Mathew Ingram

Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending January 14

CES might have been going on this week, but the rest of the world still kept journalists hopping on the social news - from SOPA to Google to a place called Boner's BBQ. I bet they never expected to be nationally known. And I'm officially not sharing just five links because the SOPA/Google stories are just too complex to throw just one out there.


Source: Stop SOPA Page on Google+

SOPA is the acronym for Stop Online Piracy Act and if you're not aware of it or think you're unaffected because you live outside the U.S., please read this brief overview or this more comprehensive overview (the long one is worth your time) to get up to speed. The U.S. is a world leader and they set precedents for other jurisdictions all the time AND your site may be "based" outside the U.S., but that doesn't mean it's immune from being affected. One interesting development (and I'm surprised it's taken so long to come to light) is that the sponsor of the bill appears to have his own copyright infringement issues. Tim O'Reilly shared his thoughts about SOPA with GigaOM this past week and I think he makes a lot of sense. Yesterday, the news out of the White House gives me hope that this will never see the light of day. Obama disagrees with some key parts of SOPA and PIPA, which leads some to believe he'll veto both if they pass. Following the release of the statement from the White House, Jeff Jarvis asks some pointed questions about where the U.S. Government will let this battle go in the future. This is important for all of us who want a free Internet. That really is what's at stake with should any of these bills pass. It's important enough to some that they're initiating a blackout this Wednesday.

It's hard to say whether Google or SOPA won the race to the top of the news heap this week. The release of "Search, plus Your World" has led to a vocal backlash where some believe this will lead to further anti-trust investigations and few speaking up to support it (including Matt Cutts, of course). Meanwhile, there's been a back and forth tiff between Twitter and Google that resembles something from the schoolyard. Facebook has been fairly "quiet" about the whole business. Mathew Ingram summarizes the entire Google search saga quite eloquently and points out that this war between Google and Twitter is only hurting users. Finally, Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land did some pretty interesting analysis of real-life search examples if you'd like to see how this is working.

Marketers, PR reps and humans in general gasped in horror at Papa John's and Boner's BBQ for their unbelievably offensive treatment of customers this past week. And in true Gini Dietrich style, she's given them the advice they need to avoid the post-screw-up PR disaster that they've just experienced should future mishaps occur. I just hope more businesses start reading Spin Sucks so they respond appropriately and timely to avoid getting into these tangles in the first place.

Finally, this week Facebook - without much fanfare - rolled out sponsored posts that will appear in your news feed this week. I haven't seen any in my feed yet, but the majority of the pages I "like" are not the kind that would purchase this kind of advertising.


Who out there uses social media and has been followed by (or follows) someone claiming to be a guru, ninja or expert in social media? (I'm raising my hand.) Mitch Joel admits to being fascinated with Social Media and the rise of the social media celebrity. He raised some thought-provoking points this week about the social media Kool-Aid.

"Social business" is a term I've been hearing more and more lately - 2012 is apparently the year of the social business. I'm still making up my mind, but I don't think I particularly care for it. I'm not sure we need to designate everything social if it comes into close contact or touches social media. I'm not sure we need to have a term to reflect the changing culture of business with the rise of social media use. Widely accepted business practices have changed in the past and we didn't necessarily put a name on it. That said, there's a lot of wisdom in Pam Moore's tips for becoming a social business that businesses should heed.

You probably already read it, but it's worth repeating. Seth Godin's post this week on the TED imperative is short, sweet and so very well said. It's the Cole's(Cliff) notes version of Pam's post about social business, but it's really all anyone creating content needs.

Ever since I realized a friend in my teen years had a bit of a jealous streak aimed at a talent I had that they were less proficient with, I've felt strongly that we each have to accept our strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing them makes life easier and allows us to ask for help where we're weak and speak up to help where we're strong. Finding your strengths can be so empowering - here's a few tips on how to do it.

I sometimes struggle to work at home, but most of the time it's really productive. This article helped me see how I could do even better.

This week from The Media Mesh

This past week The Media Mesh started a new series, Social 101, and our first topic was Twitter. I hosted the first twitter chat for #MediaMeshBBC. And the Sixty Second Social this week was about social media shortcuts and trying to emulate high profile people. Coming up this week, I'll be sharing the details of our next Business Book Club assignment, going over the 5 Ws of Twitter and more!

What's in a name? The "social media" debate

Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot /

Last week, my friend Lara shared a description of social media as well as the benefits of using it. She encouraged those in her audience who are curious to go ahead and give it a try. But not everyone likes the use of the term "social media". Raise your hand if you've ever heard (or read) someone say something like, "I can't wait until we stop using the term 'social media'." By the end of this post, everyone should be raising their hands. When I read a piece by Mathew Ingram lamenting the use of the term "Cloud", it prompted me to look into the longstanding "social media" terminology debate.

Over the years, I've seen this come up countless times. Often, it's accompanied by really solid arguments about what social media tools really are in relation to communications and marketing. Here's the problem - everyone who has a valid reason for not calling this medium social media also has a different name they propose. Some are better than others. A few options for you to ponder:

There is good food for thought in each of these posts - particularly Ryan Anderson's which is the only one of the three that didn't try to put a new and improved buzz word out there for the world to use. But I haven't seen anyone come up with a good enough reason to try to stop people from calling it social media. Let's look at the primary reasons given in the posts above:

Tim Sanders (relaying challenges around getting buy-in with executives):
"Their biggest challenge is selling their senior leaders and CEOs on the concept.  To the average (older or non-tech) exec, social media is a fad that's led by propellerheads and amateur mavens.  In their view, it's a fad (like CB Radios) that they hope will soon pass.  Sure, they've heard the United Breaks Guitars story, but it likely doesn't apply to them - and when you use words like Twitter, they scrunch up their face in disbelief."

And "interactive media" solves this problem? Twitter is still a tool in the interactive media space - they'll accept it because it's "interactive media" and not "social media"? Think about the tools that are used in various industries and the names they have. There are plenty of silly names out there, but when users learn how to use the tool properly and see the value it adds to their work, do you think they quibble over what it's called?

Boardroom Metrics
"Tired of endless conversations with smart business owners about the irrelevance of social media, I’ve decided to stop calling it social media."

I think the author of this post may not feel as strongly about this whole terminology question as the others based on the tone of the message. They give a very simplistic line of reasoning for businesses to embrace social media - to gain better visibility on the Web. If that works for convincing their clients to move forward, that's great. After all, a business can't be social, but but social media gives businesses a medium to put a human "face" or personality on what they do and allows them to interact with individuals in a more personal way.

Ryan Anderson (talking about the evolution of work with a long-term client)
"What had started as a perceived need for blogs and Facebook had turned into something very different – and went from being an additional part of their marketing to a core part of their business strategy."


"The reality is, for all the talk about social media – there’s really no such thing.  There is only communication, and while our academic pursuit of what we call social media has certainly advanced the practice of communication as a whole, social media is nothing but a buzzword, a marketing ploy, a big ol’ bottle of snake oil that a slick-talking sideshow act is selling for a dollar to cure what ails you."

It must be incredibly gratifying to work with a client who wants to join "the Twitter" and see the real purpose click as they finally get it. Integrating social media into the overall business strategy is the ideal scenario - it's the end goal when you start working with someone. The part where Ryan loses me is in that italicized section that spouts "buzzword", "ploy", "snake oil" and other unflattering terms.

I don't agree with the sentiment, but I understand where it comes from. There is a mentality that social media will be a cure all to an ailing business. The way to take your business viral and make, billions. ("Let's make a viral video!" is a phrase I hear too often and it makes me cringe every time.)

Social media is a group of tools that marketers and communicators can use to make connections. We have traditional media tools and now social media tools that can be used together to create a cohesive and comprehensive communications plan. However, the tools themselves do not function the same, so classifying them differently is appropriate.

When all is said and done, if the tools are used in an effective way that fits with that overall business strategy, does it really matter what label we use to describe them?

Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending November 12

I'm generally not one to follow celebrities - in the movie star sense - on social networks. I don't really care if they're on social networks at all, though I'm happy that so many with public personas have adopted social media as a way to connect with their audience. To me, it's a good thing. Mostly.

This week Ashton Kutcher made a gaffe on twitter (my paraphrase of his assessment) about Joe Paterno being fired. Kutcher declared he's going to hand over management of his twitter stream. I don't have a lot of interest in this story other than a distaste for anyone letting third parties handle their social media interactions. Chris Brogan nailed it in his piece talking about outsourcing your voice. .

The whole "busy" argument doesn't really fly with me. Why? Tweets are all of 140 characters. It doesn't take thirty seconds to type that out even on your phone. The other argument that doesn't fly is the whole accuracy of information. Who hasn't used social media to vent? Probably someone, but they're the exceptions that prove the rule. Not to mention that there are people out there who are sticking up for Joe Pa - rightly or wrongly, it is happening.

Interestingly, Chris Penn wrote a post this week about testing the value of your content - one of the tests was whether you learned from it. I'd hope that we all learned something from this Ashton Kutcher situation. If the takeaway from those tweets is nothing more than to learn the whole story first, then doesn't that content have a certain value?

This week, Google+ launched Pages for businesses and brands with significantly less fanfare and applause than the network itself. There was much begging and pleading for this to be rolled out in the preceding weeks and months. And what did everyone do when pages were finally rolled out? I'm pretty sure I heard a collective "Meh" from across the Interwebs. Admittedly, there are plenty who are excited about it, but I've seen just as much commentary on the negative end of the scale. I've officially claimed a few pages and that's about as far as I've gone with it. There are some good things about pages that were introduced upon launch, but I wish people would remember that it took years for Facebook to launch pages and then more years to get them to where they are today. Maybe we could cut Google a wee bit of slack and recognize page potential for the long-term. The best suggestion I've seen is to just claim your page and sit on it if you're not happy with the functionality. If you want to jump in - here's how. A little tip for you: Google+ has said no to contests. So, don't think that's a way to get around Facebooks TOS.

Have you been struggling to find the purpose of Google+? This smart post from SmartBlog on Social Media gives us all a good reason to want to be on Google+. I haven't spent a ton of time on it and sometimes I have to remind myself that it exists, but I think it's worth the effort. (And now I want to go to BlogWorld Expo more than ever!) Further support for Google+ came from Mathew Ingram at GigaOM. If you really don't want to get into another social network, that's fine. But if you work in marketing and communications, it's a bad idea to ignore G+.

Facebook gave us all reason to cheer this week when they finally announced they will henceforth treat all third party posting apps equally. I was skeptical so I've been doing a little testing between manual posts and automated posts. I've had mixed results. Sometimes my manual posts are getting more impressions and sometimes they're getting less. It has improved though. I can say that with certainty. So, go forth and use your Hootsuite and RSS Graffiti at will. But if you're using Notes as your feed? You might want to find another option. (I was never a fan of this one anyway.)

Are you a fan of the Top Stories in Facebook's latest updates? Some are, some aren't. That is the one thing in the September changes that I don't care for. Thankfully, Facebook is going to give us back our chronological option...soon.

In a huge win for privacy, Facebook has finally been told they need to stop making controversial changes opt-out (like Beacon, facial recognition, etc.). As for the recent "Take This Lollipop"'s a great perspective that I happen to agree with. We DO have control over our privacy on Facebook. No one forces us to post anything on there at all. I didn't install the app, but I doubt it would scare the hell out of me.

Speaking of Facebook, have you ever seen a page that resembles a Web site? Yeah, me too. Gini Dietrich has a great post about the pros and cons of this practice. The biggest downsides? You don't own your content and you limit your reach to those who use Facebook, even if that number does hover around 800 million-ish.

Email is officially middle-aged now. Well, at least in terms of human life expectancy. 40 years old last month. Who's heard that email is dying? *raises hand* My inbox disagrees, as do many experts who are pushing for companies to jump on the email marketing bandwagon. It IS a powerful tool, but I'll talk about that more another day.

Finally a LinkedIn post that doesn't encourage people to link their feeds from other social networks.

Do you ever wonder how to drive traffic to your site other than posting links on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook? Wonder no more.

What are your thoughts on the Ashton Kutcher story? Would you ever let someone else post content for public consumption under your name?