of that title, but I actually read it first on a blog I follow called PR Squared.

    The post I'm referring to broke audiences into three categories: Passionates, Influencers and Ad-hocs. The passionate people, according to that post, are the original bloggers, Twitterers, social media marketers and adopters. They are passionate about their subject. They care enough to create.

    That phrase sums up what social media means to me. Social media puts the power in our hands. It lets us speak freely about the issues and subjects we feel strongly about. No longer are we simply subject to a mass media agenda--now we create our own agenda.

    Social media means we are no longer merely media consumers, we are now producers.

    We don't just let stories and opinions wash over us, we create our own stories. We formulate our own opinions. We publish them for all to see.

    I love it. Now go create something!

    May 12, 2009

    Twitter: Answering the age-old questions

    "So what is Twitter?”

    Odds are you have either asked, or have been asked that immensely popular question—possibly in the last 48 hours. Twitter is one of the fastest growing platforms in the social media world, and your friends and family are starting to wonder about it. They want to know what Twitter is, maybe for no other reason than Oprah told them to find out.

    The first question is usually followed by its twin: “What’s the point?”

    Answering this question is a delicate process. It will either sour potential Twitterers forever, or it will pique an interest that might even lead to adoption. I’m going to try to answer both questions in a way that will show you that Twitter has an actual function in society.

    Twitter itself is pretty simple. Once a user signs up for Twitter he or she will be faced with this question: “What are you doing?” And then he or she has 140 characters (read: characters, not words) to answer the question. (Note: Most people ignore the question and just write freely.)

    Easy enough, right?

    So easy, in fact, most clear-thinking adults will immediately brush it off as a waste of time. They rally behind their clarion call: “Who cares?” One guy, for example, heard about Twitter from some friends, so he signed up for an account. He starts by writing something like “Wondering why Twitter is such a big deal,” and then never comes back.

    Another Twitter baby lost. Such a tragedy. One that could have been avoided, though, if this person would have started his Twitter life with the right strategy. And here it is.

    The key to Twitter newcomers is to concentrate on others first. Every Twitter account displays three different groups: People you’re following, people who are following you, and number of updates. Unless you are Bono, you’re probably going to start out with zero followers. That’s okay—we’re thinking of other people first. Concentrate on who you can follow.

    Start by seeing if any of your email contacts are already on Twitter. You’ll be able to search through Gmail, Yahoo, MSN and other major email providers through Twitter.

    Next, check out Twitter’s list of suggested users. There you’ll find people like Rainn Wilson (of The Office), the official Google account and a whole slew of other Twitter users in entertainment, politics, news and art. Pick and choose who you’d like to follow.

    Then perform a simple search. Find people who are tweeting about your favorite subjects. You like BYU football? Search for BYU Football and you’ll find all kinds of accounts. Search for news outlets, famous figures, sports teams and friends, and follow all of them.

    As you do this, you’ll find more and more people will follow you in return.

    Now you’re off to the right foot. Now you’ll be able to gather information from your favorite sources. You’ll be able to see news stories from The New York Times breaking at the speed of tweet. Before you know it people will be chatting all around you. Some of it will be valuable, some will be a waste, but at least you can now pick and choose.

    And suddenly it’s your turn. Suddenly you’ll have something meaningful to say, and you’ll join a conversation seamlessly. Now you’re using Twitter to pass on links, articles, video and pictures you find in your daily Internet perusal or you’re simply quipping about the mundane tasks of your daily life.

    One bit of advice, though: Whatever you decide to type in that field of 140 characters, make sure it has value. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize material, but try to say more than “Welp… going to bed.”

    Let’s sum up, shall we?

    What is Twitter? A Web site in which users gather and distribute short messages.

    What’s the point? To share information in real-time. To join ongoing conversations. To connect with friends, media and popular figures in a new way.

    So try Twitter out today. If you'd like, you can follow me and let me know if you have any thoughts about anything I’ve written.

    May 11, 2009

    Your Social Media Conversion

    This is my new project.

    My name is Adam Olsen, and Social Media Conversion is a forum for me to share my thoughts and advice about the emerging social media and networking channels that will shape our online culture.

    I don’t need to tell you how explosive social media is right now. Chances are if you’re reading this blog you already know.

    While millions of people are visiting social media sites every day, however, most of those people will be “one and done.” They’ll try something for a week, but then they’ll get bored and kick it to the curb. How many friends do you have, for example, who never really “caught on” to Twitter or blogging? Maybe you are that friend…

    I want to be a resource for you. In fact, I’m writing this blog for you. Social Media Conversion is for Internet users who want to be a part of the social media movement, but need someone to shepherd them down the path.

    The purpose of this blog is to answer common questions, share some news, give advice and otherwise help you on your road to Social Media Conversion. I’ll be writing about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and other social networking sites.

    I feel like I have a good understanding of social media, and I’m learning more every day. Please ask me questions, make comments, or just sit back and enjoy.