Anonymous comments aren’t about the conversation at all

June 3, 2010

Screen shot 2010-06-03 at 9.43.12 AM

We need to take a stand on the idea of anonymous comments.  And the stand is — they need to go away.

I think this problem has its roots in the newspaper industry.  When they starting creating digital versions — they wanted to take advantage of the interactivity of the web.  And in the newspaper industry — it's all about the numbers (subscribers, pass along rate, etc) so it's no surprise that they wanted a huge volume of comments as well.

No doubt, someone told them that people will comment with more frequency if you don't ask for their name or contact information so voila — the anonymous or the "use a nickname, not a real name" comment was born.

Sadly, this has seeped into blogs as well.  And as more companies wade into the social media waters — many marketing types, looking to justify the time and efforts spent on the tools — point to the comment count with pride.  

But what really are we counting?

I don't care if you're talking about a traditional newspaper's website or a blog — when you allow anonymous commenting, you disrespect the topic, the conversation and the readers.

These are not conversations — they are verbal vomit.

It's perfectly logical that the anonymity invites people to behave in ways they wouldn't if they had to identify themselves.  And it swings to both ends of the spectrum.  On the one hand — they're vicious in their personal attacks, cruel comments and judgments.  On the flip side, they can completely bypass the topic all together in an attempt to get some link love/attention for their product or service.

So what do we do about it?  We say no.

We write to our newspapers and ask them to actually be responsible for creating real conversations on their sites.  By demanding, just like they do in their traditional letters to the editor section, that commenters be identified (and verified) by name and city.

In terms of social media — if you own a blog, fight back.  Here are some of the things I've done to combat the problem:

  • Have a stated comment policy (see the visual above) that says you will delete anonymous comments
  • Actually delete them — even if they are relevant (you can e-mail the person and ask them to re-submit, using their name)
  • Close comments after 30 days (many of the back link seekers go into your archives to tuck key word rich comments where they think you'll ignore them)
  • Actually respond to the comments — you'll get lots more of them if people think they're not talking into a black hole

Whether it's someone calling themselves "MoonDog127" and ripping into someone based on a story in a digital newspaper or it's "Korean Wedding Dress" leaving 27 random comments on your blog — we need to recognize the conversation deserves better.

What do you think?  Is there ever a place for anonymous commenting?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How to get more Facebook fans

April 13, 2010

I saw this promotion late last night as I logged onto Facebook and I thought it was worthy of sharing it with you. 

Everyone seems to want more Facebook fans…but really you actually want Facebook fans who know a little bit about you or are willing to try what you've got to offer.

That's what makes this Kraft Macaroni and Cheese promotion so smart.

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 11.39.31 PM 

On my NewsFeed page, I noticed this ad to the right.  It offered me a free box of Mac and Cheese (hello…cheesy explosion to boot!) if I'd become their fan. 

Now I will confess two things.  1) I really love Kraft's Mac and Cheese.  2)  I would have never even thought to fan their page without this free offer.  If the ad had simply said..please be our fan, I would have ignored it.

Lesson:  If there's not a very apparent "something in it for me" we don't go around fanning pages.

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 11.40.55 PM So, I clicked on the become a fan button and was taken to their fan page. 

I almost left because I could not see how to get my free coupon.

Lesson:  Be blatantly obvious and then some.  We are only going to look for about 5 seconds.

Fortunately, others had either been smarter or more persistent, so as I scanned the messages, someone had said – go to the third tab (wall, info and cheesy)

So I stuck with it long enough to click on the Get The Coupon button.

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 11.41.43 PM From there, I was taken to this capture screen where Kraft got the goods on me… my name, address (so they could mail me the coupon) and the holy grail — my e-mail address.

They also snagged a bit of demographics in the check boxes below.

Lesson:  If you're offering something of value, don't be afraid to ask for something of value in return.

I'm betting they scored a huge number of new fans.  And now for about the cost of a click, they are actually putting product in the new fan's hands.  Think of what most businesses pay to get a consumer to give their product a try.

Compare and contrast this effort — where Kraft not only gets you to sample their product but also gets your contact information and some demographics to the lady standing in the grocery store, handing you a little cup of the mac and cheese.

How would you rate the relative value?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Want to lock arms with Chris Brogan or Ann Handley?

March 30, 2010

Shutterstock_49177942 Now, now…I didn't mean it like that.  I mean in the "hang out and talk marketing, social media and connections" sort of way. 

Chris and Ann (along with a host of others) are both playing a role in this Spring's hottest conferences…and I want to make sure you know all about them.

Why would you make the effort to catch one?  Connecting on-line is fantastic.  But, there's no substitute for face-to-face connections.  Here's are two chances for you to literally and figuratively lock arms with some of social media and marketing's smartest folks.

How do you suppose Chris and Ann grew to be marketing/social media rock stars?  I suspect they would both tell you — it happened as they were so busy learning and reaching out to others that being "famous" pretty much took them by surprise.

Two character traits that I believe you'll find in most of the professionals who have leveraged social media, content creation and viral marketing to their own and their company's advantage are:

  • They love to connect with people
  • They are generous with what they know

So you need to take advantage of these opportunities to listen, learn and connect.  And I highly recommend you get to one of the two, depending on the timing and your geography.

SOBCon 2010: (click here for more info or to register)

Here's what they have to say:  "This 2.5 day "conference" is the think tank of the social web, where the best minds in the Internet space gather to present models, discuss insights, and determine best practices.

We review the changing landscape, identify valid strategies, discuss and develop tactics, report case studies, and share actionable business ideas.

If you want a dynamic, protected web presence, a vibrant customer community, and innovative advisors who invest in you for the long term, this single event will meet your needs faster, easier, and more deeply than any other.

The relationships made at SOBCon extend across social networks online and off and well beyond the exchange of business cards."

A very partial list of speakers includes:  Jason Falls, Steve Farber, Chris Brogan, Wendy Piersall, Amber Naslund, Steve Woodruff and a host of other amazing people you'd love to hang with for a couple days.  And yes…I will also be there as part of a panel.  (Naturally, founders Terry Starbucker and Liz Strauss will be very present as well!)

The discount:  If you use the code: SOBInsider you can save $250 off the registration.  But hurry — this offer ends this week.

B2B Forum 2010: (click here for more info or to register)

Put on by the stellar people at Marketing Profs, this is your one-stop shop for the skills you need to drive sales now!   Here's what they have to say:

"You asked for it and we're delivering you a broad-based B2B marketing educational program with a special focus on integrating social media.

You'll learn from B2B marketing experts in a variety of amazingly productive formats from panel discussions to roundtables to one-on-one therapy.

Therapy Sessions are worth the price of admission alone! Where else can you get 20 minutes of one-to-one advice from a top-level expert for FREE? Sign-up for an appointment with the expert of your choice and get 20 minutes of his or her undivided attention! Bring specific questions, or ask for an overall critique of your marketing program.

Loyal attendees flock to these FREE consulting sessions year after year! "

A very partial list of speakers includes:  Beth Harte, David Weinberger, Mitch Joel, Dierdre Breakenridge, Laura Ramos, Donna Tocci and my all time favorite, CK Kerley.  I'd love to be there too (was invited but had to say no) but I already have a speaking commitment I couldn't break.

The discount:  Use the code:  blog to save $200. 

There you have it my friends.  You have absolutely no excuse for not being smarter and better connected, come May 10th.  Invest in yourself… you'll be amazed at what you can learn and do!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Meet the Authors of Age of Conversation 3!

March 21, 2010

The manuscript is finally in the hands of the publisher (more on that exciting news later this week!) and we’re proud to introduce you to the smart, funny and insightful authors that contributed to the Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy.

The book will be out sometime in April (more details on that as well) and we’ll have both printed copies and some e-reader options as well!

Check out the new website as well — courtesy of our friends at Sticky.

A round of applause, if you will, for these awesome and dedicated professionals!

Adam Joseph Priyanka Sachar Mark Earls
Cory Coley-Christakos Stefan Erschwendner Paul Hebert
Jeff De Cagna Thomas Clifford Phil Gerbyshak
Jon Burg Toby Bloomberg Shambhu Neil Vineberg
Joseph Jaffe Uwe Hook Steve Roesler
Michael E. Rubin anibal casso Steve Woodruff
Steve Sponder Becky Carroll Tim Tyler
Chris Wilson Beth Harte Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Dan Schawbel Carol Bodensteiner Trey Pennington
David Weinfeld Dan Sitter Vanessa DiMauro
Ed Brenegar David Zinger Brett T. T. Macfarlane
Efrain Mendicuti Deb Brown Brian Reich
Gaurav Mishra Dennis Deery C.B. Whittemore
Gordon Whitehead Heather Rast Cam Beck
Hajj E. Flemings Joan Endicott Cathryn Hrudicka
Jeroen Verkroost Karen D. Swim Christopher Morris
Joe Pulizzi Leah Otto Corentin Monot
Karalee Evans Leigh Durst David Berkowitz
Kevin Jessop Lesley Lambert Duane Brown
Peter Korchnak Mark Price Dustin Jacobsen
Piet Wulleman Mike Maddaloni Ernie Mosteller
Scott Townsend Nick Burcher Frank Stiefler
Steve Olenski Rich Nadworny John Rosen
Tim Jackson Suzanne Hull Len Kendall
Amber Naslund Wayne Buckhanan Mark McGuinness
Caroline Melberg Andy Drish Oleksandr Skorokhod
Claire Grinton Angela Maiers Paul Williams
Gary Cohen Armando Alves Sam Ismail
Gautam Ramdurai B.J. Smith Tamera Kremer
Eaon Pritchard Brendan Tripp Adelino de Almeida
Jacob Morgan Casey Hibbard Andy Hunter
Julian Cole Debra Helwig Anjali Ramachandran
Jye Smith Drew McLellan Craig Wilson
Karin Hermans Emily Reed David Petherick
Katie Harris Gavin Heaton Dennis Price
Mark Levy George Jenkins Doug Mitchell
Mark W. Schaefer Helge Tenno Douglas Hanna
Marshall Sponder James Stevens Ian Lurie
Ryan Hanser Jenny Meade Jeff Larche
Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher David Svet Jessica Hagy
Simon Payn Joanne Austin-Olsen Mark Avnet
Stanley Johnson Marilyn Pratt Mark Hancock
Steve Kellogg Michelle Beckham-Corbin Michelle Chmielewski
Amy Mengel Veronique Rabuteau Peter Komendowski
Andrea Vascellari Timothy L Johnson Phil Osborne
Beth Wampler Amy Jussel Rick Liebling
Eric Brody Arun Rajagopal Dr Letitia Wright
Hugh de Winton David Koopmans Aki Spicer
Jeff Wallace Don Frederiksen Charles Sipe
Katie McIntyre James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw David Reich
Lynae Johnson Jasmin Tragas Deborah Chaddock Brown
Mike O’Toole Jeanne Dininni Iqbal Mohammed
Morriss M. Partee Katie Chatfield Jeff Cutler
Pete Jones Riku Vassinen Jeff Garrison
Kevin Dugan Tiphereth Gloria Mike Sansone
Lori Magno Valerie Simon Nettie Hartsock
Mark Goren Peter Salvitti
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Age of Conversation 3 cover

March 21, 2010

Age3cover Gavin and I are feeling like proud parents about now….exhausted, a bit worn thin but very, very excited.  We shipped the final, edited manuscript for Age of Conversation 3: It's Time to Get Busy off to the publishers (more details soon!) this week and we're almost home.

We wanted to share the cover design with everyone.  Many, many thanks to Chris Wilson (Fresh Peel blog), who got this done right in the midst of his move and transition to his new job with Fleishman-Hillard in Dallas.

He picked up some of the earlier cover design elements (done by David Armano) and added some of his own twists as well.

Chris has always been an incredible supporter of the Age of Conversation series.  He even launched the first Amazon bum rush for Age 1 — and he wasn't even an author of the first book.  That's all about class and community. 

Fortunately, Chris' thinking is well represented in 2 and 3…and now, so are his design skills.

Again — many thanks to Chris.

Want more Age of Conversation scoop?  Watch for the official author list later today as well!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Nuggets of smart

February 2, 2010

Shutterstock_44091094 I don't know about you, but one of my struggles is sifting through all the information out there to find the real nuggets of smart. 

I thought, from time to time, I might point out some of the really smart stuff out there so you don't have to go digging for it.  I'd love to know if you find value in this sort of post.  (Just click on the bolded text to get to each offering)

New study on customer gratitude:  Elaine Fogel talks about a new study done by the American Marketing Association that looks at the sales impact of generating a sense of gratitude in your customers.

Rethinking branding through radical innovation:  My Age of Conversation cohort Gavin Heaton has served up a very smart post on how to approach any project that will build your brand.  Yet another analytical tool for your website or blog.  But the interface and elements they rank made this a very valuable look see.  For me, it was worth a bookmark.

Do you play Foursquare?:  Foursquare is this year's Twitter or so they say.  This Marketing Profs Daily Fix post looks at why as marketers, we should care.  Humbly offered by yours truly.

There you have it…a handful of nuggets guaranteed to make us all a little smarter.  Let me know what you think.

Photo courtesy of

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

5 reasons why other people will spread your personal brand

December 5, 2009

Shutterstock_18268654 I was part of a panel (with Claire Celsi, Nathan T. Wright & Dr. David Bulla) talking to journalists about personal branding this morning.

Part of my message was that it's fine and dandy to have a personal brand…but one of the keys to its success is in how you share your brand with the world. I used the analogy of a dandelion.

Once you figure out what your personal brand is all about….you hold it out to the world, like a dandelion.

Sure…the wind will gently blow some of the seeds along, letting them land somewhere and take root.  But…if you really want your personal brand to be spread far and near…you need other people.

When someone holds a dandelion close to their mouth and gives a big blow….those seeds go everywhere.  What would make someone want to use some of their power and influence to help spread your personal brand? 

Here are five reasons why someone else might make the effort to spread your personal brand:

Are you a go-giver?  Do you share what you know and have? 

People tend to want to help those people who help others.  If people know that you're not a taker, they're going to be more inclined to serve you up to their friends and colleagues.

Are you a credible resource?

Do you actually have something to say that is real, relevant and of value?  In today's world, one of the currencies that is most valued is relevance.  You need to be someone who walks their talk to earn that credibility.

Are you consistent and reliable? 

People only have so much "connection currency."  So they don't want to waste it by introducing the world (or their contacts) to someone who is wishy washy or doesn't honor their promises.  If I help set up a meeting between two people and one of them cancels at the last minute or is a no show…some of that bad karma rubs off on me. 

Are you real? 

If your personal brand is something you put on and take off like a hat — why would someone run the risk of exposing you to their network?    There are many posers (as Steve Farber calls them) out there.  Don't be one of them.

Are you grateful? 

When someone goes out of their way to feature you on their blog or use one of their connections to help you — do you say thank you?  Do you look for ways you can return the favor?  Do you make them look good by treating that gesture as a gift rather than an obligation or entitlement?

There you have it.  If you want others to help introduce you and your personal brand to the world…be the kind of person who makes that easy and enjoyable! 

Photo courtesy of

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


August 5, 2009

64615304 As the recession pounds on, it wears on people.   Everyone is a little more uptight, a little more worried and as a result, perhaps a little more "me focused."

That gets in the way of us being capable of offering our customers, co-workers and employees something very valuable.  


My definition?  Simply offering support, forgiveness, or comfort to people in our world, whether they've earned it or not.  In other words…cutting them some slack.

It's more than turning the other cheek.  It's about assuming the best of everyone.  It's being empathetic of where they're coming from.  Meeting them where they're at. It's about choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt and being gentle.

It is acknowledging that they are human, in the humblest form.

Our clients/customers count on us to be their guide.  They're the experts in their field and they look to us to be their expert in ours.  We've promised to show them how to get where they want to go.   It's our job to get them there as safely and effectively as possible.

Do clients always behave like we'd want them to?  Do they always make the best decisions or react with the speed, amplitude or enthusiasm that we'd prescribe?  Do they drop the ball?  Or hand it off to the wrong person/team? Or forget about conversations about potential consequences and decisions made until there's a problem?

You know the answers to all of those questions.

But here are the questions that truly matter.  What was their intent? What was in their heart?

Hopefully when we slow down and ask those questions, it will be easy to offer our grace.   I truly believe it's a customer retention tool every business needs to embrace.

(Drew's note:  This was originally published in my weekly column in the Des Moines Business Record.  Normally, I don't re-use that content here but I received so many notes, e-mails and calls about the column that I decided it would be worth breaking my self-imposed rule and sharing it with you as well.)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Twitter transparency & tweet formulas

April 1, 2009

I fear that the word transparency may go the way of empowered, engaged and conversation — words that once meant something but have now been turned into business jargon.  I think one of the downsides of social media is that we are wearing out words at a rapid rate.

But….having said all that — one of the most important factors to remember about social media tools like Twitter is in fact….transparency.

Picture 1 As businesses and marketing folks wrestle with how to participate on Twitter  but do it without any facades…lots of people are trying lots of different things.  One of the constant complaints about Twitter is that if a company is the Twitter ID….who are you really talking to?

The digital agency Modea has handled their Twitter account in a very smart and "look behind the curtain" way.  As you can see on this screen shot….although they are tweeting under the company name, they've identified who is the man (and woman) behind the curtain.

They're building equity in their brand but we don't feel like we're talking to an anonymous IT or marketing person.  Instead, we know it's David or Julianne.

We're all still trying to figure this stuff out…but this sure seems like a smart way to approach handling a company account.

Next step for Modea…I hope they'll start sharing more resources and knowledge.  It's great to learn more about what's happening at their agency — but I also want them to help be (and all of their followers) stay current and smart.

Everyone should decide how they want to use Twitter and connect with their community.  But…for me and MMG, the formula we've informally created is 85% of the time — provide value/resources.  10% of the time — chat and connect with other Tweeters and 5% of the time — promote our own agency and blog posts.

How about you — how are you staying transparent and what's your Tweet formula?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Are you making the recession worse?

February 2, 2009

34996025 Let me first acknowledge that I know the recession is real.  I know people are losing their jobs, homes and life savings.    I get that.

But the truth is….we’re making it worse.  We’re letting fear make it worse.

Just like the kid who works himself up into a frenzy because he imagines what might be under his bed — we're allowing fear and all the hype freeze us with fear. 

That paralysis is the biggest threat your business has ever faced.

Look around you.  Ask other business owners.  They will sheepishly admit that business is good.   Some, under the promise of anonymity, will confess that it’s great.  For the vast majority of businesses, especially B-to-B and the service sectors – things are fine.

And yet, they behave as though they’re down to their last dime.

I was talking to a friend of mine who owns a small business last week.  He admitted they’re having a fantastic start to the year and everything looks good moving forward. 

He went on to tell me that he needs a new company car.  He has the money to pay cash for it.  Car prices have never been lower.  But he’s holding off.

Just in case.

Simpson College here in Iowa has a brilliant outreach program, thanks to the Associate Director of the department.  She’s like a Pied Piper, getting to know theatre kids when they’re younger and encouraging them to visit campus, attend their very profitable summer program, etc.

Simpson just announced that despite great enrollment numbers and the construction of a new theatre space (capital campaign) – they’re eliminating the position.

Just in case enrollment goes down.

People, we have to stop this.  A stimulus package alone isn’t going to cut it.  Do you think any of those stimulus dollars are coming your way?  Check the list – you’re not on it!

Small business owners are the backbone of this country and we will determine how long we’re in this recession.  I’m not asking you to spend with reckless abandon.  But I am suggesting that we don’t get our business advice from the local or national news.

Look around.  See how your business is actually doing.  And behave accordingly.  We can be paralyzed with fear of what might be coming, or we can behave ourselves out of this recession.

But…it is up to us.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]