Social Media Stars Killed Social Media

The days of the social media rockstar are drawing to a close.

We’re starting to see the end of social media as a standalone, magical mysterious thing that we do — something every startup embraced, every small business resisted, and every corporation fled from in fear — and we’re seeing acceptance, and even love, from those who previously spurned it.

Amber Naslund’s recent post, The Begrudging Death of the Social Media Superstar, plus a recent Jay Baer podcast episode with Dorie Clark, has got me to thinking that the end is in sight.

Social media will no longer be a viable standalone career path.

In the last six years, I’ve seen positions like Director of Social Media Marketing, Online Community Manager, and even VP of Social Media created to take advantage of this growing communication phenomenon. (I will not dignify positions like Social Media Wizard/Ninja/Guru with any response greater than a sneer.)

But I think we’re going to see those positions pulled into their respective departments, and they’ll become part of the general rabble.

Everyone in marketing and PR is going to be expected to be good at social media, much in the same way you need to stop listing “Proficient at Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer” on your résumé.

History Is Repeating Itself

Olivetti Typewriters - these things went away when computers became widely adopted.It’s always interesting to see what happens to an entrenched communication channel or business method when a new upstart shows up.

Newspaper people panicked when radio showed up, and the radio folks were the stars of the day. Radio panicked when TV showed up, and the TV people were the stars of the day.

Newspapers, radio, and TV all laughed and laughed when the Internet showed up. Then they ran around, screaming like they were on fire when the Internet started playing songs, streaming TV, and posting classified ads.

In the business world:

  • people turned up their noses at computers in the 1980s, but now we no longer have typists, because everyone does their own typing.
  • The postal service got worried when telexes showed up. . .
  • . . . and those people freaked when fax machines showed up.
  • Fax manufacturers peed themselves when email became the main method of communication.

Every step along the way, the new people were the stars, until everyone calmed down, and they were absorbed into the general landscape.

That’s happening with social media.

The social media people have been rockstars, writing books in a whirlwind of publishing activity, speaking and attending conferences. The ones who were doing it first are now considered the godfathers and grand dames of the industry, and the upstarts aren’t finding any real room to shine. There are no unexplored frontiers.

It won’t happen right away. There are still plenty of companies that aren’t doing social media. Hell, depending on which stats you see, anywhere from 40 – 60% of companies don’t even have a website. That means there are still plenty of people who aren’t adopting the Internet, let alone all the cool stuff it can do.

But when PR and marketing agencies are folding social media into their day-to-day offerings, and not a special add-on, you know things are settling down.

Social Media Experts Were Too Good At Their Job

That’s because, thanks to the social media evangelists who preached the gospel of engagement and relationships, everyone started doing it. And we all got good at it.

Eventually the executives who made the decision to create social media departments are going to start wondering, “Even my kids are doing this now, what makes these people so special? Why do they get the rockstar treatment?”

And the decision will be made to fold social media back into the regular marketing department. Or PR. Customer Service. Sales. R&D.

This is good news for people who are already good at marketing, PR, customer service, sales, and R&D.

But if you’re not good at it, you’re going to have a problem.

If you were only good at using the tools — you were “good at Twitter,” “good at Facebook” — you’re going to have a hard time fitting into your new role. If you thought that social media was all about using the tools, you’re in for a shock.

You need to get good at something else too. You need to get better at the departments and functions you were supporting.

You’re going to have to redefine yourself as a content marketer, a marketing strategist, a PR practitioner, a customer service professional. Social media is only going to be a part of what you do, not the actual thing you do.

Just like writers don’t have to be “proficient at Microsoft Word,” being “good at social media” will not be enough.

Photo credit: eat more toast (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Is the Forbes Top 50 Social Media List Flawed?

If you made the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencers list, you’re generally regarded as being pretty hot stuff. The Top 50 have a lot of influence, are extremely knowledgeable, and are connected to tens of thousands of people in their various networks.

If you didn’t make the list, you can tell yourself you were #51, or just try harder next year.

This year’s list was compiled by Haydn Shaughnessy using a “Pull Report” from PeekAnalytics.com.

There are also some basic criteria for involvement – experts must be creating their own content, and it has to be about social media. See more on the criteria here.

On the scoring, Peek Analytics gives people a score called Pull. If an individual has a Pull of 10x, that means that the audience the individual can reach is at least ten times greater than what the average social media user can reach.

Sounds pretty straightforward: if you’re a rockstar, you’ll be on the list.

Except it’s missing several notable names.

Jason Falls, Jay Baer, Chris Baggott

Seriously, these guys didn’t make the list? Jason Falls (l), Jay Baer, Chris Baggott (standing)

According to Judith Gotwald on Social Media Today (25 Social Media Influencers Forbes Ignored (And Why)), the Forbes list has snubbed a lot of pretty influential people, including several who were on last year’s list: Jay Baer, Jason Falls, Gini Dietrich, Charlene Li, Brian Solis, C.C. Chapman (Forbes did include his Content Rules co-author, Ann Handley), and even Mitch Joel.

Of course, Forbes does include some of the names you would expect: Mari Smith, Chris Brogan (but not his Trust Agents co-author Julien Smith), Liz Strauss, Jeff Bullas, Scott Stratten, and Dan Schawbel (disclosure: I write for Dan’s Personal Branding blog).

So what’s up? What happened to the names you would normally expect to see? Did Shaughnessy forget them? Did the non-Forbes people drop off on their Pull? Was PeekAnalytics having a bad day?

Admittedly, many names on both lists are names you expect to see year after year on a Top 50 or Top 100 list, but many of these missing names are glaring in their omission.

I’d like to see some better explanations for the list, and who did and didn’t make it, and why/how. I’d love to hear some of that “inside baseball” talk to explain how he went about determining who to measure, and who not to. How did he come up with the names to check? Is Pull based entirely on followers and reach, or is more like Klout, which could give a person with a very small following a high score because they the followers interact frequently? Or did Shaughnessy want to give some new people a shot at being on the Forbes Top 50? That’s admirable if it’s true, but then the list isn’t accurate or reflective.

It’s not that I’m suspicious of Forbes’ list, or will reject it out of hand, like it’s some partisan wing-nut website. It’s just that the exclusion of several noted social media experts is, well, eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

At the very least, Forbes’ list will be seen as problematic, which can be fixed with some basic explanations. At the worst, it’s a flawed list that is seriously lacking in its execution. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

24 Quotes to Inspire Any Marketer, Plus One of Mine

Have you ever had your name mentioned in a sentence with someone you admire? Like you’re being compared to them, or included with them? And not, “Is Erik Deckers older than Jason Falls?”

It happens occasionally for me, where someone includes me in a list of people I’ve only read about, and who wouldn’t know me from Adam. Every time it does, I want to say, “Wait, I think you made a mistake.” It’s terribly exciting and a real honor. It’s also something I struggle to accept.

People from Indiana are taught to be humble, and to not brag. (We’re America’s Canada.) We don’t take compliments very well, because we’re supposed to be humble and not appear boastful.

So when someone includes my name or mentions something I’ve done/said in a list of people I’ve looked up to, quoted, and read regularly, part of my brain ducks its head, says “aw, shucks,” and kicks at the ground. And another part squeals like a 12-year-old girl meeting Justin Bieber.

It happened yesterday after someone pointed me to a slide deck of “25 Quotes to Inspire Any Marketer” from ezanga.com. It included quotes from Dan & Chip Heath (Made to Stick), Seth Godin (Purple Cow, Tribes, and Linchpin), John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing), David Meerman Scott (Real-Time Marketing & PR), and David freaking Ogilvy.

And me.

The line is from Branding Yourself, a book that Kyle Lacy and I wrote in 2010, and finished a second edition in 2012. I can’t remember who we learned it from (we cited him in the book), but it was used to illustrate the idea that, just like people have emotional reactions to their most-loved and most-hated brands, people have the same reaction to us.

I thought, “this must be a mistake. Or it’s one of those ‘Daily Paper.li’ pages where 87 different people get included and tweeted.” But then I looked and saw that it was neither of those things. It really was something I said, and it was good enough to be included in a list with the Johnson Brothers, Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott, and David freaking Ogilvy.

People think it’s odd that the personal branding guy has difficulty in accepting compliments or stating simple facts like, “I wrote a book,” especially when he wrote a book that told people “get over yourself.” But I do. I get red in the face when I get complimented. I still don’t like telling people, “I wrote a couple books,” because it seems like bragging. And I still feel like a fake when someone asks me to sign their book.

I have to fight that urge to not say anything about what I’ve done and, you know, actually do the things I tell other people to do.

So, here it goes:

“I had a quote about marketing included in a slide deck and blog post that included a lot of really smart people.”

You have no idea how hard that just was.

Bring Social Media Tourism 2013 to Indianapolis (#SoMeT13US)

This is a little embarrassing. Indianapolis is currently ranked 8th in the Elite Eight in the Social Media Tourism 2013 conference competition.

SoMeT is a creation of Think! Social Media, a digital agency in the tourism marketing world. This is the fourth year of SoMeT, and they are selecting the host city based on a March Madness style bracket system. And Indianapolis has a real chance of winning this, but not if we keep playing the way we did!

To get into the Elite Eight, we barely squeaked into the competition, finishing in 8th with 657 votes. Seventh place Grand Rapids, MI had 735 votes.

Seriously? Grand Rapids?! I don’t even think there are 735 people in Grand Rapids, are there?

Okay, a quick check on Google shows there are roughly 190,000 people in Grand Rapids. But that’s less than one-fourth the size of Indianapolis, and we got out muscled. That’s like IU getting beat by Davidson College at, well, anything.

Here’s how the final votes went down:
1. Huntsville, AL – 2,361
2. Missoula, MT – 1,606
3. Milwaukee, WI – 1,328
4. Cleveland, OH – 1,231
5. St. Pete/Clearwater, FL – 882
6. Branson, MO – 799
7. Grand Rapids, MI – 735
8. Indianapolis, IN – 657

Social Media Tourism Bracket

Seriously? We got 8th?! I swear, if I had a folding chair, I’d hurl it.

Because of our 8th place finish, we face off against #1 seed, Huntsville, AL (183,00 people?! COME ON!) on Thursday, March 21 from 10 am to 10 pm. Whichever city gets the most votes within that 12 hour period goes on to the Final Four. The winners of that bracket face off against each other, and the final winner will play host to SoMeT13 in November.

As the biggest city in the competition, we should not be in last place with the voting. We should be hammering the competition by sheer size alone. We need our people to carry the city. We need you to step up, make the plays, and get the job done.

On Thursday, March 21, please pay attention to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. And when you get the call to vote, we need you to click the link, click the photo, and help bring this country’s tourism professionals home to Indianapolis.

We’re Indianapolis, dammit! Let’s show them how this game is played.

The Elite Eight Tournament Times are as follows:

  • Monday, March 18 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #3 Milwaukee, WI v #6 Branson, MO
  • Tuesday, March 19 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #4 Cleveland, OH v #5 St. Pete/Clearwater, FL
  • Wednesday, March 20 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #2 Missoula, MT v #7 Grand Rapids, MI
  • Thursday, March 21 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #1 Huntsville, AL #8 Indianapolis, IN

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR INDIANAPOLIS!

How to Decode Twitter Bios

Twitter bios are becoming more complicated and harder to understand, thanks to all the hashtags, code words, acronyms, and phrases people use to describe their background in 160 characters. Here’s a handy guide to help you understand what people mean by what they say.

Writer: I wrote a blog post once. Somewhere.Fake Ernest Hemingway Twitter account bio

Health & Fitness Enthusiast: Soy-milk drinking, vegetarian-eating “foodie” who will take pictures of my “food” and share it to brag about how “yummy” it is.

Health & Fitness Nut: Health and fitness enthusiast, but I’m a jerk about it.

Living the Dream: I will pester the shit out of you about buying my MLM program.

MLM: I’m new to the whole multi-level marketing and Twitter thing, and still believe you’ll be interested in it when I put it in my bio. I haven’t learned to say “Living the Dream” yet.

Network Marketer: Sounds fancier than MLMer, but it means the same thing. It impressed my friends at my high school reunion though.

Affiliate Marketer: Former MLM marketer. I didn’t know that stuff could be so hard.

Passionate about: Take your pick. I have a) misguided priorities; b) no family; c) no life; d) no idea what “passionate” actually means. (hat tip to @Ed for this one.)

Foodie: I have an iPhone and a Tumblr account. I take pictures of my restaurant food.

Social Media Consultant: I play on Twitter and Facebook. I buy Groupons. I’m also a Writer.

(Any motivational quote): I believe the Successories posters.

Tweets Are My Own Opinion: My company is run by fearful lawyers who think that my every tweet is being pored over by the national media.

Conservative/Liberal: It’s about to get insufferable in here. Mute me during the entire presidential campaign year.

Life Coach: I got laid off last year.

(Uses special characters and dingbats): Hey everyone, look at me! I’m creative!

Location: The Universe/Everywhere/Someplace not real: Location: My mom’s basement.

Christ Follower: Oh yeah, you’re going to Hell.

Actor/Singer/Dancer: I want to be an actor/singer/dancer.

YOLO: I’m 18 and my parents aren’t on Twitter.

Loves to party: See YOLO.

(Bio written in third person): He has a manager to deal with this stuff. No really. His name? Uh, his name is Johnny, uh. . . Keyboard. Yeah, Johnny Keyboard.

#TeamFollowBack/I Follow Back: I’m soooo lonelyyyyy!

#Uses #Lots #Of #Hashtags: I read somewhere that hashtags are important. So I hashtag every word in my bio, even though it never ever shows up on #hashtag #searches.

Five True Gems of Blogging Advice

After yesterday’s post, Five Pieces of Blogging Advice I Wish You’d Stop Giving, Rogier Noort challenged me to come up with five “true gems” of blogging advice.

Oooh, now that’s a challenge. The problem is, there’s so much blogging advice out there (the first of which is always “write good content,” which inspired yesterday’s post to begin with), I was hard pressed to come up with five good ones that most people don’t know. But I accepted the challenge, so here we go.

1. Trick Out your Author Bio to Take Advantage of Google’s AuthorRank

I’ve written a lot about Google AuthorRank, and its growing importance. If you want to improve your search ranking, tie your blog’s bio to your Google+ account, and add your blog to the Contributes To of your profile.

Next, go to Google+ and upload a recent photo of you. Not you as a child. Not your child. Not your dog. Not you and your best friend. Not a picture of you at the beach, sunset at your back, from 100 yards away.

Your. Smiling. Face.

Then, whenever a blog post you wrote appears on a Google search, your face and name will appear next to your result, and people are more likely to trust it (i.e. click on it and read it).

2. SEO is Not Dead

The whole point of search engine optimization was to help Google understand what websites were about. If you wrote about Hungarian football, you would use that phrase in your title, a few times in your blog post, in your keyword tags, the meta description. And if you write about it frequently, you may even want a category with that phrase.

If you did this right, Google would assume that your site was an important one for Hungarian football. This made people do it more, because they saw it helped their pages show up higher on Google’s search results pages.

The problem, was people abused this so much, Google greatly lowered the value of the SEO efforts everyone was making. That’s what the Panda algorithm changes were all about. (Penguin was more about devaluing low-value backlinks.)

But that doesn’t mean you should stop doing SEO. It’s still valuable, it just doesn’t add to your SEO juice. Just quit thinking that you need to do it perfectly and efficiently to beat the competition.

Just remember, in order to find you, Google needs to understand what it is you do. If they understand what you do, AND you do all the other stuff right (i.e. have good time on site, low bounce rate, and high click-through rate), then Google will place you higher. But crappy content with great keyword placement will not rank higher.

Remember, you’re writing for two audiences: the reader and Google. The human reader is more important, but Google can make or break you.

3. Start Using Schemas

This is the new SEO. If you want to have a serious impact on your SEO, use schema tags like Address, City, Region (state), and postalCode (ZIP code). The reason is because Google (and Bing and Yahoo; Schemas is a joint venture among the three) is starting to recognize what lines of text mean.

Think of it this way, when I write my name — Erik Deckers — Google doesn’t know what it is. They just see an ‘E,’ an ‘r,’ an ‘i,’, and a ‘k,’ and so on. But, if I put the code around my name, then Google says “Oh, ‘Erik Deckers’ is the name of a real person. Whenever we see someone search for that name, we’re going to show the pages that tells us Erik is a real person.”

That code looks like this:

<span itemprop=”name”>Erik Deckers</span>

The same is true for addresses, especially when it comes to local searches on Google. Right now, if you do a search for our address — 5348 Tacoma Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220 — all Google sees is a string of letters and numbers, and they’ll look for the identical string on all websites and blogs.

But if I tag it with the schema code, like this:

<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>5348 Tacoma Ave.</span>
<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Indianapolis</span>
<span itemprop=”addressRegion”>IN</span>
<span itemprop=”postalCode”>46220</span>
</div>

then Google recognizes that as a real address, and they’ll pop it to the top of the search results, and show it on their Map.

If you still want to do SEO, then start using schemas. It’s a laborious process though, because most everything has to be done by hand. There are some plugins for it, but they’re not as effective as the actual hand coding. At the bottom of this post are some schema tags that were created by the SchemaFeed plugin, which unfortunately is no longer available.

Schema tags

4. Don’t Plumb the Depths of Your Knowledge in a Single Blog Post

That is, don’t explore everything you know about a single blog topic in one post. Break it up into little bitty, bite-sized chunks, and explore each tiny facet of the issue in an individual post.

For example, one of my keynote talks, Ten Secrets I Learned In 24 Years of Writing would make a great blog post. And to keep from boring the reader with a massive crush of words, I could write 2 – 4 sentences about each point. But that wouldn’t give me time to fully explain what each secret means, how you can apply it, or why it’s even important.

What would make it better is to break it up and explore each secret further, and more in-depth, spending 400 – 500 words on a single secret — 600 words maximum, and that’s pushing it — finally resulting in ten separate blog posts.

That does two things for you: 1) It gives you something to write about for several days, and 2) it really establishes your credibility as someone who is very smart about that topic. After all, if you know enough to write 20 – 30 blog posts on a single topic in 3 months, you certainly must know a lot about it, right? (Just smile and nod.)

This blog post would have also benefited from a similar treatment. But I was challenged to write five true gems, and I’m über competitive.

So, you can write that overarching post, like this one, as sort of a preview, but then break it up into separate posts, one for each point, to expand on it, broaden your topic base, and make you look like an expert.

5. Use Videos to Increase Time on Site

One of the indicators Google uses to determine whether a blog post or web page is any good is to look at how long people will spend on the page. That’s also known as Time On Site.

We already know — because it’s one of those pieces of remedial blogging advice we hear over and over — that photos and videos will increase the click-through rate on a blog post (which is another signal for the new SEO). But did you ever consider that the proper use of video will increase your time on site?

If you embed a decent video that supports your point — create one yourself, if you can’t find one — people will watch it on your site, not YouTube/Vimeo. And the longer they watch the video, the longer they spend on your site. The longer they spend, the more Google values that page.

You can accomplish the same thing by having a few photos on your site, to give people something to look at for a few more seconds. The longer they spend, the more your Time On Site goes up.

That doesn’t mean you can just load junk videos and crappy photos in the hopes that you’re going to trick people into spending time on your page. Once they realize you have nothing to offer, they’ll never come back, and your misguided attempts at trickery will backfire badly.

 

Those are my five true gems of blogging advice. Thanks to Rogier Noort for challenging me to write them. Does anyone have any of their own blogging gems? Leave them in the comments.

Five Pieces of Blogging Advice I Wish You’d Stop Giving

I don’t know why I bother sometimes.

(“I don’t know why you bother ever.”)

Whenever someone writes a “five blogging secrets” post, I keep thinking, “maybe this is it. Maybe this is the one. Maybe this blog post will have at least one useful blogging tip that I can use.”

But it didn’t. It doesn’t. It never did. It was written, just like every other post on blogging, for the absolute beginner, who, given the constant bombardment of amateur advice, no longer exists in this world. We’ve polluted the Internet so much with useless, remedial blogging advice that it’s gotten into the water, and our children are born knowing the five most important steps to successful blogging.

I’ll admit, I’ve given this advice. Hell, I still give it in talks, depending on my audience and who I’m writing for. But everyone is giving it. I’m seeing it all over the goddamn place, and if I see much more of it, I’m going to scream at someone.

So, please, if not for me, then for the good of the country: stop it. Just stop it. Stop giving the same damn advice over and over and over again. Stop copying and pasting each other’s “five blogging secrets” posts.

These are the five pieces of blogging advice I want you to stop giving.

  1. Write good content: Blah, blah, blah! People say this like it’s The Most Important Advice Ever. It’s stupid, vile, and utterly useless, because everyone a) knows it, and b) thinks they do it. “I think I’ll write completely utter crap,” said no one ever. The problem is, everyone already thinks they write well, and that their work is just as good as everyone else’s. Even the conspiracy theorists who write 10,000 word treatises in a single day think what they’re producing is gold, and they’re surprised the world isn’t beating a path to their door. Telling people to write good content is like telling people to breathe or chew their food when they eat. It may be important to hear for anyone who’s brand new to blogging, but the people who know enough about the Internet to find the blog post where you shared this little piece of dreariness have already seen this more than once.
  2. Grow your social network: Really? I thought having my brother and a couple friends from work following me on a Twitter account I rarely use was a guaranteed step toward social media rock stardom. So you’re saying that the more people who read my stuff, the more success I’ll have? BRILLIANT! Give that man a Pulitzer prize for extreme cleverness! Next week, check out my new wealth creating blog post, “buy low, sell high.”
  3. Find your niche/passion: Okay, this one might not be such a Duh! piece of advice, but I’m tired of it. Anyone who has a barely detectable pulse has heard this one before, so it’s nothing new. Combine this with item #1 — write passionately about your content — and Tony Robbins will personally punch you in the nose.
  4. Erik's Tumblr Feed

    Alright, alright, fine! I have a Tumblr feed. But I have it ironically.

  5. Create value: Value is in the eyes of the beholder. And if you’re giving advice like this, there’s a whooole lot of beholders who are more than a little annoyed with you right now. Everyone perceives value in their own way. While I might think your literary comparison between Dr. Who and Mr. Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility is completely useless, there are plenty of Dr. Who/Jane Austen fans who would disagree with me loudly. No matter what you create, there will always be someone who finds some value in it, somewhere. So as a piece of advice, this is value-less.
  6. Blogging is Dead: Muh-huh. And what are you reading right now? That’s right, a blog. And what’s that place where you share all your photos and pithy little comments about your friends and their quirky hats and ironic bow ties? That’s right, your blog. What’s that? You have a Tumblog, and that’s not a blog? The hell it’s not. That’s exactly what Tumblr is, a blog for people who can’t read more than three sentences without their lips getting tired. One day, when you grow up and move out of your mom’s basement, you’ll start writing longer pieces of content, like a job application at a coffee shop. Until then, stop telling people blogging is dead. If your world view can be summed up in 140 characters and a retro photo filter, that tells me it’s not a world view worth listening to. Stick to bumper stickers on your fixed gear bike.

Just once, I would love to see someone share some useful blogging advice that did not include any variations of these five completely useless tips. While I know many people are still new to blogging, I don’t think anyone would ever knowingly violate these little “gems.” You can stop sharing them, and move on to the next lesson.