artifacts of thought

July 21, 2010 · 0 comments

as someone who puts a lot of ideas, thoughts and just words out there one the internet through various channels, i ponder the lasting effect of that stockpile of intellect. and i am in no way as prolific as some so i imagine this applies even more to others. what i mean to say is this digital age brings about an accountability of thought not seen before.

in the digital age, things last forever. ideas are artifacts. what we say, write, record and generally produce have an indefinite lifespan. but what if we change? what if we contradict? what if there's new information that bears consideration and alters our thinking? what if we encounter something that just radically reshapes us?

mainly i think about this because ideas are always popping into my head and i let them out. whether online or in conversation or elsewhere, i put them out to see what kind of life they have. i do and say a lot to get reactions from people. i don't always like to ponder ideas on my own. instead i like to put them out there to see what others think and how they can elaborate on them. i am by no means an expert on anything so i value what others can input. agree, disagree, doesn't matter, i'm just testing the waters and often don't have a firm stance myself.

the thing about online though is that it becomes part of you. another piece to your sum. people can interpret that as being your views, opinion, stance, whatever. it becomes part of your legacy. deviations aren't always well received so what happens if you do? what's the effect on perception people will have if they find two colliding ideas?

in politics it's called "flip-flopping" and it rarely, if ever, is an ingratiating quality. ask john kerry. it's not a moniker that is a hallmark of success. most of us have a lot less at stake, but the personal (and relative) stakes are still high.

i'm not saying this is going to happen a lot where people are burned by antithetical ideas, but it's becoming a lot easier to arise. job interviews are a universal experience that these instances can crop up in. public figures of all ilks are more acutely susceptible to this. and a lot more people are public figures these days.

this is a different concern than just the personal brand debate that still has verity today. it's part of it, but a different angle. more meta. less about inappropriateness and more about discrepancy.

so should we carefully consider every little thing we digitize? or should we be open with our ideas and put them out there for the world to do what they want with whether you are fully onboard with them or not?

embrace the bottom dwellers

July 13, 2010 · 0 comments

yes, i'm back after a lengthy bit of time off. work was busy, the move, the house renos, and taking a break. but the idea engine was stilling churning so i've got lots to write about for the next few months at least.

i decided to start back with this post because i ran into a friend 3 days ago i hadn't seen in a while. we were catching up and i noted a recent activity she had done that i read on twitter. her response was "ahh, you still read my blog." my retort was "of course i do, i don't respond or comment much, but i still read it. i'm a bit of a lurker you could say." at that moment, a thought that had been percolating for a while coalesced.

forrester defines it as a 'spectator' and not a 'lurker' as i flippantly termed it. someone who just consumes social content, but doesn't really join the conversation (at least in my case, other people's conversations - bad social media travis). what doesn't get talked about is that the majority of people fit into the 'spectator' classification according to their data (or at least a substantial amount of the population). but that's not the part that gets talked about, we only talk about the top rung or two - the 'creators' and 'critics'.

marketing is still a numbers game and it always will be. like it or not, accept it or not, it is still fundamental to success. yes, we are far more sophisticated about it now, but in the end, it takes large amounts of people to buy into your brand for them to be successful and sustainable. plain and simple, irrefutable.

so the 'spectators' are the numbers game (the few at the top being the influencer game). they are there, extracting value, receiving our messages, and likely still being impacted (hopefully positively). they don't want to interact, they don't want to talk, they don't want to dialog. if they did, they would. what i'm trying to point to is the value side of our social media efforts for the 'spectators.' too much is focused on the upper tiers while ignoring the effect we are having on the lower ones.

i suspect that part of the issue lies in that it's not immediately evident the effect we are having on them. it's easy on the higher levels because we have actual consumer output to verify and validate our brand activities. well we don't have that for the bottom. so it's much easier to glom onto the importance of the upper echelons because it can be discerned much easier and that serves the industry. the problem is that the industry isn't thinking of the marketing/advertising industry holistically, they are just thinking of the social media industry and that's self serving.

this isn't morphing into me saying we should use social media as a broadcast channel. not at all. not solely anyway - there's still good effect it can have (more to come on this). all brands should be social. but they can only be social with the consumers who want to be. that's the value they want - the interaction. but there's a whole other sphere who want value from just consuming the content. they are getting value from both the brand's content and from the content derived from the interactions with consumers. but we aren't understanding that side of it and we need to.

how you ask? well, clearly not with social tools. it's back to some more traditional ways like interviews, intercepts, questionnaires to find out how the brand is increasing in key measures, whatever the important ones happen to be for your brand.

is this a more esoteric pursuit of roi than number of comments - yes. does it have its place in our work in social media - yes. if you think about it, the 'spectators' have been the audience of media advertising since forever. we've always valued them before so why should we stop now? we shouldn't. they are a huge market, one that is still very valuable, needs to be included in the mix and substantiated in our overall assessments.

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