Archive for July, 2009

Ignore the Trolls

_files_troll_2I recently tweeted, Suspend your disbelief for creators, innovators, entrepreneurs; they’ve suspended disbelief in themselves, to bring value to you.” It’s one for the ages, eh?

I ginned up this thought due to a confluence of varied events…

First off, we launched (with an exclusive feature on Mashable).  As much as you’d think I’d expect some negativity (especially before we dropped the price to FREE), the level of tossed-off snark in the Mashable comments was dispiriting.

Constructive criticism led us to make it free.  No biggie.  But the “unhelpful” (read: mean) criticism didn’t make me any less enthused about clickable Twitter backgrounds; it literally made me less excited about the human race.  Who takes the time to sign-in their credentials to post a comment that’s just one line of bile-for-bile’s-sake?  Yeesh.

Then I saw this comment by “GregL” at the Mashable post, which made me feel whole again:

“Wow the power of people talking (and complaining) and a company listening. It’s been interesting reading through the comments. I have to feel a little bad for the developer, some people have been quite harsh. I’m sure those same people are working hard to develop awesome upcoming software that’s gonna revolutionize the world. :)

“I think the idea is great. Sure the downloading a script part is a hurdle. Maybe in the future it will be wrapped into a much more common FF download so more people will have it…or even incorporated into FF 4.0. I’m gonna definitely keep an eye on ClickableNow and see what they come up with in the future. I applaud them for their efforts thus far!”

I don’t know who you are, GregL, but dude, you made my day.  Helpful and thoughtful.  (Luckily, we also got a warm reception on Twitter itself.  Thousands of people downloaded the free script and hundreds have already created a clickable background.  So that’s good.)

Silicon_valleyMeanwhile, as part of my work here in SF I’ve been meeting with a lot of clients who had before just been names on a list.  What a gosh-darned delight.  There is something very special about the light you see in people’s eyes in Silicon Valley.  It’s raw experimentation combined with unflagging enthusiasm. You can’t help but “suspend disbelief” for the zingy ideas you hear out here; you can’t help but believe that these entrepreneurs are gonna figure it out, despite the odds.  It is inspiring.

And that’s left me in a happy place as the week winds down: To heck with the snarks, haters and trolls.  Succeed or fail, the TRYING is fun.

Make Your Twitter Profile Clickable!

ClickablenowToday SHIFT Communications and Shannon Whitley of Whitley Media are proud to announce the debut of “ClickableNow.”  Yup, you can make your Twitter profile at clickable, now.  How cool is that?

You’ve experienced it a million times.  You click on someone’s avatar to see their most recent tweets, and over in the left-hand nav you see a diverse listing of static, unclickable, uncopyable, kludgy-looking links.  Maybe you have a few of these links on your own profile?

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could click on those links?  Wouldn’t it add value to your own personal branding efforts if you could make your Twitter profile links clickable?  Now you can, thanks to ClickableNow.

To VIEW clickable Twitter profiles, you need to install the free Clickablenow browser script.

To MAKE YOUR PROFILE CLICKABLE, simply visit, lay down $19.95, and follow the handful of instructions. Super easy.  UPDATE: and now it’s free!

You can make the links ANY COLOR and ANY SIZE that you want; you can make TEXT or IMAGES clickable, too. It’s very customizable cuz we know you put a lot of effort into creating those backgrounds.

You wouldn’t want a big prospect to miss out on that seamless click from your Twitter profile page to your online portfolio, wouldja?  Not when $19.95 is less than you’re paying for a tank o’ gas!  You can try for some free invites, though, by following the instructions at Mashable’s site. Especially now that it’s free!!

Yea, we get ideas. We execute. Some of our ideas change industries. Some bellyflop. Some are cool, and worth doing just for the education. Can’t wait to see which column ClickableNow falls under.

Your feedback would be awesome.  Thanks!  Happy clicking!

Corporate Social Media Policy: Top 10 Guidelines

IStock_000008637777XSmallHow can corporate employees’ participation in Social Media be dealt with and managed in a way that liberates them — without putting the company at risk?

While I most often write about Social Media for Marketing, this question of Social Media use within the Corporation is ultimately a much bigger issue.

I’ve seen (and helped develop) several Social Media Usage Policies.  Meanwhile, folks like Dave Fleet have done an outstanding job of covering Social Media Policies at a philosophical level.

But, you’re busy.  You want the work done for you, eh?  I get it.

One of our new clients (an iconic brand that I can’t wait to tell you about!) recently worked on a new Social Media Policy which we helped to refine and humanize.  It represents one of the best examples I’ve seen, and offers the added benefit of having been vetted by top corporate lawyers.

And, you can have it.  Here, for you — for free and without copyright restrictions — is an example of the Top 10 Guidelines of Corporate Social Media Policy (PDF).

Copy & paste as you see fit, for your own company or clients: there may be some stuff that doesn’t fly within your own organization, but, this document is worth running up the flagpole with your company’s legal eagles, with the C-suite execs, etc.

As always you are encouraged to use this content with or without attribution to me or SHIFT.  Make it your own.

Just let me know if you find it useful?

It Doesn't Matter if the Client is Ready for Social Media

IStock_000006367063XSmallSome of the most persistent reasons agency PR pros give for lagging on their Social Media knowledge? 

“My clients aren’t ready for it … It’s not as big a deal in B2B … etc.”

Newsflash: it does not matter if your clients aren’t ready.  The mainstream media are ready.

Forget (for a minute, if you must) the fact that the rest of the world is becoming increasingly engaged in Social Media.  The fact is that the Mainstream Media are getting religion.

Yesterday one of my colleagues noted, “I was accustomed to ‘stalking’ the same set of reporters for years.  I’d get press clips, sure, but the relationship was very controlled.  Since I became friends with these guys on Facebook, we’ve become actual friends. When they visit SF, they ask me for hotel and restaurant recommendations, etc.  And, I get a LOT more coverage for my clients.”

Please note that this team member’s clients are among the most techie, B2B, curmudgeonly folks on SHIFT’s roster.  The use of Social Media to influence end-users on these clients’ behalf is relatively minor (if not non-existent).  However, the use of Social Media to influence the beat reporters in their industries is now a priceless part of our approach.

Imagine if this SHIFTer had personally ignored “the whole Social Media thing” because her clients didn’t care about Twitter and Facebook and bloggers?

Hamster on a Wheel

IStock_000006158722XSmallLife in an agency is not easy.  The level of churn is infamously high, especially at the junior level. 

Some folks stick; they really love the agency way of life.  Others are motivated by outside interests: they overdose on “perspective” and make some major life changes.  And some people forge a middle path: they dig marcomm but prefer the regularity of a corporate career.

Do you need to have a screw loose to envision an enduring career in an agency?  Is burn-out a forgone conclusion?

I think a key thing to communicate to agency employees, especially the Millenial Set, is that “getting frustrated” is not the same as “getting stale” or “burning out.” 

Just as importantly, the employee needs to understand the need to take personal responsibility for avoiding that burnt-out feeling.  A manager can’t make you feel invigorated, not on a consistent basis, cuz at some point that manager needs to drop the rah-rah and get that darned report over to the client.

It’s certainly true that in the early stages of a PR career, many of the basic elements of the job can start to feel mundane. For every exciting newbiz pitch there are weeks of reporting, media outreach, dbase entry, etc.  This can make the young PR pro feel like the proverbial hamster on a wheel.

Meanwhile, the junior staffer might look upstream at their superiors on the org chart and wonder, “Is that the job I really want?”  It’s fair to assume that those higher-ups are often stressed and crazed, so the answer might well be, “Umm, NO.”

The reality is that everyone, at all levels, needs to take responsibility for challenging themselves.  That’s the secret to ending Hamster Syndrome.

IStock_000006158699XSmallThe account exec might need to set a goal like, “Get a hit in the NYTimes” and plunge into it.  The account manager might need to make it their personal mission to turn a doubtful client into a raving agency fan.  The account director might need to commit to a series of public speaking engagements that terrify them but keep things fresh.  The agency principal needs to busy himself with — (aww, heck, trust me, he feels plenty challenged!)

Achieving these small, personal goals are more challenging and ultimately more satisfying than banging through the metrics presented during an annual review.  Why?  Cuz only y-o-u know what you’re really bad at, terrified of, need to work on; only y-o-u know what’s going to make you feel like a goddamn worldbeater.

The trick is to recognize the need to set the personal goals in the first place — to see beyond the whirring wheel in the hamster cage to the green fields of victory beyond.

Show some social media love would ya?

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