Why don’t I know who you are?

Social media discussions most often disregard context, context based on the perspective of author. Instead most discourse happens only on a surface level.

What if instead of automatically jumping into a discussion and making judgement calls we first looked at the background of the authors and commenters. But this can only be accomplished if we know something about them. And we can only do that if information is available to us.

Speaking to no one

More times than not virtually nothing is available though. Aside from LinkedIn (which really isn’t a discussion platform), On Facebook, where the majority of conversion happens, profiles are virtually blank: no locations on where they’ve lived or even live now, no the type of work or type of company they’ve worked at – or not even a personal statement that isn’t so cryptic that little can be gained without any other context. I’m not looking for a resume … but, jeez – help me out a little.

The first thing I do when engaging with someone on social media is to look at their profile page and then often delve deeper into their background by investigating any links they may provide. Just knowing the country where someone lives gives me insight, especially when discussing deep social and political issues. Context is everything. Even in the United States nothing should be taken at face value (i.e gun control). Someone who’s lived most of their life in Montana (where I currently live) will have a completely different life view and set of societal norms than someone from Los Angeles (where I used to live). I encounter this reality everyday.

For the sake of disclosure and context, I should mention I spent fifteen years as a headhunter. My livelihood was dependent on how well I knew one of my candidates. I looked not only at resumes, but at their families, their dreams and the real reasons why they were talking to me in the first place. Nothing could be taken at face value, references were checked and motivations critiqued. That said, doing a deep dive in someone’s background is inked in my method operandi.

While I shouldn’t assume everyone is going behave the same way I do; I’m sure some do … or at least would like to if the information was available to them. I don’t know why so many people don’t disclose much if anything about themselves. I suppose it might be a privacy issue. That’s cool. But then again often those with least available background on themselves (including going anonymous) are the most prolific commenters – with some of the most intriguing things to say. Someone who wishes to be known as a contrarian can make a much stronger case if its taken in their personal context.

The rise of social media can be looked at as a societal double-edged sword. On one hand it brings people from all over the world together to discuss issues that affect all of us. But what good does it do if we don’t know who these people are and how they’ve come to have the views and articulations they wish to have us hear. So instead, rather than bring us together, social media polarizes us because comments on controversial issues are taken out of context. Rather than gaining empathy and expanding our minds – we dig in our heals even more.

While all this might seem laborious for just social media. But if we really want to take this incredible phenomena to the transformative place it can go, it’s a lot less laborious than just wasting time regurgitating our same old positions based on our same old set of experiences – blind to nuances of the backgrounds and experiences others around the world.

Look beyond the comments.


“… just an opportunity missed”

Today is Facebook Day, the day of the much awaited Facebook IPO. It’s the day we usher in hundreds (if not thousands) of new millionaires and even a couple of billionaires. In fact, I’m almost surprised the Google doodle wasn’t a takeoff of the Facebook logo … well, almost.

Facebook’s stock went public this morning at $38 a share and at this time, 11:43 MST, it’s at about $41. It’s not a huge bump from the opening, but still a net gain of 8% in less than a day. Not bad, not bad at all! But what difference does it really matter. I’m sure nobody that’ll read this post will have been able to buy any Facebook stock today and take advantage of the initial bump. In fact, I rather doubt few readers will even know anyone who got in today, or could have if they chose to.

And that’s a problem!

First, I want to clarify I’m not a Facebook hater. On the contrary, I like it quite a bit more than I used to. I’m not big on the “bells and whistles” and the games, and some of the other so-called functionality. But I’ve met a lot of really cool people who have a wonderful things to say. And that’s a good thing.

“The people’s company … or not?”

Now if there was ever a company that could be called the “people’s company,” it would be Facebook. No disrespect to Twitter, and I’m a huge Twitter fanboy, but just by the numbers Facebook is, well Facebook. Everyone is on it, and along with Twitter, it has the power to facilitate the overthrow of decades old regimes. One needs to only look as far back last year and the Arab Spring.

So let me ask you, why does a company that truly represents the 99%, choose to only spread its wealth with the 1% in their ivory towers of Wall Street. I’m willing to bet a good portion of these privileged 1% don’t even have Facebook accounts, at least not active ones. Members of the Occupy Movement must be churning as they log into their Facebook accounts knowing this. Last week Zuckerberg threw caution to the wind by wearing a “hoodie” during his roadshow. Why didn’t he just finish the job?

But this is the way IPOs are handled. The big Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs and their partners in crime (literally) play the paperwork dance and in return – their “big dog” clients are thrown a bone (minus a hefty commission of course). It’s always been this way, and it appears it’ll be like this in the foreseeable future. But aside from outright cronyism  … why? Why should there be a net wealth threshold on whether you can make a few dollars in a supposedly transparent, equal market system? Beat’s me?

Imagine if Facebook decided to conduct the IPO themselves. Only Facebook members were eligible to purchase stock on the first day, and only in limited amounts. It might cost a few extra dollars to put it together … but look at the statement they would make. Facebook would elevate itself to “Godlike” status. They would be the company that embodied the “anti-Wall Street” sentiment. They could be in the middle of the rallying call for true financial reform and accountability. And the timing is so perfect. Never will there be a better opportunity for a such an appropriate company to “take a stand.”

“But no … just an opportunity missed.”


I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg


UPDATE: Well, when all was said and done ~ Facebook closed up twenty-three cents. Nothing to write home about, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t … “miss a golden opportunity!”

Can marketing and social media coexist?

I posted this as a comment on a LinkedIn discussion forum in the group “Marketing Your Printing Company.”  I’ve pretty much thought of this as my approach since I started down the social media trail.  It’s kinda nice to have it down a paper though.

I think we need to look at the entire process of a sale. The old adage is you need seven impressions on a prospect to make a sale. When I was a headhunter I tracked the numbers and found this more or less accurate.

With social media however – what constitutes an impression? We know back in the “dark ages,” an impression was a phone call or personal letter. With the advent of the internet, emails were also thrown into the mix. But does an email carry the same weight a letter? Probably not. And for that matter, does a word processed letter carry the same weight as one hand addressed? Again, probably not.

Facebook, Twitter ... oh my, what's best!

When we bring social media into the equation, we have to also look at the weight factor. If you’re receiving the same tweet as 400 or even 4000 other people – what’s that worth. Minimal at best. If the tweet includes a @yourname, then it’s worth more. And if the tweet gets your prospect or customer to go to your site or blog (and hopefully stay there for a few minutes), it could be worth as much as a phone conversation. Social media is just another avenue to make impressions. And after enough quality impressions, the goal of gaining or retaining business … should be realized. But quality isn’t about tweeting to the universe and expecting magic.

I’m not a big believer in social media as a lead generation tool. But then again I’m not a big believer in any campaign that doesn’t start with a targeted prospect that you know at least some information on. But with social media, you can gather information on your prospect. For example by using Twitter, you can find out an awful lot about someone. From their tweets you can see what they’re interested in, and if they blog – you find out what they’re passionate about. I’d be hard pressed to find a better avenue into someone’s head than this. But you must have the patience and desire to use this information constructively.

My social media methodology is not to generate random leads, but to build relationships and credibility with people I enjoy spending time with. Through my blogs, comments, tweets and other content I put out there – I hope to come across as someone who people will entrust their business with. That’s assuming what I was offering was pertinent, and that’s assuming I was offering something at all. Most importantly, I hope I would attract the type of people I share interests with and who I want to do business with.

Now my business is different from most. I would suppose the more unique the company is, the more applicable my methodology would be. Heck, I’ve been working on an “elevator speech” for four years trying to succinctly describe what I do – but still to no avail.

Regardless – as in any marketing effort, results from social media marketing take time. It’s no short cut – no matter what the “gurus” profess. Whatever the road you take to your company on, it’s going to take work and persistence. It’s kind of like Thomas Edison said, “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

All this bring’s up a bigger question. What is the purpose of social media? Is the purpose of a blog different from that of Twitter or even Facebook? Much attention is made of the financial implications of marketing “socially.” But is that really why we do it? Is marketing the reason why we stay up way later than we should, and wake up saying good morning to our Facebook friends and Twitter followers before even our family, just down the hall.

I’m willing to think … probably not.


If you like what you read … please Tweet and follow me on Twitter at @clayforsberg


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Would you follow your own firm’s social media site?

Currently, the next  “great thing” – is marketing your business on Twitter and Facebook.  Being in the direct marketing arena … it’s no different here.  But, I really don’t see a whole lot of benefit for a lot of a these companies that have jumped on the bandwagon … at least how they’re doing it.

Social media ... the Holy Grail?

Social media is really nothing other than another vehicle to communicate with and deliver content.  Now, because of the interactive nature of it … it has enormous potential.  But to realize that potential, companies have to be creative and deliver content that is conducive to interactivity.  Now let’s see what going on and what could go on (at least from my observations).

Current situation:

  1. Basic talk about what the company does and what their services are.  This could be done on a web site since it doesn’t change very often.
  2. Announcement of events / press.  I see companies announce things going on with them and things going on in their communities.  Not bad I suppose.  But most of this content can delivered via print or email assuming they have contact info (which they should if they are followers).  In fact, that would be more effective since a message could be altered to fit the recipient.
  3. Announcements of internal blog posting.  This a good use due to the hot links and the potential to inform your clients and followers of new information and advice that may help them.  Unfortunately, very few printers have blogs and write any original content.  There is great opportunity here to present your firm as the expert.
  4. Referring other relevant industry information.  The key word here is relevant.  This can be a good use of social media.  It can keep a company’s customers and prospects abreast of  “stuff” going on their industry (i.e. trend, tips, etc.).  The problem I see here is that everybody mentions the same articles.  And most of them are about how “print isn’t dying.”  Enough already.

I summary – a couple of the above applications make sense and are probably worth the time and effort of the social media upkeep.  But aside from blog comments, they don’t accommodate any interactivity, thus missing the real potential of social media.

What a company should do:

  1. Don’t push your services.  Unless a service is new, your following probably already knows what you do and what equipment you have.  Save this for the website.
  2. Announce your events, relevant community items and your blog postings.  Social media is a targeted efficient way to show that your firm is alive, from a personal sense.
  3. Create a Twitter or Facebook forum pertaining to the business they do with you.  Best Buy does it and they answer every Tweet.  In the digital printing industry, it could involve a discussion on gathering and  preparing data for 1:1 marketing jobs.  Having your followers interact with each other creates a community … a place that they will come back to – giving your firm more opportunities to stay in front of them.
  4. Create a mini job board.  Again, this could be as easy announcing opportunities your clients have on Twitter and Facebook.  Nothing provides you with more kudos than helping advance somebody’s career or helping your clients with an important employment need.
  5. Create a “Doing good things” forum.  Have your clients post causes near and dear to their heart.  This creates camaraderie amongst your followers and let’s them “take a break” from just work issues.  People do have lives outside of work.

Social media like Twitter and Facebook is not there to boost your short-term ROI.  It’s about building relationships, a community, one that will benefit you in the long run – especially at times when the market is not so great, like now.

Your online community needs to be a place where your followers and clients will go back to again and again.  Be a conduit for help.  The more you give, the stronger your bonds will be.  Look at your community as a “general contractor,” for building your clients and followers businesses.

Also, involved members will help you in your “construction” efforts by getting the word out and referring people your way.  You will be considered the expert – somewhere someone can go to get their printing problems solved … whatever those may be.

Your social media presence is a living, growing organism.  If you feed it with the right food and nurture it … it will give great rewards and satisfaction.  But remember, it takes time and attention – and if you don’t give that, it’ll wither and die.

And most of all ask yourself:  Would you follow your own firm?  If so, you’re on the right track.  Just be patient.  If not … well, you have some work to do.


I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg


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The “moderation abyss”

One of the first things I do when I get in the morning is comment. I comment on articles and blogs I read.  The blogs have no central theme. I comment on stuff on the Middle East, health care, generations, social media, marketing, economics and just about anything else I feel like. Each comment runs between 100 to 200 words, not just “I agree” type of stuff. And I try to do two or three comments a day.

Commenting is my daily warm up, not unlike warming up before going for a run or a physical workout. Writing is an incredible mental exercise and it helps me build synaptic connections to carry me throughout the day. That and my four mile walk … bring it on!

I try to add something significant to each piece I comment on, my take on it. If my comment spurs additional comment activity, then that’s a good thing for everyone – especially the writer of the post. It follows along with my idea of my personal value. The same goes for comments on my blog – I love’em. They add to the discussion, and isn’t that what a blog’s supposed to be, a discussion? And they give the post legs.

The abyss of moderation

This brings me to my big commenting irritation, the “moderation abyss.” You know what I’m talking about. After you post a comment, a lot of blogs require moderation before actually publishing it (mine included). Normally this takes a few minutes or in some case a couple of hours. That’s cool. Believe or not, some people actually have lives outside of moderating my comments. Hard to believe but it’s true.

Here’s my issue. Writing a blog is not a right, it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege to have an audience, no matter how small. People take their time to read your ramblings. The least you can do is treat them with respect. If they not only read your blog, but also put forth the effort and mental energy to actually respond and add to it … then you should sure as hell check your email and moderate their damn comment. To let their creation sit in the “moderation abyss” for days on end because you’re too damn lazy to get off your butt and read it – is unacceptable. And you should be stripped of your blogging privileges. If you aren’t going react to comments, then turn them off. Seth Godin does, and that fine – it’s his choice, plus he probably gets a million of them. That way there’s no expectation that your creation will unveiled to the world. And yes, a thoughtful, well constructed comment is a creation.

A few days ago I commented on piece I liked talking about “story telling, curation and the Long Tale.” I’d never read their blog before, so I didn’t know how they operated. I liked their piece and felt strong that my comment added to their discussion – abet a different twist.

My comment sat in the “moderation abyss” for day and a half before I couldn’t take it anymore. I found the email of what I think was the assistant to head of the company that owned the blog.

Below is my email:


I don’t know if you’re the correct person to contact concerning this issue … but here it goes. From what I’ve read on your site, I like it. Your mission seems to go hand in hand to much of what I stand for. I especially liked “The Long Tail and the Curation Economy.” It provided me a launching point for some great thought. I thank you.

Here’s my issue. I commented on the post, a comment I thought had some merit and added to your discussion. Unfortunately, nobody will be able to read it, nobody will be able to use it as their own launching point. It sits in “the moderation abyss.”

I don’t know if this is intentional or not. Maybe my comment is not up to your literary standards. If this is the case, all I can do is try to improve before my next submission. But if my residency in “the moderation abyss” is due to your laziness … shame on you. Having a blog, a blog that people read is not a right, it’s a privilege, an honor given to you by your audience. It’s also one that can easily be taken back.

How you treat people, prospective clients before they become clients … is a reflection upon how you would treat them afterwards. Something to think about.

In addition – I’m following you on Twitter. You might want to reciprocate. You might just find some interesting stuff.


Clay Forsberg

It took them about an hour to post my comment. But they’re still not following me on Twitter. Oh well.

Oh, by the way … if you comment to my blog, I promise not to send you to the “moderation abyss.” 😉


If you’re on Twitter please follow me … there’s cool stuff happening over there too @clayforsberg.


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Changing the way you look at your social media relationships

In the real world … not everyone loves you the same amount. Your relationships in the online world are no different. Not everyone is going to comment on your blogs or reply back to you if you mention them on Twitter. That’s just the way it is.

Just understand that the planets in your online universe are at different distances from the the sun (you). Unlike the real sun, the world does not revolve round you.

Twitter bird
Amplify’d from www.fastcodesign.com

Social brand platforms require a new way of thinking: a cross between advertising, branding and design. In contrast to static logos and corporate identities where the focus is on control and consistency, social brand platforms have five key characteristics: they’re useful, social, living, layered and curated.

Logos create value for brands, but social brand platforms create value for people. Nike+ helps people run and get healthy. Facebook keeps people in touch with friends and family. Etsy connects cottage industry craftsmen with buyers. Converse has just announced that it’s building a recording studio in Brooklyn to help up-and-coming musicians.

Logos are about control and consistency, but social brand platforms focus on defining the context — there are no standards manuals. They invite people to interact with each other in a variety of ways including one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many.

Not everyone wants to participate on the same level. Social brand platforms thrive by offering multiple levels of involvement. They recognize that not everyone is a creator. Specifically, they provide room for three types of involvement – creation, commenting and consuming.

Read more at www.fastcodesign.com

An interactive brand … a case study on Charice.

A couple of days ago I had a saw a rerun of Oprah.  And no this isn’t an everyday occurrence.  She had a young singer named Charice performing.  I’d never heard of her but I had heard the song she was singing … many times.  I liked it.

On thing I noticed is that a good half of the audience was swaying back and forth making a triangle with two index fingers and two thumbs.

At first I didn’t pay much attention to this.  I went into my office and Googled her to find the name of the song.   The name of the song was “Pyramid.”  Thus the triangles.

The audience was making pyramids.  They were not just singing … they were participating physically.  This participation – this “pyramid,” had become a viral interactive logo for Charice.  And this pyramid has helped her break through the music clutter.

What’s your pyramid?


If you like this … please Tweet it and follow me on Twitter @clayforsberg


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