Tag Archives: louis+gray

Great Tips for Managing the Social Media Tsunami from Louis Gray

lgraycom_100Popular blogger and publisher, Louis Gray gave a highly engaging presentation at the Inbound Marketing Summit on filtering out the noise and finding the signal in this age of  information overload.

Mark Evans  describes Louis Gray as,

“..one of the hottest one-man shows on the tech blogging scene, who has literally come out of nowhere in the past few month. Now, Gray is literally everywhere – breaking stories, providing in-depth coverage of new startups such as FriendFeed, and cementing himself within the Techmeme 100.”

Information overload is a crippling problem for many marketers in this social media age and those of us who follow Gray have wondered for a long time how he manages to do it with relative ease. It was a rare treat to listen to this guru of tech blogging and get tips & tools for finding the signal in all the noise.

  • How to get emails when your keywords come up on Twitter
  • Get emails when your keywords are mentioned in blog comments around the web
  • Search aggregators that find all mentions across multiple services at once

He started by asking the audience,

“What will you remember when you get home?”

He went on to say, “…let tools do the work for you and cut through the noise to find the signal.” Louis shared his recommended tools for search, aggregation &  blog search.

BackType and TweetBeep are the two tools he recommends for search and find. Backtype is a comment keyword search across blogs, including trends, while TweetBeep can search tweets for keywords 24×7 and send it to your mailbox.

For blog search and aggregation, Gray recommends using Google blog search and FriendFeed. Google blog search scours blogs for keywords and delivers it as feed through your favorite reader. FriendFeed on the other hand lets you search blogs and about 50 other social sites.

Managing the noise:

Gray was blunt in his assessment that, “You created this mess.You were the one who signed up for the emails and RSS feeds.” Here’s some sage advice he gave the audience:

  • Stop signing up so many RSS feeds
  • Skim like mad and unsubscribe from lists that are not relevant or interesting
  • Reduce inbound by reducing outbound emails
  • Use search instead of using RSS feeds for everything
  • Use recommendations or aggregation sites to filter out the noise

It’s not about shutting everything down completely:

  • Use RSS feeds efficiently
  • Find people you trust and use them as filters
  • Participate where it makes sense

You don’t need to read every word:

  • Review the author information
  • Speed read, skim and if the content isn’t relevant, move on

Prioritize the data “Not all data is equal”

Just like you wouldn’t treat email from your boss the same way as you would an email from a friend, same holds true for blogs and tweets. Impact is a direct result of influence.

  • Focus on the ones that are most relevant
  • Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe if it’s not relevant any more

Gray says,

“Prioritize, filter and leverage trusted discovery tools”

How to determine influence for Blogs, Twitter, and FriendFeed?

It’s not perfect but Gray suggested few ways you can assess  influence:

  • Frequency of updates and level of active participation is a key component of how to measure influence
  • Length/tenure and quality of participation in the form of followers, subscribers is a measure of influence

Simply put,

“Do people see the activity and respond?”

According to Gray, “information overload” is a result of trying not to miss anything, which is not realistic and will fail. “Don’t add just for the heck of adding.” but also not leveraging tools available to manage information efficiently. He ended this fascinating talk by reiterating that “there is no information overload and you can cut through to find the signal”.

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6 Reasons Why Enterprise Social Media Needs its Own Playbook

The last thing any company getting on the social media bandwagon should do is adopt  best practices established by practitioners and “experts” in the consumer space. Consumers and enterprises have very different objectives so here are 6 reasons why enterprises should write their own playbook rather than borrow from the consumer space:

  1. Numbers do matter: I recently wrote a blog post on how folks are getting too obsessed with their Twittercount. I still believe that when you aren’t selling something, the obsession with Twitter and Facebook numbers is just an ego trip. Individual social media activity should be focused on quality of engagement rather than quantity. However, when you are a business – quality is important but so is quantity, perhaps more so. If you’re running social media campaigns or activities for your company, you’re expected to deliver results. One way of measuring results is by looking at customer engagement numbers, but how will you engage when there’s no one to engage with?
  2. Consistency is important: I remember when the Motrin/Twitter Momscontroversy erupted, well-known blogger Louis Gray had a great blog post on how “Brand Reputation Management is Not  a Monday-Friday Gig“. The same applies to social media in general. You can’t say, I am taking the week off, so the corporate blog can languish until I get back or the unhappy customer who has been tweeting about a product issue will just have to wait. When you’re doing it for your business, you have to make sure the show goes on regardless of  what’s going on in the background. Can you imagine, shutting down your company website just because the guy who manages it has gone on vacation? That becomes even more critical for social media, which is a much more dynamic media and people expect consistent real-time updates.
  3. It’s a team sport:Unless you’re a company of one, your social media team should involve many other cross-functional folks. so that you are representing voice of the company not just your individual thoughts. Having an individual voice for a personal blog is fine, but ideally you want to have consistent messaging even through your social media channels. As a business, you want to ensure you’re not confusing your customers by having conflicting points of view from two different employees from the same company. To make the content authentic,  input on social media content should come from subject matter and content experts, not just the best communicator/blogger on the team.
  4. It’s not personal:Like it or not, enterprise social media is all about business, so companies shouldn’t go crazy trying to emulate personal blogs in their content and approach. Your company’s social media content needs to be authentic, by which I mean present truthful information without any marketing or PR spiel. Being professional is also right up there with authenticity. As your customer, I don’t want to know about your six cats unless I am buying cat food from you and even then, I don’t care unless the information is  relevant and interesting to *me*. Your customers come to you for value (no matter which social media channel you choose to use) and it’s your job to make sure you deliver that value..minus any spin or personal stories, please.
  5. You can’t fake it: I cringe when I see social media enthusiasts trying to conjure up a fictitious fun persona for their corporate social media accounts, especially when their company culture is anything but customer-centric. This warm and fuzzy approach works for companies like Southwest Airlines or Zappos, because their brand IS fun and customer-oriented, so are their employees. However, if your company is notorious for lousy customer service, no amount of cutesy tweets will help your cause.
  6. Last but not the least, it’s NOT free:When you’re writing your personal blog, it’s a fun hobby and since most social sites/tools are free, there’s no financial cost involved. However, if this activity is for a company account, it’s costing the company $$$ because the company still has to pay their employees, right?! So it’s essential to put some productivity and business outcome metrics around social media activities to ensure that these activities are aligned with company’s financial objectives and goals.

Enterprises are in business to generate value for their stakeholders, whereas personal/consumer social media activities are not encumbered by those responsibilities. Enterprises should ignore the social media hype and do right by their customers. They should leverage the social media sites/tools to deliver value to and engage their customer base even when it’s perceived as being “uncool” to do so.

Blogging – It’s about the conversations everywhere, stupid.

There’s an interesting debate going on in the blogosphere and at the center is Shyftr, yet another content aggregator. (I think my next post should be on ‘How many content aggregators do we really need?’)

Tony Hung’s railing against ‘content scrapers’ and Robert Scoble’s proclaiming that "Era of blogger’s control is over’. There are two issues here, one is about content plagiarism that Tony is most concerned about ,

However, in my mind, when a service cannot exist *without* republishing others content in its entirety, and directly profits from that republishing without the original consent of the author, there’s something that isn’t right.

I see Tony’s point, but bloggers can limit or block their feeds from being published in their entirety, thereby forcing folks to come to their blogs for the whole content. However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I don’t condone plagiarism, but isn’t this is the same argument that traditional news media used when blogging was in its infancy? As I recall, there was a huge hue and cry about how bloggers were taking content from the news media and reposting with some comments on their own blogs, thereby driving traffic away from the traditional news media sites and to their own blog. Ironic, that bloggers have now started complaining about others ‘stealing’ their content.

The second and much bigger issue is around ‘fractured conversations’ that have proliferated due to feed readers like Friendfeed that allow comments. Louis Gray says,

The Web as a whole has clamored for full RSS feeds, not partial, so we don’t have to return to the originating site. Some of us have just as loudly asked for comments and conversations to enter the world of the RSS feed reader. Now that we’re starting to see what it’s like, maybe it’s not what we had fully anticipated.

That’s a great point, Louis. I can’t help but wonder if bloggers ever had control over the conversations in the first place?! Blogging has always been about distributed content (and conversation). The reason blogging took off the way it did, was because discussions were no longer monopolized by a few individuals/media networks. Some Joe Schmoe in Idaho could start a conversation around organic potatoes and get a gazillion people participating in that conversation. That’s true democratization of content and communication, thanks to the Internet and social media, blogging included.

I really liked Alexander van Elsa’s thoughts on this,

Conversation takes place everywhere. On the web, at home, in a restaurant, with family, friends, work, you name it. There is no controlling that, but we shouldn’t want to either.

To be honest. If a blog post of mine leads to discussion anywhere on the web I would be very satisfied with it. I’m not in it for the traffic, the amount of readers, the number of pageviews. I blog because I believe that I might be able to give something to the people that want to take the time to read my stuff. …It tells me that the things I have written could perhaps inspire others to do something with it, completing and starting new circles.

Say, you’re at a cocktail party and you start a conversation with one person. If it’s an interesting conversation, more folks will join in and the conversation will happen around you, with you. But if you (your conversation) aren’t engaging, folks may very well take that discussion elsewhere. I think the same theory applies to blogs, if you aren’t engaging the reader, they will move on and take their conversation with them. It doesn’t matter if you were the ‘original’ initiator of that conversation or just a passerby.

Here’s the thing, if someone picks up my feed through Friendfeed, and starts a conversation around it, I am okay with it. But you can’t force conversation and you can’t control where conversations happen, that’s true offline and that’s even more true online, where it is becoming easier to ‘move’ conversations.

That being said, would I love to have some type of ‘comment aggregator’ to help me track my ‘popularity’? You betcha. For folks who blog for a living, the lack of trackability (and measurement) is a real issue and needs to be resolved. I think that the social media tools like feed readers have evolved so fast that the players/bloggers haven’t been able to keep up. Now we are scrambling to control the conversation, instead of enhancing the tools that caused this ‘fracturization’ of conversation in the first place.

Last year, Washington Post reported on how RIAA was suing music fans. I saw many commonalities between that debate and this current one. Here’s an interesting insight,

As technologies evolve, old media companies tend not to be the source of the innovation that allows them to survive. Even so, new technologies don’t usually kill off old media: That’s the good news for the recording industry, as for the TV, movie, newspaper and magazine businesses. But for those old media to survive, they must adapt, finding new business models and new, compelling content to offer.

I think blogging is slowly turning into the ‘old media’ and the same advice holds true. I don’t think the question is about ‘picking sides’ as Scoble would have us do, it’s more about the fact that the Internet is constantly evolving and blogging, bloggers, and blogging metrics also need to evolve. It’s Darwinism, pure and simple, you can’t stop change, the only choice we have is to adapt.

RSS and mainstream adoption

Louis Gray shared this great commentary by Brian Clark on Google Reader (via Friendfeed) today. Brian is perplexed why RSS hasn’t gone mainstream yet.

Email still has its problems, and they’re not getting any better. But the public at large either doesn’t care about RSS, or doesn’t know they’re using it (a la My Yahoo, etc).

Many technology (product) evangelists get too hung up on the technology and miss the point, which is – technology is a means to an end, not the end unto itself. In this case, it’s the need for information that’s important and the underlying technology itself is irrelevant, unless you are the developer. Even if RSS goes ‘mainstream’ (if it hasn’t already), will folks know it as RSS? Does it really matter?

Brian goes on to say,

That’s why I’m happy to see projects like Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop. It’s completely powered by RSS feeds, but it’s all behind the curtain. People want access to information… they don’t care about the underlying technology.

I couldn’t agree more. I think the fundamental question here is – What drives adoption of any technology in the mainstream? Prominent technology bloggers, innovators, early adopters play a critical role in creating awareness for new technologies. They are akin to early explorers of uncharted territories, blazing trails to exciting new worlds.

However, not everyone is keen on swimming across crocodile-infested waters for thrills. The masses need a bridge. The ‘bridge-builders’ are folks like Guy Kawasaki who are developing easy-to-use applications/sites aimed at fulfilling a need.

And as long as the car can go 0-60mph in (insert desired number here) seconds, does the average Joe Schmoe really care what’s under the hood? I highly doubt it.

Wow, I got Louisgrayed today! :-)

Wowza, what a day!

I got up this morning and out of sheer habit, the first thing I did was to look at my feedstats (yes, I know it’s a disease). I noticed byteloads of traffic coming to my blog, so I was surprised..pleasantly 🙂 

That’s when I realized that Louis Gray, one of my fav bloggers, whom I’ve been following on Friendfeed, added my name to 5 blogs that he recommends. Holy Guacamole!! How neat is that?! Here are the other 4 blogs on his list.

Charlie Anzman / SEO and Tech Daily (anzman.blogspot.com)
Focus: SEO, Analytics, Web 2.0
Recent Highlight: The A-list just changed and you’re on it
RSS Feed: Subscribe Now

Hutch Carpenter / I’m Not Actually a Geek (bhc3.wordpress.com)
Focus: RSS, Facebook, Social Networking
Recent Highlight: The Best Blogs You’re Not Reading? Toluu Knows
RSS Feed: Subscribe Now

Eric Berlin / Online Media Cultist ( onlinemediacultist.com)
Focus: Twitter, TechMeme, Online Media
Recent Highlight: What I Learned Friday Night on Twitter
RSS Feed: Subscribe Now

Carlo Maglinao / TechBays (techbays.com)
Focus: Google, RSS, LinkedIn
Recent Highlight: Ten Power Tips on Facebook Usage
RSS Feed: Subscribe Now

The blogosphere is chockfull of amazing folks that I probably will never meet, but it’s great to have your work noticed by someone you actually admire. So, thanks for making my day, Louis!

Friendfeed, the next big thing?

This has been a week of new discoveries, first it was Flock, and this morning, as I was looking at my feed stats, I noticed traffic coming through Friendfeed. Started by some ex-Googlers, Friendfeed has taken the blogosphere by storm over the last month. Everyone’s talking about it – Louis Gray, SHEGEEKS, TechCrunch and many others have blogged about Friendfeed in the last month.

So, the curious ‘twit’ that I am, I signed up for it. It looks like a feed aggregrator, acts like a feed aggregator, so it’s definitely a feed aggregator. (Check out Steve Rubel’s post on how the ‘Imaginary Friends’ feature can be used as a master aggregator). But it’s not just an aggregator of blog feeds, Friendfeed lets you follow your friends/favorite bloggers around the net, so you get feeds of their posts on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and any other application that Friendfeed supports.

I like Friendfeed but it can get very overwhelming very fast, especially if you’re following someone like Robert Scoble who is reknowned for his incessant twittering. Over all, it’s a neat tool to keep all your feeds organized, but whether it will help reduce the insanity of over-abundance of social sites (that I’ve ranted about in the past) or add to that madness, remains to be seen.

Friendfeed_3