Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Falling Influence of Blogs

Brian Solis has a great piece on TechCrunch in which he offers a much more researched and reasoned view of something I touched on over on the Schwartz Crossroads blog: the rise of microblogging on services like Twitter and Facebook are changing the role of the blog.

When people used to ask me about whether a blog was "for real" one measure I'd give them was comments. I can't do that any longer. Just because a blog has few comments doesn't mean people aren't commenting ABOUT it. Those comments can be scattered to the four winds of the Internet.

The story is worth a read.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why You Won't Find Answers on Twitter and Facebook

As kids and teens, my brother and I used to occasionally accompany my dad to printing shows, as that was his industry. While there we'd grab a number of printed posters and see quite a few of my dad's colleagues. Me, being aloof, could never remember a person from one year to the next, but my brother had this wonderful inate ability to know a person's name, face and even something about them. One year, as a baby-faced teen, he asked my dad's colleague about his daughter.

"That kid's a natural salesman," my dad's colleague commented. Before you joke, he meant it as a compliment.

It wasn't that my brother understood how to sell. He didn't memorize reams of data about a particular product or have a knack for showing it off, but he could naturally relate to any individual through information.

Flash forward a few years and I'm a Resident Adviser at Brandeis when the head of Residence Life tells us her secret for making people think she knows everything. Before going in to bust a suite for illegal activity (like drinking) she would have information on the oldest person living in the suite, just their name and birth date. Then she'd say "I know no one in this dorm is legally able to drink until Bob turns 21 on March 3rd." Everyone would freeze and think she knew everything. She built a reputation for omnicience. Really, this information was readily available to administrators and she just read it before walking in. Neat trick.

This is what makes Twitter and Facebook so valuable. It gives you the information you need to make personal connections. I'm not suggesting you fake your way through these connections and feign interest in things you hate just to do your job, but these tools help you do your job better by allowing you to relate to people, not to products. The best part: people give you the information.

Too often when people ask about social media tools they want a quick fix. PR people want to know if the reporters they are following will say "today I'm writing as story about mobile media tools, can anyone help?" and then they want to be able pitch.

Sorry, it doesn't work like that. What you get is a little knowledge about someone that can help you forge a better relationship, then you can, by default, do your job better. Maybe that person is an auto entusiast and you know something about cars. Maybe they're a crafter specializing in jewelry-making and you know something about that.

Or, maybe, you can just ask how their daughter is doing.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Adorama's Branded Journalism

As noted by Chris Brogan, the publisher of JPG Magazine has been purchased by Adorama and plans to relaunch soon. Not only does it make sense for a camera retailer, but it makes sense for other companies as well. It's another example of the branded journalism concept I talked about here, here and here.

I want to make clear, this is not for every type of journalism. The fact is, political and business journalism still need an independent voice to make it work. However, for most other areas of journalism content is the loss leader. JPG Magazine will bring people to Adorama who are interested in photography. It raises their stature.

Now, every small retailer can't go out and purchase something like JPG, but there are things they can do. For example, why can't a local camera store Tweet information about photo contests and interesting photo exhibits? How about a book stores that publishes its own staff reviews? Today's publishing tools not only make this possible, but make it NECESSARY.

Journalists are on the market today looking for work. These are people skilled in writing, editing, shooting and reporting. Those skills will help grow just about any business in the future.