Less fluff, more value?

So I’ve spent a good deal of time talking to some people I respect and the input they have around the Social Media Club. Some great input for Sherry and Aaron and some other input that made me get more introspective than my ego likes, but ultimately that is required to get a little better and understand more.

So while doing my outreach around input on how to aid in the standards efforts for SMC, I just got smacked in the head a couple of times about my blog fluff. The problem with friends, they have no shame in calling you out… careful what you ask for…. but it made me think more abstractly about the fluff in general.

Conclusion-ish: Social media is a little fluffy – everything is fluffy clouds, rainbows and unicorns – just a little right? Just how much fluff is there in the whole social media thing? Depends on where you are I guess.

The fodder which fills my blog on my lazy days is definitely adding to the fluffy perceptions of social media. Since most of us marketers have those “ah – maybe I’ll do X today” days, we don’t need any more fluff to be added to the stereotype.

C’mon – we all get the marketers malaise. You know the one….the one that settles after the “basics” are done. It’s that whole phoning it thing that marketers get to sometimes which doesn’t help the perception of marketers. “Lazy Roboto Marketer” executing on a check list:

  • Logo – check
  • Tagline – check
  • Customer presentation – check
  • Sales needs yet another sales tool for a single account which will never be used again – check
  • Half hearted review and formatting of customized off message corporate presentation – check
  • Discount not approved – check

Oh the life of Riley indeed as a marketer. …right up until you are on that checklist treadmill again for another brand. The curious thing is the checklist for social media folks appears to be an even lazier checklist on the surface:

  • Tag some stuff – check
  • pitch cluetrain concepts again – check
  • blog post – check
  • at least 12 tweets – check
  • write the 3 comments of the day – check
  • respond to most of your email – check
  • turn grammar check on – overdue

So with all this busy work, social marketers must be doing good things. But I think there is just a bunch of filler material which is part of the social media noise out there. A good deal of this filler is from folks who are “creative commoning” their way to content and expertise. That just makes “give-away” selection look like work.. Then you look at how often do social media folks just push out fluff?   How often do you?

David Meerman Scott thinks voice is an imperative and so is focus, which is what started this post in the first place. Plus, to ROUGHLY paraphrase Carfi – “can you just give me another yonder Mountain video, it saves me time searching YouTube”. Subtle…

Well, I won’t do the ADD dance on this and take full accountability of fluff contribution to the social marketplace. As a marketer that kind of hurts my soul to type/admit, but integrity counts.

Come on feel the NOISE!

So if voice is important and so is focus, what do you do in a crowd? Well just as in real life, you find folks you know and like and strike up a conversation, regardless of how noisy it is. If you think about the core metaphor of conversation the challenge is to participate, not to monitor or metric. I spent the better part of a day this week in a Pragmatic Marketing course searching for a process, a new way to look for a return in social media and how to just plain feel good about my world view. I didn’t get it during the class, but fast forward 14 hours or so-ish……and a couple pieces fell into place….

I spent the next couple of days working on conceptualizing messaging themes, throwing concepts away, bringing them back, understanding priorities and action plans which resulted in a fairly coherent way to look at social media. What I realized is that noise is the norm, no hard metrics (yet) and no way to engage with out setting a tone/establishing a voice. Ultimately so long as your voice is heard, it doesn’t need to be accepted or even appreciated just be present and reasonable in the conversation. On many levels if your are active, responsive and REAL good things just might happen as a marketer. The voice of your brand, the voice of the customer and market are all out there, but you can’t listen if you aren’t there.

Ty Webb: Just be the ball, be the ball, be the ball. You’re not being the ball Danny.
Danny Noonan: It’s hard when you’re talking like that.

The Message is the Medium

Social media isn’t about the strategy so much as it is being part of the medium, tactics. Prior to social media marketing was far more a spectator sport. With an inside out brand reality emerging, the traditional investment and measurements just aren’t going to work. So the perceived need to relate social media to revenue, to tangible metrics or share of voice equivalent is not the right to approach it from a business perspective. Customer might be a reasonable measuring stick…

Social media’s value is sorta binary – you’re either in or you are out. Not being in the game is a clear loser. It has that old school carny “You can’t win if you don’t play” reality. So with that baseline, I was able to get over the hump mentally on metrics with 3 questions:

  1. What is the downside of participation
  2. What is the upside of NOT participating
  3. How can you remain relevant without contributing to an industry

silence is golden?

Meander to Your Message

So while I on a personal level will be reducing the fluff around here by at least 64%, I’m still going to meander around the areas interest I would like to cover. Just like in any given business process or market activity you just need to find your “flow“.

I’m still gonna do the random Wilco or Panic video on occasion, but I’m just going stop the link posts. While I don’t know yet where this is going to go and never really have, I think meandering towards a message is more important that randomly meandering to a post.

So there it is – stop the links, relax a little and communicate ideas. I’ll try my best and not contribute to the noise and make this whole social media thing just a little better. What are you doing to reduce the noise and increasing the meaning of your message?

feeling less light and airy already with my Postalicious plug-in inactive….

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  • Reply jon gatrell July 24, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Less fluff, more value?: So I’ve spent a good deal of time talking to some people I respect and t.. http://tinyurl.com/6x3f3f

  • Reply David Meerman Scott July 25, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Hey Jon,

    Lots of good stuff here. I especially like the “binary” part. You either show up or you don’t.

    Take care,


  • Reply J G July 25, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    That would be my lesson learned from Tuesday. well worth it.

    Hope all is well, cheers!


  • Reply David Daniels July 26, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Great post Jon!

  • Reply Demian Entrekin August 14, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    One notion jumps out to me here: it used to be HARD

  • Reply Demian Entrekin August 14, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    One idea jumps out at me here: it used to be HARD to get ideas, any ideas, out into the conversation. Now it is is quite easy. Perhaps it’s too easy.

    And so we can all push fluff. Or junk. I just accidentally published a comment fragment right here. Oops.

    I think of Kurt Vonnegut’s great line: “And so on.”

  • Reply J G August 16, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I like content fragments… Access is to creativity and ideas allows for more and more clutter and reuse. Not that there are a bunch of new ideas, but at least folks could packaged it in a unique way. Hope all is well demian.

  • Reply Edward Vielmetti September 24, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Hm, social media metrics; that comes up over and over again.

    The list you mention shows inputs (useful, easy to hit targets, diligence, pretty simple.)

    The people from the advertising side the world schooled by Google will want outputs – dollars, ROI, all that hard stuff. Stuff perhaps completely unrelated directly to the quantity of the inputs, or at least not measured in the same way.

    Put another way – what’s it worth to you to be a leader in your field? Because if you’re going to spend all this time on “social media” and not get that, then you are wasting time that could be spent executing someone else’s easy to measure, carefully planned script.

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