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Summary: Content strategy insights from big social data mining.

Tactical Value: Regardless of platform, regardless of the focus of your social content and conversations, regardless of your business or interest type as a publisher, “Caption This” promos and campaigns are the highest performing social content/ engagement on the web. Add them to your editorial calendar yesterday.

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As a caveat, if you’re a small business owner, I am hand delivering a 70% competitive advantage on facebook.

Over the last four years, I’ve received much flack for my use of social media, both in form and function. Most of it, I own. I do not keep my messaging open ended. I talk about and promote highly contentious content, often rife with profanity. I don’t blow sunshine up people’s asses unless it is deserved. But for those in marketing and technology that still talk to me, the chief inquisition from new professionals in social media that ask for suggested tools or entrepereneurs launching new social products:

“I don’t get it. You suggest I use/I develop [social media publishing platform de jure], and yet you don’t use it yourself. What gives?”

Check it out for yourself or just take my word for it: While my companies have accounts, pages, etc., I do not publish as a company; I publish as an individual. When I do publish, I almost always publish on platform, or “from web.” I rarely use third-party services. If and when I do use third-party tools, it is from a mobile app owned by the social network, or I am testing the API call and/or the UI/UX of the tool to get a better understanding of where the market is going, who is doing what, when, where, how and why. Testing an API call is telling: The test confirms or changes your assumption about the developer’s intended use of the network. But I digress.

There is a method to my madness.

EdgeRank: What It Is and What the Calculation Is Missing

The super smart folks at EdgeRank Checker recently tested and studied how the use of third-party publishing tools affected Facebook EdgeRank. (If you’re unfamiliar with what “EdgeRank” is, it’s a proprietary measure of a brands’ social engagement  with consumers on facebook.) The published study confirmed a widely held  hypothesis for people that monitor this stuff: Using third-party publishing tools hurts, inhibits, and otherwise decreases engagement. By 70%.

Allyson Kapin wrote a great follow up post at Care2frogloop. The post generated some great comments. It’s a conversation worth checking out. (HT to Bryan Person of LiveWorld for retweeting Allyson’s link (ironically enough via Hootsuite.)

I’ve believe the commonly held formula for measuring Facebook EdgeRank (Affinity X Weight X Time Decay) is flawed; it does not account for the publisher’s (in this case, a brand’s) time on site (until now?)… Proximity… In Product… On Platform.

What You See is What You Get

Some secrets to facebook are pretty obvious. Some of the world’s brightest and most technologically savvy people clock into work at facebook every day. The API’s suck? It’s for a reason. Tunneling through via an API is not a comprehensive use of the product/property. The APi wasn’t designed for you.

If you’ve ever sold or heard a pitch on a social advertising product or display product, what does the pitch always open with? Users. In Product. On Platform. Time on Site.

The same applies for other networks, too (not exclusive to social networks, though it could be argued that any community on the internet is in an antic sense a social network.)

By way of analogy, I own a retail storefront. Let’s call it “facebook.” Who is more valuable to me? On-property visitors or those that send proxies or correspondence or call?  I can directly engage with the on-property visitors. I can answer questions, and with direct one-to-one answers, promote additional activity, services and products.  I can also monitor behavior, directly. I can learn from each and every experience in order to serve and make the experience better. Direct communication is exchange. Exchange is conversion.

The inverse principle applies to third-party publishing on facebook. Facebook’s preference is for users (any user, regardless if they are acting on behalf of a brand) in product, on platform. Facebook serves over 1/4th of all display advertising on the internet, and at over 30% margin to boot. This is their billion dollar cash cow which will no doubt make the inevitable IPO very attractive to investors. Facebook cannot and will not serve ads to a third-party tool.Why give away the margin? Why possibly compromise the experience that facebook cannot control?

Also consider facebook’s transition to iframes. Within seconds, a brand (even the Mom and Pop shop down the road) has the ability to clone web pages and pull them directly into a fan page. I am betting facebook will develop or acquire a merchant platform (written in html5,) thus bringing the point of sale directly into the facebook experience. Colleagues and I might be working on this as I write.

This, in my opinion, is by and large why Google has not opened the Google+ API and are not in a hurry to do so… they want users in product, on platform. In an effort to truly reach critical mass, it is absolutely necessary in order for Google to compete for mindshare, marketshare and local advertising dollars. Google can push user numbers (largely acquired and onboarded via gmail) via a press release to Mashable all day long, but how many of those users are in the Google+ product, on platform?

My golfing buddy, friend and goto colleague for all things paid search, Matt Kelly of Paid Search Geeks and I discussed PPC numbers a couple of months ago. Based on his paid search campaigns, facebook not withstanding, Matt’s clients get the best conversion ratio and return on paid search investment from ads displayed in gmail. Again, if  a user is in product, on platform, ad delivery can be targeted, monitored, optimized, and controlled. Completely different experience and result in an email client. But email marketing is a different subject altogether.

The examples are endless; the point is singular: Marketers and advertisers should use networks and channels the way they were designed to be used. It’s a win for the network which ultimately is a win for you. And believe me when I tell you that in product, on platform has its benefits. 70% is a good start.

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Whether you observed Valentine’s Day with your beloved, or cynically reminded your single friends of “Singles Awareness Day”, or completely bypassed what @badbanana on twitter referred to as “…a Hallmark tax on the married,” or some combination of the three, Greeting Card giant, Hallmark Cards, Inc. is sitting back in satisfaction after launching and implementing one of the broadest (analog to digital) cross-media initiatives in its company’s history (a campaign that coincides with the company’s centennial anniversary); at the campaigns’ center– augmented reality.

Along Comes @whurley

Months ago, you couldn’t swing a “painting BMW Z4 roadster” or “USPS flat rate parcel” without hitting the Evil Genius of Open Source, William Hurley (@whurley), speaking on his latest technology fetish–the present and future application of augmented reality. Despite the buzz about the technology on the social networks and around the blogosphere, whurley’s presentation at the Austin Technology Council Rave in November was my first meaningful conversation on the subject. It got me thinking about communication,  brand extensions, SMB markets,  and some variant of Moore’s Law. (More on whurley.) Time marched on, and with it, a new technology was in the process of being delivered to tens of thousands of people, from young and old, to newbie and Gates-Geeky, across the globe.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours…”

My Valentine from Cynthia

visual and text instructions to get online for a surprise

Fast forward to the recent past: a relatively quiet Valentine’s Day in Austin, Texas. I woke to breakfast and my gift from @cynthiaisgr8 : a jar filled with hand-made forget-me-not’s and reminders about who loves me (and why and how). But I digress… A year ago, yesterday, Cynthia gifted me my first Hoops&YoYo™ Hallmark™ card (admittedly, I love these guys). It was only fitting that this year, Cynthia continue the tradition. But this year my valentine card had the stuff of geek love… enclosed inside, instructions to get online and head to http://www.hallmark.com/extra (pictured here) for an online radass surprise. (Notice, the words “augmented reality” do not appear.) So, of course, I headed online.

I pointed my browser to the Hallmark Card, Inc. augmented reality page (someone on their interactive team no doubt knows a thing or two about SEO/SEM as the url headlines are peppered with the phrase,) and to my surprise, Hallmark has its stuff together…the whole experience was a piece of cake. Here’s what I found:

Step 1: Hallmark AR Home Page

Step 2: Select Your Card

Step 3: download executable file and launch

Then, enjoy the comedic styling of Hoops&YoYo™ (all apologies on the AV quality; I shot this myself and in the interest of time.)

The Future of Augmented Reality?

As development costs associated with AR technology decrease, more and more social tools will come to market fostering augmented reality’s second wave of social augmented experiences. These tools will empower entrepreneurs, SMB, and community managers and change agents within enterprise  to address  customer service, communications, operations, processes, and training needs in real time.  Couple this with the development of new hardware, not unlike Apple’s iPad, and the world could very well be on the cusp of a paradigm shift. In the mean time, me and my valentine are cool with Hoops&YoYo™, unicorns and love.

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Note: I should add that if you’re not familiar with whurley, I highly suggest you check out what will probably be his Opus, Chaotic Moon Studios (facebook fan page). Last we spoke,  the shroud of mystery and the web site are weeks if not days away from unveiling. But based on what he has told me, whurley’s working”MIA hiatus” (read: not speaking in front of people ever other day spreading the gospel of open source)  will invariably support entrepreneurs and enterprise with a menu of  digital voodoo, pixel hoodoo, products and services…augmented reality included. He’s literally killing himself over a production kanban that integrates everything he and his partners have learned about crowdsourcing, imobile development, interactive, technology and the open source community for 30 new clients, including some of the biggest brands out there. In short, observe and learn; once whurley comes up for air, introduce yourself, engage him and he’ll no doubt share the story of his new baby and how one might apply that story to their efforts (operative phrase: “once he comes up for air”)).

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Dragonslayers with Purpose

Published on 25 August 2009 by in Blog

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Open Letter to the Ubiquity Marketing unSummit speakers and attendees

Personally, if not for social media, I would not know you (with one exception.) Life would be quite different, more isolated and we certainly would not be doing this together.I would be worse for not knowing each of you, collectively and respectively.

Michelle Greer and Steve Golab reminded me earlier today that my priorities were getting out of whack.  I went for a drive; thought about it.

I am not a tactical person and yet I am living in a very tactical era. A tactic is nothing more than a tool, nothing more than a hammer. And whereas it is easier to monetize a hammer than some new process to swing that hammer (or a new application of that hammer,) the nail gun is around the corner.

Tactical is not sustainable. Purpose, on the other hand, is infinite.

uncertainty, anxiety and fear

uncertainty, anxiety and fear

The entire world is composed of people, concepts, communication and stuff: This has always been and always will be. Markets are different because they universally require exchange– the exchange of concepts, communication and stuff… between people. Sustainable exchange requires motivation and purpose; lately, motivation and purpose has been stifled by uncertainty, anxiety and fear.

The velocity of exchange has reached unprecedented levels. It is estimated that more market share will begin to change hands in the next 18-24 months than in the last two decades, combined.

What we do as entrepreneurs, marketers and professionals, from all walks, is fundamental in all exchange; but exchange in and of itself is not sustainable. Purposeful exchange, on the other hand, is universally good as it creates opportunity and prosperity for everyone willing to participate, indefinitely. With purposeful exchange, even when we disagree or refuse the exchange, we are emboldening the practice of purpose and creating an opportunity for another to be included.

With purpose, the facts become clear, the ethics known, the engagements authentic, the process and tactics targeted.

What is your purpose?

Even as you read this, you are in the center of market activity with the opportunity at purpose–the opportunity to slay the three-headed hydra: uncertainty, anxiety and fear.

We are all connected, and though loosely woven, we are the beginnings of a community with a very deep reach. Certainly, we have our differences; but in the long run this, community would not be much fun or interesting without those differences. This is a community that can and should be expanded. Expansion creates more exchange, and additional purpose-driven exchange gives us more opportunity and prosperity to lift people up.

I have done a lot of talking in my life; empty promises. And though I meant well, there was no purpose behind it. This has changed and it is the basis of my business and new activity in the community. The Ubiquity Marketing unSummit is a first attempt at doing; it is an attempt at iterative, actionable leadership to bring together a community of individuals as one unit working towards solving functional problems, while creating opportunity and prosperity with everyone willing to participate, online and on the ground.

This is my purpose.

Uncertainty, anxiety and fear. “Nevertheless.” Let’s slay us some dragons. With purpose.

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