Facebook Can Have My Data

In case you haven’t heard, Facebook is now the glue of the internet. That’s pretty vague, so read all about what that means in this post from Andrew Swenson/Wordpost (or in the first article I linked… they’re both good).

The big news is Facebook’s announcement that their “like” button will be available all over the internet. When you’re frolicking around IMDB and checking out your favorite quotes from Clueless, you’ll be able to check out which of your Facebook friends has a similar love for the best movie from 1995. Beyond that nice little friendship builder, it’s no big deal – just that every site that has a “like” button is allowed to aggregate, save, and react to YOUR information.

A lot of people are kind of freaking out about the changes to what Facebook and publishers can hold onto.

But I think it’s GREAT.

Obviously it’s great for Facebook and publishers to gather mounds of consumer data, but it’s perfect for me too. There’s only two points that matter to me from a Facebook-user & consumer standpoint:

  1. Every piece of information that Facebook knows about me is a piece of information that I willingly gave to Facebook. If I don’t want it passed around the internet from company to company as I like things that I use, want, or enjoy, I’ll remove it from my page. Facebook can’t share my information unless I give it to them.
  2. The point of publishers saving information is to customize content for each visitor to their site. If that means that ESPN will display a Tigers story on the front page because they recognize I’m a Tigers fan, that’s a win for me. If IMDB shows me an advertisement for an upcoming Tim Burton movie because I like a bunch of his previous shows instead of an ad for Sex and the City 2, I might even go as far as sending a thank-you email.

If you’re using the internet (and something tells me you are…), privacy is an illusion. Google knows what you search and what your emails are about. Facebook knows who your friends are and what you like. That’s the way this world works and it’s going to make your life better.

Are you concerned about the information Facebook knows about you? Do you think it is wrong to allow publishers to save that information as well? …will any of your concerns lead you to delete your Facebook profile?

Here’s what I told Facebook – use it wisely­čÖé

No Bad Days Allowed

Here it comes. The inevitable BAD DAY. You can feel it rolling in. We’ve all had them. Things just aren’t going your way. Maybe you woke up late or your boss got on your case about something. Maybe you haven’t had your coffee yet or you aren’t feeling the creative juices flowing. It’s just not a good day.

I’ve got some more bad news for you.

Time to put the smiley face on because your brand doesn’t get a bad day. Your community doesn’t deserve to feel the pain of whatever stress you’re trying to handle. If you need to, go blow some steam on MySpace with a cryptic update, because your community isn’t there to pity you – they’re involved because of the value you bring. As marketers, we preach all day to add value, but consumers aren’t looking to add value in social media, they’re looking to take whatever value you’ll give them.

The current buzz around social media is that your brand should be human and it’s fine to make mistakes – screw that. It’s not fine to make mistakes*. Your brand should have personality, but your goal should always be a perfect user experience. It’s tough to achieve, but you sure as hell better be trying whether you’ve got a black cloud over your head or not. Nobody wins if you’re not always acting as a pleasant touchpoint for your brand.

Online communities exist 24/7 and you need to have your game face on during all interactions.

What do you do to avoid the impact of bad days? How do you turn that frown upside down when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed (extra points if you can use more cliches in one sentence)?

* Mistakes happen and you should always learn from them (acknowledge and make it right if possible)…but don’t brush them off as if there’s no problem.

The Problem with RSS

Golden Guy RSS by LuMaxArt

I’m a huge fan of creating a great RSS feed where you can find useful information at all times and read posts from a bunch of the super blogrockers out there. I use Google Reader for my RSS feed and I share articles pretty frequently for anybody that wants to check out my favorite posts.

I’ve noticed one huge problem with my RSS feed though.

There is no way to comment via my reader. I haven’t been commenting as much as I should, or want to, since I filled up my RSS feed with such excellent thinkers. It’s not that I don’t have thoughts about the posts, I’ve just got another list of posts staring me in the face that I can’t wait to read.

Not only are comments viewed as currency in the blogosphere at times, but comments drive conversation. The best bloggers are not looking merely to tell you what they think – they’re looking to build on ideas and participate in thought-provoking conversations.

Blogging is a two-way street. Make it a busy one.

Show your favorite bloggers that you appreciate their work by striking up conversation. Go beyond a simple agreement and a thank you. Use your comment to build on the blogger’s ideas, ask questions, and challenge points in a constructive or inquisitive format. You can form a valuable relationship simply through commenting and carrying your comments and conversations over to other platforms.

So here’s my social media resolution for 2010 – I’m going to make a point to do more commenting on blogs by Danny Brown, Jim Connolly, Arik Hanson, David Spinks, Rich DeMatteo, Lauren Fernandez, Valeria Maltoni, Stuart Foster, Leigh Durst, Scott Hepburn, Jackie Adkins, Matt Cheuvront, Amber Naslund, Ryan Stephens, B.L. Ochman, Samantha Ogborn, David Mullen, Mack Collier, Amy Mengel, Jason Falls, etc. (Seriously, the list goes on and on)

What are some of your favorite blogs and how can you improve your relationship through commenting?

Stop Drawing Stick People

Stick People

By Beck Tench (10ch)

At what age did you start drawing stick people? Drawing your first stick person is kind of like the opposite of the first time you stood up to walk. Rather than progress from rolling to sliding to crawling to walking, you regress from drawing (or attempting to draw) the way you see things to drawing stereotyped figures to drawing stick people.

Most psychologists agree that we draw stick figures because we lose confidence in our artistic ability at some age. Ok, no big deal. We’re not all artists. But notice – we don’t choose to draw stick people because we can’t draw…we do it because we aren’t confident. Go ahead and try it (skip the excuses) – draw a somewhat realistic person.

The same thing happens with sharing ideas. We become less confident in our answers, ideas, and writing – so we slow down. Blogs go unwritten, comments go unspoken, and excuses fill the void. We replace thought-provoking and creative blog posts with hot topic keywords to see if you can grab some search love for your mind-numbing posts that take an angle you were positive nobody had written. Here’s a free tip: “news” didn’t become a top trending topic on the internet until people started poking and prodding from every angle.

Rather than pushing the same idea you’ve tried with every campaign, dare to drop a new idea during brainstorming. If you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, the idea is less likely to be shot down than it is to be transformed into a campaign worth talking about.

Stick figures don’t get any attention. Anybody can draw a stick figure. Your individual style is more intriguing. I’m not asking you to study realism and draw an anatomically correct human each time you try, I’m just asking you to expose your creativity. I’m not asking you to blow the world away with your innovative blog, I’m just asking you to write about different topics. I’m not asking you to have the best idea each time you brainstorm, I’m just asking you give everybody around you a chance to build something great.

3 Reasons Social Media is the BCS of Business.


Image by "roygullem" on Flickr

If you’re a fan of sports (specifically College Football), you’ve heard of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Odds are you’ve even complained about the BCS once or twice. We won’t get into what a horrible system the BCS is, but if you think about it, the BCS has a lot in common with social media.

1.) Nobody likes the BCS…but the BCS – “Nobody” is a little extreme, but do you know anybody that has argued to keep the BCS around in the last few years? They’re not on the popular side unless they are sitting in an office with the BCS officials. Similarly, who are the largest advocates of social media? Those that make money as a product of social media.

If people on the inside are the only advocates, they are often blind to outside opposition. When logic and reality fly out the window, you’re drinking the Kool-Aid. Luckily, social media is gaining momentum in outer circles while BCS stock has been declining since it was established.

2.) The BCS “mission” isn’t exactly the goal of the BCS – If you ask a BCS official what the goal of the BCS is, they’ll tell you their goal is to find and match-up the two best teams in college football. If you ask an advocate of social media what the benefit of getting involved is, they’ll tell you about building relationships and reaching consumers where they spend their time. What’s the reality of both? The goal is to make money.

The BCS doesn’t necessarily win if the two best teams play in the championship, and businesses don’t necessarily win if they talk personally to consumers. The odds that both will be successful increase if they achieve their stated goal, but neither can exist if they don’t establish the underlying need of profitability. The rest doesn’t really matter.

3.) The big boys always have the edge in the BCS – In theory, the BCS puts all teams on a level playing field and the best teams will compete in the championship game each year. You see where this is going? One of the largest selling points of social media is that it puts small businesses on the same level as big corporations. Don’t be fooled though – the power conferences always have the upper-hand in the BCS and large corporations are still the ones that will push social media forward and make the largest splash when they get it right.

In the case of the perfect storm, small conference teams can impact the BCS heavily and the same goes for small businesses in social media. If they big boys aren’t making the news, an excellently planned and executed social media campaign will get noticed and hit the big time.

What do you think? Maybe the BCS and Social Media are crossing paths while heading different directions.

Here’s a bonus comparison – If the more established communications fields (marketing, PR, advertising) are the BCS conferences, social media is still the mid-major looking for the chance to get into the big game and prove itself against the heavy competition.

Is PR About to Start Looking More Like Advertising?


Image Via Flickr's "Woody1778a"

As most of you know, new FTC guidelines concerning bloggers and disclosure went into effect yesterday. Will the new FTC guidelines cause blogger relations and online PR to look more like advertising than traditional PR? I don’t think so.

Before the new guidelines dropped, there was a big push for blogger transparency. If Chris Brogan wrote about a client, he let the readers know. If David Spinks wrote about an online tool that had an associated cost waived, he mentioned it so readers were aware.

Why hasn’t anybody accused the larger blogs of advertising in the past? Because whether they were given free products/services or not, the writing feels true and the readers trust them.

Blogging has received a lot of spotlight recently and readers are choosing to read the blogs they trust. With the blogs I read, it doesn’t matter whether the writer was given an item for free or not – I trust that they will give an honest opinion.

I understand that a blogger is less likely to complain about something they have been given for free, but you had better believe the blogger will either choose not to write about it, or they will write a half-hearted review filled with simple facts and a claim that the product or service might be great for some other kind of person.

My final take: The new FTC guidelines won’t impact things too heavily. Good writers will continue to be believable and trustworthy. Readers will be more aware of the perks of being a trusted public figure, but that doesn’t mean they will stop listening and acting on trusted recommendations.

Follow Friday is BACK!

For a few weeks, I took a break from follow Friday – it became so mainstream that it didn’t feel like a recommendation meant anything anymore. But, that’s the idea I’m trying to avoid by giving some backing to my recs here in blog format. I must really mean it if I take the time to write about each person I think you might get some value from following on Twitter. Plus, I’ve got some new ammo. I fell into a follower rut and luckily I have just recently broken out and found some new people to join the original people I really enjoy interacting with.

My first recommendation belongs to one of the craziest PR pros I’ve met. When he says something is going to happen, expect it. I’ve only spent a little bit of time with @YourFriendEvan (Evan White), but in that short time, I realized that his word is worth trusting. He made a deal to only pay in $2 bills one time – go ahead, check his pocket. He wanted to send his mom “way too many gnomes” for Christmas without her knowing – go ahead, check www.donttelldebbie.com. There is nothing better than following somebody on Twitter that offers information, news, and hilarity. Finally, Evan is one of the few people that manages to translate their voice into 140 characters.

My second recommendation comes with a word of warning. He posts great content, but he posts a TON of great content. In other words, if you are only following a few people that you really want to hear from, just keep this name in mind for now. Anyway, @webaddict (Joel Mackey) is, without a doubt, one of the smartest people I follow. He is definitely an expert in the internet space (don’t come at me with pitchforks). On top of being a super genius, Joel is a great guy. Despite having a massive following, Joel responds to every message he receives (@ or DM) without using any automatic response programs. So, don’t be afraid to ask him the hard questions.

My final recommendation is another super genius. He is the man behind “The Science of ReTweets” and the brand new “Dr. TweetDreams” (a Twitter dream analyzer). Those are basically his side projects while he works at HubSpot – creators of the popular Twitter Grader, Website Grader, Facebook Grader, and Press Release Grader. @DanZarrella tweets a little less often than some of my other recommendations (obviously he keeps busy), but his tweets are always valuable. And you better believe his tweets are calculated based on the chunks of data he has collected over the past few years.

Go check out these Twitter users because they definitely improve my Twitter stream and I think you might get some valuable information by following them as well.

5 Tips for Social Media and Climate Change

Photo Credit: Peter Halasz

Photo Credit: Peter Halasz

A friend (Jason Sadleriwearyourshirt.com) just informed me that today, October 15, is Blog Action Day – read more about that at http://www.blogactionday.org/. The part you need to know is that this year’s topic is climate change. I’ll be honest, I’m no expert on climate change. But I have found a few things you can do as somebody interested in social media.

1. Unplug your computer when you are not using it.

  • It is no secret that those of us riding the social media wave (no Google pun intended) spend a serious amount of time on computers. But, did you know that many electronics (including most computers) continue to draw electricity while turned off if they remain plugged in? Pretty simple right?

2. Work from home.

  • On the heels of a post about the elimination of the 9-5 work day from David Spinks, this tip is especially relevant. The way we are communicating today, there shouldn’t be any problem setting up a virtual workplace. I understand it is not always possible, but think of the energy your office could save if everybody worked from home for only one day a week. Don’t forget that nobody would be driving to and from work either. If you don’t believe in the virtual agency, take a look at the success Marketing Profs has had without a brick and mortar office.

3. Participate in events like Blog Action Day 2009.

  • Like I said, this post is part of Blog Action Day 2009, but today is not the only time you can rally the troops to make some changes in Climate Change policy. You might have noticed an emphasis on change as of late, and social media is no stranger to helping out a cause. Every month, 12for12k chooses a charity to support. For more information on that, get over to Twitter and ask @DannyBrown all about it. Social media is great about creating power with numbers and you could easily increase those numbers by seeking out events in which you can participate.

4. Use Skype instead of Southwest.

  • There is definitely power in face-to-face meetings, but don’t be so quick to jump into the friendly skies for a meeting you could easily have over Skype, or ooVoo. Both offer free conference calling up to a certain amount of users, and ooVoo even offers free video conferencing. Not only will it save you money and time, but it will also create less carbon emissions (airplanes produce about 12% of transportation emissions).

5. Grab some local food for lunch.

  • Having lunch in the office (or in the virtual office)? Grab something from the local farmers market to find something healthy that didn’t require a worldwide flight. The food will be fresh and healthy and the climate will stay fresh and healthy as well. Plus, how great would it be to feed an office full of people fresh and healthy food to energize them for the second half of the day?

Bonus Tip: Join SocialVibe.

  • SocialVibe is linking social media with brand power on the charity scene. This tip moves away from climate change a little bit, but it really is an awesome utility. I haven’t looked through every cause that is signed up through SocialVibe, but I bet if you look hard enough, you can find a climate change charity for which to lend a hand.

There you have it: Five Six tips for those interested in social media to support climate change efforts. Each tip is very simple and could make a huge difference using the potential of social media. I’m only one person, but I will pass this article on through my network, and I hope you do the same.

Under Construction

Image Credit; Wools

Image Credit; Wools

You might have noticed I didn’t post any new content last week…not even a #followfriday. The reason? The Social Situation blog is going under a bit of construction.

I am not positive when I will return to posting here, but I know it will be soon and there will be a new look and feel when I do.

During the hiatus, I will be writing new content that will exceed the expectations you have built about this site and designing a new style to reflect the changes you will see happening in my life.

As a bit of a teaser, the changes include not being unemployed any longer.

In the meantime, go ahead and connect with me on Twitter. I’ve also been updating my Tumblr page quite a bit and you can find consistently updated (but less extensive) content there.

As always, I’d love to connect on LinkedIn – and you might even catch some interesting tidbits there about my future.

Finally, I still advocate that you start following each of the people in this section of Social Situation. They are all very helpful in their own way.

Thank you for your continued support, and I will talk to you all very soon.

– Scott

Follow Friday – The Dad, The Party, The Bench

Due to some traveling and catching up with old friends, this #followfriday recommendation is not only late (unless you are on the west coast), but it will be shorts as well. So, you know the drill – let’s get to it.

My first and only recommendation this week has been called @dudetodad, @deepbench, @fiestahugh, and @mrsdudesfund (among other things), and is somebody I was lucky enough to build a friendship with while I was in school. Despite being one of the busiest people I have ever met, @hughweber was never shy about finding time to meet with me and talk business…or Miley Cyrus. Hugh obviously has a lot going on and he always wants to share it with the world. Time after time, talking to Hugh has energized me and given me confidence in myself and the business world. In fact, Hugh was one of the first people I met in the business world that showed me certain people really do want to help each other succeed.

Hugh is a rare innovator located in a region that is generally stereotyped as a community far behind the leading edge, and his drive to work, play, and do good is inspiring to those around him. His best work is often done between the hours of 2am and 7am, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee if you plan to see Hugh’s wheels turn at full speed.

So, give Hugh a shout and prepare to get smarter. You might even find yourself at a 24 hour diner knocking out plans to run a one week blitz campaign for breast cancer called Mrs. Dude’s Boob Fund.

It seems fitting that I would put the finishing touches on this post as the clock gets ready to strike 1am. I’m off to the mountains tomorrow for some golf, I hope you have a great weekend.