You’re asking for a punch in the face with all that salesy crap.
I’ve been chatting a lot about social media and its implications with my HY homies of late, as many of them have hopped on to Twitter and started talking up a storm. This post is a follow-up to a lot of conversations with a lot of people, and it rambles a bit. But here goes…
I’ve noticed that a lot of folks in the marketing space are using social networking tools for personal marketing, to position themselves as a thought-leader, and to prove that they understand/can manipulate the tools themselves to the benefit of their clients.
And as I mentioned in my lunch-and-learn at Hoffman York/Milwaukee last week, I don’t know that this is an exceptionally sustainable use for these kinds of tools tools. While it certainly is possible to use them to successfully market a personal or corporate brand, there are significantly richer possibilities that become available if we don’t try to hijack these personal communications channels and turn them into broadcast media.
As always, try breaking these new channels down into familiar, old(er) pieces.
TV is a great, if impersonal medium that excels at getting a message out to a lot of people. The telephone is not. People fundamentally reject the idea of companies calling them to sell them stuff. Hence the “do not call” list, and why every once in a while, you get a fake number when you ask a girl out. Email is the same. If I give you my email address, I hope you’ll send me things that I will want to read. Kindly keep your pitch to yourself.
To extend the point, social media channels will not be relevant from a broadcast perspective in years to come. Instead, we’ll find that people will be happy to use the channels for personal communication, and those that violate that code will be struck down upon with great vengeance and furious anger. The caveat there, of course, is that people do sometimes want to receive messages (not messaging) from brands that they trust/have an existing relationship with. [See: Zappos]
So if we can’t (or shouldn’t) force our messages on people through social networks, what should we be doing?
Probably what the Account Planning department has been up to all along: watching, listening, and applying a little intellectual rigor to the things you observe.
A foray into Daytum.
I recently signed up for a beta-test account on Daytum, and a couple weeks after submitting my email to the service, I received an invite to log in and setup my account. I’m pretty excited about it; ever since looking rather enviously at the Feltron annual reports a couple years ago, I wanted to find an easy way of tracking all the miscellany in my life for future reference.
Daytum is just that service. It allows you to create personal data sets (which can be public or private) and then create different views of those data. For instance, I’ve set mine up to track a few different dimensions of my eating habits, not from a dietary perspective, but rather to illuminate things about my personal choices/consumption habits for later examination. I’m considering adding travel bits to the data I’ll track, but I want to start small and grow with it, rather than trying to track everything about my life right off the bat.
My first take? Daytum is data-blogging at its finest. Go sign-up if you’re interested in the idea, and for inspiration, go here to see some ideas on things to track.
At first blush, the idea of data-blogging (perhaps the purest form of web-log) seems a little self-centered and, well, weird.
Here’s why it’s not.
Lifestreams, identity and data.
Over the past few years, I’ve passively left my mark online, using this blog, Twitter, Flickr, Google, last.fm, Delicious, Tumblr, Facebook and now Dopplr, Dailymile and Daytum. You’ll be able to see, eventually, every photo I’ve ever taken, every song I’ve ever listened to, the things that I’ve eaten, the workouts I did, the things I bookmarked, and all the little random utterings from my life. All of it contributed willingly, but without much thought as to the identity I’ve been creating. A lot of people are doing the same. And unlike the results of personality tests, which tend to be intentionally skewed by the test-taker, the data we’re logging says more about us than we could possibly say ourselves. I mean, if you really wanted to, you could find out almost anything about me. And that’s fine. Because I’m in passive control of what’s being said about me (if anything).
And if you take an especially shallow dive into the discussion, this all seems a little strange. It appears that a bunch of nerdy and/or self-centered folks are logging the minutiae of their lives with the hopes that some person (or ideally, some set of people) care about this information. And to that end, a lot of colleagues and clients alike are wondering why anyone would care what one of the people they “follow” (a creepy, loaded word) had for lunch.
Instead, they should be wondering why anyone wouldn’t care about the development of a massive, interconnected set of databases with rich historical information regarding the lives of millions upon millions of people (whoa). If you really stop and think about it, the topic of passive online identity creation is one of the most interesting phenomena going on today, especially if you’re a marketer.
I’m pretty sure that given some interest and good data analysis skills/tools, you could use that to do something interesting, if not something good.
Don’t you think?