Where Does Trust Fall in the Four Ps of Marketing?

Protesters raise their open palms showing the word "No" during an anti-bailout rally in Nicosia

I’ve finally dribbled through “Buffet: The Marketing of an American Capitalist”, and ironically, the most thought-altering thing I’ve learned has not been directly about investing. It was the  value proposition in trust.

Warren Buffet made a mistake investing in a well known firm, Salomon Partners. The firm had had a great run, becoming the one of the exclusive Treasury trading partners and competing with the likes of Meryl Lynch, when one bad apple spoiled the barrel. The trader in charge of bidding on Treasury bonds successfully cornered the market by making illegal bids, some in the names of Salomon’s customers. John Gutfriend, the much feared CEO at the time, had neglected to disclose the illegal activity to the Fed.

he-worked-his-way-up-and-was-made-a-partner-at-salomon-brothers-in-1972Once discovered, the case blew up, and as trust in Salomon disappeared down a sink hole, and customers dried up. Investment banking is an industry built almost entirely in trust. Companies trusted Salomon to pull together investors and provide capital. Clients trusted Salomon to obtain the securities they desired at the best price. Salomon would have gone under right away if Warren Buffet hadn’t stepped in to infuse the firm with what it had lost: Trust.

Trust is stronger than faith: It’s built from experience. Trust is knowing your doubles partner will hit that perfect serve in the lefthand corner every time. Trust is knowing the phonecall to your mom or dad will always reveal the answer. Trust is opening the fridge knowing your roommate didn’t finish off your beer. Trust in China is knowing those Korean noodles are clean and safe to eat. Trust is that brilliant coworker that always solves the problem.

hypocrisy-superman-dupont-reducedA brand is an insurance seal on your favorite product, the Brooks Brother’s shirts that don’t shrink, the bottle of Tide that never fades your sundresses, the Teflon coated pans that eggs fall smoothly off of. In the Four Ps of marketing, branding falls both in product and promotion. Tony the Tiger promised the same sugary goodness every morning, in the same way Batman promised the same daring rescue at the end of each 30 minutes – with commercials – program.


Building trust for a brand means can mean providing awesome customer service, every time, like Zappos. It can be a slow process, taking years like the bakery next door. Trust can come from a base of brand advocates, as Salesforce used at nationwide conferences. You can build off trust in another brand, as Facebook built its user base off college brands. A brand can also be inextricably tied to a trust in a single person, as Apple was with Jobs or Berkshire is with Buffet.

For social media, your followers trust your personal brand to deliver similar content, in a consistent voice. It’s said to gain followers 90% of your tweets should not defer from your “brand”. Different networks offer consistent types of content: Pinterest has beautiful travel photos and recipes; Instagram offers angles on views you missed and styles that will make you cooler; Spotify always has different bands and playlists with artists you forgot about. Even Google Plus has found a following with gamers and other subsets that want to talk all day, every day about some obscure topic.

So what’s the value of trust? Procter and Gamble once calculated a lifelong Kleenex customer as being worth $600. Today P&G deals with Tide thieves who retail stolen bottles for half the price, so coveted is the brand that promises to make Kmart jumpers smell as special as Crewcuts. Trust lost can destroy a politician’s career, a marriage, a brokerage firm, an imported brand, a livestock industry.


Maybe the true value of trust can be measured in time: the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, decades you spent experiencing the same mouthfuls of frosted flakes, loads of laundry, fried eggs, crisp shirts and restful nights knowing your money was safe in the bank.


SMO: Facebook Backlinks, Do These Matter?

Recently my coworkers and I attempted something sacrilegious to most social media “gurus”: We proposed killing our organization’s Facebook page. No one representing our company had posted on the page in months, and despite many events and photo opportunities, only one neglected album held tiny images from a year past. “Embarassing”, “waste of time” and “dead already” were some of the internal comments regarding our not-oft-visited site. It looked like we were moving forward, on a train driving Facebook out of our town. Then our PR agency threw a wrench in wheels, “You’ll lose your backlinks!”, they said. Our what?

Backlinks in SEO are hyperlinks from other websites which lead to your site. Backlinks are like votes. The more links you have, the higher your Google search score is. The more highly ranked the sites leading to you, the more the backlinks are weighted into you score. Not only is Facebook the highest ranked website in the world, over even Google.com, but at the beginning of the year Google admitted to factoring social media links into its algorithms.

Social media backlinking was rarely discussed when I interned in SEO, nor was it mentioned in my social media positions and even social media optimization (SMO) discussions. SMO is the practice of using social media to drive traffic your site, the “All Roads Lead to Rome” idea. SMO traditionally focuses on actual clicks. Content is optimized to increase clickthrus using tactics such as link-baiting, content creation, images and keyword tagging. SMO came into mainstream last year as a weapon in the search engine wars, (which Google no doubt won with the help of mobile).

My organization already had top two SEO ranking and a never-ending supply of niche research publications to continually feed to our SEO rankings, so our rankings really weren’t affected by backlinks. From an SMO standpoint, however, the Facebook page was relevant for sharing content and bringing in referral traffic. (Direct traffic comes straight to your site; Referral traffic clicks a link on another site. Usually SEO analytics tools break down what referral traffic is coming from search engines and what is from “all other sites”.)

Although LinkedIn offered great referral traffic by percent clickthru per link, referral traffic from Facebook was negligible. This was consistent with our hypotheses regarding how our membership and target audiences used the web. Despite having Facebook buttons on our website, every email we sent out and printed material, as well as membership and subscribers numbers in the tens of thousands, we were at only 150 likes. (This compared to thousands of group members on LinkedIn). Clearly, Facebook was not where our audience was finding us. The argument was made and Facebook was sentenced.

The question for you is, do Facebook backlinks help my site? It is true for a relatively unknown or low-SEO-ranking site Facebook backlinks can be beneficial to increasing SEO. For maximum SEO ROI, you want to focus on a few “call-to-action” pages, such as a contact page, a company overview, your main page or a submission form, (Examples: proposal submission or membership sign-ups). For maximum SMO, you want to focus on content and “call-to-action” pages which may be generated by the type of social media content.

Articles hosted on your site shared on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is the most common SMO backlink, but video and picture content are beginning to dominate the web as networking bandwidth allows larger file hosting. While keyword tagging pictures and video content has been a part of SEO since before SMO was a discipline, linking back to your site wasn’t as prevalent as today. Increased blogging and sites like Instagram, Twitter, via Yfrog and Pinterest have made image linking more relevant.

Some examples of SMO backlinking:

Shortened Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn links which are retweeted or shared by several people
Blogposts or highly trafficked blogs which reference your website
Lists (not as common since search), such as Angie’s List, which recommend your company or website
Yelp, Yahoo, Hotels.com or other rating sites which evaluate and link back to your company site
Proprietary content images used on other sites, such as a blog, which hyperlink to your site
Pinterest pictures which lead to a point-of-purchase on a commerce site or services, (example: Home renovation company)
Embedded video content on other sites which is hosted on your site or Youtube channels

How to Time Travel on Web: 2 Research Tips

A lot of what I’ve done at various jobs involves research, and most research today is done through the web. In science and business, knowing where you have been is critical for knowing where you are going. Scientists read hundreds of “old” papers to find methods and discoveries they can use to plan their own experiment. These papers in a way are “case studies”. Business analysts use financial, distribution, product cycle, interest rates and loads of other data when looking at company, making a deal or solving a problem.

Social media analysts use some old data to create new business proposals, but mostly they want “new” data: the latest information and technologies available. On occasion however, to illustrate the evolution of the web, I’ve used this amazing tool, “The Way Back Machine“, which allows you to see archived snapshots of your website. This is a picture from the front page of my blog, a year ago:

Try it yourself!

The second tip I’m proffering up is a simple variation on a Google Search. I choose daily topics for my community’s Twitter handle. Today’s topic was “Chimeras”, as from the recently created chimeric monkeys. (Chimeras are organisms with multiple genomes, different DNA.)

The search was unfruitful thanks to Google’s recent algorithm changes which give greater weight to newer content. (A reason one should blog on one’s company website, and often.) The results I was receiving were for the monkeys or a successful hockey game from yesterday. Search for chimeric:

Search for chimera:

In order to eliminate the cute little baby Rhesus monkeys, I used Google’s time period search. I started in 2000 because information in in DNA research over ten years old doesn’t have much significance with modern discoveries and changing technology. I picked a month ago as the end date, although even last week would have been far enough to clear the viral monkey story.

The results were exactly what I was hoping for, no more big black monkey baby eyes looked back at me imploring the necessity of a future of hybrid creatures. Now I could browse articles which topped the news in another time, a simpler time, like January 2011.

And this is how I stumbled upon….HUMAN CHIMERAS!!!

What are you researching? What you like to discover? Happy hunting!

Coming At Your Life: 2012 Social Media Trends

This article is written with thanks to the marketers on my Marketing Word Twitter list who keep forging ahead with bigger ideas for the biggest companies, and my teenie bopper siblings, who’s tech savvy reminds me I’m only a few steps ahead of the pack.

What’s In:

1. Augmented reality!!!

2010 was the “Year of Social Media”. 2011 was the “Year of Mobile”. 2012, budgets holding, will be the “Year of AR”. This will be the year the offline and online finally blend. PS: Don’t bother with what they say at SXSW. Last year’s predictions from the festival failed to come to fruition. (Namely, QR barcodes). Look at what’s fun/cool. That’s your trend.

2. Social commerce

This is going to happen for three reasons: One, the ability to track customers and spending via the web is increasingly available to smaller businesses through social networks (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare), and software like Sharepoint, Salesforce, Bottlenose, etc,. Two, customers like recommendations from friends. We trust our social network more because we know they care about our happiness, rather than just about making a sale. Three, it’s a successful model as proven by Amazon.

3. Accountability for spending

For the same reason social commerce is becoming easier for businesses, ROI tracking using these softwares is making it easier to justify or debunk spending on social media. Where businesses once employed sales people, they will now be able to hold their web salesteams to quotas and directly attribute spending to revenue increases.

4. Mobile payments

Starbucks is doing it, therefore everyone must. Mobile payments are actually an easy replacement for those annoying retain cards everyone has. With access to your phones, retailers can offer special discounts targeted just to you. They can build a relationship with their customers by always be there. And, Oh, the data, the data. Eventually, retailers and companies will find this a way to save money on debit card processing fees and, truthfully, service associates. It also eliminates some theft risk for merchants.

5. Data analysis

As one hedgefund analyst, turned computer teacher, turned web entrepreneur explained, “If you can do data, you can do anything”. In the science community I manage, I hear the best minds constantly discussing the power of data, and the current challenge in more data than can be efficiently analyzed. I love the above video because of this line, Science is the N-U-Ar-T…data make the data pay. The best software programs and companies like IBM are tackling this challenge. In 2012 and for the next couple years, data analysis jobs will be highly in demand. According to Glassdoor, after processing data from salary postings across the nation, they average $55,000, the same as a finance salary.

6. Streaming television

Amazon’s $75 a year Prime is going to kill it across the board. With the problem of highspeed internet more or less solved, customers will stop wrestling with cable companies offering superfluous channels and horrific service. [Funny story.] The entire social media internet movement was about consumer power. American marketing has a consistent trend to more individualized choice. Streaming video answers this, as Napster did a long time ago, but with a revenue model. And yes, Netflix will pave a path to Hades for the Postal Service and any other company which requires you to leave your home or lick sticky squares of paper.

7. Interactive advertising

Part of AR, interactive advertising covers both the “online” and “offline”. In one of those ironic misspends, a liquid paper company actually came up with the interactive ad story above allowing users to interact with bear. Much like the seldom used DVD “choose your ending” concept, this ad gives users choice in content and engages them with the ad. More fun interactive ads will emerge in the real world, such as the Pedigree Puppy bill board above. One idea I had was if DC’s Ann Taylor bustop ads allowed you to “try-on” the product as you stood there. This technology does exist.

8. Political socialnetworking

It’s 2012. Duh. And vote for Ron Paul if you care about retiring, increasing your salary or your children living in a world power versus a failed state. That’s my 2cents.

9. Meetups

As I sat in a Madison, WI Panera I evesdropped on a sales manager explaining their strategy to one of her staff. “I want you to go see each of your contacts at least once a month. I can’t tell you how many studies have shown the more you see someone the more you like them. Once a month equals twelve times a year! If they see you twelve times a year, they will like you.” Most MeetUps are once a month, building relationships over time through the power of oxcytocin, the bonding hormone you will see me write about a lot a lot.

As we become more immersed in technology, we will continue to long for the more human, more real connections through face-to-face interactions. This is exhibited by Facetime and G-chat, the move toward a more realistic conversational experience. Remember, language developed in the last phases of our evolution. We can’t escape the millenia of evolution behind that which required hormonal and body language communication. This is the power of MeetUps.

*The picture above is of a “Couchsurfing” MeetUp in Hong Kong. MeetUps are becoming huge internationally, especially in countries where community and networks are even stronger than the U.S.

Eat Cheese or Die: Building Brand Fans

Locked out of the bathroom where my sister is layering on makeup, her friend and I are bonding by blasting Youtube videos on my Mac: “The Coastie Song” (238,000 views), “The Sconnie Song” (94,000 views), “Minnesota Gurls” (1,828,000), “Teach Me How to Bucky” (1,822,000 views). We assert “bubblers” are a very natural thing to call a drinking fountain, and roll our eyes at those “‘Sotans” who just don’t get it…I mean, duck, duck, grey goose? That’s just plain wrong.

The episode reminds me of my summer in New York as a PR intern, hopping to networking hours looking for opportunities and my Sex and The City fourpack. At one event I met a girl who had studied at UW Madison and found myself bonding over the disheartening lack of batterfried cheese on the island, or 6+ blond men with haythrowing shoulders. We inevitably made a pilgrimage to Mad River, the Upper East Side oasis for the wasting waistlines of Badger alumni holding onto that experience that had bound them all: Buckying in the bleachers as they cheered on the best of the Big 10.

Outsiders speak of “fans” or “cults”, as in the Cult of Mac, but marketing insiders understand one of the most powerful branding motivations is the desire to belong. Whenever we meet someone new we are looking for commonalities which will allow us to build a bond. Without these, instinct says the outsider is “competition”, for resources, mates, space, the spotlight. If we find those commonalities however, we recognize them as part of our pack. This can as simple as a shared experience.

I’ve used this example before, a reference to the Mad Men Kodak scene, where character Draper describes the “potency of nostagia”, a “reminder of a place we ache to return”. Recently, beer companies have been moving away from the funny, booby, wacky ads towards experiential ads. These ads showcase the great times friends are having together and add in the beer almost subtly, as if to say “Just a reminder, our beer was there too.” The brand becomes part of the pack.

Another example are the 4G phone commercials showing moments captured and shared through instant downloads. Scenes include stealing the other football teams mascot, buying a cake for a coworker who just announced they were leaving and a flashmob. They take fun, real experiences from life and make the product a participant in the experience. The viewer connects the goodtime feelings with the brand.

Eat Cheese or Die was almost the slogan for Wisconsin. The “Dairy State”, or “Land of Lakes” was once “America’s Bread Basket”, an agricultural state which had been leveled of trees by immigrant farmers and turned into fields of wheat. Later the uneven land was filled with dairy farms and a council was put together to “rebrand” with a catchy slogan which would convey the state’s value add.

Needless to say, “Eat Cheese or Die” was not chosen to represent the state’s brand. Somehow the council didn’t think the image of the goodhearted Midwestern dairy farmer using Old World cheese making artisanry would appeal to national consumers under duress. Sitting on a barstool on the Upper East Side of Manhattan however, I have no doubt there are a few red and white-blooded top business school grads who would raise a Honey Kugel to their brand “Eat Cheese or Die”.

How Scientists Are Using the Social Web

This was originally created for the blog associated with my community of 65,000 scientists. Posted on October 16, 2011.

Is there anyone out there more skeptical than a scientist? The ultimate spectator, the fly on the wall, seen, not heard, the most perfect life scientist notes every aspect of their subject matter, evaluates every angle, and effects nothing. A perfect experiment has absolute “control” over each variable. A perfect biologist enters an environment and leaves an ecosystem, like a perfect camper, exactly how they found it.

But what about the social web? How does the stereotypical cloistered academic or “mad” inventor deal with the social web, where information is bouncing around at a million milliseconds unverified, and interactions are unavoidable?

Here are some of the things I’ve heard these strange creatures discussing as I observe them in our community, The Science Advisory Board:

Scientists are very skeptical of Twitter, but they are on it, they are using it, and they are following the @ScienceAdvBoard! They listen more than they tweet, like to share and retweet science news, and discuss their interests outside of science.

Scientists are much more open to being on LinkedIn. They see it as a Rolodex for their colleagues, especially those who move around a lot. They aren’t very active about posting or checking it, as they would be with Twitter, but they do occasionally read email notifications. They will join a LinkedIn group, and they will find colleagues there, but they need to be asked.

There is an interesting cultural divide with the US and the rest of the world with respect to Facebook. US scientists are more skeptical of Facebook, while international scientists seem more willing to use Facebook to meet other scientists. They are also eager about using LinkedIn, but the same as US there. Facebook needs to be entertaining, and more sensational with stories because it is an informal community. Facebook allows connections with scientists on a personal level, so they often share their interests aside from their research interests.

This is built with the same software as Wikipedia, but each article is attributed to an author who is an expert in their field. This gives more credibility to Scholarpedia with the scientific community. Scientists are very skeptical about crowdsourced information because they know the truth is the crowd is often wrong. (Galileo ring a bell?) Scholarpedia still uses the power of crowdsourcing because people can submit edits to articles which are approved by the article moderator. This allows another principle of science, debate!

This is a video site alternative to Youtube, which scientists seem to prefer. The videos are typically better quality and the channels are more targeted. It’s easier to search videos by topic with less “junk” than on Youtube. Videos are more educational and scientists like to upload their own videos.

I hear this one from scientists a lot. Mendeley allows you to organize your papers you’re using for research, and to collaborate other researchers. You keep everything in PDFs and can use them across different media, (like your iPad, laptop, desktop, tablet). It automatically organizes your papers, and allows you to create groups to share the papers. You can also meet other researchers via their global groups.

“Since 2000, PLoS’s mission has been to make ‘the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.’”
One of the topics that scientists are always bringing up about the web is publications. Most long-standing publications are expensive to submit and to gain access to articles, which is completely against the principle of science, sharing information! The money and exclusivity ensures continued publications, quality standards and recognition for great discoveries, but scientists are becoming more interested in sites like PLoS to share articles and research subjects.

Faculty of 1,000
Allows peer-reviewing, making it one of the most active open-access platforms. Scientists rank articles and journals too. Scientists using these platforms believe it’s an alternative to citation rankings. The “faculty” is really 1,000 scientists around the world who act as editors of the site. They were chosen by the members and serve in their expert areas and select articles in the same way regular journals do.

An alternative to Mendeley, without the social networking angle. Scientists highly recommend this, but it doesn’t have the same collaborative capabilities and capability for discovery.



This is one of the coolest protocol sources on the web because it’s all user submitted. You can submit it in different formats too, like video. The Science Advisory Board has a relationship with JOVE, the video protocol submission site, however they charge a large amount for their video submissions and usually shoot the video themselves. Anyone can upload videos to Protocolpedia, but the site has moderators of course. Scientists like Protocolpedia and our own protocol resource database because these are being done by scientists who are constantly of creative ways to do experiments better. It’s easier to find protocols that are fresh, relevant, and very specific to a given technique.

Pitching: Let Me Teach You Mind Control

I have over ten years of marketing experience. I’ve worked on Fortune 500 brands. I’m acquainted with some of the biggest names in digital. I’ve successfully helped win corporate accounts, both international and US. I have an idea which will solve all your public relations problems, and increase your brand awareness across the web.

Do you believe me?

What’s the idea, you ask? I have no idea. I have no idea who you are, feeders on my digital bytes. What your problem is, what strategies you require, what drove you to seek my tips and poetic imagery…but some day I might. Some day we may be seated across from one another, as I was many a time over the years, and I will look you deep in the eyes, and I will try to sell you on something which you may or may not believe in, yet, but by the slick trick of my tongue, you will just eat up.

Pitching is an art. It must be done in a pinstripe suit, or a jacket paired with designer jeans and Chucks, smooth, calculated, timed like an actor, director and scriptwriter all in one. After all, that’s how Don Draper does it right?

The “Ad Man” character seems to embody everyone’s worst faults, biggest aspirations, and most socially unacceptable traits. His blatant contempt for stupid coworkers or clients, half-despicable, half-pitiable womanizing, commitmentphobia, shady past, probable alcoholism, and occasional bouts of borderline depressed soul searching, followed by anti-business behavior should make him an agency’s worst nightmare.

But then he does his Don Draper thing. In an instant we’re pulled in, like a warm wave, carrying us away from dry land to fantasy land. How does he do it? In the video above he uses emotions, his actual family pictures to pull you in. In other instances his lackey, an unattractive Brooklyn upstart, takes center stage as she is more able to relate on women’s products. To feel them.

Now for the Science.

I love science. I tell people I took a second major in biochem because business was “too easy”, but that’s just a hyperbole I use to make myself sound…conceited. Actually I love science with a dandelion rooted passion that stuck its tentacles in to me at a very early age. If I have any Don Draper in me, may I make you love it too.

Mirror Neurons – Watch. Now. I mean it.

If you didn’t watch it, you can stop reading and head to b&l&.

If you did watch it, congratulations, you have just joined the rest of TED who knows what a mirror neuron is! You understand how this applies to commercials and Don Draper, but how does it apply to the emotions in believing a pitch?

I was recently at an Edelman networking even and shocking enough, I was not there to get a job at Edelman. (Although if say called me up tomorrow and offered, well what’s a girl to do?) I was there to rub shoulders, check out the crowd, see who are always these DC digitalists in person. And they had great cupcakes.

There was one guy who ROCKED that room. One pretty good-looking, overly excited kid in jeans and a backpack. He bounced from cluster to cluster, shamelessly, like an energetic, optimistic metal ball in an arcade game, shooting off the slightly jaded, aloof groups of – I’m just going to say it – yuppies, rubbing their eyes as they awakened from a long day, and a bad economy. His business cards shot out as his audience laughed and half-earnestly admired him.

Someone put a hilarious blog saying being a hipster is actually a desire to be a Minnesotan. Besides the love for plaid, the article claimed hipsters love things which are “more real”. We want to believe in something. We want to be a part of something, to be overtaken by an emotion whether its self-gratification, fulfillment or simply “The Dream”. I have no doubt the yuppies this boy was entertaining were truly jealous they did not have that sense of purpose. But luckily, they could buy it.

Today, GroupOn IPOed for A Ridiculous Lot of Money

We’re all a little horrified how much these startups keep going for. I keep waiting for “Bubble” to start trending but maybe it does every day so Twitter has had to silence it. Why do people keep investing in these sketchy business plans we wonder? When Color, the phone picture app, IPOed, one of silly PR men I know sent me their “pitch deck”. I was a job candidate for him, and read it quite seriously thinking this was case study. The spoof deck was hilarious, mocking, hipsterish, and not entirely unsellable.

It’s not your powerpoint that sells the pitch. It may be your financial sheets, it may be the accounting you painstakingly did, the costs you actually researched and referenced, but it is not the color of your deck that sells the idea. It’s your faith in it.

I Only Cry on Stage

Once upon a time I was an intern after having spent a year as a marketing coordinator for an ad agency. (Tip: Going backwards is not a good idea!) I was very annoyed at not doing “real” work. My team was at their rope’s end on some project ideas, and two group members were trotting off to run ideas by yet another potential nay-sayer. I “tagged” along under the premise I was just going to take notes.

As we were sitting in the “pitch”, the two very bright, very pretty girls clammed up. They saw the doubt in their audience’s face, and started to feel it, that mirrored feeling. They questioned their own words. Then they turned to me, next up is my idea. Do I want to explain it?

It was a science idea. Là, témoignez-vous mon feu. I stepped my audience through the logic, and mapped out the idea with my hands, (I move my hands a lot when I talk, a genetic gift from my mother). Accepted. I gave another idea we’d only briefly chatted on. Potential. I was eating this up. I threw out my own idea I had only mentioned to the group once. Potential. I left the meeting elated. We walked around the bend…

And one of the girls, cool under all pressure, burst into tears. She was so emotionally wrecked by the setbacks of the ideas which hadn’t made it, it literally was breaking her. The irony was her own doubt in her ideas was what set her back, while at the same time her emotional attachment to having them validated was hurting her. She had lost the power in her pitch.

They say in medicine you should never become attached to your patients. You cannot let the emotional burden of potentially losing a patient cloud your judgment. You must have complete faith in your diagnosis, while remaining emotionally ambivalent if you are wrong. In pitching, you must draw a line, knowing without a shadow of a doubt your idea is the best, the one that will make the client believe…yet feeling, if they hate it, tant pis. (A pity for them.)

That’s the power of Don Draper, and that’s the power of mirror neurons. Mind control.

Do you believe me? There are a lot of things, and ah-hem a few someone’s, I would have if I actually had mind control, so please take this title and the reference as the linkbait it was intented to be. Bisous.

Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging

Sketch: “Sloth” by Jheronimus Bosch

Someone once taught me in a long-ago college prep course the brain is hardwired to remember things in sevens. It is also Lent afterall…so we will enjoy a seven minute post (with absolutely no guarantees) to get you into the Kingdom of Bloggers Heaven:

1. Sloth
Lazy bloggers beware! When you first start blogging you need at least 2, guaranteed posts, a week to get on the Google radar. Laziness will result in an abandoned blog. I led with sloth as per the sketch, and because I am from the Midwest where sloth is still the deadliest sin.

2. Lust
As Ogilvy put it, “In advertising, sex sells. But only if you’re selling sex.” Meaning being sexy writing may work in Cosmo, but in your blog focus on what you want your reader to “buy”. In my case: My skills (not me). My blog is about showing off that I’m digitally savvy. (It worked too!)

3. Greed
“WANT MORE FOLLOWERS?” “EARN MONEY BLOGGING!” “WRITERS WANTED!” We hate them, they stalk us on Twitter, they fill up our email quotas. (Email boxes used to have quotas.) Don’t buy into gimmicks or awful auto-follow or auto-DMs. Build with integrity.

4. Anger
“Don’t blog angry,” was advice from one of my Twitter mentors, Alan Berkson. On the internet things never die, and most likely, whatever angry things you say especially about people will only reflect poorly on you. If you have negative opinions, (we all do), express them after you’ve calmed down and with clear, rational facts. Charm doesn’t hurt either.

5. Jealousy
Brian Solis has a billion readers. (Ok maybe like a million? 2,300 sites linking in.) I’m not going to reach his Technorati ranking anytime soon, nor am I probably going to rank on Technorati. It doesn’t bother me. As my career counselor put it, there’s a sphere of what you can control, ie, your writing, your pics, your SEO, and then there’s what you can’t control: Someone else’s writing, someone else’s followers, someone else’s connections. Focus on you.

6. Ego
The guy who we will basically call “Brian Solis’s mentor”, said to me about him that he “never lets it go to his head”. Well there may have a been a few moments…but that’s the separation line between someone who is relatable and likeable and…#Winning.

7. Gluttony
Yum yum yum. Overposting on a blog isn’t as much of a problem as overtweeting, which results in follower loss. In fact, I believe it was Jeremiah Owyang who noted that the people with the highest ranking on Klout have the lowest engagement. Sad. I would say avoid trying to write about everything though. Again, write what you know.

Or as I tell my bloggers for my company, write what you feel passionate about!

I’ll write on SMO, social media optimization, my next post. Now I’m employed as a “Community Strategist”, a title I was allowed to create for myself haha, I’ll be able to write more about the trials and tribulations of recruiting and managing a large online community.
I hope as I learn, people who find this blog will learn.

AOL Buys HuffPost: SMO Just Got Messier (III)

First of all massive amendment to this post, which I serendipitously wrote Saturday: AOL has bought the Huffington Post for $315 million, and wants to become a community blogging site. This means the entire social idea is thrown wide open as AOL is indeed in the running again to be the ultimate social portal, up against Google, Facebook, Rockmelt, Hootsuite…damn I love a good fight.

It’s about the fight for our desktops. As Google’s Chromium how-to video demonstrates, the browsers are becoming our main use for our computers, when even word processing and photo edits happen online. The browser also defines your homepage, especially when it’s social. With social aggregator/browsers like Rockmelt, Flock and Hootsuite, your social media is the first “site” you visit, and the browser and networks you link into define your experience, just as Safari does Apple and AOL attempted with content creation (farming) and Lifestream.*

AOL Home Page

So what happens when we go back to the internet infancy of AOL? Well traditional banner ads have been replaced by obnoxious flash ads which blow up across your browser. They are supposed to be more dynamic and entertaining: No. AIM is the central social networking platform still which means your friends need to be using it. The search browser is mostly abandoned and no respectable SEOer targets AOL. (Google, Bing, Yahoo, in that order.) The page is filled with content AOL wants you to click on when you open the browser to take you to pages with ads targeting that content. Example “Best SUVs 2011” with an ad for Ford Tahoe.

One thing AOL did seem to get right was their radio. It’s like Pandora but with related articles on music. I have to say I have a friend who does this, so I may be biast…but then I haven’t really listened to it in months. While I love integrating music with anything, (yeah MySpace), the sharing posts the station to your social networks, not the individual song so you still need Blip or Grooveshark to post song links to Twitter.

AOL did try a more integrated social model: Lifestream is a social aggregator which AOL was repping at internet week.

Lifestream supposedly took the AIM experience and integrated it with photo-sharing and other social networks. AIM is really past it’s prime with Windows being used as a chat at many corporations and MSN in China, the separate chat is a saturated market. Instead LinkedIn, Yahoo, GChat, Twitter and Facebook contacts are dominating because they have built in contact lists which go beyond quirky screen names. AOL tried to work backwards, creating the social aggregator before they had the contact list. AOL usually has the right idea, wrong execution.

Thanks to RSS feeds and bookmarking integrated into the browser, everything about who you are, what you like and what you get to see is fed back to the company. It has huge implications for ad dollars based on site traffic, but it also has broader implications for every social sharing and real content generator which appears in your feed; And every company who wishes to appear there.

For example, see how advertising versus Foursquare appears on Rockmelt, Flock and a traditional search homepage:

Rockmelt with a Facebook Stream

In the righthand on Rockmelt you can see the various feeds there are to choose from: News, blogs, Facebook, Twitter. When you click on them a feed opens up. Since you never ever have to go to the Facebook homepage (except to look at pictures, etc), you are never subjected to ads. This means the “Likes” and “Check-ins” are the only advertising these networks or the browser pushes to you. In addition, these are “endorsements” from your connections: People you trust.

Flock Playing Pandora with a Twitter Stream

The stream looks similar on Flock, but the chat isn’t there in the lefthand. Unlike Rockmelt, there’s no pop-up window if you click on someone’s stream, but individual messages like email can be sent when you click on a connection’s picture. There are again no ads because you don’t have to go to the social network page to see someone’s info. This means “Likes” and “Check-ins” are again the only endorsements you see. What makes Flock preferable for me is it has LinkedIn and options to display only “Facebook photos” or “Twitter Mentions” in your feed, mixing the two into one priority feed. You can also specialize feeds by “best friends”.

So why a blogging platform? Five reasons off the top of my head:
1. Content creation to keep people coming to the site, and hopefully make AOL your homepage.
2. Another revenue stream for AOL’s advertising business.
3. Other search engines will redirect traffic from searches to AOL sites now: They own TechCrunch and a couple others.
4. Another datasource as HuffPost requires log-ins to post comments on their site.
5. Arianna Huffington herself: She’s the queen of getting traffic to a site, even though Huffington Post articles push the “journalism” label, and pander, her ability to give the people what they want is more valuable, (I think), to AOL than the site itself. She might be what it takes to make AOL relevant again.