Dead Man Blogging

“Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog.”

I’ve been haunted since I read those words a few weeks ago.

Jenn Whinnem had hosted a discussion on {grow} about our digital footprint and the implications when we die. Johnny Russo, added a link to a post by Derek K. Miller, who wrote his farewell to his blog community and family in anticipation of his death from a terminal disease.  It is a stunning, poignant, post and it ends perfectly.  “I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.” … Read more

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Research shows Facebook emotional boost is like marriage

Do social media technologies isolate people and promote false relationships? Or are there important benefits associated with being connected to others in this way?

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project decided to examine these questions in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement.

Among the many interesting findings, Pew reports that the social relationship “boost” received by Facebook users is equivalent to about half the total support that the average American receives as a result of being married. … Read more

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Is Twitter for everybody?

This is the question that eventually gets asked by every person and every company trying Twitter for the first time.  In the height of your initial frustrations, you may be wondering … is Twitter really for me?

Most social media hype-masters will tell you “yes.”   Indeed, there is probably some business use or benefit you could discover for everyone and every organization.

But after working with hundreds of students and professionals across diverse businesses, I’ve come to realize the answer is no — it’s not for everyone. … Read more

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McDonald’s scales to meet social media demands

In a recent #MMchat session, I referred to McDonald’s as a social media best practice and said they should give me some free fries for the reference. In a tribute to the way McDonald’s is “tuned in” to its audience, Rick Wion, the company’s director of social media, responded to one of my tweets and said that he would indeed buy me some fries.

What resulted was even better … a lengthy discussion and a short video interview when I got to meet him live at SXSW. Talk about the business benefits of Twitter!

How does a global icon like McDonald’s — one of the world’s most important brands — engage with millions of customers? Well here’s the answer in this video. I think you’re going to love this interview. We touch on some very significant topics about the research that went into their effort, humanizing a brand, staffing up for an initiative like this, and where it will lead.

Would love to hear your comments about this. We may even be able to get Rick to answer a few questions.

Mark Schaefer

Here’s a link to the #MMchat with @MarkWSchaefer The True Business Benefits of Twitter

And a link to all of Rick Wion’s posts here @TheSocialCMO

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The End of Networking as We Know It!

I loathe business networking.

The Chamber of Commerce meetings. Networking “speed dating.”  Trade shows.  Business Networking International.

But when I started my own business, this seemed to be the only alternative.  My last “corporate job” was global in nature. For years I had been leading teams in China, Russia, Brazil, Australia — almost every corner of the world — and really had no significant business connections — no business leads — in my own region of the country!  So I had to get out and press the flesh.

I dutifully began the circuit of lunch and breakfast meetings, hoping beyond hope that a connection would lead to a connection and conversations would turn into customers.  It was an endless loop of meeting the same insurance salespeople, bug exterminators and realtors over and over again. … Read more

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Research: Fastest-growing companies accelerated social media usage

Research released yesterday from The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth indicates fast-growing U.S. companies continue to out-shine the Fortune 500 on deployment of social media marketing initiatives.  The research effort, now in its fourth year, studies a compilation of the fastest-growing private U.S. companies compiled annually by Inc. Magazine.

Social networking continues to lead the way. The platform most familiar to the 2010 Inc. 500 is Facebook with 87% of respondents claiming to be “very familiar” with it.  Another noteworthy statistic around familiarity is Twitter’s amazing “share of mind” with 71% percent (up from 62% in 2009) reporting being familiar with the relatively new micro blogging and social networking site. Forty-four percent say Facebook is the single most effective social networking platform they use.

In terms of actual usage, Facebook also leads the way:

Blogging remains an important tool for the Inc. 500. Fifty percent of the 2010 Inc. 500 has a corporate blog, up from 45% in 2009 and 39% in 2008.  Beyond the actual adoption of this tool, there is clear evidence that companies are using blogs effectively.  There is a strong propensity to engage consumers through accepting and replying to comments and providing a vehicle for subscriptions. Thirty-four percent have developed social media policies to govern blogging by their employees. Approximately 20% of the Fortune 500 has such a policy and only 22% of the Fortune 500 have an active blog. … Read more

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How to Overcome Blogging’s Fear Factor

Mark Schaefer is indeed one of our shining lights here @TheSocialCMO when it comes to blogging! Not only does he write individual posts that resonate and put the “social” into social media (see Spirituality) he also produces pieces with very practical guidance to help others follow along the path that he’s blazing! See his latest post below which will I think inspire many more to face and overcome blogging’s fear factor!

I talk to a lot of bloggers. In fact I speak to some blogger somewhere almost every day … supporting, encouraging, listening, and helping where I can.

And I think I’ve determined the biggest hurdle that keeps people from ever beginning a blog.

It’s not a lack of ideas.

It’s not time.

It’s not writing ability.

It’s CONFIDENCE.

Fear of failure and criticism seems to be the most overwhelming reason why people don’t blog. Having some trepidation about blogging is reasonable. After all, it’s kind of like public speaking in a way, isn’t it? I think it is a pretty rare person who can put themselves out there in a public way and not have at least a little insecurity.

So what do we do about it? Here are a few ideas that seem to be working … … Read more

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Why Chris Brogan is Invincible

I am fascinated with uber-blogger Chris Brogan as a cultural icon of the social media revolution. Whether it’s trying new business models or pioneering sponsored posts, he is our canary in the coal mine, exploring the leading edges of our field.

But a post this week established a new milestone even for Chris. For your edification and entertainment, I am re-printing the entire post. Under a hand-drawn picture of a stick figure at a podium, he wrote:

“Okay, don’t do this. If you’re going to speak to people, speak TO (or even better WITH) them. Don’t look at your slides, read your slides, and tell me what’s on your slides. I know how to read. Stop it. Okay?”

… That’s it — 41 words.Read more

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Social media fueled political drama in the U.S.

Election Day is over here in the United States and we appear to be on the brink of a significant social change. Fueled by outrage over the financial meltdown, economic stimulus attempts, government bailouts, and the election of Barack Obama, The Tea Party Movement is upending incumbents in the name of fiscal conservatism.

Many are pointing to the role of social media channels in spreading this movement. Did social media create the Tea Party Movement, and if so, does this prove that the social web can enable dramatic social change?

Just two years after a sweeping Democratic victory, the tea-party movement re-drew the landscape again. Nurtured by online networking, it helped disparate activists across the nation link up and already push aside high-profile incumbent leaders in multiple states this year.

A thorough history of the Tea Party Movement in The Wall Street Journal is peppered with references to the use of social media in building a national movement. Let’s start with a brief summary of how social media played a role in these sweeping changes:

Blogs

The genesis of the Tea Party Movement may have been a blog by Stacy Mott, a stay-at-home mother fed up with the government’s economic policies. Enraged by the government bail-outs, she started a blog for conservative women called “Smart Girl Politics” and launched a social networking site at the same time. This and other conservative blogs were catalysts for live rallies. The content caught the attention of influential blogger and political commentator Michelle Malkin who started to write about the rallies. After a dramatic online television rant calling for a modern-day Tea Party movement by CNBC Commentator Rick Santelli, the Smart Girl blog went viral. Hundreds of other blogs popped up, creating a grassroots cry for change.

Social networking

Facebook pages started springing up locally and then nationally, uniting disparate activities. The movement initially had no budget, so Facebook served as the central directory for the party’s activities. Within a year there 2,000 Tea Party-related Facebook pages. Eventually one of the founders created a website and social networking site called The Tea Party Patriots.

Twitter

Many believe the first seeds of the movement were planted on a list of top conservatives on Twitter, dubbed #tcot” for short. This list spawned other lists and within weeks #tcot grew from 25 names to 1,500. Twitter was used to unite disparate voices and organize conference calls, town hall meetings and rallies.

Wikis

As the movement grew, organizers established wikis to provide protest advice and organizing techniques.

Fueled by these social platforms, general disenchantment coalesced into a cause, and in just a few months the movement enjoyed a stunning victory when Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts won Senator Ted Kennedy’s long-time Democratic Senate seat.

The social media revolution?

Undoubtedly social networking unified an idea among disparate interest groups with no organization and no budget. Does this amazing success discredit the much-discussed Malcom Gladwell article claiming that the weak links and lack of hierarchy could not promote such dramatic social change?

Yes and no. If you look carefully at the brief history of the Tea Party Movement, it may actually SUPPORT Gladwell’s contention.

The WSJ article shows the initial loose organizations created on social networks were eventually dismantled by in-fighting, controversy and hurt feelings. Once the euphoria of the initial change began to wear off, the social networks could not sustain the change and even the early pioneers united by blogs and Facebook became bitter and divided. Relationships among the loosely-based coalition deteriorated so quickly members began suing each other.

The real catalyst came from coverage by the traditional media. News programs on the Fox Network and articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal fueled interest in rallies. Live conference calls to organize the initiative seemed to be the linchpin between chaos and unity. Town Hall meetings and live rallies kept the momentum alive. Embarrassing content, like a racist photo-shopped images of the president, quickly went viral on the social web and actually created more divisiveness among the members.

The other important point that Gladwell was addressing was that revolutionary change requires risk to personal safety. Voting for the Tea Party Movement in the privacy of a voting booth carries the same risk as clicking a “like” button on Facebook so this is not exactly a test case for his theory.

In any event, there is no doubt that the Tea Party Movement could not have coalesced with this speed and forcefulness without social media. What are your thoughts on this Social Media Political Revolution?

Mark Schaefer

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The Spirituality of Social Media

Sure the social web is filled with rants and quacks, but I’ve also been thinking about how the science and technology of this channel lifts people up, and perhaps even makes us better in a deeper, spiritual way. Here are a couple of personal observations. I would love to hear what you think!

Spiritual touchpoints

I was feeling kind of bitchy this week and wrote a bitchy blog post to go right along with my mood. It was supposed to run today. Then I read Danny Brown’s post on leadership which reminded me that sometimes we need to think bigger about ourselves and the world. I decided the universe didn’t need another bitchy blog post and that I could do better. So I trashed it.

I experience these tiny tugs of hope, optimism and encouragement every day. Little social strings between me and others, pushing, pulling, inspiring me to do better, to think bigger about my social media community and the world. I am evolving in positive ways because of it.

Have you surrounded yourself with these spiritual touchpoints too?

The communion of community

Recently a woman in my city lost her 18-year-old son in a tragic and violent drug-related death. Her pain was exacerbated by questions about how police handled the case, which played out in a public forum.

I really don’t know this woman, but I have children too and the agony that came out on her blog posts touched me and probably thousands of others like me. We were a community of strangers united in grief. We connected through Twitter, through comments, through prayer for her family.

I’ve seen this same kind of communion of strangers after the Haiti earthquake and the Nashville flood. People used technology for a higher purpose, to commune with the needy, displaced and heart-broken. This gives me so much hope.

Igniting Passion

I’ve just read the “Brains on Fire” book (recommended – no affiliation other than profound admiration!). The agency by the same name preaches that the social web is an opportunity to create not just “conversation,” but movements. Watch this short video they created for Love 146. I dare you not be outraged, shocked and moved.

Love 146 works toward the abolition of child sex trafficking and exploitation. Brains on Fire created a movement by igniting passion through stories, images, even music and art. This is work that is measurably changing the lives of forgotten children. This is the social web — and the human spirit — at its best.

Love one another

There are people I have met on the social web who love and care about me.

That is probably the sappiest thing I have ever written but it is undeniable and true so why not say it? The Internet now allows you to find your folks wherever they may be, to establish your personal movement.

Does this sound weird to you? I think it can happen for anybody if you give it a chance. The social web is spreading love from country to country and server to server, to laptops, smart phones, iPads and people. It’s amazing to think about.

More love in more places around the world has gotta be a good thing, right?

A global heartbeat

I am in daily contact with people who inspire me from Sweden, Malaysia, Jordan, France, Australia, Russia and many other nations. Perhaps you are too.

Pause for a moment and realize that you and I are experiencing a milestone in human history. A profound and spiritual milestone, I think. For the first time we have access to free, real-time, global communications. The ability to make these connections were not available to us just a few years ago.

And this is just the beginning. Sure, Facebook is the home to Farmville and about every other inane concept known to man. But don’t dwell there. This platform alone is providing an opportunity to unite hundreds of millions of people. Hundreds … of millions … of people. Doesn’t that take your breath away?

Twitter enabled a revolutionary movement in Iran. It failed … this time. The power of technology to connect, nurture, and teach will eventually out-run the technology that is trying to control and contain it. We WILL be connected and then there will be one global heartbeat pulsing through the social web.

Look through the silliness, cut through the drivel, ignore the hate. There is a core light of hope streaming above it all with the potential to unite us, heal us, and inspire us no matter who or where we are.

Mark Schaefer

Mark is Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and CMO of Freesource Inc. You can find him on Twitter at @markwschaefer and on his blog {grow} at www.businessesGROW.com

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