ethanbeute

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Tag: conversation

How Bad Positioning Can Obscure Good Data

It worked.  Link bait positioning drew me in to a series of posts from Dan Zarrella, “The Social Media Scientist,” who uses data to punch holes in “unicorns and rainbows” myths about social media.

A trio of posts (two relatively new, another a few months old) all attempt to shoot down the idea that marketers should “engage in the conversation.”  Those three are summarized nicely (here) by Justin Wise.

In looking at Facebook, Twitter and blog conversations, Zarrella observes that likes, @replies and comments are insignificantly or negatively correlated with some desirable outcomes (more links, views, followers).

Here’s a grab from his post on Twitter conversations:

@mentions, @replies, Twitter, engagement, conversation, Zarrella. study, data, charts, graphic, infographic

Zarrella lays out some data about "engaging in the conversation" on Twitter, comparing percentage of @replies to followers.

I’ll leave the specifics to Zarrella’s original posts (Facebook, Twitter and blog conversations) and Wise’s overview.

I simply want to observe that there’s good, interesting and potentially useful data there, but it’s obscured by link bait positioning – that “engaging in the conversation” does not work.  All three posts attempt to destroy unmeasured, touchy feely notions that marketers must “engage in the conversation” to succeed with social media.  The positioning is great for posting headlines and links to generate clicks through, but it’s not especially fair or accurate.  Because the headlines are more specific and fair than the data positioning, link bait may be too pejorative a word for someone whose work I respect very much.  Still, the work doesn’t support directly the notion that “engaging in the conversation” is fruitless and, perhaps, even counterproductive.

A few quick supports:

1 The measures in the Facebook and blog conversation posts have nothing to do with a page admin or blogger “engaging in the conversation.”  Instead, Zarrella observes interactions as a whole.  So, it’s interesting that higher numbers of comments are negatively correlated with higher numbers of views and links, but it says absolutely nothing about the value of marketers engaging conversations.

2 His correlations of Facebook likes and comments to total views are based on just two pages – HubSpot and OnStartups (note: I “like” both pages).  Those two pages have a combined total of 50,000 fans.  Those two pages are also remarkably similar in topic area (online/inbound/content marketing, entrepreneurship, SMB), so the behavior – if not identities – of both pages’ fans is likely very similar.  To make statements about how effective conversation is for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of fan pages among the hundreds of millions of Facebook users from this narrow sample is a stretch at best.

3 The Twitter piece is the most interesting, but even the graphic (included here, above) provides contradictory takeaways.  Don’t bother replying, because those with more followers don’t reply much, if at all … or reply a lot, because those who do also tend to have more followers.  It also ignores strategy outright.  For example, @replies are the foundation for anyone using Twitter for customer service.

So what’s the use of the collective wisdom conveyed in Zarrella’s three posts?  Read ’em for yourself!  I only observe that it’s far more nuanced than their “engaging in the conversation may be a waste of your time and resources” positioning.

The Bottom Line

The single best takeaway from all three posts is more a reminder than anything else: your most successful tactic is providing great content … or links to great content.

These kinds of posts are plentiful.  Many of these posts are very interesting and potentially useful.  Most importantly, many provoke thought and, somewhat ironically in this case, stimulate conversation.  They should not, however, be the basis for calling into question your entire strategy and reacting in immediate or dramatic fashion.  It’s content marketing, hence the tendency toward link bait positioning.

Have a strategy for how you’re using social media.  Established desired outcomes.  Measure actual outcomes.  Learn, optimize and iterate.

Also, stay informed about others’ outcomes, like those observed by Zarrella.  Then, converse!

(Thanks to Michael Worley Jr for bringing this to my attention by tweeting a link to great content)

Gary Vaynerchuk on Being a Good Human

Reading “Crush It!” set me on a short course of watching some of Gary Vaynerchuk‘s live presentations and interviews.  This one, from RailsConf 2010, was one of the more comprehensive in terms of conveying who he is, what he’s about and what he’s currently thinking and doing (though it’s from June).

I posted it to my Facebook page, but it got no likes or comments.  I get it – you had no idea what it was about and didn’t want to bite off an hour of the mystery behind door number 2.  So, I decided here to provide multiple in-points to encourage some viewing.  Find your topic and jump in wherever you’d like.

A few notes off the top: Ruby on Rails is a web app framework developed by 37signals.  This gives the conference its name; it’s a Ruby developers conference.  Vaynerchuck refers to “freed” and “DHH” a few times.  These are the leaders of 37signals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  (Read my short review of their book Rework here).

Though he’s speaking to a group of developers, it’s a talk – plus a great Q&A session – about marketing, branding, social media and general business.  The guy really loves life and loves people, so it transcends these topics regularly.  In this way, it moves toward life, philosophy and being a good human.

Here are your in-points:

2:00    Family emigration from Belarus to US

3:35    Entrepreneurial start (lemonade stands and baseball cards)

4:40    Doing awesome – 13 year old with six grand under his bed

5:40    Goonies reference

7:10    Collecting wine = collecting baseball cards

7:50    Brand damage from being part of co-op/franchise

11:45  Finding happiness in community

12:30  Getting repped by CAA

13:15  New book: “The Thank You Economy”

14:50  Building long-term, real relationships, beating competitors on culture (Zappos/Amazon)

16:40  Consulting with big companies, trying to help them get in on conversations

17:40  If one person follows you, you should be ridiculously thankful

18:10  Riff: “If I get a hundred more followers, I’ll donate $100 to Haiti”

19:30  Shout out to his great, great grandchild (writing your legacy right now)

22:00  Becoming self-aware, showing people who you are

22:45  Huge Twitter fail

23:50  Work your face off, be thankful, have gratitude

25:40  Gatekeepers controlled the game forever, now lost the keys, we can go direct to consumers

26:50  Freemium debate, app culture opens the door to begin charging

28:30  Q&A starts

31:20  Why it’s difficult to impossible right now for big companies participating sincerely in online conversations

34:15  Killing on cost effectiveness of traditional media – outdoor, print, TV, “Don’t even get me started on fucking Nielsen”

37:00  Why our elders are more properly positioned to be successful in 2012 and beyond

39:30  Rework and Crush It book deal customer, nice story of community support – results in a hug at 41:10

42:15  “It was very tea and rock climbing in 2006”

42:40  Why he’s going to jail soon

44:00  Who’s trying harder than him (hint: no one)

44:50  Quoting Jay-Z

45:30  Customer complaints as a gift – results in kiss at 45:50

47:10  Why the corporate game is built not to do this

49:00  Why you need to taste things

49:30  Rocky 4 winter training reference

50:30  Why he loves old people and what matters to them

51:30  Revisiting freemium debate

53:40  Why he’s backing off speaking

55:40  Overlooking the good in favor of the bad

56:40  The “shark and hippo thing”

1:00:20  Why he showed someone his tax returns at Starbucks

1:02:10  “I’m bullish on human beings”

Here is the video, compliments of O’Reilly Media by way of YouTube:


Experience is Not Expertise

I came across Albert Maruggi‘s “Marketing Edge” podcast a couple years back in the iTunes store.  Albert’s a smart and likable guy.  He used to be in television and now does social media and public relations consulting with Provident Partners in Minneapolis.

I probably would not be on Twitter if not for his advocacy.  Admittedly, I don’t use it to its full potential.  Regardless, I’ve learned a lot from his insights, observations and guests … which brings me to the topic.

Albert Maruggi of Provident Partners and the Marketing Edge

Last May, I listened to his interview with Dr Paul Schempp, a professor at the University of Georgia and president of Performance Matters.  The focus of Schempp’s life and work is understanding what it takes to be an expert performer.  Consistent with this theme, he consults many world-class athletes on expert performance routines.

Dr Paul Schempp of Performance Matters - Author, Scholar, Speaker, Coach

Schempp’s ideas have been condensed and clarified into 5 Steps to Expert, his fourth book.  Though I’ve not yet read the book (I’ve got so much reading to do), I’ve listened to Albert Maruggi’s interview with Schempp a few times.  I heard it again last night.

A stand-out takeaway: experience is not expertise.  This point is raised in Part 1 (link below) and illustrated by an example involving a student teacher who became teacher of the year in California a few years later.  It seems obvious, but the distinction seems lost on many people.  In my view, the concepts are related, but not in a causal way.

Just because someone’s been doing something a long time does not mean that he or she is getting any better at it.  Many people achieve level of competence that feels sufficient … they settle … they stagnate.  They’re competent performers, but they’re not on the road to expert status.

A smaller takeaway: the gentlemen briefly discussed point guard Terrell Brandon, a two-time NBA All-Star.  I don’t know why, exactly, but I really liked that guy.


Give the podcast a listen.  It’s a good conversation on a powerful topic.

Here’s Part 1 of the Paul Schempp interview on the Marketing Edge

Here’s Part 2 of the Paul Schempp interview on the Marketing Edge

Here are reader reviews of 5 Steps to Expert at Amazon.com

5 Steps to Expert by Dr Paul Schempp


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