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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bloggy thought three. Something I was mulling over for a while, even shared in a completely inarticulate manner with Rajesh yesterday, who by the way awarded me with the Thinking Blogger Award.  He shared with me some links that report on the recent IAMAI Web2.0 conference, with the comment - "am getting a bit restless with marketers"!  Then I got a call from a journalist, who wanted to discuss 'unconferences' - and I took off on her a little and told her how I dislike the term - any activity that is prefaced with an 'un' makes me feel not-so-nice about it.  Anyways, it also reminded me about another phrase or term in the social media realm that I generally dislike ---- user-generated content and I started my rant on her! 

I particularly dislike it when I hear mainstream media and corporate organizations get a high on the phrase 'user-generated content'.  In India, many times, its shortened to UGC (the only UGC I know of is the University Grants Commission!) and it bugs me no end. 

I dislike it, especially when, in the background, I hear their minds ticking away the rupees they can generate, behind all this buzz and excitement around the term.  When they have not really embraced it themselves.

I dislike it when they distance themselves from it - it's something other people -- oops users do.   How many of them have actually generated content themselves?

I am happy with adopting the term when I am talking about content that is created by users of a service - so there is user-generated content on Youtube, or on blogging platforms, or on wikis.  But I dislike it when marketers, PR agencies talk about the 'potential' in harnessing user-generated content for their brands, products and services through advertising messages on the user-generated content spaces or sites, and then believe they are really using social media in their strategies.  Am not knocking advertising based strategies - I just feel they are skimming the surface of the true potential in participating in the conversations, co-creation, community and collaboration that occurs when there is user-generated content.

I think they have it wrong, when they feel that getting onto the user-generated content bandwagon is a quick-fix for their social media strategies. Inherent in the phrase is a division, the notion or assumption of 'us vs them'.  They have got to see themselves as co-participants and partners rather than marketers or advertisers who are 'using' user-generated content as another media opportunity.

I simply loved Toby Bloomberg's rant at Unilever which so well illustrates what I am trying so hard to articulate!

"So I really want to see that ad. I really Need to see that ad. What do I do? Do I search for Lux? Do I go to the Unilever website? Nope. I head for YouTube and sure enough here it is! It's a must watch. Oh and the Unilever Lux site? Good I didn't head that way, my coffee would have turned cold looking for any mention of the campaign. Anyone for integrated marketing?

Questions To Ponder
Does a marketing campaign have to be "social" to be successful?
Is traditional advertising dead?
Is there room in the proverbial marketing mix for the good old 60 second TV spot?

Diva Marketing Thoughts
Marketing 101 tells us to hang where our customers hang. For some the "tube" means television and for others it means YouTube. And for many people it means Both

While there were quite a few Neon Girl videos on YouTube, I didn't notice a Unilever Neo Girl YouTube Channel. Unilever you missed an opportunity. Actually you missed several. Never too late to get into the game. Would be a good idea to consider especially if a sequel is in the works. Work it right and you might have the next Lonely Girl."

Bonus link: Here's Jon Udell on why he dislikes the term per se.

5:00:52 PM    comment []  trackback []

Bloggy thought two. It's not worth it, if it's not searchable. Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel seem to feel so. Am actually feeling the contrary only because of my recent experiences with Facebook and Twitter. The other day, I was chatting with a young friend who is 18, and he told me a few things around Facebook. His dashboard and homepage is Facebook - all his social interactions happen around it, along with a few IM clients. He doesn't really use email very much. And most pertinent to this post, was his comment that he was disturbed that his whole family including aunts and grand-aunts could 'peep' into his entire life. In fact, it was so funny when he related a story about how an aunt actually sent his grandma some pictures of girls who wanted to 'marry' him. He's now got most of his family on 'limited' profile -- but his friends have full access to him!

I still believe that what you write or say or show on the web is there for everyone to see, read or hear, and I like that openness and transparency of the web. Still I am enjoying the levels of privacy that Facebook offers me. When I blog, I do sometimes (not when I am feeling particularly ranty) wonder whether what I write will come back to bite me some day or how people will view me as a result of what I write. I do feel more 'responsible' about what views I share on my blog - perhaps this happens when you have been blogging since 2003 and when your blog becomes your single-point public profile, for the whole world to see - family, friends, clients, potential clients etc.

But on spaces like Facebook and Twitter, I feel so much more comfort - I can rant, I can be silly, throw some food at a friend, hug someone else, share when I am upset or ecstatic. I don't ever 'think' too much when I am on Facebook - my mode is a more feely one. It's more about me and who I am. And less about my thoughts on a particular subject and less of the 'Dina' I want to project or promote or share around what I do.

I loved this comment at Steve Rubel's post by Ryan McKegney - it resonates:

"As Steve points out above, there are advantages to having a walled garden. In real life, I have a public and private life, but because of Google and the general openness of the web, the balance between public and private online is out of whack. The existing "private web" (IMs, email) has been largely static for the last half decade, but if it chooses to be, Facebook could be the next evolution of the private web. Facebook isn't just a walled garden, it is MY walled garden."

3:31:29 PM    comment []  trackback []

I was driving back from a meeting when I had a few bloggy thoughts ... long drives in traffic and beating rain tend to do that to me! It was a good meeting - regular (I actually said that!!!) qualitative research project among IT students and professionals to understand motivations that drive them to join certain sorts of organizations in a highly competitive field, to figure out a strategy to draw them to my Client's organization. As we were discussing the research, I suddenly felt - wow - this is the perfect case for a social media / new media strategy ---- you have young professionals, in the IT industry, probably heavy users of the internet, a captive target audience that must be familiar with blogs, social networking sites, youtube and the like! When you think of motivations and drivers for this segment, how can you not think of The Influentials, who help them frame their opinions. Am waiting eagerly for my copy which is winging its way here currently. It would be neat to figure out who or what they are in the project I am doing. So somewhere midway in discussing sample definitions, I broke away and asked my client - do you have a social media or blogging strategy - you need one! She was interested I think, particularly since one of her marketing objectives is to build a powerful corporate identity in order to attract the best talent.

Now am hoping it's a qualitative research +++ project!!  Am beginning to believe any organization or brand that is targeting an audience that is 'online' must have a social media strategy.  Social media is in-your-face today, no web user or surfer can really escape it.  

2:13:54 PM    comment []  trackback []