you missed it


If your only source of news is national media, you may not realize that a U.S. city was heavily damaged this weekend.

Yes, the Gulf oil disaster should be the top story and the Times Square car bomb attempt was news as it happened. However, the 38th largest MSA in the U.S. (and the capital of one of its states) was (is) being destroyed by flooding and the only place I was getting information about it was through Twitter.

I am a fan of Nashville for many personal and professional reasons. I have several clients and friends there. I consider it “my big city”. It’s where I fly from and where I go when I need resources that aren’t available locally.

WordPress guru @studionashvegas has a great post about how Nashville has been forgotten and makes some good points about how social media, the community, and traditional local media are the future of information…

National media is dead. Local media, and social media, are the blend of information services we need to survive.

If consumers can’t find the information they need, they will seek it out or create it themselves. We’ve already seen this happen with citizen journalism about in-depth topics. It’s now happening with the real time web for breaking news.

Sure. There can be a mob mentality in these situations where mis-information is disseminated exponentially. But that’s exactly the reason why credible news orgs should be participating in social media offering facts such as @tndotcom, @nashvillest, and @wkrn did during the Nashville event.

The lesson for (any) media is this: Consumers’ first concern is always with what’s happening NOW. They’ll mull the consequences later. Your worries need to lie with why you’re not offering immediate information in an immediate media environment instead of worrying about how to create the souvenir of the news the day after it happens.

Part of the lack of national response for Nashville may come from the lag between the real time web and when traditional media figures out there’s a story. I wrote a post about this phenomenon of the tuned-in minority back in 2008. More recently, I tweeted this on April 20th. I saw the story pop up in newspapers and on TV three or four days later. We’ll see if Nashville gets on the radar in the next few days.

UPDATE: I called it. It was an issue with the tuned-in minority. http://shotgunconcepts.com/2010/05/nashville2

[ btw — if you want to help people in Nashville, you can find info here:
http://nashvillest.com/2010/05/03/so-nashville-is-flooded-how-can-i-help ]

stupid tweets

I’m sure you find value in your Twitter stream. But among the constant golden nuggets of twitter-dom, there are ocasssionally some stinker tweets. Most of these come from wannabe gurus who feel they have to constantly “provide value to the community” so they wind up tweeting their idiocy.

The ones that get me the most are when something big has been happening for several hours and is already firmly entrenched as a trending topic.  Someone logs on and feels they need to be an “innovator” and help their poor “laggard” followers. For example: if gmail has been down for 5 or 6 hours, they would tweet this:

Whoa. I’m having trouble with my gmail acct. Something may be happening.

Related to that are the people discovering technology, but trying to act like a tech insider:

Just visited a WordPress blog and it gave me the ability to leave a comment at the bottom of the post. New feature?

Matt Foley wannabes:

Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?

You gotta love people’s first tweet:

Trying out this new Twitter thing…

btw — I think a person’s first tweet should be:

@Watson! come here I need you!

T.M.I:

Good news: I get to leave the house today. Bad news: It’s to buy new catheter bags. (actual tweet!)

Crowdsourcing the mundane:

Anyone know how many toothpicks are in a standard box? has it traditionally been that number?

Spending the attention that I have given you to play some inane game:

I just ousted Cleatus as the Dog Catcher of Hooterville on Five Rhombus!

And sadly, I see this truly stupid one all the time…

Is Twitter down?

Did I miss some tweets that annoy you? Leave them in the comments. And if you want to see some really dumb tweets, you can follow me on Twitter @shotgunconcepts!

just a tweet

The twittersphere is all a-twitter about a company suing a woman for $50,000 over one of her tweets. The offending tweet from @abonnen to her 20 followers was:

…who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.

Most reactions to the news seem to be centered around the idea of “it’s just a tweet / lighten up”.

OK. Using that same mindset, then…

  • United Breaks Guitars is just a YouTube video.
  • ComcastMustDie is just a blog.
  • #MotrinMoms is just a hashtag

If we’re all going join hands in a circle and get weepy over the fact that “everyone is now a publisher”, then everyone is now accountable to established publishing laws. This tweet may violate a little one called libel.

Ask yourself this: If a newspaper or TV station reported without justification that a local landlord condoned their tenants sleeping in mold infested apartments, would the company be justified in suing the media outlet? If you think so, then how is “new media” different than “old media”?

I have no idea (and don’t care) about the specifics of this case. Maybe @abonnen was sleeping in a petri dish. Maybe the company was attacked unfairly. (although I do find it hard to side with any company that describes it’s business philosophy as “sue first and ask questions later“)

But here’s the big point that everyone needs to think about. We’re going to have to decide does consumer generated media mean “fundamental groundbreaking change” or “just a tweet”?

your company’s looming social media disaster

Think about if you’ve met any of these cutting edge people…

  • Remember when the Macarena came out? You probably danced it at some public gathering for the few weeks it was popular. Then it went away. And then a few months later, you were at a gathering and a person played the song and thought they were on the hip cutting edge.
  • Someone in your organization just discovered the concept of viral video.
  • Has someone in the last year or so asked you if you were gettin’ jiggy with it?
  • You get chain emails from them that were debunked on snopes.com years ago.

You’ve met these people, right?
These people are currently signing up for Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We’re over the adoption curve hump of Facebook and we’re steadily climbing it for Twitter which means people who aren’t necessarily online competent are now using online tools.

I’m sure you have at least one friend (probably more) on Facebook that you’re embarrassed FOR them because they post inappropriate things, spam you with requests, don’t realize that their friends can see their conversations/posts, etc. They’re new to the space, and still learning the ropes until they find out the proper etiquette.

For as much as the online world is an open-source / free-wheeling / anything-goes community, we all know there are rules…many of them unwritten ones. The community generally supports, instructs, or ignores individual newcomers when these “rules” are broken. (ALL CAPS, spam, chain emails, etc)

But that only goes for individuals. When a company / organization steps out into the water, it’s expected that they know how to swim. And that same supporting community for individuals becomes a lynch mob for corporate entities who make even minor mistakes. You’ve seen it happen.

And just as there are individuals who are laggards to the social media party, there are now companies who see the train passing by and figure they better get on — even if they don’t know what they are doing.

I am not saying that there is a “right way” to do social media. As I once tweeted

how to spot a true “social media expert” — google their name and the phrase “NO, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!

But if your employees are venturing out onto social networks and are carrying the mantle of your organization, they need to at least understand the basics of social media and somewhat be cognizant of the “online rules”. Anything else is just asking for a disaster.

Many companies don’t see this looming disaster because they just see small numbers of customers engaging in social media with the organization and don’t understand the deep implications of making a mistake there. Remember this: Your email list, facebook fans, twitter followers, etc are some of your most important customers. These are the people who have stood up and said I WANT to engage with your company. They are the 20% of the 80/20 rule.

Why are you leaving this important group with the interns or inexperienced employees who have no idea how to talk to them?

i’m here — hope you are too

If you’re reading this in your rss feed reader, then you’ve made it with me to the new blog.

As I said in the last blogspot post, I should have done this a long time ago and really should have done it from the start. I always hesitated doing it because I feared I would lose some readers and all those inbound links from over the years. And I have lost those links and I’m sure some people will get left behind, but this needed to be done. I’m hopeful that 2009 will be a big year because of a project that I’m working on that will launch late summer/early fall (see www.brandzeitgeist.com for details)

You shouldn’t build a house on land that you don’t own. A blog on a free platform presents the same problem. What if blogger/google pulled the rug out tomorrow? The blog issue is easy to solve like I just have — but think about all the people building their online brand equity in places like twitter, linked in, facebook, and a hundred other places online. Is your entire online brand resting on something that could be gone tomorrow?

Anyway, the process of the switch was easier and quicker than I thought it would. Toughest part was that I had to manually transfer several of my old comments (pre-2006) when I was using Haloscan comments instead the Blogger commenting.

All the posts made it except one from two years ago that came over as a draft for some reason. All the comments came except 3. I have no idea what 3 they were. I hope they weren’t profound observations.

And all the old labels/tags came over as categories. It will be a joy to clean those up.

Thanks for coming along to the new digs.

tweet checks

You’ve probably already heard about the Zuckerberg interview fiasco at SXSW. If not, here’s a good overview and Jarvis has some insight.

After spending years in marketing and media, I’ve learned a few things that are showcased in this particular incident:
1) Every interviewer has an agenda. And every interviewee needs a plan. Sure, they’re going to ask you questions. You just give the answers that you want to get across. Politicians do this too well.
2) In most interviews, journalists already have most of the story written and just need some quotes to fill in the holes. You may have to slap them around (figuratively, of course) –but make sure that they’re getting your story right.
3) Most interviewers don’t listen to what you’re saying.
4) Don’t ever tweet in anger.
5) The audience has always controlled the conversation. If you insulted them in the old days, they canceled their subscription or changed the channel. Now they bite back.

I don’t think people realize how much communication has changed. We’ve all been in a conference where someone was doing something stupid on stage. Everyone winced individually and went on to the next session. Maybe later in the exhibit hall or somewhere else did the WOM occur that negated the presentation. It now happens in real time. You can have an angry mob on your hands and not realize it. Presenters often have a person in the audience who watches their time or body language. You now need a plant to give you cues on the meta-conversation and how the natives are feeling.

People get freaked out when this social conversation happens in a microcosm like a conference so you can actually see it. But this is happening everyday. Not everyone is in the same room. But when your company, you’re media outlet, your celebrity, your politician, or your product messes up, everyone is out there talking about it to each other.

And 99.999% of companies are doing what this interviewer did. They say I’m giving you what I think you need instead of what you’re telling me you want.

Reflections on Barcamp Nashville

After taking some time to absorb the experience and decompress, here are a few scattered thoughts on Barcamp Nashville.

There’s been a healthy discussion going on (like here and here) about how it wasn’t a “real barcamp”. While I tend to agree that it wasn’t necessarily an “unconference”, it was a pretty good conference. I benefited from most speakers and most of the conversations. There were times I wished the speaker had been given more than 20 minutes. (There were also times I wished they had been given only 10)

The entire day had the trappings of a Nashville entertainment event right down to the venue. Each city’s barcamp needs to have its own flavor. And there was an unmistakable Nash-Vegas flavor at this one.

As several have said, it was a good first step for Nashville. Sure, it wasn’t the freeform open source event that some had expected. But are most people ready for that? While you can argue the point of the wisdom of crowds philosophy that all of us are smarter than one of us — you have to remember the mob mentality of all of us are dumber than one of us. People are comfortable with the “powerpont-a-rama” delivery from a high stage and a spotlight. Since I make a decent buck by doing just that, I (and many others) liked the day.

I was a bit leery about being the first speaker since I was used to the normal one-to-many delivery and I wasn’t sure if the crowd was expecting the freeform style or not. But I’m glad the organizers had me kick it off. There was a good crowd and everyone was receptive. There’s been some good talk in the b-sphere about my presentation. I appreciate all the comments.

I do wish that I had been able to roam a bit more while speaking. Normally when I speak, I like to walk around and get down with the audience. The stage setup with the screen, corded mic, and R2 made it impossible to do so. I felt a bit tied to the podium. It’s one of the few times I’ve delivered an entire talk standing behind a lectern.

Another suggestion for the future — since everyone was twittering, that would have been the best way for people to ask questions/discuss at the end of each presentation instead of the awkward floating mic setup. The presenters could just glance at the questions at the end and answer them.

And two quick final observations —
–Even though there were lots of people there who are on the cutting edge much more than I am, I think I introduced many people to a new web app (Slideshare)!

–Reading through other’s posts on barcamp, I notice this alot — “I really enjoyed meeting Blogger X andBlogger Y for real and in-person instead of just having an online relationship.” It just goes to show that for all the progress and connectivity of “web 2.0” — people still want a personal connection.

Tedchnorati: BarcampNashville

Barcamp Nashville

Barcamp Nashville has been interesting…..with neat speakers, great people, and a warm room (in more ways than one).

I had planned to liveblog while I was here, but I’ve had some wi-fi trouble. 60 has been posting and the twitter page offers a good snapshot.

Update: Gavin fucntioned as somwhat of the nashville barcamp scribe and said some nice things about me and Mitch Joel.

My photos (and everyone else’s) can now be found using the flickr barcampnashville tag.

I’ve had several people come up and tell me they enjoyed my presentation. For anyone who wants to see them, my slides are at: http://www.slideshare.net/shotgunconcepts

Technorati tag:

Reality Check

Recently, I spoke to a group of late teens/early 20-somethings about online media. These students were in an honors class in one of the top journalism schools in the country.

In all, they threw me for a loop on what “the online generation” is doing.

Granted, it was only about 90 minutes with 18 people. But perhaps before you invest heavily in online platforms, you should get your head out of the blogosphere where “everyone” knows all about the potential of Web2.0 and you should drop in on a few of the people out in the real world.