Archive for 'opinion'

Social Media Power

Over the past 24 hours I’ve been reminded (again) how powerful Social Media has become in our daily life.  For instance, Gary Vaynerchuk has a daily video blog, and he was asking everyone to make today (April 3, 2008) “Good People Day.” I have never met Gary in person, but I feel as if I know him through his videos and his blog posts.  Gary is Gary–that’s what’s great about him.  I don’t think he’d be any different in person than he is in his videos and blog posts–therefore I consider Gary a friend even though we’ve never had face to face encounters.  I really like the guy, but I’m sure there are those that may not “get him.”  He’s not hiding from that though–he’s embracing it so I’m trying to do my part to help out a friend.  On my Facebook page, I’ve added three new friends and sent out a lot of “good karma” to several of my friends on there as a result of Gary’s initiative.

All of this got me to thinking, “how does a movement take form so quickly?”  Imagine something like this 15 years ago–it would have taken a metric ton of press coverage to spread as quickly as it has, but it’s reached little old Louisville, KY just as quickly as Gary posted his daily video blog entry last evening.  I noticed Todd Earwood Twittering about “Good People Day” just a moment ago and realized something like this can spread like wildfire in little to no time in just a day, and the power of that shouldn’t be underestimated.  So how would someone new to the social media landscape tap into something like this?

  1. Social media is not a whole lot different from developing relationships offline.  It takes time to develop relationships, and it takes even longer to develop deep relationships so don’t expect to go online and generate a massive following in a couple of weeks that will promote your “cause.”
  2. Be genuine.  The social media world can sense a fake so always be yourself.  That’s the person you’re best at playing anyway so don’t try to deviate from that in an effort to compromise others’ trust.
  3. Participate without being a stalker or attention hog.  Observe for a bit then chime in (in kind) when something interests you, but don’t hog the conversation or spotlight.  It’s not all about you with social media.
  4. Remember: it’s inclusion vs. exclusion.  “Old media” was all about keeping people out and controlling the message at all times.  New media is all about networks of people with varying interests connecting with one another and socializing in a way that fits them.  They’re free to spread whatever message they want via whatever medium they feel most comfortable.

So why do you think “old media” feels so threatened by new media?  They can’t control the message anymore, and all of the rules of reporting JUST the facts have vanished.  People’s opinions actually matter now.  Water cooler conversation is just as important as an article you see in the newspaper if not more so today.

In the “old days,” a person was rarely called out by name in print unless they had consented or they had done something wrong to which they gave up the right to consent.  In today’s social media world, it’s not uncommon to see someone blog about someone in a positive manner and name them by name while linking back to them to help include more people in the mix and help them get to know more of the writer’s circle of friends.  That’s the “social” in social media.

So the takeaway I got out of all of this is you’re either embracing social media as a legitimate outlet or you’re battling it.  I’m obviously embracing it, but what do you think of it?  Are you comfortable that someone can find you online very easily and/or connect with you with little effort while having a potentially powerful network of connections they can influence to boot?  What do you think of social media and its impact? Please share your thoughts on this as I’m curious about the social climate as it pertains to business today.

Cadillac Ad with Kate Walsh: Good or Bad?

Since I’ve been on a good vs. bad kick lately with TV ads, what is your opinion of the Cadillac spot featuring Kate Walsh? Good or bad?

New Chrysler Commercial

During my weekly enjoyment of the NBA on TNT tonight, I noticed the Chrysler 300 commercials flowing regularly with a good mix of hip-hop music and engaging visuals of some tricked out 300 vehicles.

They encourage people to upload videos and/or photos of their customized Chrysler to one of their websites. Even though the same spot aired several times throughout the night, I found myself looking forward to them. “Why” you may ask? They truly understand their target audience, and their attempt to involve their existing customer base is great.

I’m not sure how much of a community they have built as a result of their efforts thus far, but they’re employing good marketing tactics that should pay off in time. While I personally don’t want a Chrysler 300, I appreciate the ads from a marketing perspective.

Since I’m on the topic of good marketing spots . . . the Ameriprise series with Dennis Hopper are very well done and do a fantastic job of targeting the Baby Boomer generation in a fashion that should resonate with them.

Next time you catch either of these commercials, take note of your reaction and come on back and share your opinions here.

Opinion: Why Carry a Gun?

You’ve all heard the phrase from the pro-gun crowd: “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” True statement which I agree with in principle, but there was an incident in Jeffersontown, KY (a sub-city of Louisville) where a retired J-Town cop (Richard Koenig) and a citizen (Darren Pickerill) got into a bit of a road rage battle over a 4-way stop sign that makes you wonder.

To make a long story short, Pickerill, the citizen, is in the hospital in critical condition as a result of six to eight shots fired by Koenig, the retired cop. Apparently, Pickerill went out of turn at the 4-way intersection that incited a verbal exchange that quickly escalated into a shooting spree. Unconfirmed initial reports suggest that Pickerill possibly showed a gun as the two were arguing over the 4-way stop, and that propelled Koenig to open fire. Pickerill allegedly never fired a shot. All of this over a stupid 4-way stop sign? Amazing!

Yes, the guns in this case are not to blame, but would either of these people be in the position they are in today if neither of them had a gun? The worst that could have resulted is the two might have gotten into a physical confrontation where one or both got roughed up a bit, but they’d both live to talk about it and possibly even laugh about it one day. No one is laughing now, and I’d imagine Koenig is going to have some legal battles to wage as a result of his quick trigger. Pickerill is in pretty dire shape all because of the threat of showing a gun that caused another to flip out and shoot first.

I can’t say what I would have done in the exact situation because I’ve never been in it, and I hope I never am. I can say that I’ve been furious at 4-way stops several times because they really aren’t that hard to navigate, yet some people seem to think they are like solving a Rubik’s cube or something. It deeply concerns me that there are seemingly more and more people out there hunting for situations like this so they can shoot first then cry “self defense” (as Koenig is in this case) if something bad happens.

There are way more dumb drivers roaming the earth than any of us would prefer, but it’s not the end of the world when you encounter one. Flip them off, yell a little, maybe even stand on the gas to get around them, but let it go just as quickly as you blew up. You never know who might be packing heat looking for any reason to unload some rounds to compensate for some pitiful insecurity they have.

The moral of the story for me is nothing good comes from carrying a gun around even if you never plan to use it. The sheer fact that it’s there is a threat that it COULD be used, and people don’t tend to act rationally when they experience a little road (or instant) rage. The gun itself provides zero protection–using it does. Why tempt yourself and fate?

Another great post over at SEOMoz.org by Scott. This discusses how political candidates need SEO. I couldn’t agree more, and I was contacted by a couple of candidates just before the KY gubernatorial primaries went to the polls. It was too late (one or two months isn’t enough time for a good SEO Campaign in a political race), but I would strongly suggest the survivors consider SEO as part of their marketing campaign if they haven’t incorporated it already.

Whether DNC or RNC, Political Candidates need SEO

By scott@seomoz.org

Posted by great scott!

Due to the first round of Presidential Candidate pre-primary debates occuring recently, I decided to have a poke around and see what the State of the SERPs is like for the major 2008 Presidential hopefuls. I was surprised to find that, despite Howard Dean’s major success with online fundraising in 2004, and the vast popularity of political blogs and web-centric PACs like MoveOn.org, many of the 2008 Candidates are committing huge SEO blunders.

I know SEO is a fairly young industry and not everyone is hip to optimization techniques, but considering the reach and importance of the internet to young, vocal, passionate voters, writers and opinion leaders, one would think the masterminds behind these multi-million dollar marketing schemes campaigns would know of and appreciate the importance of search marketing.

Take the mind-boggling case of John McCain, a likely GOP front-runner: McCain’s active campaign site currently ranks #68 at Google for “john mccain” and just as abysmally for other terms and iterations of his name. How could this be? Well, behind his senate.gov profile page (which he can’t use for campaigning) and his Wikipedia entry, we find www.straighttalkamerica.com, Mr. McCain’s campaign site from the 2000 primary.

As you’ll notice, the Title Tag directs us to go to his new site, but, since it doesn’t rank, we can’t click through to it from the same SERP. If we go to his old site, we’re not 301’d, but rather instructed to click through to his new site. If ever (EVER!) there was a case for 301-ing a domain, this is it. Granted, McCain’s new site has its own problems, most glaring is that every single page uses the same title and meta description tags, and navigation is primarily via drop-down java script menus. As such, most of his pages are likely ending up in the Supplemental Index making his internal links worthless. Let me also point out that even the search “john mccain 2008” puts his new site #3 behind www.stopjohnmccain2008.com and his Wikipedia page. He does, however, have AdWords for his new site on the SERPs for every imaginable incarnation of his name.

On the flip side of this equation is Barack Obama’s site which is a redesign of his domain from his 2004 Senate bid. Nicely designed and fairly well optimized, he is the only candidate that ranks for such lofty keywords as “ending iraq war” (#10 on Google) and “2008 election” (#11) [Update: as of this morning, 5/10, Google is showing Dennis Kucinich at #8 for “ending iraq war”]. However, for these and other campaign specific keywords such as “candidate,” “2008 election,” “united states presidential election,” and “democratic candidates” or “republican candidates,” none of the current contenders are even in the top 50 at Google. Two notable exceptions are Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich (possibly carrying links and domain strength from his ’04 run) who both rank in the top 15 for the term “president“.

Fine, it’s early, maybe people are still looking for candidates by name only. After all, dark horse candidate Ron Paul (R) and Mike Gravel (D) have gotten tons of attention on the social media sites lately. Unfortunately, the data just doesn’t back it up. Despite 12 stories on Digg featuring Ron Paul in the headline, each receiving more than 1000 diggs, since he announced his candidacy on March 12, 2007–Mike Gravel’s been featured in nine 1000+ digg stories since announcing on March 9th–the search queries for his name pale in comparison to the big players who, oddly enough, get almost no love from Digg (Obama’s headlined in only two 1000+ digg stories since March 9th, same with Clinton).

While “Hillary Clinton” and “Barack Obama” get significant daily numbers as search terms (Clinton currently getting about 50% more volume than Obama), the rest of the candidates don’t get much love at all. John Edwards gets about 1/3rd of Clinton’s search volume, as does McCain. Even social media darlings Paul and Gravel are averaging only a relative handful of name searches daily. As far as traffic goes, things are pretty much the same, with the exception of a distinct inversion between Obama and Clinton. The chart below shows the relative search volumes for the names of the major candidates (data from Keyword Discovery) as well as their relative Alexa Traffic Rank (3 mos. avg.) to their official campaign sites.

Granted, the search numbers aren’t huge for the more general, campaign-related terms, but in most cases they’re more popular than candidate names and have a much longer tail.

So what’s it come down to? It seems the vast majority of candidates have little
to no idea of the importance of keyword research, keyword targeting or even basic, on-page SEO practices. I strongly believe that the Internet is going to play a huge role in the 2008 election. I also believe, after examining the current offerings by the major players, that the candidate that attacks the SERPs now, and positions themselves to rank for campaign-related and issue-related keywords will have a huge advantage in disseminating their beliefs and dominating the conversation.

UPDATE: Jonah Stein has published a great follow-up to this article, Political Search Marketing: Electronic Grass Roots, over at Alchemist Media. He offers an excellent analysis of how political campaigns and operatives could and should use the power of SEO/SEM to market their campaigns, marshal grassroots support and inform voters. Perhaps more importantly, he discusses how the campaigns, the engines, and the public need to be vigilant to avoid the potential for unscrupulous use that could make the internet the most effective catapult for political mudslinging and disinformation.

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