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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Keeping Social Media Real -- This morning my feed reader served up a piece from Inside Facebook on established, but quickly spreading Facebook apps. The part of it that made me simultaneously smile and shake my head was a comment, in "emperor's new clothes" fashion, pointing out that the top movers in the list were essentially useless diversions.

It reminded me of another piece I had set aside earlier this week as potential blogfodder. Scott Berkun, in this piece - Calling bullshit on social media - brings some common sense contrarian commentary to the commotion and consternation* surrounding social media...
For starters: social media is a stupid term. Is there any anti-social media out there? Of course not. All media, by definition, is social in some way. The term interactive media, a more accurate term for what’s going on, lived out its own rise / hype / boom cycle years ago and was smartly ignored this time around - first rule of PR is never re-use a dead buzzword, even if all that you have left are stupid ones. I’ve been involved in many stupid terms, from push-technology to parental-controls, so I should know when I see one.
But he goes beyond the buzziness of the words, and digs deeper on a few often overlooked points and advice to further his case...
  • We have always had social networks...

  • There has always been word of mouth, back-channel, "authentic" media tools...

  • The new media does not necessarily destroy the old...

  • Social media consultants writing about social media have inherent biases...

  • Signal to Noise is always the problem...

  • All technologies cut both ways and social media will be no different...

  • Be suspicious of technologies claimed to change the world...

  • Always ask "What problem am I trying to solve?" The smartest thing to do with something new is to ask what is it you need it to do for you. Recognize good marketing will not make up for bad products or incompetent services...
  • As usual, the "..." in my snips indicate that there is a lot more good detail to read at the original piece.

    And, of course, I'm passing this on not to denigrate the creative work in and application of these growing channels. But they are just channels, parts of the whole media/communication landscape. Those of us who work in them tend to get all hot and bothered about the possibilities, but we also run the risk of enabling clients' excitement about sometimes questionable applications. So we do need the occasional slap across the face by a piece like Burken's to keep us rooted in reality.

    * Sorry about that. Every once in awhile I fall off the wagon and back into my alliteration addiction.

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    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Banking on Social Media -- In some recent research on financial services and social media, I came across an interesting piece on banks' presence or lack thereof on Facebook.

    On one hand...
    Banks haven't helped their cause by putting up static Facebook pages without transactional capability. The pages often redirect people to a bank's Web site for even the most basic product information, which analysts say is antithetical to the social networking premise. "In the mind of the consumer that is not helpful. Facebook needs to be a real outpost of the bank; it needs to be tied to products and service," says Andy Schmidt, the research director for global payments at TowerGroup. "Banks need to provide a reason to show up and stay, and banks haven't done that yet."
    On the other hand...
    "People don't log onto Facebook for banking, but for friends. I just don't think that Facebook will drive business profitability." At best, Jegher says, it's "experimental marketing," but not a viable business strategy. "There are better ways to build and solidify customer relationships..."

    …There's also a lack of data to support a business case for Facebook. Jegher says he hasn't seen any data on "stickiness," whether the "friends" on a Facebook page ever come back. What's more, says Shevlin, the numbers that are available can be misleading. He recalls when Washington Mutual put up its Facebook page in 2008 and proudly announced that it had 250 to 300 fans in the first 24 hours. But he did a little digging and quickly found that at least two-thirds of those fans were connected to the Web design team.
    From an "Inside Facebook" blog post that led me to the piece...
    And while there are logical limitations to banks and their social media strategies, there may be room to offer more functional services to customers on Facebook. MyMoney is a Facebook application created by Fiserv that lets you use your financial institution to view balances, transfer money, etc. without leaving Facebook. It currently has only a few active users, but as Facebook continues to roll out its payment system, demand for similar applications could increase. Just when you're about to purchase those Facebook credits, you may realize that you need some extra dollars in your checking account.
    IMHO, that last comment could be a bit of wishful thinking on the part of folks invested in Facebook as a platform. I think that most people who want to have an online relationship with financial institutions and services are probably nervous enough about privacy and security even when working directly on the bank’s own website. Inserting another middleman layer like Facebook would feel a bit too risky. And like the first comment at the top of this note, money is probably still one area in which there’s a clear line between the "social" and the "personal" or "private" even in the current social "that's more information than I needed to know" environment.

    The question becomes more of what a finance-related business can do to keep itself in the social hive-mind. What can they bring to the "conversation" that has enough value to be "followed" or "fanned?" Probably expertise and advice without overdoing the sales pitch.

    AKA social media.

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    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    On the Media: Wolfram, Sullivan, and Craigslist -- This week's episode of On the Media focuses on a couple topics related to the web; an exploration of Wolfram Alpha (Hmmm - Everything in Googleland is perpetual beta. This one calls itself "alpha".)...

    ...and a First Amendment analysis of Craigslist's "adult" problems...

    As a bonus, there's also an extended interview with search maven and editor-in-chief of, Danny Sullivan (mp3).

    "Must-listens" for those of us interested in the world of search, which obviously is a huge component of these interwebs.

    (If you're reading this via my Facebook Feed, use the "Original Post" link to access the audio players for the first two stories.)

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    Sunday, May 03, 2009

    Artful Tweets -- From Rands In Repose: The Art of the Tweet:
    "There are two kinds of tweets:

    Original material. This is you talking to everyone.

    Retweets, quotes, and links. This is you forwarding a thing that you find interesting to everyone. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just call these retweets.

    There’s another type of tweet that I want to talk about briefly and that’s the conversational tweet. What does this tweet tell you?

    @commanda No clue

    Not a thing. As you’ll see with the three following guidelines, my Twitter expectation is that each time I glance at my Twitterstream that I can something of value in any tweet. While conversational tweets are interesting for you and the recipient, they leave the rest of us in the dark."
    Read the whole thing.

    Made me think about my tweeting style. Thinking could be a good thing.

    Yes, it could.

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    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    Twitter for Transportation -- Earlier today, I posted about the usefulness of Twitter. Here's another in-the-real-world-of-meatspace example from Jeff Jarvis -- The Twitter flight (well, train) in which he describes using the Twitter community on a train to get out of a transportation jam. He summarizes:
    "I've been trying to push for sometime the idea that Twitter and internet connectivity will bring us societies on airplanes. So it happened on a train."
    (Jeff - If you read this, any chance of unblocking me on Twitter? It's been a while since our little brouhaha during the Olympics. - @fpatrick)

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    Twitter - Not Just Oprah and Ashton -- Some linkage on getting some hits of value and productivity from Twitter...

    To Tweet or Not to Tweet? How Twitter Can Further Your Brand:
    "So just how does a brand use Twitter to further its aims? A few recent anecdotes can help demonstrate how companies need to think about Twitter and its impact on their brands."
    Finding Utility in the Jumble of Tweeted Thoughts -
    "Individually, many of those 140-character “tweets” seem inane.

    But taken collectively, the stream of messages can turn Twitter into a surprisingly useful tool for solving problems and providing insights into the digital mood. By tapping into the world’s collective brain, researchers of all kinds have found that if they make the effort to dig through the mundane comments, the live conversations offer an early glimpse into public sentiment — and even help them shape it."
    Six Ways You Should Be Using Twitter (that Don't Involve Breakfast)
    1. Instant, Real-Time Search Results...
    2. Monitoring Something You Care About...
    3. News Updates...
    4. Instant Communication with Friends...
    5. Twitter as a Productivity Command Line...
    6. Ask Questions, Get Answers...
    And from Kottke, there's nothing wrong with a bit of trivial diversion now and then...

    In defense of Twitter
    "'d like to think that most of your daily conversation is weighty and witty but instead everyone chats about pedestrian nonsense with their pals. In fact, that ephemeral chit-chat is the stuff that holds human social groups together."
    Tweet on, my sweet tweeters. - @fpatrick

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    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Unfocused: Youtube Symphony Orchestra -- Wish I picked up on this earlier. Might have dusted off my old clarinet or sax.

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    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Web 2.0: Opportunities & Risks for Pharma -- Slideshare presentation from Craig Delarge of Novo Nordisk on Web 2.0 in pharmaceutical communications...

    Craig and his company were early adopters with the Voices of Diabetes "patient blog". [Disclaimer: I was heavily involved with launching that effort from the agency side.]

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    Social Media's Only Rule -- Don't be boring!
    "There's a growing conversation about the 'rules of social media' and the consequences marketers face should they violate them. But there's only real rule of social media: don't be boring. So long as you do not bore your audience, you are free to try anything. That goes for individuals and brands alike."
    You'll let me know if I get boring, won't you?

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    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    Radio Interview: Pew Internet and American Life Survey -- A couple days ago, I referenced the Pew Internet and American Life Survey in a post about Ambivalent Networkers. This week's show from On The Media touched on the impact of the internet on society, and also offers up a 28 minute uncut interview with Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

    [Note: If you are reading this via a Facebook note, you may or may not have access to the embedded audio player. If not, you can find it via the "View Original Post" link below, or directly from On The Media via this link.]

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    Friday, March 06, 2009

    Taking Criticism Seriously - Or Not, Considering the (Crowd)Source -- A San Francisco pizzeria has taken quotes from less than laudatory reviews found on the "social" review site Yelp, and turned them into T-shirts for their employees...Pizzeria Delfina's Genius Anti-Yelp T-Shirts | Slice Pizza Blog:
    "With messages such as 'The pizza was soooo greasy. I am assuming this was in part due to the pig fat' (natalie t.) and 'This place sucks' (Hoan T.), Pizzeria Delfina aims to turn the idea of Yelp as a source for intelligent food criticism on its head."
    Not knowing the place personally, I just gotta wonder if it's a great application of irony, or just an embrace of "truth in advertising."

    On a personal note, social review sites may not always be all they're cracked up to be. I've recently been disappointed twice by restaurants about which others on Chowhound were enthusiastic. I think maybe the appropriate approach to social review sites might be "De gustibus non est disputandum" and "caveat emptor".

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    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Epiphany: Virtual Teams And Social Media Tribes Are The Same -- Just a quick link to a piece from a blog I've been recently following (closely) on a subject I've been thinking about in terms of managing/growing a startup that is yet to assemble a tech staff.

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    Thursday, July 03, 2008

    Social Media How To -- The "Where's my Jetpack" blog provides the following excellent summary of "doing" social media...
    Blog. Do it daily. Link to other blogs. Make comments on other blogs that link back to your blog. Ask other bloggers for link exchanges. Write interesting posts that have a unique voice. Don't just be a link farm to a bunch of bullshit that you didn't have anything to do with. Be original. Use technorati or any of the other tag services you prefer. Create interesting titles for your posts. Use pictures - they're fun. Use relevant labels. Don't be a corporate voice. Allow comments. Moderate them when they start to get offensive. (This is the "conversation" part you will hear so much about at your conference.) Try a podcast. Give up on it. Try a webcast. Give up on it. Give up on creating a viral video before you even try it. Viral happens naturally - you don't unleash it with a marketing plan. MySpace is NoPlace for your business and you will gain nothing from it other than people hating you. Same goes for Facebook, Second Life and Livejournal. Twit if you want, but the Twitter backlash is coming. For now, it's a good monitoring tool. Oh, one other thing: Customer Service is not a phrase to be tossed about in your Mission Statement. It's a practice. When you suck at it, expect your business to suck.
    Essentially - just do it.

    [via Make the Logo Bigger]

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