Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Online Media or Social Media?

Perspective is a funny thing.

For most of us who live in cyberspace, the answer is obvious. However, too many think that social media equals online media, digital media, or Internet media. While the last three are the same in my eyes, to another, one may not be like the other. Digital media means web design to universities and a web guy. Just like some web people think graphic design applies to them, too. Tell that to people who produce books.

Social media is all of the above, but not visa versa. Online media/digital media/Internet media include social media but they also include:
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Video sites
  • Blogs
  • Online media
  • Online articles
  • Online press releases
  • Virtual launch parties
  • Online gaming
  • Apps
  • Mobile communications (i.e. text)
  • Skype
  • Online conferencing
  • Instant messaging
  • Google ads
  • Pop-up ads
  • Wikipedia
  • Discussion boards
  • Photography sharing sites, such as Flickr, Instagram
  • Websites
There are many more elements to add, including those we haven't even invented yet.

Social media is one ball on the Christmas tree and the above are the rest of the decorations that hang on it. Social media sites are also a relationship-building sites that can incorporate the rest of the balls on the tree and visa versa.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sudsy Brew a Cure for Wi-Fi Woes

Is it just me? These days it seems like too much time is spent in search of a decent Internet connection. 

Unless one is wired in at the source or you carry your own wi-fi on a stick, connections can be hit and miss. 

Saw this today in Mashable. Who knew that drinking beer can help your connection?  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We're Drowning in Data Overload

We are bombarded with messaging at every turn of the head. Commercials, billboards, bus signs, advertising, direct mail, inbox spam, social media spam, sponsor messages, packaging inserts, store displays...we can't get away from it. Most of it is hit and miss advertising -- meaningless and wasteful spending or effort to reach the masses instead of narrowing the message to the specific target demographic.

Given that there are more platforms available for the marketing assault, it is time to stop and figure out why you are really sending that tweet, posting that Pinterest board, or adding a corporate page on Facebook.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Murray Izenwasser is a respected social media strategist who says digital media isn't just a collection of venues to post and sell your stuff. It's a shift in how we relate to one another. For example, many businesses operate from home offices and will book client meetings at a coffee shop or rent a room that hosts audio-visual tools. At this meeting, the business person can access a document on his laptop, while his client can view it at the same time on his tablet, and several parties in other cities can also access the same document at the same time -- from a smartphone in their car. The setup of this meeting may have come from an email invite, Facebook event post or direct message, a tweet-up, or Google Chat. The participants in the other cities could be connected via Skype or Google Hangout or any other web conferencing platform.

These tools have brought the world right into our fingertips.

It's easy to get caught up in throwing up content and finding creative ways to attract followers, but Murray suggests we take a step back and know WHAT we want to achieve. In business, the end goal is revenue, which can be in the form of email capture or some other goal that ultimately ends up in a quest for dollars.

He says it is about three ingredients. Period.
  1. Activity
  2. Engagement
  3. Conversion
No activity brings you any engagement thus no conversion.

I encourage you to watch this Spreecast and learn more from Murray. He'll teach you what to do and what not to do. Sound advice if you're just starting out, and great nuggets for those who have been active for years.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blame Ted Turner

When did news programs turn into tabloid journalism?

I haven't done an in-depth scientific review but I suspect it began with the first bomb blasts of Desert Storm on January 16, 1991: the first Gulf War. Who can forget the compelling live reporting from the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad when CNN reporters Bernard Shaw, John Holliman, and Peter Arnett took cover and told us what they were seeing outside their window. That was the day we were hooked into the 24-hour news cycle. We saw war up front, close, and personal.

It wasn't the wonderful reporting that turned major events into one-story news systems. It was ratings. With most of the world hanging on every moment of coverage, CNN became the number one station for news, leaving the big three networks in the dust.

Fast forward to today's terrible shooting at a Connecticut school, where a gunman killed 20 elementary school children among six adults. As parents are escorting the survivors from the school grounds, reporters are interviewing the children as to what happened. Now, I completely understand the need to get to the most accurate report of what transpired at the scene. But really? You have to go there? Where in the brain of any reporter or editor (who sent the reporter and probably insisted they get that clip) says to interview young children immediately as they leave the bloody scene of where a gunman tried to kill them? And what parent with half a brain would allow the reporter to interview them?

That completely did me in ten minutes into watching the coverage. I was done. Nope, not watching anymore. Had enough. That's not news. That's exploitation. That is the same as the News of the World hacking the phone of a murdered girl and allowing the parents to think she was still alive.

So now, until the next tragedy or until the topic reverts back to more Fiscal Cliff discussions, expect 24/7 coverage of this shooting, with images run over and over of the same footage you saw in the first ten minutes, with the same pundits, the same interviews, speculation after speculation, more disturbing interviews with the children, and then when the editors get bored with that after about four days, they'll try and dig up dirt on the adults and maybe even the children that perished, as if to point the blame back to the victims.

The 24-hour news cycle and one-story news casts may have started with CNN (the brainchild of Ted Turner), but it has since spread to nearly every television station.

It's predictable coverage and it's been going on for so long, I forgot what real news coverage looks like. Oh wait. Yes I do. These same news stations used to try and discredit this one news outlet. Funny that. I challenge you to spend a day with it and it will help you through missing the days of Tom Brokaw and Walter Cronkite. Of course, I'm talking about Al Jazeera.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

User/Password Overload

Amazon, Air Miles, utility companies, banks, blogs, retail, social media...everything requires a user name/password. 

Do you use the same one for everything? It is not the most secure thing to do but that would make things a log easier. 

I have to keep updating the list, usually adding to the 12 pages of login information for all the sites I go to. There is no way I will ever remember them. 

My email, bank, and a handful of others I have at the tip of my brain. The rest, I have to look up. If I misplace the list, I'm done. So I have the list saved in many places...just in case.

Is it just me?

I have so many logins that when a newsletter, website, or information source asks me to create a user name/password for the sake of reading their stuff, I move on to the next one. Except for a select few, chances are I do not need the information that badly. I have to really want your stuff to stretch my Word doc to page 13.

We are being user name/passworded to death. Somewhere out in cyberspace, there are user/passwords set up for those who forgot where they've logged in.  

Logging out...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Presentation Helps, But Connections Are Everything

I did something I don't normally do on a Sunday morning, I attended a real church service at the Victory Outreach in West Phoenix.

Most of the time, and perhaps it's negative influence of religion in politics and media, and that most services I've attended in Alberta, Canada--whether it was a Sunday service, funeral or wedding, I was not inspired by a sermon. 

You could call me Christian, but I really don't have a denomination. My thought is that God lives inside of our hearts, not a building.

Today, I saw a building -- not a traditional stand-alone church -- but a corner of an industrial building that housed the most uplifting service I had ever experienced. Don't let the outside fool you. The inside was staged professionally with all the trimmings technology can provide. 

The gospel choir was culled from audience members, not robed singers in the background.

Latinos and African Americans made up 95% of the congregation, mixed in ages.

The messages connected because many doing the preaching had lived the same life as some of their audience. For some reason, for me, that made the sermon carry more weight.  

"God did not design you to fit in, He designed you to stand out. You were not an accident. You were created for a purpose." "Do you ever feel like no one understands you?"

Preaching is an art form. It is about presentation, but it is more than that. The preacher interprets a passage in the Bible and finds a real-life example to hone the message. How that is presented is the difference between the audience "getting it" or falling asleep in the pews.

Try and sleep to this guy. He's pretty inspiring. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pinterest Works Because We Love Pictures

Pinterest is another platform where you can get noticed, but you can have fun, too. In fact, the more fun you have, the more people might share your pins.

Check out my new board, just in time for Christmas. See anything you like? :)  

We Are the Media. We Are the Publisher.

Nobody wants to wait even five hours to learn more about an incident in their neighborhood. As we wait for mainstream media to catch up with the story, or at least post it online, frustrated, we turn to our friends in Facebook and ask the question in our status update, “Does anyone know what happened?” Or more likely we go to Twitter and use the keyword finder to hunt down tweets from the people who were there at the scene as it happened. They WILL tweet about it in play-by-play. That is real time news, on the scene, as it happens. It may not be entirely accurate or verifiable, but one gets the sense of the situation long before the media assigns a reporter.

Because of cameras in our cell phones, we can take onsite video and post it to YouTube or CNN iReport in minutes.

We are the media now.

So it’s no surprise that the book publishing industry needs to evolve, but so far, it’s the last one out of the gate. It didn’t heed the precedent of the independent music industry, even after Apple invented the iPad tablet and Amazon launched the Kindle.

There will always be those who like the brick and mortar publication. I’m one of them. However, it’s way easier to carry books inside a Kindle.

I am also damned excited about the future.

As an independent publisher, a writer, and a business, the opportunities, the creative options, and the ability to connect one-on-one with my audience is where it’s at. I don’t have to rely entirely on mainstream media to push out my message via paid and unpaid advertising. I AM the media and I AM the publisher and I’m connected to my audience directly. I have created a community of not just like-minded people, but people who are interesting, who have an interest, who help me spread my message, and who engage me with interesting content, advice, and entertainment.

This is an excerpt from my next book: Surfing the Digital Wave of Publishing and Marketing. For the rest of the introduction, go here: 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Brian Warner Started Out Like Most of Us

I’m a big fan of Brian Warner.
He’s an extremely controversial figure, but his words have meaning when one looks past his persona and digs a little deeper.
He’s been blamed for the ills of the world and revered by those without a voice.
His lyrics speak truth others do not like to hear and also acknowledge that he is a societal target.
“Take your hatred out on me…make your victim my head.”
“Hate today, no love for tomorrow.”
“Feeling unknown and you’re all alone; flesh and bone by the telephone; lift up the receiver and I’ll make you a believer.”
What may surprise you is that Brian Warner’s parents are very supportive of his career.
Still, when he developed his persona, many in the public domain called him a sinner. They called him evil.
They don’t like what he stands for.
A mirror.
Usually the thing people hate the most about another person is the very trait they dislike in themselves. Or they are jealous of someone else's success. In this case, the biggest trait exposed by the haters is intolerance.
When an artist creates a persona, it doesn’t mean they ARE their persona.
Alice Cooper is the persona of Vincent Furnier.
The Rock is the persona of Dwayne Johnson.
George Jung was Johnny Depp's persona in the movie Blow.
Coco the Clown was the persona of Nicolai Poliakoff. 
Spock is the persona of Leonard Nimoy.
So why do people think Brian Warner IS his persona?
As a person, he may not be perfect, but who really is? 
Brian Warner is an only child. Growing up, he attended church and went to a Christian school from grades one through ten.
He was an art student and worked at getting a journalism degree. To get his feet wet at writing, he wrote for a music magazine, which gave him the opportunity to meet musicians who ended up influencing the rest of his career.
Just your every day average American. And yet, people hate him. Despite that, Johnny Depp was inspired by his persona for his role in a children's movie.
Brian Warner has created an energy drink. He's dabbling in the movie business as both a director and actor. He paints watercolors and his art has hung in many reputable galleries across the country.
Both his art and his music reflect the opposite of his upbringing -- and his persona. They speak to the disenfranchised, to the shunned, to the hated. They expose the naysayers of tolerance, open-mindedness, and true faith.
His work, as in his persona's name, is something beautiful and something ugly -- the good of Marilyn Monroe and the evil of Charles Manson.
Yes, Marilyn Manson is the persona of Brian Warner.
Did you know that Marilyn Manson started out writing poetry, then got a club owner to let him read it?
He booked his first show before he had a show to put together, and had a show before his band had songs.
He drafted up newsletters and hand-wrote the envelopes to hundreds of people.
I don’t know about you. That sounds awfully familiar to how most of us started our own careers.

Has Social Media Changed the Scope of Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the difference between borrowing content and stealing it: passing it off as your own. 
Ideas, however, cannot be copyrighted. Many can come up with the same idea at the same time, but not all of them will act on it. It is copyrighted when the idea is put into a physical form. Then it’s the physical form that’s copyright material (the text, song, movie, etc.), not the idea. 
On the physical material, especially in written work, writers quote other writers’ works all the time. They are protected when they credit the other writers and cite where the material came from.
So when you use another person's work, you tell people where the passage came from. How difficult is that? 
It is interesting when you hear of reporters getting fired from high profile media positions for not adhering to this simple concept.
If the material is found online in a blog or website, those words are the copyright of the author. You may not be able to find the author (as in the case of many things that go viral), but you can find the initial source (website/blog), so you cite that source. You don’t just copy and paste the information into your manuscript and forget about it.
Those are the mechanics for publishing and media in traditional form.
But what about the Internet as we know it today? We see items circulating all the time, where the original photographer or author of quote is lost about 12,000 shares deep.
YouTube is a great example. Who doesn't love YouTube and sharing videos? We see a skit on Saturday Night Live that we want to share, but then NBC and YouTube zap the post for copyright infringement. Pissed, you look for another link to share the same video. The same held true during the recent Olympic Summer Games Closing Ceremony in London.
These are today's realities. Copyright material has somehow become creative commons. 
But think about that for a moment. That could be a good thing. If today's marketing is about engagement, don't you want people to share your stuff? The more disciples you create, maybe, just maybe, when you do create a new project, people will actually help you move it.
If I were NBC, I wouldn't keep sifting through YouTube to zap recordings of its content. Instead, I would post on the website the snippets of content you know people will want to share, with a blessing. That snippet is an opportunity to add a message, a contest, anything that might keep them coming back to your website and sharing more. 
Seth Godin is a great example of being shareable. His blog is so popular, he soon discovered that he didn't have to use a traditional publisher to sell his next book when he had a built-in audience from his blog. 
Copyright infringement seems to be at the whim of the author.
By the way, feel free to share this blog with everyone you know.