Because the world was begging for another SxSW wrap up

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Liz Taylor and I spent a few days at SxSW. We did a pretty great wrap-up (legends in our own minds) for our Ogilvy colleagues.  Rather than posting the entire doc, here are a few things we found interesting, quotes we love, and practical tips for navigating SxSW ...

Elon

THINGS WE FOUND INTERESTING

  • Mobile isn’t a thing. It’s everything. Stop thinking mobile and start thinking mobility. Reference: Doritos tweet powered concert
  • Hardware is the new black. Concepting, prototyping and marketing has never been more accessible. It’s no longer just about apps. Let’s get physical. Let’s make stuff. Cool stuff. Reference: MakerBot
  • Hacking to make & solve. Let’s push beyond concepts. Let’s get away from process, beyond the whiteboard and make stuff. It can be low fidelity but some artifact that brings the idea to life. Deliver something real. Reference: GOOD Design Hackathon
  • Idea is still king. Don’t get seduced by the shiny new thing.  A great idea – driven by a true insight – is more important than all the technology in the world and prevails regardless of the platform. Reference: Clouds Over Cuba
  • Telling stories with data. Find the emotional life of numbers. Create tools, not just ads. Reference: Basis
  • Location Location Location. It’s not gameification.  It’s search and discovery. Data informs habits, which can connect the dots to drive people to behaviors. Reference: Foursquare/Mastercard/Burger King

QUOTES WE LOVE

  • Tell stories regardless of the medium. Every great story needs an arc. -Erich Joiner, Tool of North America
  • You don’t have to solve all the problems, you just have to solve some problems really well .-Dennis Crowley
  • A clash of ideas from people who don’t typically work together can create a unique outcome. A powerful spark. -Anon
  • Hi I'm Ben. I post pictures of cats on the Internet. Sometimes people getting hit in the nuts. -Ben Huh
  • Demographics are dehumanizing. -Anon
  • Collaborate. Ignore your inner ego. -Tina Roth Eisenberg
  • The first interaction a consumer might have with a brand might be an @ reply on twitter, not a logo. -Anon
  • Make time to think & breathe. Wonderful things can happen when your brain is empty -Tina Roth Eisenberg

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR NAVIGATING SXSWComf

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Weird

Crossing The Conversation Chasm

I was talking to my newest colleague (and likeminded thinker) Alan Kercinik the other day about the missed communications opportunities between when new products are announced and they are actually available for purchase.

I call it the Conversation Chasm.  And yes, I'm sure I'm not the first person to use the phrase.

Just thinking out loud over morning coffee ...

In my own very crude way, I tried to chart it out below.  

Graph
The X axis is time:

  1. Pre-sell:  Where very early meetings take place between manufacturer and retailer.  Usually a dark period for manufacturer due to competitive fears.
  2. Launch:  A moment in time.  A press conference.  A stunt.  A trade show. Hope is to make a big splash with buyers, media and consumers. 
  3. Road to sales:  More sell-in to retail, but not much focus on the consumer if we're being honest.  All the big $ is chambered for ...
  4. Sales start: Another big splash moment.  Where media kicks in and everyone tries to out-scream the competition.
  5. Sell-through: Focused on getting products off the shelves.

The Y axis is marcom effectiveness.  I haven't given much thought to what that means for the purposes of this post.  But essentially it's just how well you are doing against your goals. UPDATE: After thinking more about it, the Y axis should be "Conversations."

The purple line represents the way many industries - consumer electronics jumps to mind - approach things.  Big launch splash - timing usually pegged to an industry trade show or a reaction to a competitor.  This activity is usually led by communications.  Followed by a pretty dark period where the marketing folks ready the campaign.  Then sales start - boom!  And finally, sell-through which normally falls to shopper marketing teams.

The green line is a more optimal way of approaching it.  The big difference being the relative plateau (rather than huge valley) between the launch moment and sales start.  I have to think that's the period where social media can shine like no other channel.  And because there's more conversation happening during the road to sales, I'd propose your media dollars will be even more effective once sales do start (since you haven't lost touch with people over the last few months).

The space between the purple and green is missed opportunity ... the Conversation Chasm.

Why is the purple way of doing things so common?  Three things come to mind ...

  1. Communications and marketing still operate in silos.  Communications normally handles product announcements; marketing kicks in for actual sales start.  At times very different messages. Very different agendas.  Not ideal.  How to solve it?  CMO builds a bridge and everyone gets over it.
  2. Retail dependence.  To me the real genius of Apple Stores is not the design and experience control the company has; but rather the timing control.  They don't need to sell in.  They are on their own timeline.  They can avoid the Chasm altogether by virtually eliminating the road to sales phase.  Apple is like Ali compared to everyone else's George Foreman.
  3. Old school thinking. Paradigms are paradigms because thinking otherwise is threatening and scary.  I wrote about the descructivness of this behavior a few days ago.  That's how I feel.

That's as far as I can take it this Saturday morning.  Feel free to chime in.

NFL Labor Dispute - First of the Social Media Era

Cross posted from Ogilvy's Fresh Influence blog.

Disclaimer:  Due to several conflicts (including children, work, wife, The Office, Jersey Shore and sleep) I had to  schedule this post 12 hours in advance of it going live; meaning I might not have the latest information on the talks between the concerned parties.  However, that has no material impact on my main points.  Trust me, I’m a journalist.

With that out of the way …

By the time you read this the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) will most likely (see disclaimer; and even if there is a 24-hour extension of the CBA, as reported Thursday afternoon, this thing will eventually come to blows) have expired, leaving the two sides without a labor agreement and the 2011 football season - or at least part of it -  in serious jeopardy.

As a sports fan, I’m totally turned off.  As many people will tell you, this is billionaires fighting with millionaires over sums of money unfathomable to the vast majority of fans (Charlie Sheen excluded, of course #winning!).

As a marketer, and one who currently focuses on social media, I’m keen to keep a close eye on how the dispute plays out in public, particularly in social media.  This is the first pro-sports labor dispute of the social media era (the last being the National Hockey League during the 2004-5 season, when MySpace was hardly a hotbed of sports discussion and Facebook was just blooming as a place for Zuckerberg to exact revenge on a girl who slighted him - at least that’s how the movie goes).

It’s 2011 (you’re welcome for that nugget) and I can’t help but imagine the stream of opinions flowing effortlessly from the Twitter feeds of NFL players, owners, media and fans as the dispute moves into the grind-it-out-let’s-pretend-we’re-all-working-towards-the-same-goal-when-really-we’re-just-interested-in-protecting-no-actually-growing-our-pile-of-money phase.   In fact my crack research staff tells me that between February 15-28 there were 11,000 Tweets mentioning “NFL and lockout.”  Just since March 1 there have been the same amount.

The NFL is a public relations juggernaut, second only (in my opinion) to the NBA.  And it’s worth noting that basketball faces this very same situation next year; though as many sports writers have noted, the NBA actually needs a battle like this to realign a really broken compensation scheme; whereas football seems to be in pretty good shape.  In any case, I’m sure commissioner Stern is paying very close attention to the public sentiment as owners prep for battle with the NBA players union.  In fact I bet this post makes his morning clip pack (#DavidStern #Stern #DStern #NBA #TallAndRich #TheDecision #GoBulls).

But while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has proven to be a disciplined voice for the league, he can’t control what has already been, and will continue to be, said on the social web.

But he can influence it.

See what I did there?  Can’t control.  Can influence.

Below are a few tactics I would expect the league to employ, as I would any brand heading into a very public battle.  As a marketer or fan (or fanketer - helloooo Urban Dictionary), what have I missed?

Paid Search
Using Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool I took a look at the competition against the search term “NFL Lockout” and found it surprisingly low.  What if the NFL launched a SEM campaign against terms related to the lockout, driving people to either an FAQ on the NFL.com domain or even a Facebook page?  Seems simple enough, and moderately effective at delivering a message to people actively seeking out information.

Live Listening
I’d be shocked if the NFL doesn’t already have in place an incredibly robust real-time monitoring solution.  The challenges, I suspect, are twofold:  (1) How are they filtering the signal from the noise and (2) What are they doing with the intelligence gleaned from the monitoring.  Which leads me to my next point …

Response Protocol
All the listening in the world won’t do you much good if you aren’t analyzing, looking for opportunities and disciplined about how you do/don’t engage with supporters and detractors alike.  At Ogilvy we often develop bespoke response protocols based on the issue, the client, the nature of the discussion and other factors.  The NFL must be really clear and consistent in their response protocol about what they say, when they say it, to whom they speak and what tone they take.

Conversation Management
Whether it’s to the 2.6 million fans on their Facebook page or their 1.9 million Twitter followers, the league must carefully map out what they are going to say publicly on the matter, where they’re going to say it and how, if at all, they are going to react when publicly challenged (or lauded).  Effective conversation management, very much tied to the response protocol, is kind of the backbone of everything the league is going to do (on social media) during this time.  They must get this right.

Content Creation
You better believe the players are pumping out content to tell their side of the story.  Check out the video below from the NFLPA’s YouTube channel, which has garnered 152K views.

What’s troubling, from the league’s standpoint, is that a pretty sophisticated YouTube user (me - don’t laugh) can’t seem to find the NFL’s official YouTube page after about 30 seconds of searching.  And guess what - I give up.  So the message here is that not only do they have to consider a content creation strategy, but just as important a distribution and optimization one as well.  By the way, not just video but also photos, written content, etc. - anything that can be indexed by The Google and helps the league put forth their perspective.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl9BpUgYljQ]

This entire episode will be interesting to watch play out.  As a fan I truly hope they resolve it sooner than later so we can get on with a great 2011 season. 

Old Spice, Chalkbot and the Hidden Value of the Echo Chamber

Just a few days ago conventional wisdom was something along the lines of, if you haven't heard of Old Spice's Twitter/YouTube thing or Nike/Livestrong Chalkbot, you must be living under a rock

But what's emerging - mostly anecdotally to be fair - are stories of blank stares at the mention of either of these ... even amongst professional marketers.  Both projects have played well within the digital echo chamber, but perhaps haven't permeated the marketing mainstream (let alone the mainstream mainstream).

And that emerging realization has added an interesting wrinkle to the conversation about these two campaigns ... if a viral video plays in a forest and no men 18-34 are around, does it make a noise?

Thinking about it, I still believe there are four points of value in both these efforts, even if they never make it beyond the echo: 

  1. The success of these - success defined in a number of ways, including brand lift, sales, etc. - arms marketing communications agencies with a case study for how to do it right.  The only downside is that some agencies will inevitably misappropriate it, promising I can do for you what W+K did for Old Spice!
  2. Marketers on the client side - those who have "social" or "digital" in their title or are fighting to give digital more share of spend - will have something to point to when confronting skeptical executives.
  3. The Old Spice example in particular shows that traditional ad shops are not as incompetent in social as some of the social media elite would have you believe.  In fact they can be pretty damn clever.  This is a good thing for the entire industry.
  4. Both programs are creative, delightful, well-executed.  They force the entire marketing ecosystem  to step up its game.

There are probably more, so feel free to add via a comment.

Storytelling With a Music Business Vet (Dan Beck)

I've known Dan Beck since 2002.  By my calculations Dan has worked and lived in the upper echelons of the music business for four decades.  He recently started one of the most entertaining blogs around, called Music Bizz Fizz - a collection of nearly unbelievable stories about his run-ins with some of music's greatest legends.

Dan-Beck-Elisa-Perry-Joe- Dan is a born storyteller.  Since I've known him he's dazzled me with personal [and mostly, touching] stories about Ozzie(Osbourne), Michael (Jackson), Cyndi (Lauper), Richard (Branson) and others.

I asked him if he'd answer a few questions on storytelling, which seems to be on the tip of every marketer's tongue these days.  Here's what he had to say.

I'm almost certain he'd answer more questions if you leave them as a comment. Go for it ... this guy has been there, done that.

Ian Sohn:  'Storytelling' is a red hot topic these days in marketing circles.  I hear brand managers and agency types talk all the time about how brands need to mine interesting stories from inside the organization, and then bring them to life for external audiences.  Why do you suppose there's such a deliberate emphasis on storytelling these days - is there something happening culturally right now that makes it more important than a few years ago? 

Dan Beck:  We are so connected today and so in touch.  I believe that this re-awakening to storytelling is the realization that storytelling is a way to texture and validate an idea or more warmly position a relationship.  All of our advancements in 24/7 communication are two dimensional and storytelling is a humanistic tool to add depth, history, and perspective. 

IS: Your blog, www.musicbizzfizz.com, is a collection of great stories from your four decades in the music business.  Why did you now choose to start sharing those memories publicly? 

DB: I started my career as a writer and my passion was to be a lyricist/songwriter.  As an editor for a music trade magazine in Nashville , I was writing stories back in the ‘70’s, about the storytellers in country music; people like Tom T. Hall and Charlie Daniels.  Then, as a marketing execuRichard-Sanders-Steven-Tyltive, I was given an enormous gift to work with so many extraordinarily talented recording artists in country, rock, pop, and soul, over the years that were so fascinating to me.  I feel a certain obligation to share those experiences that were given to me, from working with Pearl Jam and Michael Jackson to the many  artists who never made it.  I know 50 other people who have better stories than mine, but their not telling them!  It has always been an extremely difficult business for creative people to survive.  I believe there are lessons in their experiences, in their courage, and in the hallucination of chasing fame and celebrity with ones talents.  The breakthroughs, the mistakes, even the naïve perspective we might have had back then were all a part of trying to figure out how to succeed.  Maybe there is something in that a new mind can advance.  Maybe I have never figured some of these things out, but if I share them, maybe someone else can gain something from these extraordinary experiences.     

IS: What makes a good storyteller?  Is it the story or the teller?  If both, what elements are critical for each? 

DB: I think the story has to be relatable.  People have to be able to apply it in some way to their own life.  I think there has to be a good conclusion… or at least a conclusion that makes you think or ponder it.  The best storytellers love the story they are telling.  I grew up listening to storytellers and what I remember most was their joy in remembering and telling their stories.   

IS: How much does accuracy matter in storytelling?  I noticed some of the comments you receive on your blog posts are people correcting little things (it was a 747 not a prop plane) to more significant ones (I was not on that trip when The Clash ...).  To me it makes very little difference since some of your tales are 30+ years old, and little inaccuracies don't fundamentally change the story (or perhaps because my wife tells me I tend to make up historical 'facts').  But think about a brand telling a story to its stakeholders ... can inaccuracies or creative liberties be tolerated? 

SADE DB: One of the best experiences I have had has been the responses to correct my version of history.  I wrote a story about being backstage at the first Clash concert in the US .  I was with 6-8 people from the record company.  I got half the people wrong who were there.  Within a couple of hours of posting it, I had heard from several people who were there 31 years ago and we pieced together the entire backstage scene.  It was stunning to realize the speed of connection today and also how warm that connection is between people who experienced something very special way back when.  Storytelling doesn’t make the storyteller the authority.  To me, it is just bringing information forward… accurate or inaccurate.  We share stories; which means we can share our evaluation of them.  Stories do not have to be believable to be good.  We have all heard tall tales that were a lot of fun to hear and they seem to all contain some incredible morsel of truth.  Some of the best storytellers are the biggest BSers.  We still enjoy them.  With that said, silver-tongued devils can lead a brand astray.  The story is just the illustration of a point.  You have to have a point that needs to be made or a value in your brand or product that needs to be illustrated.  Usually, if you’re BSing someone, you actually don’t have a point.  What is the agenda of the storyteller?  Whenever I write a story, I ask myself, “What is my agenda?”  I then try to make sure that agenda is going to pass muster with my readers.  If I put forward a personal accomplishment in a story, it better have some basis of believability.  People accept imperfection when it is delivered with honestly.  Imperfection when combined with an agenda is the breeding ground for dishonesty.          

IS: The requisite social media question ... do you think brands or people can tell stories in 140 character installments, or does a good story require a longer form? 

DB: The reality is that most stories need to be short.  I’m not sure I will ever learn that in my lifetime!  However, I’ve realized through writing the blog that there is always a battle between all the facts or issues of a story and getting it across succinctly.  I actually enjoy the editing process, because you really work toward simplifying and shortening the story.  Sometimes the best stories are simply a photo.  How often have you seen a long, enthusiastic thread of comments on Facebook that all started with a photo?  Every story is a child/parent to several other stories.  The best stories I’ve told get interrupted midstream by people who are so enthusiastic about adding their experience.  Which reminds me of a great story…  

What Would I Do to Fix Yahoo!

I love Yahoo!  Just as much as the guys below.

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I've had a MyYahoo page for as long as I can remember, and it's still my home page at work and home.  I was a big Terry Semel fan.  I've had Yahoo! email addresses for years, and have no plans to switch to Gmail.  Yahoo! is where I first learned about RSS.  I've partnered with Yahoo! at previous jobs.  I've bought and sold YHOO a few times over, and while I don't own it now, think it's available at a great price.

So I was terribly excited to see AdAge's headline, What Would You Do to Fix Yahoo, a story asking industry experts and readers for their suggestions on how to fix Yahoo! 

I'm not going to judge their suggestions, but let's just say I wasn't terribly inspired by most of the ideas, which included: owning fun, changing corporate colors from purple to red, changing the name of MyYahoo to YaYou and others.

If you've read this blog for long enough you'll know that I'm not going to sit here and claim to have the answers.  Heck, I just read the article about five minutes ago and haven't really thought about it. 

But here's what I do know ... the fact that not one branding or marketing expert mentioned Flickr or Delicious in the AdAge article is a huge problem.  Even worse, that consumers have no idea that Yahoo! owns two of the most trafficked, important and just plain awesome online communities.

Whatever Yahoo's! fix is, I promise you it involves integrating its core search and email functionality with the best-in-class Flickr and the highly utilitarian Delicious. 

Would love to hear your suggestions.  And if anyone from Yahoo! reads this, I am happy to serve as a beta tester!

What's With The Media Bashing?

To those using Michael Jackson's death as a reason to bash "Old" Media:

You rightly criticized the mainstream media for calling the 2000 election prematurely.  That was an unmitigated disaster.

Now you're wrongly criticizing them for their initial reporting (or lack thereof) out of Iran; and their hesitation to confirm Michael Jackson's death.

You can't have it both ways. 

At at the end of the day, I'll take solid reporting over knowing something 20 minutes earlier. 

Because unless we're talking a terrorist attack or natural disaster, those extra 20 minutes it took to get the story right won't matter in the long run.

And besides, what value comes of bashing "old" media?  Perhaps I'm biased since my wife spent many years as a national TV news producer, but what seems lost on the Twitterati is that behind the mastheads and animated logos sit a smart, dedicated, thoughtful group of producers, editors and reporters who want - more than anything - to get the story right.

Friday Links [Literary Edition]

I've always enjoyed reading -  historically magazines and newspapers, with blogs added to the mix over the last few years [the advent of RSS facilitated my consumption greatly].

There's the occasional book, but I'm just not wired to read in 300 page increments at a regular pace.

Anyway, I spent the last five days in Tucson, AZ with my wife and son, the latter looked after by an incredibly generous aunt, uncle and grandma.

Daytime childcare allowed me to spend days at the pool catching up on magazines, blogs and even a book.  Here are a few highlights ...

The Night of the Gun by David Carr [per @MarcSchil's recommendation]

Night of the gun

Carr, a reporter for The New York Times, pens a riveting memoir about his life as a drug addict, drunk; and his remarkable story of recovery [and ongoing struggles].  It is a book of extremes ... uplifting and depressing.  Generous and self-indulgent.  Funny and sad.  Beautiful and heinous.  I've admitted that I don't read a lot of books, so take this with a grain of salt - I strongly recommend this one.

Newsweek's Secrets of The 2008 Campaign
Abc_obama_clinton_mccain_080313_ms I'm only five months late to the game here, but this epic collection of behind-the-scenes accounts from various Newsweek reporters is incredible.  The 7-part report consists of "exclusive behind-the-scenes reporting from the McCain and Obama  camps assembled by a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of  their findings appear until after Election Day."

As with all good political reporting, it incited a great debate in my family.  I thought the report painted McCain as the sympathetic character; everyone else disagreed.

It just occurred to me that Night of the Gun + Secrets of the 2008 Campaign = Fear and Loathing:  On the Campaign Trail '72, by Hunter S Thompson ... one of my all-time favorites.

Magazines
I caught up on a lot of magazine reading.  Mostly GQ and Esquire.  Nothing mind-blowing to speak of, but I did find quite a few things I want to buy for the summer.  Among them ...

Mackintosh rain coat from JCrew ($800)

Jcrew coat

Gray Vans ($48)
Vans  
An assortment of checked ties, like these in GQ

Ties

Levi's 501 White Jeans ($59.50)

Levi

Desert boots, kind of (but not exactly) like these from JCrew ($135)

Desert boot

P&G's Tide Loads of Hope T-Shirt

You'll recall a couple of weeks ago the folks at P&G conducted a social media experiment, while raising money for charity.  My recap here

My shirt arrived the other day, and David Armano asked people to submit photos in exchange for some link love.  P&G digital brand manager, Dave Knox, promised me the T-shirt would be of good quality - and it is.  Pretty cool design, and not the typical stiff/ill-fitting corporate apparel. 

Using the Photo Lolz Polaroid emulator ...

E552c258-3fdd-4d92-8be3-39ab757321e3

If Twitter Were My Only Source Of Information

Mythbusters_large

Thinking this afternoon about the Twitter echo chamber, and personally, what I'm getting out of it. 

For one, it's entertaining.  Very entertaining.  It's also quite useful for connecting with people in my industry.  And without a doubt, I have stumbled on some great content [related to previous points].  Finally, it's allowed me to keep in touch with some people from my past who might have otherwise fallen off my radar.

But as a simple exercise I thought about this question:  What would I think of the world if Twitter were my only source of information.  Here are few off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts - presented as "Myth" and "Reality." 

Of course my views are totally informed by who I follow.  So I'm wondering what YOU would think of the world if Twitter were YOUR only source of information?  Leave a comment.  Or Tweet me @iansohn.

Myth 1:
Austin, TX is where all important global decisions are made. [Reality: For some it is, but for my money I'll take New York]

Myth 2:
Brands, like Skittles, that don't get their first foray into social media right are failures [Reality:  I was always more of an M&Ms guy, but applaud Skittles for their exploration into the unknown. Furthermore, I dare anyone to claim they've never taken a step backward to take two forward]

Myth 3: FaceBook is horribly designed and the evil empire looking to steal all our intellectual capital [Reality: FaceBook remains a massive force in social media, and is quite useful for what it is.  Furthermore, their TOCs are really no different than anyone else - are they?  Finally, it's not THAT horrible of a design.]

Myth 4: President Obama enjoys a 100% approval rating [Reality: I do love the man, but don't forget there are a whole bunch of people out there who voted McCain-Palin.  This NASCAR blindness (I can't use that term enough, thank you @awolk for coining it) will get the Dems in trouble come 2012.]

Myth 5: Shaquille O'Neal is a poet [Reality: Shaquille O'Neal is a poet; and is having an epic comeback season]

My Interview With Alex Bogusky @ His Twitter Experience

Alex Bogusky 2Alex Bogusky may be the last last name in the advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, but he's certainly very well-known within [and increasingly beyond] the advertising world.  

For those who don't know, CP+B is the celebrated [and occasionally maligned, and more often than not, polarizing] agency behind the Whopper Freakout, the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld's Microsoft Ads [which I happen to love] and so many more creative [and at times, controversial] efforts.  Read Creativity's 2008 Agency of the Year article for a good overview.

So it's no surprise that the Twitter universe [I just can't bring myself to using words like "Twitterverse"] was abuzz when Bogusky, aka @Bogusky, first appeared in mid-December and quickly amassed a large and active following. 

It was perhaps with the same amount of buzz that he abruptly announced a few days ago:

Alex Bogusky 1

Why would he walk away from Twitter?  Was he just being provocative? 

Rather than speculate I asked Bogusky [we've never met, but did exchange a few tweets] if he would answer five email questions about his Twitter experience.  He graciously obliged. 

In the true spirit of online community, I quasi-crowdsourced two of the five questions [as noted below] from folks I respect in the social media space.  Here we go ...

Question 1:  When you first joined Twitter there was an amusing amount of chatter questioning the identity of @Bogusky.  In fact, there is a @BogusBogusky.  Why would someone want to pretend to be you, and more importantly what does the community's initial suspicion about your identity say about the state of things in social media?

Alex Bogusky: Yeah, I’m pretty sure @BogusBogusky works here too. I don’t know who it is but you can tell they’re on the inside. The suspicion comes from the fact that there is no requirement to be who you are online. I think this is something that might change going forward. There will be communities that are more diligent about ID and it will be a good thing. People are much more positive and responsible when they have to represent themselves and are unable to hide behind anonymity.

There’s a place for both kinds of community but I look forward to people representing themselves. Twitter actually has more of this than many communities. And I liked that. I had decided I would only follow people who had posted a picture or even an illustration of themselves. You don’t really know if it’s them I guess but it seemed a good indicator of sincerity.

Question 2: What's the significance, if any, that you are doing this interview with me - rather than say, AdWeek?  Does it say anything about the future of journalism and the role of "traditional" media?  If so, what?

AB: The significance is you asked me. And you didn’t seem to be looking to stir up controversy. I saw a headline somewhere that I had “…broken up with Twitter.” I don’t think that’s an accurate way to put it. Breakup is a very emotionally charged word and it’s a lot more exciting than the truth. I was getting to know it. Enjoyed the hell out of it. Brought some clients into it and was learning a ton. But in the end it wasn’t something I was going to weave into my everyday so rather than just not posting I thought my last posts should instruct anybody that came to the page that I wasn’t there. I don’t want people replying and sending questions or thoughts into a black hole. The web and social media is like ice cream. It’s all so fucking good. But we all find our favorite flavors. So it’s not that I don’t love butter pecan, it’s that I love mint chocolate chip even more so when it comes time to get ice cream I get that.

Question 3:  My guess is that CP+B has plenty of social-media savvy folks amongst the ranks who have been advising clients on how to explore communities like Twitter.  But as CP+B's head honcho, what is it about your own Twitter experience that you will you bring back to your teams, and your clients?

AB: That’s exactly right. The goal is to use and understand a lot of what is out there. I hope what I bring back is ideas. The ideas come from the medium meeting the marketing problem. So we’re just beginning to put those together.

Question 4: Len Kendall (@LenKendall) of Critical Mass wants to know: Did Twitter not inspire any creative thinking for you? Thoughts layered on other intelligent thoughts?  If Twitter did inspire creative thinking, can you give an example?

AB: I couldn’t say it inspired creative thinking for me. In general it was difficult not to get overloaded with links and articles. I’ve always been more of a blank page, white walls sort of person. For me twitter would probably hamper my creativity. I prefer the learning that comes from doing. It’s more dynamic and usually pushes you beyond the discussion.

Question 5: Ian Schafer (@ischafer), CEO of Deep Focus asks: Was there a singular moment that caused you to say 'this isn't for me'?

AB: No. And I will drop in from time to time. I of course reserve the right to reverse course. Wishy washy is how I like to roll.  I do think there needs to be some way to lock a retweet. I would see my tweets retweeted but changed slightly. I think that should be fixed. If it has RT in it, it should lock somehow.

Bonus Question:  @TheMime would like you to comment on the following:  . . .
AB:  : 0

That's all for now.  If you have additional questions, leave them as a comment.  Maybe Alex [or a fake version of him] will answer them.

An Unintended Consequence of Harsh Economic Times

The economic news is grim, for sure.  Just today the New York Times reports nearly 600,000 jobs have been lost in January alone.  And just look at the list of companies ... whether you work on an auto assembly line or make advertisements, no job is untouchable (except perhaps outplacement services). 

But today, on the anniversary of Bob Marley's birthday [you know, One Love, One Heart], I'm struck by an unintended consequence of all this bad news.  I've noticed, even more so than after 9/11, a sense of empathy.  A sense of one-for-all, all-for-one.  A sense of, I'll help you out, because I may be asking you for help a month from now.  Or even better, I'll help you out because it's just the right thing to do.  A sense of, let's share some good news in all this misery.

Maybe I'm blind to reality, but don't you see it?  A few examples on my radar:

  • Jeff Woelker takes the time to post tech-related job openings in Chicago on Chicago Tech Report.  I haven't asked him about why he takes the time to do it, but I can only guess it has something to do with Karma [and that he's just a good person]
  • Noah Brier and Rick Webb have started a Twitter handle @mediaisthriving to serve up some refreshingly positive news about the media industry.  A welcome respite from all the bad news.
  • As I previously posted, David Armano activated his social network to help a family in need, with incredible results.
  • I notice a tremendous amount of chatter on Twitter between job seekers and industry leaders.
  • Even I have gotten into the act, fielding several calls, tweets and emails from people looking to make contacts.  I try to help the best I can.

So while very insightful men like Steven Overman express a sense of disappointment in how brands are behaving during this extraordinary time, I hope he sees that many everyday people are rising to the occasion - in our own small, but hopefully impactful, ways.

Please share your stories of positivity ... they will most certainly be appreciated.

P.S.  Happy birthday, Bob.

Bob marley

QTip v Questlove on Twitter [Celebrity Tweet-Off Round 2]

In a recent post I compared the Twitter habits of Shaquille O'Neal and Lance Armstrong.  Both received high marks for their transparency and embracing of new technology.  In the end I gave a slight edge to Shaq because he's less polished, relatively engaged with other Twitter users and is pretty amusing.

Round two is a hip-hop battle for the social media age.  Q-Tip, the leader of A Tribe Called Quest versus Questlove (according to Wikipedia, also known as BROther, ?uestion, Brother Question and ?uestlove), drummer and producer extraordinaire from The Roots.  Using the same criteria as Shaq v Lance ...

  • Q-Tip has 7,568 followers and follows 3,127 [a ratio of 2.5:1]
  • Questlove has 9,594 followers and follows 289 [a ratio of 33:1]
  • In the week of Jan 18-25, Q-Tip Tweeted 51 times; Questlove ... well I stopped counting at 200 [the man is prolific and was clearly inspired by the inauguration]
  • 32 of Questlove's last 60 Tweets have been @replies; versus 18/60 for Q-Tip.

Looking at the stats I have to give the edge to Questlove, mainly for his frequency and relatively high @reply ratio.  Unlike my previous post I'm not going to get into the subjective stuff ... I'll leave that for you to decide. 

But I must say that more often than not I breeze through Q-Tip's Tweets while I try to actually read most of Questlove's.  Below are a few favorites that show a funny, conflicted, self-deprecating man ... not unlike many of us.  As I said in my previous post, I really give both these guys credit for opening themselves up like this ... I suspect their fans truly appreciate it - I certainly do.

Questlove Twitter  
So who do you think wins this one?  Any other celebs doing it well?

Shaquille O'Neal v Lance Armstrong ... On Twitter

Comparing Lance and Shaq in terms of their professional abilities is difficult since they play such different sports [can you say with any confidence that Lance is a better cyclist than Shaq is baller?]. But Twitter is even ground for these giants, and I think it's time to compare celebrity Tweeter @lancearmstrong v @the_real_shaq.

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