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The Real Like of Social Media

So why is this blog titled “Real+Like”?

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As I begin to evolve this blog and keep it true to it’s purpose I want to highlight the meaning behind the title of this blog. Earlier I wrote about the “Death of the Blog” in which I wrote how the blog in it’s essence seems to be dead. There are blogs few and far between that are true to the nature of what an original blog was intended to be. Well, I thought long and hard about the title of this blog to make sure it doesn’t bypass my conviction.

I decided to title it “Real+Like” as I wanted to emphasize the reality that in terms of the online world the word “Like” seems to be ubiquitous and almost to a point, it has lost its value.

When I “like” something in the real world I genuinely have an appreciation for that person or object. Within online and social media this word now should have the same association but in reality it has been cheapened to a currency that depending on the value that the website, Facebook fan page, or item represents it may or may not be valuable at all.

What I want to stand up for with this blog is for it to be a place where the “real like” has value. I want to cover things that are mostly professional in nature to social media, marketing, and advertising in which I am mostly involved with currently. At the same time, still allow some room to share my thoughts on personal admiration for thoughts, ideas, art, and culture.

So when I “like” something, it will have value to myself and hopefully to you as well.

Do you feel the value of a “Like” has diminished?

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Keep Social Media Rudimentary

post5aThis year marks my 10 year anniversary in managing some form of social media. How do I have 10 years experience in a “new” online medium like social media? Well, my first foray into community management was in 2002 when I began an online community forum for ethnic Romanian youth. It was a community that I grew from 1 person to over 30,000 members within 4 years. I trace this experience as my first experience in starting, building, maintaining and growing a social media community. How was it social media? Well on a daily basis members were growing, engaging, commenting, sharing, uploading and even “connecting” which was the tag line of the community.

Then MySpace began growing in 2006-7 and eventually Facebook in 2008-9 and the community began to dwindle to a point of an online ghost town of the Old West.

Out of this experience I learned a key valuable lesson that has following me through my professional career in making a living in leading and directing social media practice for large corporations. As big or little as your community is or as small or large as your budget for social media may be, one thing is key. We need to keep Social Media Rudimentary.

What is Rudimentary Social Media?

Social media at the core is about sparking relationships, building trust, and nurturing conversation. Let’s go ahead and break up these 3 key principles and distinguish between them so we can keep social media rudimentary.

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1. Sparking Relationships

One of the primary elements of social media is sparking relationships. A relationship is something that needs a spark. It does not start without that first approach. That moment when someone has the courage to approach someone and say, Hi! However, social media and the autonomy that it can bring makes that first approach in a relationship even more important.

How many times can you count when someone on Twitter sent you a random tweet that had nothing to do with you? You instantly characterize that person as either a spammer or nuisance.

That is why it is critical that when you spark a relationship via social media it is done the way it was intended to be. You notice someone and have an interest in connecting with that person. You look for the opportunity to approach that person and introduce yourself hopefully with something that you have in common or share interests. Once the opportunity arises you nudge that person or share a thought or comment in order to show who you are.

Once that spark is created in an authentic way, the relationship may begin if there is a mutual respect for one another. Many people within social media try to make it so complex and strategic. Keep it simple. Think of the other person first.

2. Building Trust

Trust is something that takes a long time to build and within an instant it can be lost. Once you have sparked the relationship it takes time to build trust. Perhaps it is consistently encouraging or engaging that person with your thoughts and comments. Better yet, you are able to meet the person in real life to build the human capital necessary to  deepen the relationship.

In social media trust is not built on someone liking a post, leaving a comment, or sharing an image with you or your brand. Trust is built with time. If we take a deep look into how social media is used today, very few people can say they trust another person or brand online. Build a solid foundation and you will have long lasting trust.

3. Nurturing Conversation

Once you have sparked the relationship and are building trust there begins to be a moment with conversation becomes routine or worst yet, you know each other so much that conversation evaporates or worse is a tendency to move on to the next great thing.  At this point is where the conversation needs to be nurtured. In other words, provide new insights and thoughts. Provide opportunity for things that haven’t been experienced before. Topics that are fresh or current.

With social media being a medium that changes so quickly and relationships are beyond over compulsive with a 140 character limit and short exchanges of ideas, this final step of nurturing the conversation is where authenticity is truly tested.

As social media continues to mature and become more and more ingrained within our culture, people and brands that will evolve to effectively leverage social media will understand the importance of these 3 principles and the dire need to keep social media rudimentary.

Have you over complicated social media? How else can we keep social media rudimentary?

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Digital Dad Summer Vacation

post4As many people know I am a digitally savvy person. I’ve always loved to be the first one to try out the new gadget, website, service, app, technology, etc. With today’s online socially open culture that we live in, we document every aspect of our lives without stopping to realize that what we are documenting may not be that important and we miss out an truly enjoying that moment.

I recently heard an old wise man say that in today’s easily accessible world of the camera we have photomatuers and photographers. You recognize the photomatuers by their constant raising of the arm with a phone in their hand while taking 100’s of random photos of items that seem insignificant. Whereas a photographer takes his time to find the right composition, the right lighting, angles, shadows, contrast. In doing so it takes him an hour to create a shot that it takes the photomatuer 1 hour to create 150 photos. The photographer appreciates the fine beauty that goes into capturing that moment in time.

As a digital dad like many other digital dads this summer, we are taking our family on vacation and I intent to appreciate the moment and take a different approach from what is normal and realize what is abnormal.

The Normal.

The normal in our society is to be a photomatuer. To constantly take photos, check-in to places, tweet about the food you are eating, Pin the places you want to see and everything else that requires time and attention away from enjoying the moment that you have with your family in what is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation.

The Abnormal.

The abnormal is to turn off the phone, pull out a point and shoot camera, (not a connected device), have a printed itinerary of places you want to see and activities you want to enjoy during your vacation. Savor the moment of discovering a new restaurant that the locals recommended. Above all, appreciating the fact that this vacation is intended to be a time to rest you mind, body, and spirit while recharging with the ones that matter most.

Decision. Abnormal needs to be normal.

As a digital savvy dad I pledge to be abnormal and enjoy my upcoming vacation with family. Sure enough I will have photos, videos, and memories that I will share after our vacation. Something that as humans we have socially done since the dawn of time. Let’s enjoy our summer vacation and share the memories without the distraction of technology.

Do you agree?

P.S. – This post was scheduled a week ago. I am keeping true to my pledge and have this blog post automatically post while I am enjoying my vacation! Let technology do the work for you!

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The Death of the Blog

post3Blogging is dead. Yes, I said it!

Whenever I tell someone that blogging is dead I get a look that succumbs me to the abyss of pestilence.

As an avid professional that has made a decent living both in the entrepreneurial and corporate world of using the web to empower brands and communities, I am going against the grain of the norm by making such a comment.

Why am I a hypocrite and actually writing this “blog” post or spending my time and money on this domain and web hosting? After all, if blogging is dead then why don’t I practice what I preach?

Let’s back up a little bit and understand the context of why I am making this statement. First of all according to Wikipedia since February 16, 2011 there are over 156 million “blogs” in existence online.

Blogs started as individuals having the freedom to express their thoughts and ideas in exchange to develop a community of readers and commentators that creates an influence within their niche.  I’ve created and more importantly observed how popular blogs such as MashableHuffington PostTechCrunch, etc. have exploded from a one person blog to a “Multiple Author Blog“. At this point the ‘blog’ is not an individuals thoughts, ideas, comments, but a collection of web-journalism that has killed the “blog” in the traditional sense.

With the onset of sites like BuzzFeed and services such as Google Reader that aggregate our top blogs and allows us to curate their postings, we’ve accustomed ourselves to be self-served and not have an affinity with a blog or it’s author. We consume our content from main online media, web-journalists, social media, etc. to a point that blogs are a mere source of additional content that deserves a drive-by click whenever a unique headline catches our eyes.

Unless you are a full-time blogger or have dealt with corporate blogging in the past, you realize the amount of time,  investment and money it takes to truly run a successful blog. If it is successful, it is intended to be profitable. After all, why else would someone spend their creativity, time and money on something that doesn’t get traffic, money, or attention?

Well, I intend to resurrect “blogging” with this blog that I am restarting for a length of time unknown. I intend to go back to the root of blogging and use this channel as a way to document my life, thoughtsraves (no, not the club party, but my observations of things that are exciting and superior) rants, posts about church and my Christian beliefs, and unique videos.

Maybe it will be noticed. Maybe it will be vacuumed into the realms of BuzzFeed. Even better it will be financially profitable. All of these are wishes. My goal for now is to truly “blog” and hopefully build a community where those that read what I have to say will get inspired and interact not only with my blog posts for their sake but for the thought leadership and dialogue that this ‘blog’ will create.

Now hopefully when I say blogging is dead, I won’t get those stares anymore. Instead, I will be understood that today’s definition of blogging is a long lost art and it needs to be done correctly in order for it to truly be a blog. Do you agree?

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The Evolution of Online Music Consumption

There is nothing like struggling to peel off the sticker that holds a CD case together before opening up the case and gently taking that shiny piece of plastic and placing it in a music player. Unfortunately, this is a dying experience as online music availability is the habit that most of us have conditioned ourselves to listen to music.

Recently I’ve noticed that my consumption of online music has evolved to a new service. Looking back I thought about all of the ways that we have consumed music online. Many people my age remember Napster and how this totally changed they way we thought about listening to music. From Napster there were numerous other “peer-to-peer” services that came and went. I remember the magazine and news stories on how P2P file sharing will kill the music industry.

Then, iTunes arrived from Apple. Only problem was I wasn’t an Apple product user so it really never caught on with myself, but the millions of current Apple product owners could enjoy access to music and not only a whole album, but buying only the 1 song they loved for $0.99. Now that caught my attention!

I bought my first Apple products back in 2008 or so and instantly understood why iTunes was so powerful. I began to dust off my old CD collection, rip as many CD’s that I could, and place the hundreds of CD’s that I spent my first hard earned money on as a young man. I didn’t really ‘purchase’ albums or songs from iTunes, I still wanted to buy the actual CD’s and rip them into my library.

Low and behold around 2009 I had an opportunity to meet a pair of fellows (to this day I don’t know their names) but they said they were part of this new online music service called Pandora. It was a free service that allowed me to type in a playlist and Pandora would instantly being to stream to me the music that it thought would interest me and I could approve or disapprove of songs and at one point I would have the ultimate playlist streamed.

What an awesome idea!

Instantly I joined and told all of my friends to do so as well. I immediately decided to purchase the annual plan as it was only $25 per year! It was a no-brainer!

Pandora was my default music experience. I wasn’t listening to my CD’s. I wasn’t playing songs via iTunes. Pandora was on my computer, phone, TV, everywhere!

Then in 2011 a new service began to make buzz. A highly popular music service from Europe that was a “Social Music” experience that integrated directly with Facebook and other social channels. When Spotify launched in the US, all of my friends online were hyping it up as the perfect blend of all of these past services together (Napster, iTunes, Pandora).

I never did like Spotify. It was too intrusive. I didn’t want everyone knowing what music I was listening to all the time.  I quickly went back to Pandora because it was something I knew and it was accessible almost everywhere.

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Then in mid-2012 I don’t remember how or where, but I was exposed to a “newer” music experience. By now, I just wanted to stick with Pandora but I thought I’d give Songza a try. Songza I believe did what all of these other services were trying to do. It was the evolution of online music consumption.

It was free. It knew what I wanted to listen to. Not only that, it came with a “Concierge”. I just selected the mood I was in and it began to stream the music that I would like. I could approve and/or disapprove. I could share on my social network, I could create my own playlists. Music consumption made sense.

I have to admit. Songza is now my default online music experience. Now the only thing missing is having it go beyond web and mobile and on TV’s, cars, and where ever I am. I am a fan. Music has evolved.

Tomorrow I don’t know what other service will replace Songza or what else is missing on how to experience music. One thing is clear. Online music consumption evolves and it’s great for us. The listeners.

There still is something missing. I still miss struggling with the sticker that holds the CD case together.

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