Brian Solis and I go back a long way, and I feel like I know him even though we’ve never met. That’s one of the magical changes that social media has brought to our lives.
Capturing and sharing the magic, wonder and possibilities of social media for business audiences has been Solis’ stock in trade through six books over the past six years. It’s made him one of the leading lights of social media — a celebrated author and keynote speaker whose engaging, accessible brand of futurism has businesses from tech startups to the Fortune 50 listening carefully and putting his ideas into practice.
In 2007, Solis and Geoff Livingston wrote an early social media primer called Now Is Gone, and included an interview with me in that book. I had gotten to know Solis — most recently seen getting a piggyback ride from Shaq at SXSW — during the early days of business blogging, when the community was much smaller and, quite frankly, more sincere in purpose. Bloggers in 2005 were there “for the right reasons” (as they say on The Bachelor), meaning they were genuinely interested in dialogue and discussing issues of import to the future of media, marketing and public relations.
How popular is sponsored content today? A three-week campaign with BuzzFeed, including a handful of sponsored posts written by its advertorial staff, will cost you a minimum of $50,000. Most BuzzFeed advertisers pay much more than that.
BuzzFeed is the headliner of a media zeitgeist that is all the rage these days for both media companies and marketers; more than $1.5 billion in content sponsorships is expected to be sold this year. This month, the Washington Post jumped on board with its BrandConnect offering, joining Forbes, The Huffington Post, and The Atlantic. Thousands of media outlets also collect revenues from organizations like Outbrain, a “PPC for content” vendor that sells links from media sites to corporate blogs.
But while sponsored content appears to be a much-needed boon for publishers and advertisers weary of the limitations of banner ads, sponsored content also is sending many traditional journalists into an ethical tizzy…
Read the full post on sponsored content ethics at MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog.
Remember WeFollow? Back in March 2009, Digg creator Kevin Rose unveiled his social influence startup as a side project that attracted a lot of attention. Along with a team that included site engineer Jeff Hodsdon, Rose launched WeFollow to rank the most influential users of Twitter across all topics, industries and imaginable categories.
The site started out by tying influence directly to follower counts, a measuring stick that soon became meaningless as millions of users gamed Twitter to gain fake or quid-pro-quo followers rather than real audiences. WeFollow responded with an update that included a more sophisticated approach to measurement — but then, sometime in 2010, the project was more or less abandoned. It was rolled into the increasingly struggling Digg and never heard from again.
I’ve noticed something about a lot of companies that are calling themselves “inbound marketing firms” these days: they are actually SEO firms or Web design firms that are attempting to reposition their businesses in the marketplace.
There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Over the past two years, Google has pulled the rug out from under SEO firms, which have traditionally employed what Google now calls “unnatural” link-building methods to push their clients up the search rankings.
Google knows that “unnatural” SEO worsens the Web experience for millions of users who are tired of stumbling upon lame content and websites that rank highly in Google because of gamesmanship by SEO firms. What does Google mean by “unnatural”? The simplest way to put it is that the website hasn’t earned its ranking by generating high-quality content that attracts real audiences and links.
Web design firms, meanwhile, have been squeezed by low-cost WordPress templates and plugins that make building a top-quality website simpler than ever. The days of $30K+ website design projects (once the bread and butter of large design firms) have come and gone, with relatively few exceptions.
Will we ever be rid of “-isms”?
We make progress on classism, racism, sexism, homophobia-ism, and ableism, and yet seem to be getting nowhere when it comes to ageism. It’s ironic, because I believe this is the only -ism that is expressly called out in the Good Book.
So now we have David Bray of dBray Media penning an article for MediaPost, titled “2013: Beginning of the End for PR Boomers,” in which he writes the following:
If 2012 was the year of the social media surge, 2013 will be the beginning of the end for our baby boomer PR compadres. The media landscape is evolving rapidly, and baby boomers are about to be left behind because of their inability to keep up with technology and the changing times.
Really? I liked the response in comments by communications consultant Howard Gross:
It would be interesting to see if Marketing Daily would publish a piece like this if it were directed at women, African Americans or Asians. Bigotry is bigotry, no matter whom it s aimed at.
It happens all too frequently.
You’re in a meeting — usually an important meeting with lots of important people around a table — and you say something you think is brilliant. But instead of slapping you on the back, someone else at the table makes an irrefutable point that undermines your argument.
What you should say, of course, is: “I agree with you.”
But what you actually say is slightly different: “I don’t disagree with you.”
So just as I was posting a history lesson about the perils of sharecropping — both IRL and online — I came across two announcements by Twitter of relevance to this topic:
- Twitter said Friday it is shutting down Posterous, the once-popular hosted blogging platform that has been badly neglected since it was acquired by Twitter early last year. That means all the bloggers who have built their web presences on the site will have to grab all their content before it gets deleted.
- Twitter also announced late last week that it will begin assigning “value ratings” to users’ tweets that will impact their visibility to their followers. This sounds a lot like Facebook’s algorithm changes that have limited the ability of brands to organically reach fans who liked their pages — forcing brands to spend more and more in advertising to reach their fan bases.
Posterous bloggers shouldn’t be surprised by being booted off their “land” online. As Kim Phillips wrote last month:
Posterous, since it was bought by Twitter, has been notorious for inaccessibility, missing content, and unresponsiveness to it’s blog users.* Notice I didn’t say “owners,” because when someone else controls your digital assets – blog posts, photos, website content – you’re sharecropping. You can slave over brilliant prose and gorgeous images, only to have them disappear on you.
As for Twitter’s planned visibility changes to tweets? As Sam Laird at Mashable puts it:
It’s definitely a positive for Twitter, which will have the power to designate “high” value tweets (in some cases, perhaps, for a price).
Just “some cases”? We’ll see.
As a good Southern boy whose ancestors hailed from Mississippi and who spent much of my four years at the University of Virginia studying 19th-century Southern history, I know a thing or two about sharecropping.
Sharecropping in the United States originated in Mississippi and became popular across the South after the Civil War, replacing the vanquished plantation economy. Because freed slaves never received their 40 acres and a mule, they found themselves uprooted in an agrarian economy lacking the basic asset needed to have a chance at success: land.
So the Freedmen were forced to be tenants of the white landowners — planting the cotton seed, tending the crop, being responsible for everything produced by their small patch of land. But after all the work was done, they had to hand over the proceeds of their labor to the landowners and receive just a “share” of the “crop” — usually no more than half.
The blacks, as well as poor whites, forced to work as sharecroppers were little more than feudal serfs for nearly three generations after the Civil War.
So I’ve been pondering the topic of happiness in our work lives lately. I figure since I’m in the business of public relations and inbound marketing, maybe I should offer some specific thoughts on how to be happy in this profession.
Most of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned through trial and error. Often many errors.
So here goes. Eight happiness lessons for PR and marketing professionals:
1. Always tell the truth — especially to yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t represent a client that holds an opinion different from yours. It just means that you must present it as the client’s viewpoint, not your own. Too many flacks and marketers cross this line without thinking about it.
Sometime back, I came across a survey that showed that among all the jobs and professions out there, hair stylists were the happiest workers. It made me think about the possible reasons for this.
Now I’ve never cut hair for a living, but I have been getting my locks sheared regularly for more than four decades. So I figure I’ve known enough hair stylists in my day to take a shot at identifying their secrets to career contentment.
I’ve thought of seven. I’m sure they won’t mind if I share them.