Yesterday at the Mesh conference I caught the second half of Michael O’Connor Clarke‘s presentation, to a packed house, about how not to use social media for marketing. I’ve known Michael since the Cluetrain days, and it was great to warch him argue against viewing social media as a messaging vehicle.
Michael has long championed understanding the Net as, well, a conversation that needs to be respected. Keeping that conversation as open and vibrant as possible is more important than your business’s tawdry ambitions, he says. (I am not just paraphrasing here, but entirely putting words in his mouth.) If your business wants to engage with it — and not every business has to, he says — then it should be engaged with by actual people, with actual names, actual interests, and actual personalities. Completely transparently, of course.
A few days ago I pointed to Elizabeth ‘s thread at Reddit where she engaged with the public in a way that everyone who manages customer support, PR, or marketing ought to learn from.
Today, Amanda Palmer posted about her current Kickstarter project, which has raised $855,000 with eight days yet to run. Her goal was $100,000…except in her post she responds with complete frankness (she’s AFP, after all) about what her real expectations were. The post is both an explanation and a demonstration of how musicians and theandir audiences can love and support each other.
W. Craig Fugate is the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He’s giving a keynote.
NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.
“Technology is not magic,” he says. “Cyberattacks might destroy our way of life? You mean we might be reading books that don’t have screens.” [He's doing a light opening, but jeez that's really not what's at stake in cyberattacks.] The question is, he says, what does social media really do for us. “I’m in the business of trying to change outcomes. Disasters happen. I can’t stop ‘em…I’m dealing in an environment where something has happened. If we do nothing, it will follow a predictable course: it’ll probably get better” because people aren’t going to wait around for us to save them. So, you have to ask what part of the outcome you’re going change. Will fewer people die? How quickly can we reestablish particular functions? Is it going to be safe and secure? Can we get to the injured or trapped? Can we create critical infrastructure fast enough to keep people alive long enough for recovery to begin?
He points to the dynamic between first responders who focus on saving individuals and the humanitarian organizations that take a more systematic view. It’s forests vs. trees. But that means you have to decide what outcomes you’re trying to change and what constitutes success.
Social media can be seen as a publishing activity: posting for anyone to see. If people are doing that, can we look at that info and get a better outcome? Well, what info do you need to get a better outcome? When Joplin was hit by a tornado what social media info could affect an outcome we’re trying to achieve? “No tweet stops bleeding.” The question is what info will help actual outcomes.
“All disasters are local,” Craig says. Local government generally has day-to-day responsibility for emergencies, e.g., 911. If the disaster gets bad enough, it goes to the state level, and then to the federal. FEMA looks initially primarily for reliable assessments. E.g., we screwed up the response to Katrina because we didn’t know how bad it was. It takes 12-24 hours to get someone into a disaster area. “Social media will only speed up the confusion cycle” [?] There’s a 24-hour window for changing the outcome of the seriously injured, generally. So, we have to assess far more rapidly. “Maybe we should assume that if something is bad has happened, it’s bad.” Get people in without waiting for an assessment. “Technology gives you a sense of precision” that is unwarranted. But isn’t over-responding wasteful? “Yes, but we’re looking at lives.”
During the Joplin tornado, tweets were coming in, then videos from storm chasers, indicating that there were more tornadoes happening. FEMA sent in aid before the official assessment. “We looked at social media as the public telling us enough info to suggest that this is worse than we thought, to enable us to make a decision to get moving without witing for a formal request or for formal assessments.” “All I need is enough info to hit my tipping point.” He doesn’t need screens filled with info. In emergency centers, the big screens are “entertainment.”
People panic. How can you trust their tweets, etc.? No, the public is a resource, he says. Is the public voice consistent and always right? No, but who is. It’s just a tool, and it can help change outcomes. “I don’ care about the tech. I care about what people use to communicate,” if it can help him make a decision faster, and not necessarily more accurately. The social media tools “are how people communicate.” It’s not a matter of listening and responding to every voice, but getting aggregate assessment real-time on the ground.
“Social media weren;t around for Hurricane Andrew. It was just scratching the surface in 2004. How will people communicate in 2016.” He holds up his mobile phone. “This is how. Mobile, geocoded, fast…” What matters is how people communicate; don’t get wedded to the tech.
A large French company, Atos, has announced (apparently for the second time) that its employees are forbidden from using email for communicating internally. Apparently email is too full of noise, so employees are required to use social media instead of email. This is such an odd idea that it makes you think it’s been misreported.
It does make me wonder, though, how much of the online world relies upon mailing lists as heavily as I do, and whether this is a generational difference.
I’m on about a dozen active mailing lists, I think, although it’s possible the number is much higher. I’d say about half of those are primary sources for my “professional” interests. There are fields in which most of what I’ve learned has come from mailing lists, some of which I’ve been on for well over ten years. They are how I keep up with news in the field and they are where I hear news interpreted and discussed. The knowledge they provide is far more current, in depth, and interestingly intersected with strong personal interests than any broadcast medium could provide.
But it’s my impression, based on nothing but some random data points, that the kids today don’t much care for mailing lists, just as email itself has become an old-fashioned medium for them. There are plenty of other ways of keeping up with developments in a field one cares about, but do any provide the peculiar mix of thematic consistency, a persistent cast of characters, characters one otherwise would not know, and the ability to thread a discussion over the course of multiple days?
I’m on a panel about “What’s Next in Social Media?” at the National Archives tonight , moderated by Alex Howard, the Government 2.0 Correspondent for O’Reilly Media, and with fellow panelists Sarah Bernard, Deputy Director, White House Office of Digital Strategy; Pamela S. Wright, Chief Digital Access Strategist at the National Archives. It’s at 7pm, with a “social media fair” beginning at 5:30pm.
I don’t know if we’re going to be asked to give brief opening statements. I suspect not. But, if so I’m thinking of talking about the context, because I don’t know what social media will be:
1. The Internet began as an open “address space” that enabled networks to be created within it. So, we got the Web, which networked pages. We got social networks, which networked people. We are well on our way to networking data, through the Semantic Web and Linked Open Data. We are getting an Internet of Things. The DPLA will, I hope, help create a network of cultural objects.
2. The Internet and the Web have always been social, but the rise of networks particularly tuned to social needs is of vast importance because the social determines all the rest. Indeed, the Internet is a medium only because we are in fact that through which messages pass. We pass them along because they matter to us, and we stake a bit of selves on them. We are the medium.
3. Of all of the major and transformative networks that have emerged, only the social networks are closed and owned. I don’t know how or if we will get open social networks, but it is a danger that as of now we do not have them.
A Cisco study finds that when deciding on job offers, a startlingly high number of college students and recently employed grads value access to social media at work more than salary. And an article by Ann Bednarz at Network World finds that “[e]ven some of the most buttoned-down institutions are rethinking bans and relaxing access to social networks and social media sites.”
So, it looks like everyone should be happy for a change.
Erik Martin, the general manager of Reddit, explains what’s so special about the discussion site. I’m particularly interested in the nature of authority on the site, and its introduction of new journalistic rhetorical forms.
David Strom at ReadWriteWeb notes a trend at hotels to re-jigger lobbies as social spaces in which you can plug in your laptop and hang out, instead of sitting in your disinfected Rectangle of Solitude.
I’d give it a try, especially if free or cheap coffee were involved. I think I might enjoy the company, although if someone actually tried to talk with me, I’d undoubtedly give him the stink eye so I could get back to work. Hey, just because I want to be near other human beings doesn’t mean I want to be your friend.
So, yes, I would want to achieve that refined balance of social and impersonal that is of increasing importance in today’s ever-more-public world, and that is at the heart of Starbucks’ value proposition.
JonJGman thinks his profile photo makes him look boring.
JonJGman has put a yellow background in his profile photo.
JonJGman thinks the yellow background makes his skin look waxy, almost cadaverous.
JonJGman has superimposed “Madame Toussault’s” on his background photo so maybe you’ll think he looks waxy because they’ve made a statue of him.
JonJGman has run the spell checker on “Madam Toussault’s.”
JonJGman has changed the background so he’s now standing in front of the Grand Canyon.
JonJGman can’t figure out how to get “Madam Tossaud’s” erased from the sky over the Grand Canyon.
JonJGman has run the spellchecker on “Madam Tossaud’s” and definitely thinks he’s getting closer.
JonJGman has never been to the Grand Canyon and besides it looks like’s standing in front of a photo of the Grand Canyon with the words “Madam Tussauds” mysteriously in the sky, so he’s thinking about going back to his original photo.
JonJGman can’t find his original profile photo.
JonJGman has accidentally deleted his Trash folder.
JonJGman has downloaded a copy of his Waxy Dead Person Standing in Front of a Picture of the Grand Canyon with “Madame Tussault’s” Still Misspelled in the Skies photo.
JonJGman has decided to brighten his teeth in his profile photo.
JonJGman now has a bright pink, waxy nose in his profile photo.
JonJGman wishes to inform his friends that it’s only due to an incompetent attempt to darken the bright tip of his waxy nose that he now looks like suffers from stage 3 leprosy.
JonJGman has accidentally uploaded a photo of Anthony Weiner’s tumescent underpants that he honestly didn’t even know that he had, as his profile photo.
JonJGman’s new profile photo is Default Avatar #23.
JonJGman randomly chose Default Avatar #23 without realizing that it depicts a pink kitty that is at best age-inappropriate and, as a replacement for the Weiner Party in His Pants photo, is actually pretty creepy.
JonJGman wishes to apologize to his friends for not realizing that they were being notified about every step in this personal odyssey.
JonJGman has now changed his name to JakeTheBear325 and hopes to begin again fresh.
I thought I understood Google Circles until I tried explaining it to someone. So, let me see if I have this straight.And if I do, then I have a suggestion for Google Plus: Instead of saying that we post to “Public,” tell us we’re posting “To Followers.” And instead of letting us look at our “Incoming” stream, tell us we’re looking at “From Followers.”
Let’s say I have two circles: Friends and Coworkers. Into Friends I put Fred, Fanny, and Felicia. Into Coworkers I put Carol, Carl, and Cathy.
I now post something to Friends. Assume all members of my Friends circle have put me in one of their own circles. My Friends now see my posts whenever they check the stream from the circle they’ve put me into.
Now, it turns out that my coworker Carol hates my guts and hates hearing from me, so she hasn’t put me in any of her circles. Does she see my posts to my Coworkers circle anyway? If not, then either (a) I have the illusory sense that I’m posting to her when I post to my Coworkers circle, or (b) Carol is seeing my posts even though she does not want me in any of her circles.
Google Plus solves this dilemma through the Incoming stream and the Public circle. By putting Carol into one of my circles, two things happen:
(1) When I check my Coworker stream, I now see what Carol posts to Public. Since Carol doesn’t have me in any of her circles, she doesn’t want me to see what she posts exclusively to those circles. But, if Carol posts to Public, it is visible to anyone who has encircled her…even people like me whom she hates. If Carol didn’t want me to see it, she shouldn’t have posted it to Public. (Think of posting to Public as posting “To Followers.”) [Note about an hour later: Thanks to useful discussion of this post over at G+, I realize I should have added that posting to Public means also that your post has a publicly accessible URL.]
(2) My posts now show up in Carol’s Incoming stream. That stream shows all posts from people who have encircled Carol. If she doesn’t want to see my posts in her Incoming stream, she can mute me. (Think of Incoming as “From Followers.”)
The asymmetry of Circles is their genius, but, just as with Twitter, they lead our mortal brains astray. We think that because we’re posting to a circle, everyone in that circle will receive our post. Not exactly. If they have encircled me, it will show up within that circle’s stream. If they have not encircled me, it will be visible to them in their Incoming stream.
So, if you are an Internet Celebrity who has been encircled by 100,000 people, but who has encircled only ten close friends, your posts to your circle of ten will be visible only to those ten. (If they haven’t encircled you, your posts will show up in their Incoming stream.) If you post to Public, all 100,000 people will see your post within whatever circle they’ve placed you in.
I understand this as I write it. But, wait a second…yeah, it’s gone. :(