The Numbers Behind Facebook’s “Like” Button

Social Mediaon September 30th, 2010Comments Off on The Numbers Behind Facebook’s “Like” Button

Simple shot of how the new Facebook "Like" button functionsFacebook yesterday posted an analysis of “likers,” those who click the like button on sites using Facebook Friend Connect.  This story and Justin Osofsky’s Scrib’d presentation to which it was linked, provided some interesting insights.

When the “Like” button is used on an article, that story is added to Facebook’s search database; it is posted to the user’s profile and it is published to a user’s friends, creating three potential avenues for the story to be found by others.

It’s not surprising then, that adding “Like” has substantially increased both usage and engagement on certain sites.  News sites like Gawker have seen about a 200% increase in traffic; has experienced 2.2x more job searches and users have read 92% more articles. Sites that place friend’s faces next to the “Like” button have a much higher rate of like button usage than those that do not.

Facebook also provided some interesting numbers on “Likers.”  The average Facebook user has 130 friends, but people who use the “like” button have more than 2x more friends.  They are also over 5x more likely to browse external content.  News readers who use the “like” button have a median age about twenty years younger than the average newspaper reader, or 34 and 54. respectively.

Facebook also published guidelines on which kinds of stories increase engagement.  On the top of their list were “touching, emotional stories,” for example “fireman adopts girl orphaned in home fire…” and “passionate provocative debates,” for example, “is it time to ban vuvuzuvas?” Both of these types of stories increased engagement by over 2x.

Other recommendations for publishers included: placing the activity plugin above the fold and on multiple pages, using livestream for live events, creating pages on current events, using search API for visualizations that increase engagement.  Additional useful recommendations were given to journalists for using Facebook more effectively.

These statistics and guidelines should be quite useful for those seeking to maximize traffic on their sites.

Where’s the “Product” in “Social Media?”

Social Mediaon May 2nd, 2010Comments Off on Where’s the “Product” in “Social Media?”

XTREME_small.jpgLately it seems like “Social Media” has become “Social Marketing.” Do a Google search on “Social Media” and many of the links lead to marketing related information. Also, I don’t know about you but a sizable number of  business Twitter users seem to be pushing social media marketing. But there are many dimensions to social media. It is, after all, merely a collection of online interactive publishing and interpersonal connection capabilities that can be used for many purposes, including customer care, product development, non-marketing communications…the list goes on. Even if one does focus on the marketing aspects of social media, where and when are the discussions on product strategy occurring? If a key approach for social media communications is being authentic, how does one market a bad product using social media? Do you honestly reveal the shortcomings of your product? To market a product authentically and effectively, does the social media strategy planning need to begin with how to engineer great products, followed by how to market them socially in an effective manner? The answer to both of these questions should be “yes.” To frame this simply, think there is a chain of trust that exists that includes product, users/referrers for the product and purchasing decision-makers. If word of mouth marketing results in a sale to a purchaser who is not subsequently happy with the purchase, the chain of trust is broken. And that break might occur with a poor product or a poor word of mouth referral that doesn’t accurately address the needs of the purchaser. What do you think?

Free State Social

Social Mediaon April 23rd, 2010Comments Off on Free State Social

We only have three words for you “Free State Social.” Yup, from nowhere to one of the pre-eminent social media conferences in the midwest. If you aren’t going, you should be. At the very least join the Free State Social TweetUp in downtown Lawrence, Kansas, listed as a Gowalla Trip on the evening of May 29. The list of attendees for this meeting is amazing. The speakers are among some of the most influential in social media circles today. I’m betting there are going to be some scintillating conversations before, during and after the sessions.

Here’s what the meeting will be covering:

•Customer service
•Personal branding
•Blogger outreach
•News coverage
•Location-based social networking
•Future of social media

Chris Brogan has said (from the Free State Social website): “The good stuff is happening in the heart of America. It’s not just New York and LA that know what media can do for business. Lawrence is yet another hotspot of inventive, entrepreneurial spirits who see the new Web as a business tool par excellence.”

We’re going to be there. We hope we see you there too!

Social Media and Natural Disaster Communication & Relief

Social Media, Tools, Twitteron January 18th, 20101 Comment

The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12 has again highlighted the increasing role of social media channels in major emergencies.  Like the 2009 earthquake in China or the Southern California wildfires, information on Haiti is being disseminated through Twitter and Facebook, among other new media sources.  In many ways these aren’t channels that replace traditional methods of communication.  Rather think about them as channels that can be used to transmit information directly from those who are experiencing the catastrophe in real time, to those who can do things to help in real time, without editing or delay.  In addition many traditional news organizations like The New York and National Public Radio also use Twitter to publicize their usual news stories and provide up-to-date information.

Lisa Qualls, LightThread’s chief development officer and current president of social media club, Kansas City, was recently interviewed by Action News on the topic.

These new channels have advantages and disadvantages.  The information that is sent is fast and real-time. Because it is unfiltered it can also be misleading and incomplete.  Balancing traditional and social information sources provides the best comprehensive approach whether one is mobilizing help, sending information to sources of aid, or simply keeping up to date on what is happening somewhere.

Besides communication social media is also being used to raise funds for disaster relief.  Celebrities are using social media to publicize their giving efforts and Wyclef Jean’s use of Twitter through his Yele Foundation has been widely publicized.  More traditional disaster relief organizations offering the ability to share their messages of giving through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and texting are also relatively new.  Two examples of the latter include mGive and The Mobile Giving Foundation which are both communicating and facilitating contributions to the Red Cross for Haiti disaster relief.

Although convenient, these methods are sometimes not as quick as they seem, nor as easy.  For example, the Salvation Army found that although they had received $50,000 for Haiti Relief from Canadian citizens by Thursday, two days after the disaster, three times the amount was originally sent to them through text messages, but only a third of those texting confirmed the donation with the required follow up texts; also, the process for depositing the money in Red Cross bank accounts can take up to 90 days.

A final concern associated with the newness and rapidity of social media effected contributions to disaster relief is its use by the unscrupulous to run disaster relief scams.  The following tips have been offered by the FBI to assist consumers in detecting Haiti disaster relief scams:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • What you need to know BEFORE creating a Social Media Strategy

    Business Strategy, Social Media, Uncategorizedon January 6th, 20103 Comments

    We are preparing to meet with a potential new client who happens to be in the franchise business.  They are evaluating overhauling their brand to address some PR challenges they have faced the past year. Before we can help them, we need to learn more about them. In order to brainstorm social media strategy options, we need to establish a baseline of performance, process, and expectations.

    We put together the following agenda list for our first meeting together. If you are thinking about creating a social media strategy, you may want to consider answering these questions first. Please keep in mind this list was created for a company who is recruiting franchises so if this is not applicable to you then please replace “franchise” with “customer.”  Also, the list was created for a specific client in mind, depending on certain factors the questions may be altered. If you’re not sure what to do once you have your answers, then please give us a call, we would love to help you!

    1.  Messaging

    b. What is the brand identity they want created?
    c. When people hear your company, what do they want those people to think?
    d. Is their primary purpose to recruit new franchises, engage with existing franchises or make the general public aware of the company services?
    2. Resource availability
    a. What resources are used today for marketing and customer/franchise service?
    b. Do they have a resource available to write blog posts, update facebook (I saw that there last update was in November), comment on forums?
    c. Do their resources fully understand the online landscape? Are they aware of how to identify, engage and manage top influencers?
    d. Do they have the tools and metrics available to monitor and measure progress?
    3. Customer engagement
    a. How do they address customer/franchise service today? Do they have an 800 number? Email?
    b. Are they prepared to appropriately engage with negative sentiment?
    c. Do they have a process to respond digitally to requests/comments?
    d. What is their expectation regarding timely responses?
    4. Marketing
    a. What marketing are they doing today?
    b. Are they participating in online marketing such as Pay Per Click, Banner Ads, Facebook ads, etc?
    c. What marketing support do they provide to Franchises?
    d. Do they offer promotions/discounts/contests? If so, how often?
    e. Do they sponsor anything?
    5. Franchise Recruitment/Support
    a. Do they include online marketing as part of the marketing support to Franchises?
    b. Do they offer a specific site/resource portal/discussion board for Franchises?
    c. How are they targeting/recruiting Franchises?

    d. How often do they pro-actively check-in with Franchises? Messaging:

    1. Messaging

    • What is the message you are trying to convey?
    • What is the brand identity you want created? What are your brand attributes?
    • When people hear (your company name), what do you want those people to think?
    • Is your primary purpose to recruit new franchises, engage with existing franchises or make the general public aware of the company services?

    2.  Resource availability

    • What resources are used today for marketing and customer/franchise service?
    • Do you have a resource(s) available to write blog posts, update facebook (I saw that there last update was in November), comment on forums?
    • Do you resources fully understand the online landscape? Are they aware of how to identify, engage and manage top influencers?
    • Do you have the tools and metrics available to monitor and measure progress?

    3. Customer engagement

    • How do you address customer/franchise service today? Do you have an 800 number? Email?
    • Are you prepared to appropriately engage with negative sentiment?
    • Do you have a process to respond digitally to requests/comments?
    • What is your expectation regarding timely responses?

    4. Marketing

    • What marketing are you doing today?
    • What is your marketing mix?
    • Are you participating in online marketing such as Pay Per Click, Banner Ads, Facebook ads, etc?
    • What marketing support do you provide to Franchises?
    • Do you offer promotions/discounts/contests? If so, how often?
    • Do you sponsor anything?

    5. Franchise/Recruitment Support

    • Do you include online marketing as part of the marketing support to Franchises?
    • Do you offer a specific site/resource portal/discussion board for Franchises?
    • How are you targeting/recruiting Franchises?
    • How often do you pro-actively check-in with Franchises?

    We hope this helps give you a jump start to considering how you can adopt social media in to your business model. As always feel free to give us a call if you want to learn more.


    Simon Kuo, LightThread CEO, to Speak at Highlight Midwest

    Social Mediaon October 13th, 2009Comments Off on Simon Kuo, LightThread CEO, to Speak at Highlight Midwest

    (Kansas City, Missouri) – Entrepreneurship, networking and the opportunity to collaborate will be three areas of focus for the second annual Highlight Midwest, scheduled for October 23, 2009 in Des Moines, Iowa. Over 200 participants are expected for the conference. Drawing from the four states of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, this barcamp-themed meeting will feature some of the most innovative companies in the midwest demonstrating new applications and talking about technology and startups outside of the east and west coasts. Simon Kuo, Ph.D., CEO of LightThread, LLC, a Kansas City-Crossroads area strategy, social media and web development company is scheduled to deliver one of three keynote addresses at the conference.

    “This meeting is one of the best I’ve attended as far as meeting other entrepreneurs in a setting that encourages future collaboration.” said Dr. Kuo, “When starting a new business one of your greatest assets will be the partnerships you create with similarly-minded people. I really valued the ideas that were generated from last year’s sessions and I’m looking forward to this year’s event.”

    Other companies featured in the day long conference include Dwolla, a web application that allows users to send and receive money, graffititracker, a system to track graffiti for law enforcement and whatthehashtag, the online wiki for Twitter hashtags. Mike Draper, a longtime Iowa-based small business and startup advocate will be another featured speaker.

    About LightThread – LightThread, LLC, established in 2008, is a next generation strategy, interactive services and web development firm specializing in optimizing business performance and brand. Through the use of strategy, social media, technology and integrated marketing development, LightThread assists businesses in reaching the next level. For more information about LightThread, LLC please visit:

    Contact: Lisa Qualls (816) 298-9913. email:


    Social Media for Business

    Business Strategy, Social Media, Twitteron May 23rd, 20096 Comments

    Though social media is often thought of as entertainment, a way to keep track of friends and family or as a medium used most frequently by those under 25, there are many business applications for it.

    Social media includes any web site that supports social interaction like user participation or user-generated content. This includes sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Yelp, Digg, Twitter and many others. Using these sites allows businesses to interact with customers in their own domain. For a customer, this is a more natural, less intimidating way to have a conversation with a company.

    The fastest growing demographic on sites like Facebook are those over the age of 35. According to iStrategyLabs, in the six months ending in January 2009 the number of people using Facebook between the ages of 35 and 54 increased 276%.

    Here are some of the advantages of using social media for business:

    Social media is a good way to promote your business, whether it is large or small, during difficult economic times
    • Most social media sites are free to use or very inexpensive. They cost less than traditional marketing or advertising, and unlike television or radio commercials or even print ads, content for social media sites can be created without the assistance of an ad agency. According to Jacob Morgan, co-founder of Mighty Mouth Media, a social media campaign can cost a fraction of what traditional advertising costs.
    • It’s fast and accessible – social media is Internet based, can be updated rapidly, and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    • Large audiences already exist for YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and therefore social media market reach is much wider than local advertising
    • Studies have shown that social media is more effective than traditional advertising. According to a Forrester study, Proctor & Gamble found that their community for adolescent girls was 4 times more effective than television advertising for their products.
    • Social media can help your business to connect with potential customers, for example, a local photographer who put his portfolio on his Facebook page gets most of his business from people looking at his work there.  Since there are large communities on Facebook and MySpace already, they can be very effective channels for promotions as well as a good way to interact with customers outside of a business transaction.

    It’s a great way to find useful information and connect with business resources

    • There are many examples of businesses using Twitter or other social media to connect to people who have the expertise they lack. Answers can be rapidly obtained and connections made. For example recently I received this message on Twitter:

    “Twitter friend @mistersterling needs real estate agent who knows Lee’s Summit area.”

    A California-based real estate broker needed to find a Realtor in the Kansas City area who knew Lees Summit. Within a few hours, I had connected him with some friends on Facebook who are in the real estate business. These kinds of interactions happen every day on Twitter.
    • On LinkedIn, the online work profile and resume site, people can create groups focused on special topics like entrepreneurship or job hunting, ask questions of these networks and use them to organize events, among other things.

    It’s an excellent way to monitor how your business is doing.
    • Twitter can be used to check customer sentiment. Well known examples include companies like Comcast which looks for bad customer experiences using Twitter and solves customer problems.
    • Social media monitoring tools like Spiral16’s Spark platform or Infegy’s Social Radar, are available to enable a business to monitor customer sentiment through “chatter” on social media sites and blogs.
    • Rather than simply reacting (oftentimes much too late to change perception) when the feedback that a customer has had a bad experience finally reaches you through word-of-mouth, a business can proactively manage its reputation interacting directly with customers; this allows you to fix a bad customer experience before it is virally spread everywhere.

    Social media is a good way to differentiate your business
    • Traditional marketing is about “positioning,” and many people have grown to distrust it because they consider it a company, rather than customer perspective.
    • On the other hand, the key to successfully using social media is to be yourself. The more authentic you are the more customers will trust you. The more they trust you the more they will recommend you.  Third party recommendations are a powerful way to attract new customers.
    • As companies develop reputations for not being in tune with customers, the ones who use social media reap large rewards:
    • President Barack Obama has been credited with a very skillful use of social media during his election campaign. He has over six million fans on Facebook, more than anyone else and was active on Twitter during his campaign.
    • Zappos has a very loyal customer base. CEO Tony Hsieh’s amiable style and personal response to customer problems on Twitter has made it one of the most successful dotcom companies with an enviable reputation with customers.
    • Whole Foods considers it’s broad use of social media sites like Twitter, Flickr and Facebook a key part of it’s marketing strategy. They have increased the buzz about the company, helped create a positive feedback loop and made customers more aware of its passion for community involvement.

    For individuals, especially ones who have been laid off, social media can help increase the size your personal network, connect with companies that are hiring and find new jobs.
    • Placement agencies will tell you that most people who are laid-off from jobs find new ones using their personal networks, rather than though blindly sending resumes in response to job postings.
    • Business social media sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo enable people to post information about job history, form groups that are focused on specific industries or professions and ask questions to people who might be able to assist with a job search.
    • There are many companies, including executive recruiters who routinely look for people with certain skillsets by first messaging their Twitter or LinkedIn networks.

    What are some of the barriers to companies using social media effectively?
    • Many companies still don’t have a social media strategy today. Conversations about your company will occur whether you have a strategy or not. However, you have the option to either participate in these conversations or to not participate. Not participating means you aren’t managing your reputation during those conversations.
    • Social media is different than traditional advertising and marketing so companies have to change their thinking about it to use it effectively. Many companies still believe in tightly controlling their communications, including identifying precisely who can represent the company and what can or cannot be said by a company representative. Social media is most effective when company representatives are allowed to be themselves. Avoid using social media as a channel for traditional “positioning” marketing messages. People see through blatant self-promotion on sites like Facebook and Twitter and don’t like it. Be authentic. Don’t be afraid of interacting with customers at their level.
    • Not having defined policies around social media use or prohibiting it entirely.  Rather than barring any use, it is much more effective to define the rules around the use of social media, accept that there needs to be some freedom associated with this method of communicating with customers and enabling employees to work within them.
    • Not ensuring that there are clear metrics associated with social media campaigns. Since social media is all about engagement, there are many cases where it is easier to measure success than with a traditional ad. Engagement is directly connected to behavior and is more relevant to a specific outcome than traditional advertising’s more passive activities like watching or reading an ad. Failure to establish success metrics will compromise the effectiveness of social media efforts.

    For More Information
    • Please e-mail us at: or call us at 816-298-9913.

    Big Fun, Big Crowds at Big Omaha

    Social Media, Technologyon May 13th, 20096 Comments

    Omaha, Nebraska is a dynamic city that is really embracing its startup community.  So, I was looking forward to Big Omaha, the first major social media conference held in the heart of the midwest.  Organized by Jeff Slobotski and Dusty Davidson, the one and a half day conference would feature some of the most popular names in social media and technology today.

    The drive from Kansas City to Omaha is a short one and three hours and one hail storm later, we arrived at the lovely Magnolia Hotel in time to check in and freshen up before heading out for the evening. The first event was a mixer hosted by What Cheer and Secret Penguin in their upstairs spot on Webster street in the rehabbed warehouse district. It was a great way to catch up with StartUp Weekend KC friends, Omaha entrepreneurs and social media-ites. We munched on raw vegan appetizers and quaffed beer from the Lucky Bucket brewery as the sun set over the city.

    Whitney Mathews & Elizabeth Parmeter at Slowdown

    Whitney Mathews & Elizabeth Parmeter at Slowdown

    A few hours and many introductions later, everyone began to drift around the corner to Slowdown.  Esquire Magazine’s “Club of the Year” for 2008 was a neat rock club and bar that is a favorite of those who are into the local independent music scene. There we had a chance to sip some of the wines that Gary Vaynerchuk rated later that evening for his broadcast of Wine Library TV. The place was jammed with people and it was fun seeing Gary and the other tech luminaries there.

    Day two of Big Omaha was packed with insightful speakers and all of the sessions were held at KANEKO, a terrific, creative space in the Old Market area of Omaha.  Envisioned and created by internationally acclaimed Omaha artist Jun Kaneko, the building was perfect for a high tech meeting.  The wide open spaces were tagged with clever signs like “I’m a Bathroom” and ones that directed people to the various services that were available, including the lounge, where the wifi coverage seemed to be the best.  Catering to the crowd, the cylindrical ice chests that were scattered about were continuously stocked with three flavors of Redbull and soda.

    Kaneko in Omaha, Nebraska

    Kaneko in Omaha, Nebraska

    We were a little disappointed to learn that WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg had missed his flight and would not be there.   But that quickly dissipated when 37Signals founder Jason Fried began to speak.  Some of the notable comments he made:

    “‘Collaboration’ is another word for ‘interrruption.’ Work days have become ‘work moments with interruptions.’”

    “Don’t see each other.  Have a ‘don’t talk Thursday’” [to be more productive]

    On learning from old business:  “Everything produces byproducts…knowledge is a byproduct…figure out how to sell the stuff you are making each day as you make things while you work.”

    Jason Fried of 37Signals and Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV

    Jason Fried of 37Signals and Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV

    Fried very much advocated learning while doing, and leveraging those things that are produced to achieve greater value for the business.  He spoke of 37Signals’ decision to compile the company’s blog entries into a book and then of their surprised as sales reached half a million dollars in just 6 months.  The company has also had great success in the marketplace with Basecamp, a product that was originally developed for internal use.

    Adriana Gascoigne highlighted the problem of the lack of women in the technology industry.  Only a handful of women are Chief Executives of technology companies despite the fact that almost half of the population are women.  She asked for a show of hands of all of the women in the room who had studied computer science in college and discovered that no one had pursued that major.

    Micah Baldwin of Lijit Networks offered a counterpoint to Jason Fried’s talk when he said  that “failure is a process, not a destination.”  And offered up one of his favorite mottoes:  “Sometimes the best way to learn to duck is to get punched in the face.”

    Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Chief Creative Officer of skinnyCorp

    Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Chief Creative Officer of skinnyCorp

    Jeffrey Kalmikoff of skinnyCorp, known for the Threadless t-shirt design site, moderated a very funny panel session that featured all of the day’s speakers and also spent some time riffing on the value of transparency and having fun at work.  Key takeaway?  “Transparency and accessibility are not the same thing.”

    Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote was a madcap, furious, 45 minutes of pure energy, laden with exclamations like this one on competing:  “I want to crush everyone, I want to beat everyone’s face in, in a positive, business way.”  And his evening message could be summed up:  Do the one thing that you are most passionate about and you will be more successful than you can ever imagine while having the greatest time of your life.

    The early evening wine tasting sponsored by Girls in Tech was held at the very cool Urban Wine Company right across the street from Kaneko Center.  After a very nice dinner with fellow Kansas City Social Media experts Jenn Bailey and Christina Maki and security expert Jim Nemer at Ahmad’s, a Persian restaurant recommended by locals, we headed to the Nomad Lounge, a contemporary dance club also in Old Town Omaha.  This was a great time to catch up with other Big Omaha attendees, mingle and chat with the speakers and generally relax over a cold microbrew after an exciting day of presentations.  A live twitter feed kept everyone current on events.

    On Saturday weary participants met for a Tweet Up at Aroma’s Coffeehouse and Bakery to share weekend stories and to talk about upcoming meetings and meetups.

    Big Omaha was a great event.  It really highlighted the strong community of technology entrepreneurs and compelling companies in the Omaha area and the partnership between the city and it’s tech businesses.  It also reinforced that the social media community, though growing, still predominantly comprises companies that are full of friendly, familiar faces and that all seem to be connected to each other by common tools, philosophies and great events like this one.  We’ll definitely be at next year’s meeting!

    Let’s Marinate the Social Media Sizzle, Shall We?

    Social Mediaon March 19th, 2009Comments Off on Let’s Marinate the Social Media Sizzle, Shall We?

    I appreciate the social media communities’ high expectations. We agree that if you are going to do something then you should do it 100%. However, I wonder if our bar isn’t too high sometimes. I recently read a post about Charles Schwab’s “embarrassing attempt” at social media. I checked out the site and yes it is internally focused and makes attempt to monitor the conversation by having comments sent to their PR department for consideration. You could say they are only testing the waters by just dipping their toe and not fully embracing social media. If you have never worked in a big corporation then you may struggle to understand this approach.

    Why don’t corporations get it?

    When you are a big company with millions customers you analyze every move. You spend lots of money and time with “experts” (many of whom are traditional in their thinking) to decide how you move in the marketplace. Especially in this economy, you are diligent and prudent prior to making any kind of splash as there is no room for costly mistakes. So, you can imagine that getting a company to adopt new practices is like getting a huge ship to turn. Often times, getting a company to just “dip the toe” is a big accomplishment. I speculate this is why we have seen such a slow adoption of social media by companies.

    The social media community hasn’t been that accepting of those dipping their toe (Charles Schwab) or patient with companies that may have made mistakes (Motrin) trying something new. I understand the frustration both on the part of the community and the corporations, however we need to find some middle ground or both sides lose the influence they so desire.

    Why the control?

    The social media community has a disdain for anyone who attempts to control their conversation. The corporation has concerns about losing control of their message since they appreciate the significant risk in doing so. The social media community understands that there is no such thing as message control and have proven time and time again the impact to companies who get caught in the negative viral channel of social networking sites. The corporation senses the need for change and transparency but just like many of us who approve comments on our own blogs to protect us from spam, they want to protect themselves by maintaining some approval control.

    It is one thing to understand what to do and another to take action. An analogy might be that  I want to get in shape but instead of committing to the $1000 treadmill and the room it will take in my bedroom, I’ll challenge myself to work out every day for 30 days before making the purchase. I do this to justify the investment and risk of cluttering my room with something that I may lose interest in a few months. Nothing is black or white and those of us in the social media space have seen where a few key influences can cause a lot of negative feeling when it might not be justified. As various sites become more mainstream this risk only grows. We have also discussed the long-term sustainability of various platforms…what is hot today may not be tomorrow. Trying to prepare contingency plans to minimize the risk is what scares the hell out of corporate America and is why they tend to move slow in to the space. They don’t want to spend big dollars on something that might negatively impact their brand and/or no longer be relevant tomorrow, hence they test by dipping the toe.

    Accelerating adoption and INFLUENCE

    To understand why open conversation is so important to us we must understand the value we get from it. Ultimately, we want to participate, be heard, and matter…we want our voices to mean something and be valued…we want to INFLUENCE. The more opportunity to influence the more power we have to get what it is WE want (almost sounds like control doesn’t it? Ahh, the beauty of irony). The more people/companies that are listening the more opportunity we have to influence. We need to accelerate the companies’ adoption of social media space and not slow it down. I am not saying we shouldn’t be critical and demand better, smarter efforts by companies, we absolutely should…it is our responsibility to do so. I am saying we need to be more mature about it. Triggering an assault on companies that might have taken a mis-step or are moving too slowly isn’t going to help with adoption. Quite the contrary. We need to offer solutions, suggestions to improve, and encouragement by welcoming their efforts vs. slamming the door. Think of it as an opportunity to introduce yourselves and offer quality help.

    Inviting us to email our opinions to the PR department is better than nothing at all and companies who are giving us an opportunity to influence their decisions should be applauded. Let’s give those companies who are trying the benefit of the doubt that they are listening and attempting to practice new ways to engage with us. Those that don’t will begin to lag behind because our money will be spent on what we want anyway and not what they shout at us.

    Before you jump on the next corporate bashing bandwagon think about the very sermon you preach … are you listening? Are you engaging? Are you helping? Or, are you just shouting?