Feb 212013
 
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In fact, I’ll even help you.

Curating other peoples’ content is one of the best ways to build your own social media brand. Content curation, if done well, communicates several attractive qualities about you:

a) You know who the cool kids are.
b) You’re not afraid to put your opinions on display.This is a very early painting
c) You’re magnanimous (like a boss!) So you’re secure enough in who you are to acknowledge others’ contributions to the conversation.

Like anything else in social media — or life — there are better and worse ways to curate content. For a look at something that — in my opinion, at least — leans toward “better,” here’s a tweet I curated today (we can discuss curating Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook content some other time).

First, the original tweet:

Now, if we just wanted to “phone in” our curated content, we could just click that little Retweet button, couldn’t we? Or we could do slightly better and copy-paste an “old school” retweet along these lines:

RT @FileXpress Eliminating Insecure and Unreliable File Transfer with FileXpress [New #video] http://bit.ly/13gvOzx #MFT

To be fair, sometimes a quick retweet is all we have time for. And sometimes the original tweet/content is so good, it deserves a straight pass-through. But if the opportunity to curate is there, and we have the time, we take it. Because we aren’t mindless automatons, are we?** No, we’re not. We’re human beings. We’re original. We have something to say. We have value to add. So we consider following the pro tips* below.

  1. Links that appear closer to the start of the tweet are more likely to be clicked. No, I don’t know why they are more likely to be clicked. They just are.
  2.  

  3. Editorialize when you curate. Insert an opinionated/arresting/ironic/funny comment to give your retweet some pop. Separate your editorial comments from the content being curated with a familiar symbol. My personal favorite is this: }
  4.  

  5. Trim text down to the minimum, while keeping it readable to English speakers. Leave as much as 25 to 40 characters of “RT space,” if you can. This lets others get a word in if they decide to RT your RT. Note: it’s ok to neuter the meaning of the original headline (a little) in the process of making this extra space. After all, this is the Internet. Truthiness before truth!

 
Here’s an example of how I used these tips in my curated tweet:

 

* Use of the term “pro tip” is not meant to imply that I am an actual professional. In fact, I’m willing to bet a large sum that you can share a curation tip or two of your own in the comments section. Care to take that bet?

** If you had to think about that question, it’s ok. And it proves you’re not a mindless automaton.

Jun 062012
 
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In a letter to potential shareholders included in Facebook’s pre-IPO S-1 filing, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote this:

We hope to improve how people connect to businesses and the economy. We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services.”

2_t-zuckerberg_apOn reading this, I was struck by Zuckerberg’s use of the word “authentic” to describe businesses. This adjective is more often applied to people than to companies. For a person, being inauthentic means failing to be yourself, which often leads to failing other people. For people who want to succeed in life, being authentic is considered a best practice. Yes, one can still achieve success by fooling some of the people some of the time. Even the un-fooled have learned to tolerate this fact. But it’s the “real McCoys” and “straight shooters” who earn our enduring respect.

Can the same be said of companies? Do straight-shooting companies also win in the marketplace? We could debate that question all day. But regardless of the current “truth,” Zuckerberg believes that in the future, authenticity will be a source of competitive advantage for companies.

These days, it’s easy to notice when companies fail their customers, employees, or shareholders. Would a more authentic business be less likely to let its stakeholders down? If so, the Authentic Business may become the new standard of excellence, due to the favorable business outcomes a commitment to authenticity creates.

And we’ll soon be tearing down cubicle walls.
And we’ll throw the cubicle walls into a burning forge.
And the burning forge will operate 24/7,

giving rise to a large new army of…

…Business Authenticity Consultants!

[I know that won’t actually happen. But do you think it could work as a Super Bowl ad?]

Ok, back here in our world, this leaves me with two (other) questions:

1. What does it mean for a business to be authentic?
2. How can companies use social media platforms, today, to become more authentic?

I’d welcome your thoughts (on question 1, question 2, or my Super Bowl ad concept/nightmare)  in the comments section.

Mar 302012
 
Oct 182011
 
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Like Robert Scoble — and several other people I follow — I feel the gravitational pull of G+ as a publishing and engagement platform.

I spent some time today writing a commentary on a NY Times Deal Book story from yesterday on Groupon. What I wrote would be called a blog post, if I had published it on my blog. But instead I posted it to G+.

Here’s the link. I’d love your comments, here or there.

http://bit.ly/mSlnDQ

Apr 092011
 
Video thumbnail for youtube video Smart social media – 5 ways KLM gets it right
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A friend in Amsterdam shared this video on Facebook today, and I was inspired to spin it here on the TLOTL blog. It struck me as a potential “beginning of the end” in the tedious debate of the question: is social media dead?

I refuse to waste pixels issuing birth or death notices for social media (or wade into questions of its citizenship for that matter). But if you are still monitoring social media’s vital signs, or if you just like watching videos, then watch the video. Then read my analysis. And whether you agree with me but think I missed a few points, or you think I’m hopelessly hopped up on social media Kool-Aid, I invite you to make your case in the comments section. [Hey, as long as you’re not a comment spammer or some other type of internet n’er-do-well, you can even launch an epic vitriolic screed against all forms of social media containing links back to your blog or Twitter page.]

Here’s my take on what this video and story does for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines:

  1. Launches a new Miami route with a dose of the fun a KLM passenger can have there. Message: when you fly KLM the transportation is part of the destination. And now one of the reasons you would go to Miami in the first place is one of the reasons you’ll consider flying KLM to get there.
  2. Targets a customer segment with a high expected lifetime value. If you’re a major airline in 2011, it’s nice to fill a seat. It’s reeaaally nice to fill it with young people who tend to travel in groups, probably don’t have kids or a spouse to think of, and spend disposable income on international leisure and entertainment. Seats filled (for 16-18 hours round trip!) with those kinds of passengers provide KLM with a captive audience who will buy drinks, meals, movies, and sign up for credit cards and loyalty programs.
  3. Connects a distinctive, generations-old brand with notions of youth, vitality, style, escape and adventure. These themes appeal to a wide cross-section of the traveling public, and indeed have been part of the air travel sales pitch to consumers for much of the last century.
  4. Shows KLM:
    a. Using social media. Period.
    b. Using social media to listen to customers, and not just to blast out special offers or manage the TV news cycle.
    c. Using social media to engage customers in profitable exchanges – “yes, we’ll gladly move the Miami route launch up one week, but you gotta get your raver friends to fill some seats.” I bet shareholders like that part of the story.
  5. Differentiates KLM as a company that rises above the B.S. — at a time when the dominant storylines in air travel are rising fares, nickel-and-dime surcharges, and (in America at least) TSA body scans, KLM is setting a Guinness World Record for the highest altitude dance party.  This is really smooth, and the nexus of content and context matters a lot here. How would we feel about this video if this were 1999 instead of 2011? In a world awash in post-Cold War, dot com, fin de siècle giddiness, a thumping, transatlantic, 30K-foot dance party would’ve looked terribly tacky and “me too.”

Leon Pals, a Rotterdam-based trendwatcher, posted on thenextweb.com that even if this video is just a clever concoction of KLM’s marketing department or creative agency, he enjoyed it as an example of effective social media. (Such sleight of hand would seem a needless risk for KLM, in my opinion.)

I would take Pals’ point further and say that even if some level of storyline manufacturing took place, this would only underscore social media’s value as a communications channel.

And BTW, let’s just take it as a given that all media is subject to misuse. We should move beyond moral outrage and accept that, at some level, we’re just going to have to figure out the difference between authentic and synthetic messaging. We can try to regulate and we should. And we can hope that those who think it’s ok to “pee in the pool” (I’m talking to you J.C.-Penny-and-or-the-agency-that-supposedly-acted-of-its-own-accord-to-employ-black-hat-SEO-practices-on-J.C.-Penny’s-behalf) will eventually be caught in the act, publicly shamed, and sent to the big house if necessary.

But in the meantime, we marketers have a job to do, and that is TO SELL. And whether or not J.C. Penny or anyone else is cheating is not our concern. What we need to do is tell great stories that inspire the right customer to engage our brands, and ultimately, buy our products. Well done KLM.