Is Social Media Teaching Bad Habits?

photo credit: jinterwas via photopin cc

photo credit: jinterwas via photopin cc

Social Media is a wonderful thing.  It provides easy access to communities of people with common denominators – such as philosophy or opinions – or shared interests, be it business or personal.  It makes it easy to stay abreast of news, be it international, national, local or even within your personal network of colleagues, friends, family or intimates.

We can be constantly connected at any time and pretty much any place.

Social media provides us with information, offers, promotions, incentives conversations, opportunities, peers and companionship.

However, for every industrial and/or technological advance there is an impact on society and the individual. Sometimes, there is a downside.

Shorter Attention Spans

Given the increasing and competing demands for our attention, is it surprising that our attention span is becoming shorter and shorter?

There are people who only read the first line of your e-mail. I discovered a colleague of mine who did this regularly. I won’t discuss how, it borders on mean, but I was tired of the misunderstandings and lack of input, follow-up, response, appropriate action/reaction to my missives.

I do my best to keep my e-mails, for that matter my texts or any other communication short and to the point. However if I’ve taken the trouble to reach out it would only be decent of you to read or listen to the whole message. Oh, and respond appropriately.

Objectionable Short Cuts

The traditionalist in me finds the gratuitous use of text message shorthand annoying and lazy. I object to dropping letters out of words unless absolutely necessary. I have done so to conform to the 140-character limit of Twitter, but I find it annoying when it spills over to text, e-mails and even regular texts in school, in business and in public communication.

While I am amused at some of the clever chat acronyms, I cannot accept poor writing including misspelling, poor punctuation, or the appearance of homophones (there and their) or Malaprop (pique versus peak).

It is unacceptable NOT to use Spellcheck before sending any written communication out to anyone.

However, you cannot abdicate all responsibility for checking your text to this essential tool, you must still proofread your writing to ensure you have not accepted a word that is inappropriate to your message.

Spellcheck corrects spelling mistakes, but doesn’t understand context and may supply a word that could make you look, well…not so intelligent.

And auto-correct on smartphones is even more sinister! Take time to reread your message before you hit send.

Bordering on Rude

Sending out e-mails with no salutation (greeting) or signature is wrong, impolite and disrespectful.

Not dealing with personal things in person such as breaking up via text or letting your family find out you’re getting a divorce on Facebook – is inconsiderate, hurtful and conveys a total lack of esteem for these people.

Avoidance is a serious issue. Not responding to communication in a timely manner, or, neglecting to at least acknowledge the receipt of a message is downright rude.

It is also bad form when a conversation is not ended with some sort of sign it’s over or you’re moving on to something else. Taking a minute to type “catch you later, “have to go”, or “have a great day” means I’m not going to wonder if you forgot about me as I’m left staring at my phone.

Lack of Mindfulness

It’s really easy to postpone or dismiss things with social media. Messages can be read and/or answered later – and sometimes don’t get answered, or read, at all. I may receive something that is not a priority for me, but it may be a real emergency for you.

Inattention is a bi-product of our focus on Social Media. People don’t pay attention to conversations they are having; to events taking place around them; to traffic; work; friends and loved ones.

We may be putting ourselves in danger not only physically – because we are not fully aware of what is happening around us, but in danger of having and maintaining anything but the most superficial of relationships.

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.Franklin D. Roosevelt

Good manners are the oil that lubricates social interaction. And the (little) extra time and effort it takes to be polite is worth it!

Originally published on July 9, 2013 on mononews.

Advertisements

If Content is King, Context is Queen

Photo credit: hurley_gurlie182 from morguefile.com


Photo credit: hurley_gurlie182 from morguefile.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you’ve got a handle on content, which I’ve taken the liberty of defining as the fusion of information and entertainment.
Great!  You’re halfway there.  Yes, I’m sorry to have to advise you that content is only a part, albeit and important one, of the necessary effort.
In review
Ideally, content is a story.  The story should have a beginning, middle and an end. It should include a conflict, which is successfully resolved.
Good content is a story with substance, appreciated and/or valued by its intended audience; a meaningful and significant story, which answers a need or provides relevant, useful information.  Strong content is read because it resonates, interests or captivates its audience.
If content is the story, and must be compelling, then equally important is the setting where it appears – the context.
Context is where content lives
Context 1: the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning.  2: the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs: environment, setting ‘the historical context of the war’
Context is where the content exists or lives, the vehicle or platform where it is featured, its environment.  It is selecting the appropriate network, channel or vehicle where thecontent is provided.
Your content should fit the environment as if it was its “natural habitat”, an environment frequented/popular with its intended consumer.
If your content is not in the appropriate environment i.e. not where your target is hanging out or looking for it, then it’s missing the mark.  It is ineffective, shooting blanks.  It means it is unlikely to be read, shared or commented on, and will probably not generate  dialogue or initiate a relationship, which are the objectives of producing content.
The ideal context, because you have total control of the experience, is your own website.  Here are some examples of great content delivered on target-specific websites.
However, not everyone has the resources to create their own environment.
Cookie-cutter content won’t work in every context
Many companies generate content without considering how it will be used, perceived or received.  They use exactly the same material across all Social Media channels automatically.  Perhaps they just don’t realize each network has a specific reason for being and as a result, is a unique environment.
The obvious examples are the “visual” sites, such as Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, where content needs to be pictures or video, versus text.
Regarding text, however, How-To or DIY articles may be ideal on Facebook, but LinkedIn’s professional orientation makes it an ideal environment for business issues and career advice.  Google+ is a little more a blend of the two, but depends on the group or hangout.
An article on personal finance may be an equally appropriate topic for both Facebook and LinkedIn, however given the distinct difference in the target audience’s orientation and interests, the format, tone and references should be different to be appropriate for the professional orientation of LinkedIn versus the personal, casual atmosphere of Facebook.
Spend some time understanding the different networks you are considering.  Get to know the interests, language and etiquette of each.  Ensure there is a natural fit between you and the audience.
In order to understand the context to best frame the content, ask yourself:
Why is my target audience here?
What is my target audience doing here – what is their interest, activity or purpose?
When is my target audience here?
What are other companies doing/offering and what does it look like?
To be successful, all content must be consumer centric.                                                              This means that when content is produced, it must be produced with the end user/consumer/target audience in mind.  It needs to respond to their wants and needs.  An important way to understand the consumer is to consider where they are hanging out and why.  By understanding the context, the appropriate content can be provided.
It important to remember the reason for doing what you’re doing, creating and providing content.
The purpose is to create a relationship, namely building awareness, trust and interest so that you have a place in the mind, and hearts, of your audience.

Originally published on May 23, 2013 on mononews

It’s Time We Replaced the Word “Consumer”

photo credit: markhillary via photopin cc

photo credit: markhillary via photopin cc

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marking has changed dramatically.
It’s 2014.  The world has changed dramatically in the last five years and change is escalating.  Technology and Social Media have severely disrupted the status quo, especially with respect to Marketing.
Marketing, always a complicated and ephemeral discipline, has become further fragmented and even more intricate with many more tools and options.
While, once again I’ll get on my soapbox and restate that every effort must align with the strategy (implying you MUST, first, have a strategy), the fact is that many of these effective new options involve Social Media.  And that’s a good thing.
One of the most significant shifts in the paradigm is the transfer of power from Brand Managers and the Marketing team to product users in terms of Brand ownership.  The people who use, buy, consume the product (or service) exert a great deal of influence over the Brand, it’s characteristics and communication.
As Marketers, we have always needed to have a profound understanding of the product and the people who consume it.  This, in order to determine appropriate strategy, communication, vehicles and messages.
But with the product users being more and more implicated and responsible for the Brand, the role of Marketing has shifted from primary owner of the brand identify and reputation to a more of a partnership role shared with the actual humans who comprise the brand franchise; the people who are served by the product.
We need to find a different word for consumer.
Due to this, the marketing community needs to replace the word consumer with something better.
A word that does not create a “third-person”, arms-length distance that allows us to objectify the members.
Or that leads to define the group of product users with severe or limiting constraints.
We need a term that doesn’t imply a large, homogeneous, characterless group with more in common than not.
I believe if we had a term that acknowledged the new Brand partnership and more adequately reflected the new brand relationship between the corporate owners and those that take the product home, it would help us, as marketers, do a better job:
–  To establish and foster better relationships
–  To create meaningful dialogue.
– To build mutual trust and respect.
–  To do what’s right, BOTH for the brand, and the people for whom it’s conceived.                  The word “consumer” is passive, not active.  It is no longer appropriate and does not well represent the characteristics and influence of the franchise.
And what is the “new” word for “consumer”?
I have a few suggestions, but I don’t have a definitive answer.  This is something that we need to talk about, discuss and deeply consider.  It’s too important to leave to one person.
The new word for consumer needs to better reflect the multiple characteristics of the group it will designate:
It needs to have aspects of “fan”.
It needs to connote “audience”, but in a specific and targeted manner.
It should acknowledge the humanity and yes, even the personality of the group.
It must demonstrate the respect and value held for group members.
The word should be accepted by the people in the group (come on, have you ever identified yourself as a “consumer”?)
It must be both comprehensive and inclusive to accommodate the diverse mosaic of the group.
So far, in my search, I have really not come across anything that I like other than the word “loyalists” which may have too many historically political associations to be appropriate.
What do you say? Do you agree we need a new term for consumer? What should that term be?

Originally published January 8, 2014 on mononews