In other words, stop worrying and love the bomb. Yes, I’m quoting Dr. Strangelove for reason (if you haven’t seen it, drop everything and watch it. And thank me later).

We are living in the golden age of the internet though, but perhaps not for long. Granted, the overall amount of freedom we’ve had has changed in the past decade or so – punk 90s kids stand up! – but it is definitely still there. But it might not be for much longer. All of the things that people fear about the web seem to be manifesting themselves in the media and causing new calls for future restrictions that aren’t actually beneficial.

Appreciate it while it lasts – and fight to make sure it stays that way. It just takes a few people to care and amplify their voice in order to make a difference. And today’s web has resulted in a remarkable worldwide freedom of speech

Plenty of people more knowledgeable than me have written about net neutrality, freedom of information, and every other topic related to that. But it is important – nay, essential – to add another voice to the conversation.

Keep in mind that an open internet is about a lot more than you – so post about it, share your opinions, and most importantly, join the conversation.

You have more to lose than you even realize. Freedom of information is about a lot than your ability to download music or movies (cause c’mon we all know that there will be new ways to do that even though torrents and other sources get shut down every day – new ones are always gonna pop up).

But not everyone has access to that kind of technology, or if they do they don’t know how to take advantage of it.

And this is about more than just access to various websites, streaming music or TV shows – it is about the ability to access valuable information that could change yours or someone else’s life.

That’s why it is so important.

 

 

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Is it just me and my opinion, or has blogging become the new reality TV of the digital age?

“I am the entertainer, and I know just where I stand”

While there are plenty of bloggers who write because they love the creative outlet and want to share their thoughts and ideas with their audience, there are also a lot of bloggers who essentially monetize their lifestyle. Can’t say I blame them, but at least they can and should admit how they’ve sold out – and they are now the entertainers.

Occasionally, I feel like a hypocrite because I’m a fashion blogger myself, although it is not a full-time gig, and nor do I want it to be. But I do love to see other people’s style and I most definitely respect fashion as an art form, and I love to put together my own outfits as well. So we as fashion bloggers are collectively the entertainers as well.

And I play music, DJ, draw and paint too – so I truly do understand the artistic side of blogging – so I really do appreciate and love anyone who chooses to share their skills online, whether it is a marketing effort or not (no judgment from my side at at all). In fact, musicians who blog and share their work as well get my utmost respect – even and perhaps especially the ones who discuss how public opinion influences their work.

“Today I am your champion, today I’ve won your hearts”

But perhaps I’ve reached the status of being old school, at least on the internet. I remember when no one knew what blogging even was, and thought it was a stupid waste of time. Now, anyone who starts a blog or even an Instagram account wants to make money from it.

“But I know the game, you’ll forget my name, if I don’t stay on the charts”

It’s a fickle relationship between an artist of any kind and their fans – and yes, I include some but definitely not all bloggers in that category. Which isn’t a slight – some bloggers are journalists or curators – both of which are equally valuable to readers at large.

Which brings me into another idea that requires its own blog post – personally, I respect all types of art and the corresponding creators, even if something isn’t my own taste. And I hope everyone reading does the same.

“You don’t have to bump this, but please respect it”

You don’t have to be into hip hop to understand this Tupac lyric – it applies on all levels. It takes courage to be the creator and to open yourself up to critics. And I’ll just say it – I don’t respect the opinion of anyone who categorically dislikes any type of writing, art, music, or anything else because they don’t understand it or immediately get it. Respect the creator.

*PS. I might be the only person on the internet to quote Tupac and Billy Joel in the same post. Go me.

Because I thought it was fitting to re-launch my blog with a shorter reprise of my earlier “100 Things” posts:

1. I am so pleased that SEO has actually become about creating quality content and providing useful information – especially I started in the days where keyword stuffing actually did work.

2. However, the sheer amount of link-building and SEO-centric content is still disappointing – I know everyone wants to get traffic, pageviews, and therefore those sweet advertising dollars and new client prospects. But don’t sacrifice quality. One original article that tells your story is worth a thousand or more crappy re-spun posts.

3. As much as I would like to pretend I am above the typical internet circle jerk sites that all repeat each others’ content, much of which is sourced from Reddit and other forums (sorry not sorry for the language – see what I did there?), I have some respect for them, and occasionally get sucked in by the catchy titles and funny combinations of gifs.

4. That said, I think Reddit might be one of the most valuable sources for inspiration and market research, especially if you look beyond the front page.

5. The fact that “Wasting Time On The Internet” is an actually Ivy League course will never cease to amuse me.

6. So many blogs and even companies try to copy each others’ marketing formulas – more so than ever. Looking at the “Best In Class” sites (however you define that) can be an inspiration, but it definitely doesn’t equal success.

7. The sheer number of ways to curate your experience and the content you receive amazes me – the web has basically become one big “choose your own adventure” game. But the number of users who take advantage of these is still relatively low – perhaps the amount of options are overwhelming and therefore it leads to mental inertia?

8. Pandora tops the mobile listings in regard to user interaction, and it is probably not that far behind for desktop as well. After all, listening to music is a relatively passive activity compared to posting on social media or similar ways to engage on mobile. We’ve come a long way from the days of Napster (yes, I remember and loved using Napster).

9. So many companies either neglect or make a big deal out of the simple things, like claiming all their listings and brand names on various sites, social media and otherwise. Don’t ignore it but don’t make the process overly complex, either.

10. Content discovery can be one of the most valuable aspects of the web in general, but it seems that the majority of people stick to the sites they know and trust.

11. The democratization of not only knowledge but access as well may be how the internet has truly changed the world. Almost anyone, anywhere can make themselves heard with nothing more than a mobile phone.

12. When you find yourself wishing that you could use emojis or gifs in an actual live conversation with another person, perhaps it is time to step away from technology for a bit. Use your words!

13. That said, a properly deployed meme can sometimes say more than words ever could.

14. This isn’t new, but it is underrated. The ability to reference virtually anything in a conversation or article and link right to the source might be my favorite element of the web – it is essentially real time citations on steroids (sans the academic regulations).

 

Now I”ll open it up to comments – what has changed about the web in the past 10 years for you?

On NBC News in Chicago

September 27, 2011

If you’ve ever wanted to see me on video, here you go. I was recently on NBC’s The Talk with Marion Brooks discussing social media marketing and the launch of Socialogic, a new agency in Chicago (to point out the obvious – I work for them).

Ah, sweet validation from mainstream media.

My post on finding the right social media team members was published in Crain’s Chicago’s Small Biz Blog today.

Six years ago I was a fresh college graduate just getting started in the online marketing world. The average person didn’t know what a blog was, Facebook was restricted to university students in the U.S., and Twitter had yet to be invented. And the web was just starting to be respected and understood by mainstream marketing firms and teams.

Today, bloggers appear in commercials and social media is a key part of the marketing mix for brands both large and small. Finally, some respect! That said, I still see companies struggling with the connectivity, the immediacy, and the transparency of the web, and how it is all integrated into their organization. It’s an interesting problem, and one that I’ll continue to write more about on this blog.

Unrelated and relevant only to fellow Chicagoans – my agency is hosting an event at Social Media Week on social engagement and content creation – RSVP! It will be a great chance to gain some expertise, network with your fellow members of the media, and generally have a fabulous time.

From the Greek philosophical tradition:

Telos: All things have a purpose. Translated as “the purpose” or “the objective”.

Techne: The way this purpose is served, the abilities and actions required to accomplish said purpose. Translated as “the skill”.

Phronesis: The intuitive understanding of what the purpose of something is and why it is so. Usually translated as “practical wisdom”, Aristotle considered it the ability to determine a particular goal, decide how best to achieve it, and completely understand the effect that accomplishing that goal will have on your overall existence.

Applied to interactive marketing:

Telos – page #1 rankings for the long tail

Techne – a creative, well written, consistently updated blog.

Phronesis – a tool to harness the long tail, which is where the conversions are.

Telos – page #1 for competitive keywords

Techne – high quality backlinks

Phronesis – link aquisition done with focus on high quality, high PR, websites.

Telos – word of mouth buzz

Techne – clever video or blog

Phronesis – people talking about you and sharing your content without your direct involvement is one of the most powerful forms of marketing.

Telos – authentic communication with your market

Techne – social media presence

Phronesis – people want to interact with fellow humans online. people buy from people they have relationships with.

Telos – a permission marketing campaign

Techne – useful or entertaining newsletters and a website with a clear opt-in funnel

Phronesis – permission marketing is powerful and effective tool with a high ROI.

Telos – repeat traffic

Techne – constantly updated authority/entertaining/controversial content, consistent marketing message spread throughout the web (PPC/banners)

Phronesis – people who repeatedly visit a website are more likely to convert, so give your users reasons to come back

Telos – a good reputation and a particular image

Techne – PR and media relations

Phronesis – people work with and buy from people and brands they trust

Telos – a website that positively reflects your brand and drives conversions

Techne – a carefully designed, elegant website that makes people feel relaxed, comfortable, and even catered to

Phronesis – the human response to positive visual stimuli will ensure that your users do what you want them to do

Telos – reach a target demographic

Techne – creative banner ads on sites your target audience frequents

Phronesis – your message is communicated to your targets through appearing on places they already go online, and sparking their interest

And so it goes – it can be applied to every aspect of interactive marketing (it can really be applied to all of life if you want to get seriously philosophical). For every element of a campaign, we can determine on an objective(telos), isolate the skill/actions required to accomplish it (techne), and understand how it will benefit and how it fits into the overall campaign (phronesis).

In other news, I am a huge nerd.

As anyone who knows me in real life is well aware, I recently reread The Cluetrain Manifesto, and having read the original when I was in high school ten years ago, I had the advantage of an interesting perspective.  Not only did I get a bachelors and join the working world since then, I work in interactive marketing and often tend to be the person who helps companies board the Cluetrain.  Here are my thoughts, jotted down as I read:

The relationship your customers have with your brand is more important than the relationship you have with your customers.

The feelings and emotions your brand evokes are just as important, if not more important than your actual product.

You can’t control the conversation, and it is stupid to even try.  Instead of trying to hide, be transparent.  Honesty and an authentic desire to enrich and benefit your consumers resonate far more than anything else.

People buy from people.

Instead of PR, do MR – Media relations.  One solid partnership with a journalist or blogger is worth a hundred press releases.

The second you really, truly recognize that it is not about what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for your customers, it all becomes so much easier.

It is not what the website does, it is what the user does.

Your company/brand is boring.  Your people are interesting.

Your customers are not grain and you can’t keep them in a silo.  Give them the freedom to interact, share, remix, and make your content/brand their own and they will reward you.

Anything can be a social object when properly communicated and presented.

Linear thinking will kill you.  Relationship thinking is where it’s at.

First, create something worth talking about.  Then give your audience the tools to make it their own.

We are in the API era.  Chances are someone has already built the technology you need; don’t reinvent the wheel.

The attention economy is dead.  Welcome to the interaction economy.

Minimizing the pain doesn’t make it a kiss.

Once you’re formed a genuine relationship, you’re willing to take less and your customer is willing to give more (Moroccan carpet seller analogy – the more you get to know them and their family the more you want to give, and the more they get to know you and your life the more they want to give you a better deal, since they see you as fellow human and not just a wallet).

Agility and analysis are just as important as research and expertise.

It is damn easy to turn on your user’s BS detectors, and nearly impossible to turn them off.  Build only authentic authority.

All the SEO in the world can’t help you if your content sucks (said it two years ago and got quoted by Doc Searls himself, and it holds even more true today).  In fact, this should really be “all the SEO in the world can’t help you if your content, design, and/or usability suck.”

The web and therefore interactive marketing is fundamentally optimistic.  Go the opposite route at your own peril.

Your customers are online, and they are talking. Full stop.

We’re all so used to the changes the web hath wrought that we don’t even realize it.

Ten years ago no one knew what blogs and SEO were except for the hardcore geeks.

Combining bleeding edge enthusiasm with thoughtful analysis will let you write your own ticket.

Traditional media makes the audience a passive witness to their own life.  The internet enables people to be active.

Passion subverts hierarchy on the web.

Consumers shouldn’t respect corporations, corporations should respect people.

The ideas at the fringes are the most interesting.

Gandhi had it right – “first they ignore you (no one cares about that lone voice online), they laugh at you (what a silly idea! no one will use that), then they fight you (our customers are not online/don’t read blogs, don’t use social media, then you win (adoption/conversion).”

The lure of the web is human-on-human interaction.

Everyone is granted a unique voice and perspective at birth.  It is up to the individual to take full advantage.

Every webpage you see has person/people behind it.

One-way communication is dead, and that is worthy of celebration. Two-way communication is ten times as effective.

The web has changed time from sequential to random in the sense that everything is searchable and accessible.

If your FAQ page doesn’t reflect actual customer questions, its existence is pointless.

Language isn’t camouflage, it is clarity.

If you are not funny, sexy, or useful then change your company/brand until you are.

Customers are not targets, they are friends and partners.

The future hasn’t even been invented yet.