Should I Cover Up the Name of No Bullshit Social Media?

Update: Awesomize.me contacted me with a great response addressing this issue.

I wrote a book with a naughty word in the title.

My latest book, No Bullshit Social Media, which I wrote with my good friend Jason Falls, has generated surprisingly little controversy. It’s been placed cover out on all the shelves in all the Barnes & Noble bookstores. It was even on their New Arrivals shelf, top center, where everyone could see it.

Of course, there has been some controversy. I’ve given presentations where I had to refer to the book as “No BS.” One group asked that I not mention the book at all, and since they dealt with a lot of very conservative Christians, who would be attending the conference, I was fine with that. (I covered up most of the offending word, and kept the cover one the last slide of the slide deck though.)

I’m not ashamed of the title. I’m not sorry I did it. I understand that some people don’t like saying it, and I’m fine with that. If they want to call it No BS, they’re more than welcome to. I won’t tell someone to do something they’re not comfortable with.

But what’s bothering me today is a particular social network, awesomize.me is covering up the title of the book completely. In my bio, I included the title of my book, spelled out in all its 4 letter (8 letter?) glory.

However, the “no naughty words” algorithm covered up the word, and recast it as No @#$% Social Media.

This actually bothers me. I can’t tell you why. It’s not censorship, because awesomize.me is a private company, and they can do what they want. If they want to make a rule that says “no swear words,” then they’re free to do it.

But at the same time, I’m annoyed by the fact that on a social network made up of grownups, I can’t use a grownup word. Not in a gratuitous, shocking, let’s-make-everyone-giggle kind of a way. But in a this-is-a-real-book-title way.

The easy thing to do would be to just change the title of the book myself to “No BS Social Media,” or “No Bull***” or even “No Bullsh*t.” But I don’t want to. That’s not the name of the book.

Am I overreacting? Should I just toe the line and change the title of the book in my bio? Or should I stand firm on principle, and refuse to change it, even if it means that people are going to wonder what @#$% stands for?

What would you do?

Quantify the Value of Social Media for a Music or Arts Festival

Let’s say you work for a large country music festival in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and you want to quantify the value of your social network so you can get sponsors for it.

Okay, this may only apply to one of you in the entire world, but the ideas are transferable to anyone who wants to determine the value of their social network, so you can sell it to sponsors and advertisers.

Kim Doyle (@Kim_Doyle) works for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, which is held every July. I emailed a response to her and then figured it would make a good blog post, especially since I love going to music and art festivals, and am hoping one of them will arrange an onsite consulting gig at the festival. (I’m just sayin’.)

What is the Value of a Social Network?

Basically, the statement you want to be able to make to your sponsors is “our network will have X value to you.”

Pemberton Music Festival

Pemberton Music Festival

This is a little tough for a new network, because it has no “value,” since it’s still unproven. But an established network has more value, because you know how big it can get, you’ve already seen what it can do, and you’ve been delivering clicks and eyeballs to your other social properties.

We can’t say for certain what value the network will be until AFTER the festival happens. Next year, you can demonstrate last year’s numbers. And if you’ve been doing it for a few years, you can show growth. But it’s hard to say, our network will deliver X visitors.

That’s because you need to be able to trace the interactions and transactions from your network to the sponsor’s properties, and they need to trace what happens from there. But if they’re not doing any monitoring or measuring themselves, then they have no idea what those visitors are worth. You can only show them raw numbers, but it’s up to them to demonstrate the value.

Measuring the Social Media Traffic

1) Show them how you can track all the visitors to your website, all the members of your social network, and measure the amount of time they spend interacting with the site and with each other.

You’ll do this through Google Analytics (# of visitors, time on site, # of pages visited), Klout score (especially your influence and reach), Facebook analytics, and Bitly (# of links clicked).

Include links on your blog (“Please visit our sponsors who make this possible. The more you visit, the more they support us.“), and count the number of times people click those links. Post links to their sites via Twitter (“we want to thank Floaty Bits Bottled Water for supporting Cavendish Beach Music. Visit them here.”)

If you can show those numbers, you can show sponsors what you can deliver. If this is a new venture, start measuring the size of your network, plot its growth, and see if you can start driving traffic to your site in order to show potential.

2) Show them the demographics of who they will be reaching. If you can know a few demographics of the people who come to your festival, you can show sponsors why you’re going to reach them better than traditional mass media.

For example, if a big part of your audience falls within Generation Y, you can find articles and studies that show a lot of Generation Y doesn’t watch TV, they Tivo it and skip commercials, or they watch a lot of YouTube videos on their mobile phones. So create promotional videos, put them on YouTube with a sponsor’s logo in the bottom right corner just like on TV.

See how many different ways you can drive traffic to the video, and measure each channel to see what drove the most traffic (use different Bitly links per source, 1 for Twitter, 1 for Facebook, 1 for the blog, etc.) Measuring that traffic will give a sponsor an idea of the kind of traffic you’ll be able to drive for them.

3) Remind them that they are going to be reaching a niche audience in a way that no one else can: they will reach a large group of people who are passionate about your festival and that music/art. But unlike the festival-only sponsors, they’ll be reaching them long before and long after the festival ends.

And not in the “your logo will be on the t-shirt” way of reaching them.

But if you’re sending out tweets that point to videos with a sponsor’s logo on it, and those fans watch the videos to see who will be playing, or to see a recap of the last festival, those sponsors get more exposure than the ones who were only visible during the festival itself. And any links from the YouTube page to the sponsor’s page can have a major positive impact on their search engine placement.

Consider doing a daily/nightly recap of the festival each day. Treat it like a little newscast where a “reporter” is on scene (film it with a high-def digital camera, not a mobile phone), interviewing artists and fans, showing a few seconds of the artist playing, and then putting it all into a YouTube video (complete with sponsor logo). Tweet that out a few times the next day, let people access it via QR code, and put it on Facebook for the fans who couldn’t make it, and count the traffic there too.

These are just a few ways music and arts festivals can find a sponsor specifically for their social media marketing and social networking efforts. These kinds of affinity groups can be a marketing goldmine for marketers because they’re reaching a dedicated niche audience who has an affinity for that festival, and are more inclined to support people who support something they love.

Photo credit: theburied.life

10 Ways To Spot Bullshit In Social Media Vendors

My friend and writing partner for No Bullshit Social Media, Jason Falls, has an interesting take on what today’s social media hippies have in common with the early hippies of 1964.

In 1964, Beat Generation poet and newly-crowed author du jour Ken Kesey packed a merry band of friends into a van and led the group across the U.S. en route to the New York World’s Fair. Tripping on LSD most of the way, the Merry Pranksters sat out to enlighten America. Incredibly, though stopped by police on several occasions, according to a new documentary film about the journey called Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place, they were never arrested. Kesey’s friend Neal Cassady, who was the inspiration for Jack Kerouac’s On The Road protagonist Dean Moriarty, drove the bus and would fast talk his way around the law enforcement officers.

Remember, this wasn’t deep into the hippie era in the U.S. Some would argue this particular bus trip was the first real exposure to what hippies would become that much of America had ever seen. So when the police pulled the bus over, there wasn’t an automatic level of suspicion about pot or LSD or kids doing drugs. Besides, LSD was still legal then. The bus occupants were an eclectic bunch from California armed with movie cameras. “We’re making a movie,” was probably all the excuse Cassady needed to use to get around many unsuspecting law enforcement officers in that era.

Similarly, when social media’s early pioneers, only a few of whom I suspect of illegal drug use (joke), stood on their virtual pedestals and preached on and on about how the new world of marketing was all about conversation and engagement, many of us were razzle-dazzled by the potential of fulfilling the Cluetrain vision. Brands could become one again with the people. Perhaps even get on a bus, drink drug-laced Kool-Aid and enlighten the world.

While I didn’t live through the 60s, my parents were in the middle of it. Perhaps I am a direct result of them. Still, I wasn’t there. It’s hard for me to opine on what did or did not happen and why. But taking the pragmatists view that the grand bus trip that was the Beat and Hippie Generations was less about enlightenment and more about getting high, one can see the world of social media as less about enlightenment and more about playing online all day.

Okay, perhaps I’m being a bit snarky.

Like the police officers duped by Kesey’s merry band of Beats, businesses from the initial inklings of social media’s priests and prophets until recently have failed to see through the bullshit. Engagement, conversation, listening … all well and good, but where’s the other half of the equation? Where’s the money? Where’s the revenue? Where’s the business?

Certainly, there are dozens of companies who have seen the light, or gotten lucky with the opportunities, and have recorded social media successes. The Dells and Southwest Airlines of the world are to be commended for early adoption and visionary activation. But the vast majority of businesses are better trained cops. They still see social media as bullshit.

If only someone could convince business owners, small and large, marketing managers and the like that when you add the word “marketing” to the phrase “social media” it is not only about conversation and engagement, but also about business, the industry could continue to grow, perhaps more rapidly. Erik Deckers and I have (humbly) tried just that with our upcoming book No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing . In it we recognize the genuine and genuinely accurate recommendations of the purists. But we also see through the fast-talk, smoke screen.

It’s not about playing online all day. It’s not a virtual commune where we all get enlightened. It can be a market. And goods and services can be bought and sold there. Companies are welcome, but if they play by the rules of the road, as it were.

For many of the puritanical themes, Erik and I spot the bullshit. In order to help you do the same with the consultants, agencies and experts you’re dealing with as you navigate the road of social media enlightenment, here are some warning signs you might have a bullshit artist at play:

10 Ways To Spot The Bullshit In Social Media Vendors

  1. It only takes them 15 seconds of the first answer to mention Twitter.
  2. They talk continually about “conversation” “listening” and “engagement” but never define what those are or what it means for your company to practice them.
  3. They fumble around, covering their tracks with ministerial-type rants about customer service when you ask them how social media can drive revenue.
  4. They talk about “the rules” of social media marketing.
  5. They only produce case studies everyone knows — Dell, Southwest Airlines, Comcast — and can’t cite local or small-business case studies readily.
  6. Their references don’t include businesses they’ve activated a social media strategy or tactic for.
  7. They talk of “building community” but focus the conversation on social networking software (Ning, Jive, etc.) rather than communications strategies that will foster community among your customers.
  8. When you ask about your website or search engine results they say neither have anything to do with social media.
  9. When you ask how they do market research they answer, “I use Google.”
  10. Just as you get to the desire to reduce customer acquisition cost, their eyes glaze over and the check their phone for messages.

We’re sure you have more ideas on how to spot the bullshit. The comments are yours.

For a free chapter of No Bullshit Social Media, jump over to the book website and download away! While you’re there, be sure to pre-order your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million or Que Publishing.

And order a couple extra for those bullshit-sensitive friends and clients. We’d be honored if you did.

Your pre-orders should arrive in late September.

Import Your LinkedIn Contacts to Google+

Everyone is so worried about getting their Facebook contacts into Google+. That’s the wrong way to go about Google+.

Given that most of us who are on Google+ are social media power users, chances are we’re looking for another social networking tool that will benefit us professionally. And while we may be Facebook friends with our professional contacts, LinkedIn is the real professional social network. LinkedIn also keeps any contact information like cell phones and websites, so this is going to be valuable anyway.

So, why not instead import your LinkedIn contacts into your Google+ contacts? Here’s an easy way to do it.

    1. Most importantly, you should have a Gmail account. If you don’t, get one. Google+ will delve into your Gmail contacts to see who you interact with the most, and suggest those people for your Circles.
Export your LinkedIn Connections to sync them with your Gmail Contacts.

Export your LinkedIn Connections as a .csv file to import into your Gmail Contacts.

  1. Log in to your LinkedIn account, go to your Connections page, and Export your connections.
  2. Choose any format you’d like, but the .csv (comma separated value) is your best bet. Save this file to your desktop.
  3. Go to your Gmail Contacts window, and select Import from the More Actions menu. Locate your .csv file, and import it.
  4. Google will merge any contacts that already match, saving you some duplicated matches. However, Google isn’t perfect, so you will need to go through and find/merge a lot of your contacts by hand. It may be tedious, but it will be worth it in the end.
  5. As an added bonus, export your Gmail contacts and reimport them into your LinkedIn account. This will then sync up your two networks. And since Gmail is the one email program that most social networks use to “find your friends who are on this network,” having your professional LinkedIn contacts can help you build any new networks you join quickly and without all the fluff and unnecessary crap that Facebook brings with it, like your Farmville and Pirate Clan friends.
  6. Jump back over to Google+ and start adding people to your circles. Start with the ones that Google+ recommends, and then begin searching for the people you want to add to your Circles.

Three Secrets to Make Your Video Go Viral – A Warning to Corporations

I’ve been digging into a lot of social media case studies lately, especially those that involve a little guy going up against a large corporation and winning the battle of public sentiment. A lot of these studies involve videos, and I think I’ve figured out the secrets to why they’re going viral, and why large companies need to watch out for these situations.

One of the most memorable videos is Dave Carroll’s “United Breaks Guitars,” which he released after United Airlines mishandled his $3,000 Taylor guitar. Carroll released a song and video about his efforts in filing a claim against United and all the hoops he jumped through for a year before anyone would even listen to him.

Ten million views and three videos later, Dave not only got his satisfaction from United, but Taylor guitars gave him two new guitars. His efforts also netted enough negative press against United to give an entire PR department heart failure.

Other videos have had similar success getting the attention of the corporate giants, and getting them to take notice and fix their problem. The same is true with blogs, tweets, and other times people have gotten punked by . And I’ve identified a few things they have in common.

    • Viral videos are not straightforward rants. There needs to be an unusual hook, or something that makes it different/better than someone staring at the camera and talking about their complaint or issue. That’s why videos that involve music or acting gain a lot more traction than that talking head video you wanted to do.
    • Viral videos include something humorous. Dave Carroll’s video was musical and funny. Other complaint videos are also funny, or have a humorous element to them. People love to be entertained, and anything that’s humorous will gain more attention than something that’s serious. (Of course, this doesn’t work about serious issues — just ask Groupon — so choose your humor carefully. And if you have to resort to humor that is guaranteed to offend part of your audience, don’t use it. You don’t want your audience hating you.)
    • Viral complaint videos are always about David going up against Goliath. This is the big secret. I have yet to see a viral complaint video about two Davids fighting it out, or two Goliaths duking it out. It’s always the little guy going up against the big guy. Whether it’s Dave Carroll (a real David) fighting against the uncaring, careless United Airlines, or Dooce complaining about her Maytag (not a video, but a great example of the little guy fighting the big guy), people always cheer for the little guy. If there’s any indication that the big guy is screwing someone, we’ll watch the video, read the blog post, and retweet the tweet in order to help get the word out about the “epic struggle.”

This last point is what corporations need to beware of. All it takes is one irate customer with some creativity and a Flip camera to make your PR people sweat blood trying to overcome the tens of thousands of views of that video and subsequent complaints, plus any negative press that came about from their video. Dave Carroll’s epic struggle was picked up by the global press, making sure the United name got plenty of mentions in the press.

Even for companies who don’t want to be on social media, they need to at least have a presence so they can monitor customer complaints. They shouldn’t be caught off guard by videos, because they’re already behind the 8-ball when it comes to social media. The little guy is ready to complain about the big guy, and everyone else is ready to support them and carry their torch for them.

What Does It Take to be a Social Media Expert?

My friend, Hazel Walker, wrote a blog post recently about how “Anyone With a Book Can Call Themselves an Expert,” and we were discussing it over coffee

“Uh, you know my book launch is tonight, right?”

She did know, but said it wasn’t books like mine that she was talking about, it was the self-published kind. “Anyone can self-publish a book, and anyone can regurgitate stuff someone else said. That doesn’t make them an expert,” she said.

Hazel’s gripe was about the proliferation of social media experts who are springing on the scene, armed with a few dozen hours of using the necessary tools, thinking this somehow made them an expert.

My mother, age 72, has decided that she is a social media expert. Heck why not, she uses Facebook, and has for about 6 months, she tells all her friends how to use it, when is the best time of day to use it, why it’s important to use it, and on and on. All things considered she has as much experience as many out there calling themselves an expert.

I agree with Hazel on this. Her mom notwithstanding, there are too many people who are eager to call themselves an expert when they’re not even an enthusiastic amateur. This prompts other people to rant against the faux experts (fauxperts?), which makes the real experts hesitant to adopt that mantle in the first place.

It’s a shame really.

There are some really smart, bright people who have earned the term “social media expert,” but they’ve been scared out of using it because other people are snarky, or just downright brutal, to the “fauxperts.” The real experts don’t want to get caught in the crossfire, so they eschew the title they deserve.

So what does a social media expert have that the non-expert does not have?

    1. More than five years experience in creating effective messages that educate, persuade, or inspire. The more, the better.
    2. More than five years of understanding their target market/audience (social psychology, and how their messages affect that audience.
    3. More than five years spent creating strategies and executing them. Not just executing someone else’s strategy, and doing someone else’s grunt work. You created the strategy, then you executed it.
    4. Has frequent speaking engagements to industry groups about their knowledge and experience.
    5. A lot more knowledge than their customers, including the ones that keep up with social media.
    6. A regular publishing schedule of thoughts, news, and research on a blog that’s older than a year. Even better, a regular publishing schedule of their thoughts, their news, and their research.
    7. A breadth of experiences, responsibilities, and first-hand knowledge from a variety of jobs. They don’t still have the same job they got after college, five years ago.
    8. Enough knowledge about social media message creation and social psychology that can, and hopefully does, fill a book.
    9. Paying clients.

This last point is probably the most important one. Printing out cards at a cheap overnight business card service doesn’t make you an expert. Being hired by your mom’s Pilates friend to create a Twitter account for her dried flower arrangement business doesn’t mean you have clients. You need to make a living at this. It’s not a sideline, and not a hobby. It’s not something you decided to do because you’re having trouble finding a job. It’s not a fallback option because you didn’t get into bartending school.

Also, notice I didn’t mention any specific tools, any scores, analytics, etc. For one thing, numbers can be gamed; value and reach are earned. For another, the real expert doesn’t rely on the tools, they rely on their network. And they would have that network if they were using Twitter, Facebook, or a 7-year-old email newsletter. The tools are constantly changing and evolving, some are dying, while others are growing (anyone remember AOL’s heyday?). So why put all your stock in the tool, when it’s the connections you need?

Being an expert is all about real-life experience and real-life work. It’s not about numbers and networks, it’s about what you can do with them.

I think the real social media experts need to man up (or woman up), step up, and assume the title. Don’t let the snarky people scare you off. Don’t adopt this falsely humble, “aw shucks, I’m not smart enough to be an expert” attitude. If you’ve been in the persuasion business for more than five years, you can start calling yourself an expert. Everyone else in every other field is calling themselves an expert in their job. Why should the charlatans and fakers scare you off?

They need to stop being scared off by those people who heard someone once say “there are no social media experts” and are now parroting it like it’s gospel; the people who think social media is rapidly changing, but no other industry in the world is; the people who think social media is brand new, forgetting that Facebook started in 2004, LinkedIn started in 2003, blogging has been around since 1994, and AOL was actually one of the first social media networks. Since the mid 1980s.

(And for those people who are going to say, “Nuh-uh, Malcolm Gladwell says you need 10,000 hours to be an expert,” please go actually read the book. He said you need 10,000 hours to be an outlier, not an expert. The outlier is that person who is outstanding in their field — Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan, Bobby Fisher, Bill Gates — the expert is the person who knows a hell of a lot about their field, but may never rise to the level of the outliers.)

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

Six Reasons You Should NOT Feed Your Twitter Stream Into Your Facebook Stream

After yesterday’s post, Ten Signs You’re NOT a Social Media Expert, my friend Josh Husmann asked “Help me out! Why shouldn’t my twitter feed forward to Facebook?”

It’s a fair question, and it’s something I see a lot of people doing it. I even did it for a few weeks, until someone who wasn’t on Twitter told me to stop it. Here are six reasons you shouldn’t feed your Twitter stream into your Facebook stream.

  1. Most of your Facebook friends aren’t on Twitter. They don’t understand #hashtags and @replies. Your Twitter messages that contain those will just be confusing and/or boring.
  2. No one wants to read half a Twitter conversation, especially if they have no way of reading the other half.
  3. If you also automate your blog feed to Facebook, then your Facebook friends will get hit with two messages about new blog posts.
  4. If you’re trying to create an effective personal brand, then automating your feed will work against you. Take the time to write a custom message for both Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Facebook status updates can hold a whole lot more than a tweet. Why limit yourself to 140 characters on something that gives you a few hundred?
  6. Your Twitter audience is not necessarily your Facebook audience. Most of my Facebook network is made up of friends, family, people from high school and college, and people who live in the Indianapolis area. But they are not necessarily social media or PR people that I work with. A good number of my tweets are about business, social media, etc., and while I don’t mind sharing personal information with my Twitter stream, I don’t want to bother my personal stream with work information.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

Photo credit: NathanGibbs (Flickr)