Thursday, March 12, 2009

Social Networking is not Spam Networking

I love social networking - facebook, twitter, etc. - but I'm getting weary of everyone trying to turn what's supposedly "social" into a way to try to sell - promote - market - advertise something. I'm fed up. It's called SOCIAL networking. It's not designed for you to use it to ram your product down my throat. It's where you're supposed to connect with people, and be social, not advertise your latest widget. Is there nowhere we can go online to just be social without people abusing the system?

It's like when someone invites you to lunch and you think they want to visit with you, when really what they want to do is pick your brain about some project they have going. At least be honest with me. If you get me to lunch under false pretenses, and I happen to already be in a bad mood, I might give you some really bad advice. "No, really, I think the printed condoms are really the way to go... absolutely... it's innovative... no one else is doing it... it's the best idea ever."

I've been using facebook and twitter for awhile, and it has only become so commercial in the last few months. It's like there was a seminar somewhere that told everyone to start using facebook to promote anything that crossed their minds. Well, I'm telling you - stop it. You're going to run off all of the actual humans who are just here for social networking and then you're just all going to be promoting to other promoters.

I don't mind a facebook group that's designed for the purpose of promotion. I know what I'm getting into. And it may well be that I am interested in what is offered there. I wouldn't have signed on if I weren't. But don't create an ID that leads me to believe you want to be social if all you really want is to promote something.

Let me explain... "social" means you interact with people. It does not mean it's a one way street of you just dropping your promotion into my world. There are systems set up to accommodate things like blog entries... they show up in your feed... if people want to read them, they can. I welcome the occasional note about a particularly interesting blog, event, link, etc. but if that's your whole reason for being on twitter or facebook that's not social, that's spam.

Yes, I can block you, unfollow you or unfriend you. And I have. And I will again. But why do you want to make me go to that work? Why aren't you just honest up front and let me decide if I want to get your promotional announcements or not? I know why. Because if you were honest no one would accept you into their list. This is NOT the way to win friends and influence people. This is the way to tick people off.

There's a backlash coming. I'm no self-proclaimed social networking guru or anything, (many of whom are social spammers themselves) but you can mark my words. It's a comin'. Just like a thunderstorm you can't see but you can feel in the air. We're annoyed by spam in our email, and we're going to get ruthless about spam in our social networking.

Yeah, we have the control in social networking. But, you know what, we have the control in email too and it doesn't stop people from raising their blood pressure to dangerous extremes when they get yet another viagra ad. (And when did the vast majority of men become impotent anyway. I've not witnessed this problem myself, but given the number of ads for such things it must be an epidemic. But I digress.)

We could all just delete our email spam but whole industries have sprung up around ridding us of that pesky stuff. The same thing is about to happen to social spam, too. I'm not saying it will happen next week, but I'm saying it's a comin'.

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Ramblings, Books, Social Capital and Tourism Missteps

For reasons I can't explain, I've suddenly become attracted to these sorts of jars. I've bought a number of them in the last few weeks - mostly clear - although a scored these amber colored ones recently. And, one of them is very tall. What will I do with it? I have absolutely no idea. I'll get back to you. But it speaks to me.

I have a long history with things "speaking to me." Everything from small crafts at the fair to my house had to "speak to me." You can imagine how much the realtor who was showing me houses appreciated that. At one point she asked me how she would know if it spoke to me. I assured her I would let her know. I think she wanted something more definitive.

When I walked into the house I ended up buying I was barely in the door when I said, loudly, "It speaks to me!" She wheeled around from near the archway between the living room and dining room and said, "Really?" "Yup. Definitely. It speaks to me." She looked dumbfounded and decided there was no reason to question it any further. In her defense, the baby blue carpet with the oil stains and the hideous wallpaper border that was losing its grip in multiple places, combined with the hospital pallor shade of paint on everything didn't show the house off to its best. But it spoke to me. And still does.

Today is a momentous occasion. I have been without the abdominal binder for about 10 hours now. I haven't had it off for more than a short time - well under an hour - since surgery. I woke up with it on and have had it on since except for showering. I'm starting to get used to not having it on, but I'm not quite there yet.

I still haven't been upstairs in my house. Maybe next week. I am being so overly cautious it's not even funny but I so don't ever want to have to do anything involving incisions ever again. Ever.

I'm rambling because it has been a very full work day followed by the excitement of the Russell Brand/Jimmy Fallon twitter experiment and I'm ready to hit the hay soon. My nighttime reading tonight is the new book from Daniel Pink. He will be here this fall for a Dillon Lecture. Another book in my stack is Jacki Lyden's book, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, because she will be here next month.

I just finished Nancy Pickard's book, the Virgin of Small Plains, that is the Kansas Reads selection - the whole state is reading the same book. I didn't finish it until late last night so I missed last night's book discussion at the library - I didn't want it ruined for me since it's a mystery. But I'm looking forward to seeing her when she's here in a couple of weeks. The book is very good.

Other things on my mind these days... economic development and tourism. I'm always interested in both of those but a couple of things have brought them to the forefront again. I was in a meeting Monday night - by accident - about social capital. I went for a meeting of another group that usually meets in that room and they weren't there but this meeting was going on and since I'm so interested I couldn't resist staying. That got me thinking along these lines again.

Today I was looking through the AAA magazine and thinking about the ads for various towns. Towns make the same mistakes over and over again.

First of all is promoting a town instead of a region - as if people are going to materialize in your town without going through any others - these being towns that don't even have airports.

Second is speaking about things in the local vernacular that means absolutely nothing to people who don't live in the region. A prime example is Kansas towns using "Flint Hills." The first time someone mentioned that to me after I moved here I had no idea what they were talking about. I don't think anyone else does either. But Kansas towns promote the "Flint Hills" as if they're a nationally recognized phenomenon. You could substitute dozens of things for "Flint Hills," I'm just using that as an example.

Third, the entire tourism industry is advertising driven. Those visitor's guides - they're not designed for tourists - they're designed for advertisers and for CVBs to make money from ads or at least to break even. The problem in the tourism industry is that no one is paying any attention to the tourist. People have forgotten who the customer is. Well, actually, they haven't. It's just that their customer is the advertiser and the tourist doesn't seem to be anyone's customer.

Well, I'm too weary to go into economic development tonight... I'll have to save that juicy topic for another time.
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