Archive for December, 2008

A recent post (rant) by Chris Brogan entitled “Social Media is No Place for Robot Behavior” has sparked some interesting conversation about the place of automation in social networks.  He specifically is complaining about the use of the auto responder on Twitter.  Too many marketers, mlms, etc. are trying to use it as a link pusher, and users are annoyed.  It goes against the grain of the average Twitter user.  Twitter is about connecting and conversing, not broadcasting.

I use SocialToo to keep track of those who follow and unfollow me.  It has the auto responder feature on there.  When I saw it, I thought ‘cool!’.  It was an easy way to put a personal touch and thank everyone for the follow.  It seemed an easy way to be polite, and try and be as humble as possible.  After all, people don’t HAVE to follow me.  They CHOOSE to follow me… for some reason or another.  And I wanted to thank them.  The intent was genuine.  But is the action itself misplaced?

Businesses try to personalize everything.  Letters sent out to customers are automatically spewn off with their name inserted.  Humans don’t do that.  ROBOTS do.  And still, when something comes addressed to me, I feel like the company is trying to connect with me.  If my cell phone bill came addressed to ‘Dear Account #xxxxxx” or “Dear Rogers Customer”, I would think ‘WTF Rogers?  I pay you how much money every month and you can’t even make the effort to put my name in a letter?”.  And so I do expect it.  Even though I know they use a machine to do it.  I expect that level of personalization.

But this may be where an auto response on Twitter falls down.  It’s not a letter to your customer.  This person just stumbled into your shop.  It fits with the idea of cafe shaped conversations and small boutique environments that seem to be popping up with social media.  If I walked into my favourite coffee shop and was greeted by some automated voice at the door saying ‘Dear shopper.  Thank you for visiting our store’, I could very well see myself responding ‘seriously??’ and turning around and walking out the door.  However,  a sign next to the door that said “thank you, please come again” would not offend me in the least, or if after I had exchanged a few words with the sales clerk, they thanked me for visiting the store, or I received something in the mail after the fact, I would be far more likely to visit that store/cafe again.

I get that Twitter is the little boutique around the corner.  Users expect they will be greeted by a real person.  Personalizing your mailouts when you are a big company is one thing.  Using social networks, like Twitter, like you are a big company is another… especially when you aren’t one.


Blog reading as my morning paper

Posted: December 23, 2008 in other

I’ve entitled this blog Outing my Inner Geek because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the last 3 years.  I knew the geek in me was in there somewhere.  But slowly I’ve been more public about it.  Yesterday, I think my parents caught onto it to.

I’m home for the holidays and without a care in the world.  My stepdad was teasing me about how long I slept in.  “I wasn’t sleeping in,” I said.  “I was reading my blogs.  They’re like my morning paper.”  Well after he had a good chuckle and we both realized I was serious, it hit me how true that statement is.

There are over 72 blogs at this point that I peruse on a daily basis looking for golden nuggets of information.  Some are human interest stories, some are marketing and search engine optimization stories, some are political, some are just not politically correct.  But my aggregation of blogs to read is like having a customized newspaper delivered to my computer every morning.  I use Feedly to read everything, which over time analyzes what I read the most of and delivers content that matches on the front page.

I have never been one to read the morning paper, or even buy a paper unless there was a concert review I wanted in it.  I don’t know if it’s just the majority of stories that don’t interest me on a day to day basis, or having to flip through the whole paper (they’re rather big and cumbersome in my opinion) that have kept me from taking them in on a more regular basis.  At any rate, my blogs are definitely my morning paper.  Easy to sort through, I can go back and search for articles from past editions and I don’t have to worry about leaving it on the bus.

Shel Holtz writes an interesting post about Twitter and other social media applications as vehicles for breaking news entitled “Live Twittering and the 140 character news cycle“.  He provides a great example of how Twitter is an old concept, just a new medium when he talks about covering a local sports event in his earlier days.  He had to phone in an update every so often so the news room could have a story crafted and ready to go for the morning paper.  Imagine what Twitter could do?

My favourite point though, is when he talks about note taking in classes or at conferences:

“Live-tweeting (and blogging) simply adds a sharing dimension to note-taking. So the fact is, you’re listening better if you’re live-tweeting (or blogging) a talk.”

I’ll have to keep that rebuttal in my back pocket…

The segmented web

Posted: December 18, 2008 in Twitter
Tags: , ,

I’m a newcomer to the blogging scene.  I’m an idealist who believes in the power of the web, the way it connects everyone together and the heights we achieve as a global population.  I see more and more of my Twitter followers looking to accomplish goals of their own.  I think that the platform we’re all using to communicate is still evolving and finding it’s place in the world.  But I’m wondering what the general impact of the internet is going to have.  Is there a natural movement towards a higher goal that will come out of it?  Or will so many people flood the internet with their own agendas that so many niches will drown the effects the collective could ultimately have?

I look at the many novel and honourable goals people have when they embark on the use of social media tools to help their cause or grow their business… but who is the torch bearer that can bring people away from their own agendas and truly use these tools to motivate and empower in support of a common goal?  Will that even be possible?  I’m not sure.  But I do think it will require the acceptance of these tools in the mainstream and what the general public deems acceptable communication via these methods.

On the one hand, many  people are looking at social media for business.  They’re talking about how businesses can use utilities like Twitter to put a human face to their corporate identity and connect on a more personal level with their customers.  There is also a big discussion going on right now about the place of sponsored posts on blogs and how they will help bring the mainstream to social media.  The other side of this are users who genuinely want to connect using online tools such as Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, MySpace, etc. and think that advertising has no place in these social circles.  Concepts like inbound marketing are attempting to change the face of traditional marketing techniques and may be well suited for the social media arena.

On the other hand, the internet is giving many people a voice that may not have been heard before.  It’s being used for news, for fundraising, for research and for finding others with like interests.  But will this also allow for those charismatic leaders needed to champion any cause for it to succeed to rise above the nosie and take charge?  Or are so many people going to bring their message to the web in hopes that everyone will listen to them when they in turn may not be listening as well?

I think that there is real potential for the internet and social media tools to change the way we as an entire population can make every little act and effort count.  The power of the masses can really be harnessed here.  However, I also think there is a real danger that with connecting with one another being so easy, people will take this for granted and their fragmented efforts towards will stall any real progress.

I started working in downtown Calgary about 8 months ago. I was used to free parking. Now parking was no longer free. I was used to going against the grain of traffic and an easy commute. Now I faces parking lots all over the city. My 2nd month in I decided I would avoid all of the hassle and just take the bus. The stop was near my house and that same bus stopped right outside the doors to my building. It couldn’t have worked out any better… Except that a few days in I discovered how much I hated taking the bus. But I had spent $75 on a bus pass and I was bound and determined to get my money’s worth.

That was in the time before my iPhone. I would try reading but it put me to sleep. Weird people would try and strike up a conversation with me when I would try so hard to just stare out the window so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.

Today, I have a newfound appreciation for the bus. It’s -30 something outside and a great day to be dropped off outside my building. And the wordpress iphone app is bringing you this blogpost from 4th street and McKnight right now. Thank you mr. Bus driver for the ride… And thank you apple and wordpress for providing me with an enjoyable way to pass the time.