I’ve written a few posts about Facebook etiquette, mostly about application ettiquette, and I think there’s a point I missed that I wanted to touch on. I know I come down pretty hard on people whose news feed is made up almost entirely of apps, quizzes and games, but the reality is that for some people, it’s the reason they enjoy Facebook in the first place. Keeping that in mind, some people like to share that experience with friends. That’s fine too. I ONLY ask that you put a MOMENT of thought and pay attention to WHO you’re inviting.

You see, Facebook doesn’t just randomly invite 20 of your friends to “Hugs” or “SuperPoke.” YOU do that. Randomly. If you were having a game night at your house, would you just invite the first 20 people in your address book, or would you look through your options and pick the people who:

  1. 1. Share your interest in game nights; and
  2. 2. Are people you would enjoy playing with?

My guess is you don’t even get to question 2 if the answer to question 1 is no. Why should Facebook be any different? If you enjoy Farmville, don’t you want to invite and play with other people who will enjoy it as much as you? I get invited to apps all the time, and not once have I had the impression that I was being invited because they thought I would enjoy the app. To be fair, it’s not entirely the person’s fault, because apps will sometimes force you to participate in activities that spam people or send out invites just to reach goals or plateaus. Even so, you can ALWAYS skip certain questions or decline to notify people. Take that time.

If you’re on the other end, being invited, block the app like I showed you. I’ve blocked and even unfriended people who do nothing but invite me to apps. After all, what are either of us getting out of the relationship?

I’ve made the same mistakes, and now I actually think about what I share and who I invite to things, and when I mistakenly invite or post to someone’s wall I’m horrified. I only ask that you think before you act.

Agree? Disagree? Bueller?

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Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Yes. This blog is focused on business, and how to use social media tools to generate business and enhance marketing. I get that. Let there henceforth be an implicit agreement ‘twixt us (yes, I just went old school on you) that the subject matter of this blog, by and large, is understood. Just because we’re in business to make money doesn’t mean that we should do that without heart and soul.

During the Gravity Summit last week, a presentation was made on Cause Marketing – if you’re unfamiliar, it’s when a company strategically aligns itself with a non-profit organization in a mutually beneficial relationship; the charity benefits from raised awareness and the brand benefits from the publicity. I have no problem with cause marketing, because it’s an idea that in and of itself is harmless at the very least and life-changing at best. The real problem I had was the presentation I saw, in which a commodity leveraged a charity to differentiate itself. The whole talk made me feel sick to my stomach, and the angry tweets I was firing off at the time are a good indicator of that.

I know Cause Marketing is a form of marketing – it says it right there in the name! I think, however, that there are companies that approach charity more as an obligation and privilege and less as the road to increased marketing share. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m not saying that you should ignore any benefits you get from charitable work – I’m just saying that they shouldn’t be your main motivator all the time. The foot you put forward makes all the difference here. Instead of hearing the story of a company using their considerable resources to make the world better place and the side effects they brought, I was treated to what seemed like an endless parade of bar graphs, pie charts and statistics touting increased marketing share and Paris Hilton tweeting about them. For all of the gentleman’s talk about how great charity has been for business, I had two thoughts running through my head:

  1. I’m glad to know about the charity
  2. I will avoid this company’s products like the plague

Clearly this is a personal opinion, but I don’t think charity is about campaigns. It’s about people making a difference in any way they can because they have the ability to facilitate change. Does everyone need to know that you make big donations? No. Do you make donations so you can tell people about it and come off as a hero? I don’t know. Only you can answer that. I just want you to consider this: Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t know if I believe in altruism, but I do believe that intention is every bit as important as action, for anyone that wants to engage in the “So what? The charity got some benefit too…” argument. In cause marketing, seems like there’s a fine line between being a saint and being a weasel sometimes. For me, that line was crossed.

Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

How do you feel about this? Am I off-base?

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One week ago I wandered out to UCLA for their 2nd annual Gravity Summit. I had scored a free pass due to my work with Social Media Club Los Angeles. Having never been to a Gravity Summit (they’re held at college campuses around the country from what I’ve been told) I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Those of you who followed my Twitter Stream that day know that I was basically live-blogging the conference to the best of my ability. Have become used to the unconference format of BarCamp it was difficult at times to sit in one room to listen to a series of lectures, but at the same the information was interesting and many of the speakers were very engaging.

I have to say, though, that the day belonged to Ramon DeLeon, a Domino’s franchise owner in Chicago who has integrated social media into his business in a way that I don’t think I’d seen before. He just plain got it, and his understanding of what made a BUSINESS work made it all successful. Like I said on Twitter, any guy who can sell franchised pizza in Chicago must be doing something right. Rather than listen to me talk about him, though, check out his keynote for yourself. This is particularly useful as an afternoon pick me up.

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My experiences with Social Media conferences has largely centered around the unconference setting of the BarCamps. BlogWorld was a much more structured setting, but still had a loose feel to it. Today I’m attending my first Gravity Summit on the UCLA campus. It’ll definitely be a different experience for me, and one I’ll be live tweeting about over at my Hal Lublin twitter account (Dracu-Pig didn’t make the trip, in case anyone was looking/hoping for pics).

I’m looking forward to an informative and enriching experience. Hope you’ll join me.

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I hated online dating when I was single. I must have changed my profile on JDate five times to try and strike a tone that I thought was indicative of my personality and I still never got close. I think most people struggle to “sell themselves” in the online setting because the end result comes from questionnaires. Do I like Flea Markets? Sure. I’ll check yes, although I hadn’t been to one in years and could think of about 20 dates I would go on before saying “let’s go antiquing.” When I looked at other people’s profiles they all started to blend together, in terms of what they were looking for, who they thought they were, etc. Dating online started to feel more like ChatRoulette than a focused search for someone you’re compatible with.

I recently learned about a service called Gelato that pulls your activity feeds from sites like FacebookNetflixTwitterFlickr and Hulu to create your profile. This makes perfect sense to me, and while I haven’t been on dating sites for a long time, they would do well to pay attention to what’s happening here. Now, instead of depending on people’s sometimes “skewed” self assessments and answers to form questions to get to know them, you can see what they’re saying, watching, listening to and sharing. In other words, you get to see who they really are, which you usually don’t get to see until you’ve been dating for a few months (ba dum bum).

It’ll be interesting to see what other services could be integrated. If you were looking for someone to date, what profile of theirs would YOU most want to see? Tell me your answer in the poll below:

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A lot of traditional marketing methods have a built-in acceptance of failure. We might send a targeted direct mailing hoping to get a 2% conversion rate and be thrilled with that because that 2% represents a significant amount of income.

What about that other 98%? Are we hoping to scoop them up somewhere else in our “marketing funnel?”

Maybe those people don’t want to be bombarded by ads and promotions. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do business with you. It could just mean that they aren’t interested in being treated like a number. Chris Brogan wrote a great post yesterday about how important “custom” is – how feeling “heard” or “seen” can make a huge difference for any of us. Social media allows us to engage the consumer as a person when they want, where they want and how they want.

One part of integrating social into your marketing plan is taking what you’re doing with you current marketing and figuring out how it can extend/adapt into the social media space. Another big part is allowing social media to change and evolve all of your other marketing. All of a sudden you have the ears and eyes to hear and see your market. You can connect with them and grow a relationship by listening and giving them value without asking anything in return and create a loyal group of people who share in your success.

Let’s go back to the numbers of the first example but look at it through the social lens. You’ve got a 2% return on your “investment” (of time, expertise and hopefully a little emotion), but now, instead of being “lost” that other 98% just aren’t looking to buy right now. You haven’t lost them at all.

Let me set the record straight here, though. I’m not saying direct marketing sucks, or that you shouldn’t send mail out if that works for you. I’m just saying that there are other options for reaching and connecting with that 98%. That’s where the power of “custom” comes in.

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I had a whole thing worked out for today’s post – something about routines that I guess I’ll get too later – when something happened that I think merits some discussion. I’m calling it “The Brogan Effect.”

I wrote a post back in October about meeting Chris Brogan and the effect it had on my blogging. For those of you who don’t know, Chris Brogan is one of the top thinkers AND doers in the social media space. He has the ability to break down and explain concepts, theories and practices in a relatable and actionable way. His book Trust Agents, co-authored with Julien Smith, is  a must read.

He also happens to be really nice, very funny, and a real pleasure to spend time with. Like I said in the October post, I sat next to Chris at a charity poker tournament and wound up speaking with him most of the time. Our friendship has sustained through communication on Twitter. I choose to DM him when I can because I can only imagine that his public stream is difficult to keep up with, although we have conversed there as well. I always enjoy finding some way to make him laugh, imagining that I might be making his day a little better. Plus, sometimes it’s only for him.

Sometimes, his reaction to a private message will appear in public, like he did this morning when I thought he might be nearby. Reading the message led to his complimenting my avatar and essentially saying to the public “this is a funny dude, everybody.”

And then it began. In the last 10 minutes I have amassed about 40+ new followers. They just keep coming. Let’s remember that Chris DIDN’T say “you need to follow this guy.” Without even asking for anything, he moved 40 people to action. That’s influence, and Chris didn’t get it because he was famous. he built his audience a piece at a time through hard, FOCUSED work, being himself, and being generous with his time and brilliance. He researches, reads and shares everyday. Sure he’s started a premium resource at  Third Tribe Marketing, but that hasn’t slowed his blistering rate of sharing or diluted the quality of the information he shares. Yes, he has a book for sale, yes he works for money, but his work and his writing are making businesses better, which again increases his influence.

I’m writing this for three reasons:

1. To Illustrate that you can do the same things Chris did and achieve influence in YOUR community. You may not become the rockstar he has, but is that really your goal?

2. I couldn’t believe how many followers I picked up this time and found it amusing; and

3. There is no third thing – I just suffer from some mild OCD.

I always pick up followers when Chris mentions me publicly, and if you’re one of the new folks, I look forward to meeting you. Of course, that’s not why I talk to Chris. I enjoy making him laugh because he’s my friend and other people’s laughter (especially friends) is like crack to me.

Have YOU experienced “The Brogan Effect?”

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OK, so yesterday I complained about a problem I have with spammy, hard-sell behavior on Facebook. I wound up receiving a few comments about people who also can’t stand Farmville, Yoville, MafiaWars, SuperPokes, Vampires, Zombies, Vampires v. Zombies, Mafia Zombies, SuperVampirePokers who live on Farms and so on. Since I’ve already discussed what the players of these games can do to keep from annoying others, I figured I would take a look at how we as non-players can address this issue.

Before I get started, let me say this for the record: I have nothing against games (stupid or smart) on Facebook; for a lot of people, it’s the main reason they keep coming back, and they get a lot of enjoyment out it them, and that’s just fine. This isn’t an indictment of Facebook gamers; it’s a message of empowerment to everyone else.

If you too are frustrated/annoyed/done with the constant news feed stories about games you have NO interest in hearing about, you can hide them. Here’s how:

1. Roll your pointer over the news item – you’ll see a “hide” button appear in the upper right hand corner:

2. Click the “hide” button and hide the application, not the user (unless you don’t want updates from that user, which begs the question “why are you friends with them in the first place?”):

3. Go about your life, secure in the knowledge that you’ve made your Facebook experience that much better.

Does this take some time? Yes. Is it worth the few seconds per app that it takes? Yes. For me, Facebook is a much less spammy experience now. I’ve only had to unfriend one person due to nothing but apps/games in their feed, and I don’t think it was a huge loss to either of us. If you like some aspects of Facebook enough to want to stick with it, tips like these give you a lot more control in crafting the experience you want.

What else would make your Facebook experience more enjoyable/productive?

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…Don’t wipe your hands on my drapes.

That’s not what they’re for, you know? I use ’em to keep the windows covered, or at the very least as decoration. If you’re like me, your home is your place, where you have your own rules. When you visit someone else’s house, you don’t conduct yourself the same way you would at home because it’s not your place. That’s the golden rule, right? Simple.

For whatever reason (maybe because it’s “not real”?), our online “homes” are no different. How many of you have left a promotional, self-serving post on someone else’s Facebook wall? It’s OK to raise your hand – none of us can see you. Now, how many of you have FOUND other people’s spam (that’s what it is – unwanted, unwarranted, unbelievable) on your wall? Sucks, doesn’t it? Hell, I get upset when I see a friend getting spammed, even if they don’t mind. I think it’s rude, if I’m not mistaken it’s a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service (psst! It’s in there! Check the first item in the “Safety” section).

If you’re a smart business person, you know better than to storm into someone’s cocktail hour like a bull on speed and start shouting about your exciting new service. If it helps you, spammers, think of Facebook as a cocktail hour. Or a birthday party. Or a baby shower. Or a wedding. Or some other place where your well-honed “hard sale” is not only ineffective but offensive to some. Is it worth the few sales you might make to turn off 100 for every 1 you sell? If your answer is “yes” feel free to leave my blog (if the lack of a zillion ads didn’t drive you off in the first place). If it’s no, consider this alternative: Contact people privately if you think they might be interested in something you have to offer. If they say no, let it go. How about a Facebook BUSINESS page where you can PROMOTE your business openly?

Don’t get me wrong here: There’s no need to keep mum about your job or aspects of your work on the personal side of Facebook since they’re a real part of your life and can spark engagement with people. It simply means that your personal profile (and anyone else’s, for that matter) is not a billboard or a place for you to promote.

They have places for that. They’re called ACTUAL Billboards.

Am I off base here? Tell me what you think.

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Have I mentioned on this blog how much I love hashtags? For those of you who are unfamiliar, “hashtags” are a way of creating order from the chaos that is Twitter. If you follow a large number of people, your stream becomes incredibly difficult to follow. Sometimes, even when you use lists and tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite you still wind up missing things you wanted to catch. Hashtags can provide a solution to that problem. Hashtags are created by putting a “#” infront of a word, phrase or abbreviation. Here are a few examples of hashtags in action:

  • If you can’t make it to a conference (like BlogWorld last fall), you could have still learned a lot from the various sessions just by following the #bwe09 hashtag. You can search for hashtags on Twitter Search, using desktop apps like TweetDeck and Hootsuite (simply by creating a new column dedicated to that search) or by using services like tweetgrid, which update in real time.
  • If you were watching the World Series and wanted to see what other fans were saying, you could have follow the #worldseries, #phillies or #yankees hashtags.
  • Micah Baldwin created a phenomenon known as Follow Friday, where people suggest other twitter users you might want to follow. Every Friday, look for the #ff or #followfriday tag.
  • Sometimes they’re just for fun. One popular hastag is #justsayin, as in “I can’t stand the Wallflowers. Jakob Dylan is nowhere near the talent his father is. #justsayin”

Here are a few tips that will help you use hashtags to your advantage:

  • When you have an event, establish a hashtag for people to use – otherwise, they’ll just come up with their own, meaning their will be a bunch of different hashtags that will make the conversation difficult to follow. Creating a way for people to “attend” the event remotely will increase awareness and can increase attendance in following years if people are getting valuable information (remember, they won’t get EVERYTHING from following hashtags, so don’t feel like you’re giving away the farm). Hashtags can also be used for specific session to monitor discussions and take questions (saw this more than once at BlogWorld).
  • If you work with a company, see if someone has created a hashtag to discuss your service/product/industry. If it doesn’t exist, create and support one to facilitate conversation.
  • Even if you aren’t using them yourself, MONITOR them! Hashtags allow you to pay closer attention to discussions about topics that are relevant to your work.
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