Ubiquity Marketing UnSummit: An Event Worth Checking Out in the ATX

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine, Jason Stoddard, told me that he was pulling together a conference here in Austin. Based on the description and the group of people he was pulling together (see below for list), I couldn’t help but agree to speak. To that end, I’ve been a bad partner in letting people that follow my blog know about the Ubiguity Marketing UnSummit.

To that end, here are the deets (if you live in Austin, you MUST come)…
Focus: How Local Entrepreneurs can Save the World and Pay the Rent in any Economic Climate
Date & Time: September 3, 2009
8:00am – 6:15pm
Location: Shoreline Grill
98 San Jacinto Blvd – Austin, Texas (directions)

There’s also a tweetup after where Brogan will be doing book signings. If you haven’t heard, he’s on the NY Times bestseller list! He’s selling and signing books (drinks will be available for cash as well).

Oh yeah, the most important part of this (in addition to the opportunity to see some great national and local talent) is the fact that all proceeds are benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank, Mobile Loaves and Fishes & PlanetCancer.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

The title of this post asks, “can you judge a book by its cover?” You can when the “cover” is the front page of someone’s Twitter account and you’re judging whether to follow them. That page contains an avatar image (usually the person’s photo), a short biography (no more than 160 characters long), a link to the person’s home page (or company, blog, LinkedIn profile, etc.), and — crucially — the most recent 20 tweets that the person has sent. You can click through to see more tweets in batches of 20, but if you follow many people on Twitter, doing that often takes more time than it’s worth.

And there’s the rub: if you want more people to follow you on Twitter, you have very little time to make a good first impression on them . . . but many ways that you could string landmines of the “Don’t Follow Me” variety across their path.

Recently four heavy Twitter users — Meg Fowler, Jim Storer, Aaron Strout, and Tim Walker — got to talking (on Twitter, of course) about the poisoned words, phrases, and other cues that automatically signal “Don’t Follow” for them. The end result was that the four decided to bang out a joint blog post that talked about best practices in not following based on not liking the proverbial “cover” put forth by fellow tweeters. Here’s what we came up with:

Tim Walker’s “not follow” strategy
  • “MLM” (multi-level marketing). I’m sure that somewhere, some nice person who does MLM could explain to me how it’s not a veiled Ponzi scheme. Until then . . . you’ll pardon me if I continue to think of it as “a veiled Ponzi scheme.” No thanks.
  • Tweets that include “buy followers” or “hundreds of followers” or anything else in the “get lotsa followers!” genre. I try hard to earn new followers by being relevant, interesting, funny, and personable. The idea that you would buy yours in bulk — much less promote that process — disgusts me.
  • Political ig’nance. I follow people of all political stripes, from all over the world. But if you have to wear your politics on your sleeve, and if your politics are of the knee-jerk type (again, regardless of your leanings), I just can’t stand to follow you.
  • Calling yourself a “visionary” or “expert” or (shudder) “guru.” It’s much better to say you’re a “marketing veteran” or “experienced sales leader” or whatever. Let *others* call you a visionary.
Meg Fowler’s “not follow” strategy (cross-posted on “friend” Gradon Tripp’s blog)

Love it, Tim.
  • For me, it’s more about “who do I need to block around here?” Because no one likes to be spammed. So if I see any of this in your bio and/or first 20 tweets…
  • Requests to “follow me back!”
  • Promotion of affiliate programs
  • Actual affiliate links as the link in your bio
  • Any mention of followers (“I can get you followers!” “Get thousands of followers!” “5,000 followers and growing!” “This program will get you followers overnight!”)
  • “Make money online (from home, easily, doing practically nothing, overnight, with my system, etc.)”
  • Promises to “generate” anything: money, cash, followers, success, creeping rashes…
  • Promotion of tooth whitening programs (Seriously?)
  • A mention of your Twitter Grader Rank
  • Mention of “Sponsored Tweets”
  • Mention of your “Twitter eBook FREE JUST CLICK HERE”
  • Presence of “69” in name (or “Shelly Ryan” as your name… poor, poor real @ShellyRyan)
  • Rockstar/Maven/diva/coach/thought leader/guru/expert/pro/maverick
  • Porn-star-like attributes in avatar or links (Nudity, actual sexual acts, clear intent to seduce me with something other than words)
  • Requests to click through to “see your profile”
  • Googly-eyed “Twitter Basic” avatar (upload a photo, PLEASE)
  • @ing people the same link OVER AND OVER

Jim Storer’s“not follow” strategy
I’ve never auto-followed anyone, which at this point means I’ve vetted (to varying degrees) nearly 3,500 people. Until recently you had to click through to a person’s/bots profile page to get the skinny on who they are. Now some of that info is available in the new follower email, but what I look for is the same.

  • Following to Follower % (you’re following dramatically more people than follow you) – If this is too imbalanced there’s something fishy and I’m not biting.
  • # of Updates to Followers/Following #’s – In the last six months I’ve started to see a lot of people with 5k+ followers/following and less than 100 updates. That suggests you’re just using a program to rack up followers and that just wrong (IMHO). I’m not interested in being another notch on your bedpost.
  • If your bio includes any of the following I’m not interested: “more followers”, “make money”, “expert” (at anything), “MLM” and everything else Tim, Meg and Aaron came up with. I trust them.
  • If the words you chose to describe your pursuits in your biography are overly loquacious I will not be inclined to follow you back. Get real… use real words and tell me who you are.
  • If you haven’t written anything in your bio and/or you haven’t added a photo, I’m not following you.
  • If you have zero updates how am I supposed to know what you’re going to talk about? I’m not listening until you start talking.
  • If your last few updates are repetitive and too self-promoting, I’m not interested in seeing that day to day. I already saw what you have to say when I was checking out your profile.

Aaron Strout’s “not follow” strategy

The upside and downside of going last is that 1) all the good stuff has been said but 2) it leaves less stuff for me to say. Out of the list above, I’m probably the most lenient of the four. Like Jim, I’ve never auto-followed (but have considered it) so that means that I’ve hand followed back nearly 9,000 people (yup, that’s a lot). However, I have a few basic rules that I follow:
  • In most cases (not all), I like seeing a picture. If someone is obviously a n00b who looks to be figuring things out, I’ll cut ’em some slack. Otherwise, they don’t make the cut.
  • I need a bio. Is it too much to tell me what you do?
  • I also need a tweet or two (unless they are a friend of mine and then of course they get the free hall pass)
  • No “get rich fast, affiliate or “let me sell you some shit” in the bio or last few tweets.”
  • One I get stuck on a lot is the news feed/blog title posts. These really depend on follow ratio and quality of the tweets. It also is up to my mood. If I’m hand following 40-50 people, these folks usually make it in. If it’s 4-5, not so much.
  • I will follow ANYONE from Austin (pornos excepted)
  • Oh yeah, I don’t follow webcam girls or known pornos.
So what’s your strategy? Who do you or don’t you follow? Share your tips in the comments below.
photo credit: library.cornell.edu

Panhandling for Change: A Little Vote Goes a Long Way

Yup, I’m that dude. The one with his hand out asking for some change. Well, not actual change but the social equivalent. I’m looking for a vote (thumbs up or down) and/or a comment if you can spare it. It’s for the 2010 South by Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSWi) and I am lucky enough to be in the running for three different panels. I’ve also submitted a fourth panel for my colleague, Kathy Warren, to lead with a client and a couple of other rock star brands.

Here are the details:
Organizer/Moderator: Kathy Warren, VP Strategy & Measurement, Powered Inc.
Panelists: Peter Fasano, social media marketing, Coca Cola; Tom Hoehn, director brand communications & new media, Eastman Kodak; Shawn Morton, senior consultant for social media at Nationwide Insurance
If you’ve ever tried tracking down a return on investment (ROI) on “social,” you’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to find. During this interactive discussion, listen as brand practitioners from Coke, Nationwide and Kodak talk about ways that their companies are deriving real ROI from social while providing best practices, case studies and examples of how companies can achieve this elusive ROI Holy Grail.
Organizer/Moderator: Simon Salt, CEO, The IncSlingers
Panelists: Aaron Strout, CMO, Powered; Dave Knox, brand manager, digital business strategy, Procter & Gamble; Amber Naslund, director of community, Radian6.
Content, content, content. If you haven’t heard, it’s the new currency and companies are looking at new ways to create smart, engaging and most importantly, inexpensive content to engage their customers, prospects and partners. From blog comments and community forums to expert videos, this interactive session will answer the important questions such as:
  1. Where ownership of content starts, ends and why the lines blur.
  2. How to deal with “inappropriate” content, handling negativity, moving beyond the C level fear of what people might say.
  3. The best ways to strike a balance between expert, curated and customer generated content.

Organizer/Moderator: Tim Walker, Blogger, Hoover’s Inc.
Panelists: Aaron Strout, CMO, Powered; Jennifer Leggio, blogger, ZDNet; Kyle Flaherty, director of marketing, BreakingPoint Systems
Teamwork. Preparation. Execution. Sports abounds with lessons for today’s socially enabled business. This panel’s Murderer’s Row of sports fans/social media pros will make you laugh, make you think, and give you fresh perspective on how sports metaphors can elevate social media practice for you and your company.

Organizer/Moderator: Bill Johnston, chief community officer, ForumOne Communications
Panelists: Aaron Strout, CMO, Powered; Jake McKee & Sean O’Driscoll, principals, Ant’s Eye View; Shawn Morton, senior consultant for social media at Nationwide Insurance
Social media practice and implementation is a dynamic and volatile subject that effects all functions in a company from the obvious (product, support, marketing) to the not so obvious (hr, operations). Hear from 5 seasoned social media practitioners (plus YOU!) about where we are on “the map” of social media adoption and practice, and where we are headed. The mood will be lively, the panel bright eyed and prepared, and the audience smart (and involved).

The Virtual Tongue: How NOT to Use Facebook for Business

Anyone that reads this blog or has connected with me on Twitter, Facebook or any of the other dozen or so social networks I belong to know that I’m a pretty reasonable guy. I know I need to be reasonable because I can be a little noisy at times (okay, a lot noisy). But I do try and create value for those I’m connected with whether that’s sharing good posts, interesting podcasts I’ve recorded or helping friends re-broadcast their own messages.

This morning, I had someone friend me on Facebook that did NOT share my same values. After sending me six messages in two and a half hours, I had to pull the plug and un-friend this person. Part of me felt bad because this was only the third person out of a thousand plus friends (and three years on Facebook) that I disconnected with. But enough was enough.
I’m not sharing names because for the most part just to prove my point, here is a timeline of the six messages I received (just in case I might be overreacting)…
  • 6:06 AM – A wall post thanking me for my friendship (I reciprocated by cross-posting on this person’s wall with a “nice to meet you too” message).
  • 7:32 AM – A request to become a fan of this person (I hate these requests for the most part unless a) you’re a company I REALLY like or b) you’re a close personal friend
  • 7:35 AM – An invite to join one this person’s groups
  • 7:38 AM – An invite to attend one of this person’s events/workshops
  • 7:51 AM – Another wall post thanking me for my wall post
  • 8:23 AM – Another invite to join yet another group
  • 9:15 AM – Aaron pulls the plug on our “friend-ship”
Did this person actually think that this type of behaviour was welcome? To bring this around to a dating analogy (you know I like dating analogies, right?) I felt an awful lot like I met this person in a bar, said “hello” as I was grabbing a round of drinks at the bar and then next thing I know, they were trying to stick their tongue down my throat. WHOAAAA! I don’t know about you, but even as a guy I would find this to be a major turn off.
Fortunately, most brands have figured out that creating a spam-fest, especially in such a condensed period of time, is NOT a good idea. I mean this person didn’t take any time to get to know me, engage me in any meaningful dialog or maybe comment on a post or two of mine. Unfortunately, there are more and more of these folks who don’t get it coming into the world of social with no regard to etiquette or best practices.
Do you have a good story about a “virtual tongue” or a bad case of social etiquette? If so, please share it in the comments below.