Posted tagged ‘management’

Enough with the social networking!

April 6, 2008

This week I received invitations to two more social networking sites. In this case they were promising to help me manage my online reputation.

I seem to be getting these continuously these days. In the early days of LinkedIn, I used to think “cool, a great way to network and enhance my SEO efforts.” I even advised clients and everyone I knew to do the same. (and yes, I secretly smiled at the “luddites” who said they couldn’t see the point.)

Now, I just think “what a nuisance.”

There are the really big sites, of course, such as Facebook and Linkedin (sorry I could never get interested in MySpace — I don’t work in cartoons). They’re good for just general networking, socially or for business purposes.

But every pursuit in which I’m interested now seems to have at least one, and often several, community site dedicated to that pursuit alone. Marketing — many. Management — several. Consulting — a few. Science — a couple of good ones. Music — of course. Job searching — oh yeah. Online reputation — apparently at least three.

All of them are vying for my time constantly. I could literally spend my entire day on these sites, networking myself into poverty.

What I find particularly upsetting about this avalanche of social networking is that they all claim they’re “innovative”. Since I work in the innovation management field considerably, I beg to differ. Innovation is creating radical or near-radical change — in products or business models. These are not innovative: they’re just taking standard community building tools and slicing up the social networking field in ever more fine gradients for marketing purposes.

At best it’s called working a niche. More likely, it’s simply copycatting with a slight differentiation.

Let’s take the latest invitations I’ve had. They are part of a group that includes companies like Naymz.com ReputationDefender.com and DefendMyName.com. For a fee, they promise to scrub search engines of anything I don’t want to see about me out there, or to create a new online identity for me.

Isn’t this just search engine optimization, which I – and probably you — have been practising for years? It’s just a newer version of the Google Profile technique.

Also it presumes that social networking sites are where most of our content rests — which to me seems a pretty narrow view. Most MarCom people have (or should have) much more content on their sites than simple social networking profiles, or blog comments.

A well rounded search engine profile should have these, of course, as well as white papers, FAQs, articles, endorsements, and other expertise-marketing content.

To help in organic search, SEO should be a planned and consistent process, with new content added on a schedule. If social networks are to be part of this mix, fine, but it shouldn’t take it over.

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Been There, Done That Marketing

November 12, 2007

A fascinating article in Wired regarding the discovery that an ancient coded book that has confounded scientists for years is actually a hoax highlights a problem in academia that could also probably be applied to any discipline, including marketing and communicating.

A UK researcher called Gordon Rugg identified something called the “expertise gap” common among experts in any field — an expert being identified as someone with 10 years experience — that causes them to shortcut their thinking. As these people become more experienced in a field of knowledge, they become farther and farther removed from core problems, and more and more focused on their own particular methodology to arrive at a solution.

But psychological and neuroscience studies suggest that these experts aren’t any smarter than anyone else. Instead, they have lots of experience, which they employ in an analysis shortcut called “pattern-matching”.

When they see a problem or situation that requires a solution, they call upon the patterns with which they’re familiar, and noticing similarities, form a conclusion. For example, if a doctor notices you have most of the symptoms of mumps, he or she will likely conclude you have the mumps.

Pattern matching is much more efficient than rigorous testing and wide, cross-discipline thinking. Most of the time it’s right. Problem is that’s most of the time, but not all the time. So pattern matching methodology can also often lead to false conclusions.

How does this apply to marketers and communicators? Well, since marketing is an essential management function, many organizations today look for marketers who are expert in a particular field (just like they look for a specialist in financing, IT, and other areas). The reasoning is that this been there, done that kind of marketer won’t be fazed by the new kinds of marketing problems that are showing up with increasing rapidity today.

But perhaps these organizations should also determine whether these marketers are also too reliant on pattern matching. Is there too narrow a focus, or does this marketer explore other areas of expertise to acquire cross-discipline knowledge?

And if you’re a marketer or communicator, are you continually adding to your knowledge base in other, unrelated, areas? We’re not talking about looking at other areas of marketing — a B2B marketer studying consumer marketing techniques, or entertainment marketing, for example — but true other disciplines. Scientific methodology. Or Art. Or even sports and finance, both of which rely heavily on statistical analysis.

It’s all part of rounding out the expertise base. It’s also using both your left and your right brain so as to beef up both your intuitive type of thinking (often favoured by marketers and communicators) and your logical, scientific-style of thinking.

We used to call these people renaissance people — they have wide ranging minds that are interested in many things. Today, unfortunately, the renaissance person is too often dismissed as an unfocused dabbler while the narrow-focused expert is revered.

But if you’re simply a been there, done that marketer, your lack of bandwidth might be shortchanging your clients, your organization — and yourself.