Monthly Archives: August 2012

Social Media Is Becoming A Pressure Cooker That’s About To Explode

The social media industry is nothing like anything we’ve ever seen online before. Outside of high school and Hollywood, nothing else can compare to the pressures associated with “being popular.” This unique element affects speakers, authors, social media agencies and even the person looking for work. Between Klout scores and the size of your community of likes and followers, the pressures have become daunting for some. For the many who make their living in or around the social media industry, the pressure to be or at least appear to be an expert, the best, or just a player is reaching a boiling point.

An industry friend of mine started pushing me to write about this after reading my recent posts about industry experts, etc. She said “I really would love to see you do a post about the nature of the industry and how it puts pressure on people embrace these misleading/unethical practices in order to be competitive.” I promised I would and here it is.

Likened to sports, social media is truly competitive. The speaking gigs at conventions, the choice brand contracts as well as consulting  opportunities are all up for grabs. Rightly so, the folks who hire for these opportunities want the best they can get or afford. Those with huge communities, the most influence and recognized names are obvious choices. The pressure to be perceived as one of them is so great that many feel they must resort to performance enhancing drugs, so to speak, à la  Lance Armstrong.

Purchasing followers on twitter, likes for fanpages and gaming Klout to appear more influential is equivalent to athletes using performance enhancing drugs. In social media, the pressure to perform and win can be so great that many are resorting to these tactics in a desperate move to succeed. This goes for beginners wanting to build a name, brands themselves and worse than all else, the social media professional.

Even students fresh out of college looking for their first real career position are feeling the pressure. With misinformed employers making Klout scores a prerequisite for interviews and requesting social media logins and passwords, pressure on the unemployed continues to scale.

So where does it end and where do we go from here? In my humble opinion, the focus must change…

I think the Klout score has damaged this industry immensely. It has added an undefined metric to the game that has captured the focus of most newcomers and simultaneously derailed veterans from what should be important. I talk to so many people everyday in the social graph who are so enamored by my Klout score that they fail to hear me explain its irrelevance. They are so focused on their Klout score that they are spending hours upon hours every week DOING social media, yet have no real results to show for it.

Please hear my next statement:  When I am getting my best results, sales, revenue, click-throughs, software demos, etc., in other words, the things that really matter, or at least should matter, my Klout score declines. When I am not focused, am not doing my best work and am unable to spend the proper time on relationships, my Klout score goes UP! Further proof that Klout is being run by people who do not get social media or how and when it is effective and influential.

Ask yourself this – Do you want a high score that means nothing, or do you want tangible results that you expect from any other marketing medium?

How do we change the focus?

1) Stop focusing on your scores, your community size and your ego. – Provide value, have conversations with your target audience and build relationships that lead to ROI.

2) Stop adding focus on scores and community size. – Stop propping up the fake authors, speakers and “experts” by giving them your Klout, and buying their books, Look deeper to see if they are actually getting real results beyond book sales and speaking. Many are simply celebrities who have robbed the industry and led many astray through their celebrity status.

3) Focus on what is important. – Have a goal and a strategy to achieve it. If you are going to spend 8+ hours per day doing something, you’d better have a plan to show some real results for all that time spent doing it. If you have no real results in terms of clients and revenue, then get a job at McDonald’s instead. Your ego will suffer, but your bank account will do MUCH better.

The pressure to appear influential is off of your shoulders because now you have the knowledge you need to change this. The only pressure you should be experiencing is that of getting real results. And, I might add, when done properly, results are easier to achieve than a fake expertise and there is no risk of getting caught taking performance enhancing drugs.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post 

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Filed under Facebook, Fakers, Fanpage, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized

Social Media Revolution – You Will Get Called Out

By now you should know that social media is about relationships. From my perspective as the CEO of a social media software company, those relationships we establish, build and maintain are crucial to our continued success. In my book, there is only one thing that trumps those relationships… Truth!

If you have been following my blog recently, you have noticed several pieces that focus on the industry, fake experts and name people that have hijacked the industry and lead people astray.

The next and potentially MOST harmful element in the industry are social media consultants, agencies and speakers who are inexperienced fakers.

Why do I believe these folks are the most damaging to the industry? Because they lie. I will not stand for lying or liars in general, especially when the lies affect the industry that I am in and because of the negative long term consequences it will potentially have on our customers and the industry in general. If we, as full-time social media professionals who make our living in this industry, do not start self regulating and purging these harmful #fauxperts, we will begin to see a rapid collapse of the industry.

As I sit here Saturday morning writing this post for Monday, my stomach is sick! In the past hour I have found and then had to confront two of these industry fakers. That’s two in less than an hour! I am talking about those folks with HUGE followings. I confronted them and asked how they could have 20,000+ new followers several times in a single day over the last three months and have 96% of their followers showing as “fake”.

Guess what? One has completely ignored me. No reply whatsoever. I guess I should not be surprised. I would be so embarrassed and ashamed I might jump off a cliff or at least climb deep under a rock. Apparently, that’s exactly what they are doing, hoping I and this situation goes away. It won’t.

The other individual proceeded to lie. Blatantly. Even when others jumped in and started commenting, they continued to deny and deflect the situation. Well, I will let you be the judge. Here is the faker in all their manufactured glory:

 Meet Ginaschreck . Pretty impressive bio isn’t it? Her and her social media company http://www.synapse3di.com profess to help clients “Connect with their community” and “focus on engagement and results”. Sounds awesome, right?

They offer social media “coaching” for $279.00 and will “come to your rescue” and manage your social media for you. What a deal!!

Here’s the BIG problem… The self described “Technology Expert” Gina Schreck, who can be hired to speak at your event for just $6,500 to $7,500 (per the website) is a social media #fauxpert. In a video on her website she says that social media is about “building a community.” Aparently for Gina, it is about buying a fake community to appear like she knows what she is doing. How do I know that 96% of this “expert’s” followers are fake? I checked!

I have started to do deeper checks on all higher profile or industry people with large communities. I will no longer sit back and watch these people create a persona of expertise, sell books, speak at events and tell people what they should be doing in social media, when their entire perceived expertise is based on a lie. Proof? Get this…

As if this isn’t bad enough, then the lies started. I decided to confront her and ask her if she is buying twitter followers to falsely prop up her perception to the industry and prospective clients who don’t know any better. The response she gave was a lie. As I am finalizing this post Sunday morning, I went to grab her response, but guess what. She deleted it. Fortunately, I anticipated this and had already taken a screen shot during the conversation and saved it. Here is her response:

Of course I responded. Here are my exact responses: “I see @Ginaschreck so you’re saying each of these spikes are from you mentioning iPads? ow.ly/d43xN But 96% of ur flwrs are fake!!”

What’s the link in my response? This:

Since she did not respond to that, at 10:48 AM I tweeted “Ok, @Ginaschreck let’s test to see if simply tweeting iPad get’s me 14-20k spam fake followers in a single day. iPad, iPad, iPad, #iPad” And just in case you are wondering, I did not get thousands of mysterious fake followers over night. Yet, upon checking her TwitterCounter.com stats this morning, apparently she DID! How amazing is that?

As you can see in this three month analysis of her HUGE Twitter following, there are several spikes over the last three months. (we suspect many additional spikes previous to this period have also occurred) If you hover on these spikes you will find that in a single day she gained from 10,000 to 20,000 new followers. Coincidence? Due to talking about iPads? I will let you decide.

The bottom line is this; the days of lying, professing to be massively influential and an expert are gone in this industry. It is time for a revolution in social media, where a #fauxpert is outed every time they are discovered and actual professionals that do it right and get real results are uplifted and praised regardless of the lack of books or huge speaking fees.

I found a place where this revolution is starting to swell and I for one will be joining it. It’s called SteamFeed. Will you join me in ensuring that this incredible industry is not destroyed by lying, cheating, and fake experts like these?

If you are an event planner, a small business or new to social media marketing, I highly suggest that you investigate Gina and her company and the claims and fake perceptions they are putting forward. Before you hire her or any other big name agency or celebrity social media speaker, be sure everything they are showing you that appears to be influence and ability isn’t smoke and mirrors!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post 

79 Comments

Filed under Agency, FAIL, Fakers, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized

When Your Social Media Marketing Is For The Dogs – Literally

A rough week for some major brands in social media. Namely @VerizonWireless and the spotlight that shined on their ignoring of their followers and fans across the social graph. It amazes me the sheer lack of understanding most brands have of social media, how to use it properly, basic requirements to make it effective and/or simply avoid PR nightmares. When big brands are hiring the authors and speakers we all know to consult them and those people don’t do what they suggest we should either, it really isn’t a surprise.

Sometimes however, a major brand does it really well. When I hear or see this happening I try to highlight it and outline the details and show how the average brand or social media marketer can replicate these successes. Of course this is not too often, but I am pleased to say that I have recently come across one that is for the dogs. Literally…

A long-time good friend of mine, @Tiffanysechler posted a pic on Facebook a week ago showing a conversation with the pet treat brand @Pup-Peroni (Facebook - Twitter). I asked her about the situation and we began emailing about what happened. Below is an outline of what transpired:

1) The conversation “started” by them finding me on Twitter via Instagram because I hash tagged the word #Pupperonis in one of the recent pictures i had posted of my Pug Polly…….I always link my IG posts to my Twitter.

2) I got a tweet from the company later that day ….. Asking her fav flavor,etc :) I sent back a picture saying she loves all of them— showing her jumping while I am holding up the bag bc of course she knows what the bag looks like and what’s inside! (The word “Pupperoni” is even better than the word “Treat” to her….;)

3) They asked what else makes her happy- I tweeted “her mom & dad… Laying out in the sun … And more treats!”

4) They responded  ” tell her hello from us”

5) I thought it was hilarious and actually kinda cute they tweeted. Never even knew they had a Twitter account! I would buy their products no matter if they tweeted or not…. They are both my pugs fav treats— I usually buy 3 packs at a time/per week (they run a little under 3 dollars a pack @Target)

Do you think they created a loyal customer? Beyond loyal…  So what should YOU take from this example?

1) Yes they are a known brand, but notice their social presence is new and VERY small. They have very little advantage over you, just simply a commitment and strategy to do it right.

2) They are paying attention, monitoring, engaging and showing interest in their audience!

3) They are using conversation extremely effectively.

So major brands can actually do this properly and clearly so can you. Take this example and make the changes necessary in your social media marketing strategy to start being effective. It really isn’t hard when you understand the elements you need to focus on.

Content leads to conversation. Conversations build relationships. Relationships result in ROI and Revenue!

Go do this!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post 

7 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Fanpage, Marketing, Monitoring, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized

@VerizonWireless Makes An Epic Social Media Failure

Let’s just go right at this. If you are a smart phone user of any type, and your network provider forces applications on your phone, then this post is for you. If you are a smart phone user whose network provider forces you to use their applications, then you are not alone.

I recently upgraded the OS on my Motorola Razr Android phone . To my horror, Verizon Wireless made changes during that upgrade to control my phone and what apps I decide to use. As if this isn’t bad enough, they made an even bigger fail that will have long term impacts if I have anything to say about it.

We live in a tech world online that has come to recognize the user as the customer and the one who has ultimate control. Jeopardize that and they will leave. The wireless industry doesn’t seem to get this. YET!

We pay a significant price for our smart phones and often even larger expenses for the phone, internet and application access we want. Wireless network providers, specifically Verizon Wireless, is crossing the line with three epic failures.

1) Forcing installation and upgrading of applications (bloatware) I don’t want, never asked for and that I can’t remove from MY phone.

Have you noticed your smart phone has apps that you can’t remove, are always upgrading and you never installed or wanted them to begin with? It’s MY phone and I bought it. I should be able to determine which apps I want to install. (Before everyone starts commenting on rooting phones, let me say this… I shouldn’t have to!)  FAIL number 1 Verizon Wireless!

2) Forcing users to use THEIR navigation application VZ Navigator every time I dock my phone in my car.

Every single time I dock my phone in my holder/charger in the car, the VZ Navigator application launches. I don’t want the app, don’t like the app and should not be forced to click a bunch of screens to get out of it every time I get in my car. This speaks to the heart of controlling your customer and it is an epic FAIL number 2 I might add… *Additional information on this portion can be found in the bold revision section below.

3) The biggest fail of all is ignoring comments on Twitter and Facebook.

Seriously? I thought big brands already got the message from the many before them that tried this tactic and ended up getting national attention for the fail. I guess not. In fact, since they ignored some 12 tweets on Saturday, I decided to also hit the Facebook fanpage and attempt to start a conversation there.

After several hours of zero response, I went back to the page to see additional posts by others and how VZW handles their social media. I was utterly SHOCKED to see screen after screen of customer posts of positive AND negative comments with absolutely no responses from Verizon. Are you fricken kidding me? EPIC FAIL number 3!

Below are revisions I inserted Sunday night before posting Monday morning:

__________________________________________________________________________

*Note to the credit of the Verizon tech support team on Twitter, I did get the following responses which started almost 24 hours later. But it’s not a tech support issue, as the application cannot be uninstalled either. It is a top down corporate power play that management has decided and is pushing on its customers. Only the executive team can make the decision to control users phones, install apps that cannot be removed and not put proper social media practices and resources in place. Tech support does not make those kinds of business decisions.

Again, the Twitter tech support team did make a valiant social media save attempt by researching more and getting back to me with the following thread.

@fondalo 1/3 I researched this, and it will be fixed in the next software update (this wasn’t by design). Work around: 1) Find VZNav in the

@fondalo 2/3 the app launcher. 2)Touch & hold app which will drop to home screen. 3)Drag up to top of screen to “More Options.” 4) Tap “App

@fondalo 3/3 info”. 5) Force stop, uninstall updates, and disable the app (this step may take a couple tries). This has worked for many. ^MS

It wasn’t by design? Really? Ok, let’s say it wasn’t by design and just horrible planning and implementation. That happens. But the fact remains that:

1) The app cannot be disabled or removed.

2) Verizon Wireless corporate social media ignored these issues.

3) Verizon Wireless corporate social media is ignoring a massive amount of comments, complaints and issues across the board on all of their network locations. If that is not epic fail of a major brand in the social age, I don’t know what is.

__________________________________________________________________________

Please understand, I have been a very long time user and advocate of Verizon Wireless. In fact I have probably referred or suggested to at least a thousand users that they switch. I know that many have.

I am not trying to get something for nothing or bully a brand for some personal gain. I am attempting to point out the absolute control mentality that the Verizon Wireless executives feel is okay to place on its customers, their disregard for enagement, response and value of customers within the social graph and a clear display that they have no clue of what social media is all about. Their belief that it’s perfectly alright to control us, our phones and out app choices is so behind the times that it requires a bullhorn to call it out. Verizon Wireless would do well to move some of their Twitter support team to corporate social media and start getting kudos instead of posts like this! Their support folks clearing understand social media far better than the executives. Some consulting, strategy and education is in order guys. Call me…

Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone who read this posted the following on Facebook and Twitter? (Feel free to insert the twitter account or Facebook page of your own wireless provider as needed)

“Hey @VerizonWireless It’s MY phone, I bought it and I should be able to decide which apps I want to install, use and delete, NOT YOU! #TheMovement”

Imagine if the people started a movement in this and other industries to take control BACK! Want to start a revolution? I do!!

The Wrap Up:

If you do social media marketing and have a page, twitter account, etc., there is a very big lesson here:

Big brands typically don’t do social media right or effectively. Do not watch and emulate them in your social efforts. They often feel that they are above responding because they easily get millions of followers and likes due to their years of branding and major media spends. YOU must always respond, build relationships and handle issues promptly, so that you see revenue, results and long-term loyal prospects and customers…

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post 

My next post will go in the opposite direction and highlight a big brand that is nailing social media!

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Filed under Facebook, FAIL, Fanpage, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized

It’s Nearly Impossible To Become A Social Media Professional Part 4

This series has really got a ton of traction. When I say that I am not meaning traffic and all that, I am referring to mind shift. The idea that these fake experts and social media celebrities have taken over this industry has really struck a chord with more people than I thought. I mean many of us agree on the idea I present in this series, but I did not expect the up-in-arms mentality and desire many are displaying.

The number of people sharing experiences, calling people out by name and banning together around this idea has been nothing short of inspiring. Many of us have expressed these feelings to each other individually or in small groups, but it appears that it is going beyond that now. I got permission to share a few examples of what I have been seeing.

I received this comment from my long time friend @jayvee4you on the Part 3 post:

To which I responded:

“I am determined that we take back our industry from these folks that have created speaking and book careers and don’t/haven’t really done it!!!! Or at least aren’t doing now. If we do not stand up and control the message with proper, results driven content, we will all be out of work and a laughing stock like when this whole thing started…”

Following that, my friend @ilovegarick messaged me on Facebook with a conversation in process with one of these types we are talking about here. This situation typifies the issue we are facing, doesn’t it?

He went on to write about it, calling it “What’s Your Biggest Challenge in Social Media.” He wraps up with “So what’s my biggest challenge in social media then? It’s apparently not my original answer of ROI.  It is simply this: working with people who proclaim themselves as “social media gurus” and then pitch how they can work wonders for other businesses. They give those who know what they’re doing a bad name.”

I think it’s clear we are all getting frustrated with the state of the industry and how these “name” people are controlling the message and what eventually happens to us and the industry as a whole. I for one am not going to stand for that any longer. Will you?

So in the final post of this series, there are two things I want to convey. One for the social media professional specifically and one for everyone:

1) To the social media professional – We must take back our industry. The media have latched on to these authors and speakers, giving them credibility that they should not have. A book is not an indication of a social media professional and the size of their following or number of likes isn’t either and we all know this. What they DO themselves and the actual results are the proper indication of whether someone is a social media professional or not.

What can we do to take back the industry? For starters, let’s stop sharing content these folks produce, even if it is relevant to our audience. Let’s stop giving them credibility by engaging with them, if that opportunity in fact ever occurs. Let’s lead by example and produce results that are real and well beyond followers, Klout and perceptions. Finally, we must call these people out wherever possible and appropriate and reclaim the message and control.

2) Suggestions for everyone -

Be very weary of anyone that claims being a social media expert or that do not do social media as they tell you and others to do for your social media strategy. Be very careful of those who consult on social media, but their social media is greatly lacking. Beware of those with huge followings that do not respond and engage.

RUN from those who are celebrities that consult big brands on social media marketing. Nothing they have to say is relevant to the average business. My fourteen year old daughter could design and execute a successful strategy for a major brand. Social media marketing for the small and mid-sized business is a completely different game!

Finally, stop following and giving credibility to these celebrity social media experts. You are far better off finding a handful of small to medium social media agencies whose feeds reflect the things you know are right, than to waste time learning things that will suck your time and lead you to poverty for your business.

Now let’s take this industry back and together mold it into the most effective marketing platform ever seen.

Part 1 – 3 of this series:  Part 1     Part 2     Part 3

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post 

**Footnote – Remember the social media expert that automates questions and ignores when people answer, yet professes to be a social media rock star for brands? Here’s how Monday night ended up on Garick’s post. Utterly amazing… Time? I make the time to respond to every single comment and question. It’s social media! Can you get any more arrogant?

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Filed under Agency, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy

It’s Nearly Impossible To Become A Social Media Professional Part 3

The next important thing to outline in this series is how to know whether the person you are watching, learning from and replicating their activity is doing it right. How do you know that what that “expert” is writing on their blog actually works or will work for you? How do you know if the person writing the book or article is really an “expert”? How do you know that the things they are doing in their social media activity that you are replicating actually does produce revenue and ROI?

The direct answer to these questions is, there is no real way to know for sure. I know that is not very helpful to hear and I realize that some of you reading this are now more frustrated than when you started with social media because of this answer. But the fact is, these people aren’t going to give you their profit and loss statements, their analytics or their sales numbers. Now days, anyone can write and publish a book, write a blog or be seen as an expert by an ignorant media. So the bottom line is that it is incumbent upon us to make the determination of who in fact is an expert, or at least a professional.

*Side note – In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as a social media expert, guru or ninja. This industry changes so quickly and is far too new to have established any of those yet. There are a lot ofcelebrities, and many professionals, but no experts.

Here are some things I do to determine whether I should listen to or replicate activity of someone who is considered to be a  social media expert or professional:

1) Walk the talk – After reading an article they’ve written, check their newsfeed to see if they actual do what they are telling you to do.

2) Blazing Blog Posts – One or more blog posts per day? Really? That makes you a blogger and someone looking to drive traffic to your blog, more than a social media professional. If you are actually doing social media effectively, you don’t have time to write quite that much. What’s worse is you are probably not writing everything you post and therefore it will be evident in your newsfeed activity that it’s not you writing.

3) Be my guest – One thing I have found is the people who have a ton of “guest” bloggers should be carefully scrutinized. Not ALL but many are taking advantage of other unsuspecting writers to further their web traffic. Want my articles? Then pay me!

4) Me first – Look for limited Retweeting, sharing or posting of other people’s content. As an example, I am in tribes on Triberr with many of these kinds of “name” industry experts. I don’t think they ever login and share other people’s posts that are in their tribe. I have stop sharing many of their content.

5) You work? – Look into exactly what it is that the so-called expert really does for a living. This always amazes me. You’re a social media expert, yet you are always speaking somewhere and never responding to people. Or the infamous, “monetized blog” people. They are web marketers whose entire focus is blog traffic for advertising or affiliate revenue. Is what they are telling you, really being driven by income from selling that product or does it really work? Pay attention…

6) The Train Jumper - I have pretty much got this one down now and can identify these people very quickly. Once something in the news happens, they are the first to write about it. The new network, the big social scandal, the latest application. If you were a social media professional, you wouldn’t be chasing every new shiny object in order to be the first to write about it. You would wait, observe and investigate. Train Jumpers are traffic hounds for a living.

7) Too good for you – Engage with the “expert”. Ask them a question. Retweet or share something they posted and wait. Do they respond? Do they answer your question? Do they do it in a timely fashion? Do they even thank you? *Remember their article you read about social media being about relationships??* (RED FLAG)

8) Check – Is the software, tool, activity they are deploying or talking about fit with how one might do something in the real world? If the equivalent activity in the real world would not go over well with people at a networking event, be very hesitant.

9) The Reviewer – Watch for the experts whose content is always about tools. If you’re an expert and have not already figured out the couple of tools it takes to get results, or worse you are constantly leading others down a tools chase, there is definitely a problem.

10) Gamers – Watch for people whose activity wreaks of gaming followers, friends and Klout scores. Lot’s of activity can achieve gains in these areas. Oddly, they also tend to diminish real revenue, relationship and results that actually matter. There are a lot of folks out there that do this in order to “appear” as somebody.

The really sad part is that I have coached a few people who have fallen into this celebrity trap. I won’t name any names, but people I have watched go from near zero to now being a blog and Klout machine, rarely engaging and chasing after and replicating the poor strategies of the celebrity, becoming one themselves. The problem is, I know them and know where they are really at in life and business. I can assure you that this no more make them rich than it does make them an expert.

This series and specifically this post might seem a but harsh to some, but perceptions can be very deceiving and I am tired of seeing good people who want to learn being taken down dark alleys that can potentially be ruining to them in business!

Part 1 & 2 of this series:  Part 1     Part 2    Part 4

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

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Filed under Agency, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy