Ten Commitments All Social Media ‘Experts’ Must Provide Their Clients

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Are social media and social media marketing something your business feels it must ’embrace’. Not sure where to start? Thinking about hiring a big firm like Forrester to help you out? In an effort to ensure you get your hard-earned money’s worth, offered here is cheat-sheet to help guide you. Why 10? No reason, other than lists of 10 seem to be social media friendly. The number of fingers involved in a handshake.


Before I get to the list, a few words about social media. It’s not rocket engineering. You can figure out a lot by simply opening a Google Reader account and adding feeds to your list. Start with Seth Godin’s blog if you’ve never heard of him (he’s not a social media guru but his blog will save you from a lot of Charlatanism).

Check out ChrisBrogan’s blog and subscribe to his email, RSS and Twitter account. I never met the guy, but my intuition tells me he’s a straight-shooter; he’s authentic, cares about getting social media right and will help you if you call on him. He’s one of the few true pioneers of this immature puppy called social media.

Twitter is good as a mini-RSS reader. Who to follow? Well for a little contrarian spice and punchy temperance of social media Charlitanism, follow @aMANdaCHAPel. That Tweeter follows all the social media illuminati and from there you can follow Amanda’s victims followers. Many in the community don’t like those tweets, but skepticism is key to getting social media right.


So what should social media consultants / evangelists / experts/ strategists/ tacticians / engineers / wizards do for you? If you were to pay a fee, what should you expect them to do for you? Here’s 10 (it could be 50 or 101, but I thought I go easy):

  1. Explain exactly what social media means in clear and falsifiable language
  2. Outline a specific plan of action on how to migrate your business model from the age of Mass Communication to Mass Connection (warning: this hasn’t been completely worked out yet, so you’ll have to get working on this yourself)
  3. Provide concrete evidence of how social media is relevant to your business
  4. Tell you, in clear language, what NOT to do (hint: befriending random targets is NOT part of any honorable business strategy)
  5. Define the terms of their relationship with you (e.g. will their fees depend on deliverable and measurable goals?)
  6. Offer open and honest communication with a commitment not to waste your time with tools and strategies that make no sense for your business
  7. Provide meaningful, relevant, easy-to-read reports on the achievements, blunders and lessons throughout the planning, execution and evaluation phases of your overall strategy
  8. Diligently monitor your online public reputation, your public image and the feedback from customers
  9. Help you meaningfully and productively expand your network
  10. Never lie to you about their (and your) failures

You don’t have to use electronic social media to maintain your business. Love it or hate it, however, your customers are increasingly going online on their desktops, laptops, mobile devices and other virtual connection-engines. Ginsu knife tactics don’t cut it anymore.

Don’t just set up a FaceBook account or use Twitter to randomly follow potential targets. That’s just a stupid waste of your time. There are intelligent uses for these tools. Use your brain. Don’t get bogged down with specific tools. You need a strategy: the tools are simply tactics (today’s tools can be tomorrow’s fossils). A tool is only as good as the brain connected to it. If you’re confused at this juncture then order this book and read it two times.

So the next time you get a call from Jeremiah Owyang (pronounced: Ow-Yang) wanabes pull out this list. Be open-minded, listen to what they have to say. But hammer them hard, bust their proverbial balls when they throw unverifiable claims your way; don’t tolerate vague language or promises that sound high-and-mighty. Use your head, damn it!


If there’s one lesson about the evolving phenomenon of social media, it’s this: every move you make is now going to be in the open for all to see. It’s a double-edged sword: you can promote yourself, only to fall on the blade. So make sure you get it right.

Your best insurance policy in this age of mass-connection can’t be purchased from AIG. Running a business in the age of mass-connection, however, does demand hard work: offer nothing but meaningful products and services. If you do that, and if you learn the elements of good social media habits, then your business should not only be sound but also heard. Heard meaning heard from other customers, not your self-gloating drivel.

Play with these tools on your own. Putz around before getting so serious. Again, this isn’t rocket engineering.

Words like conversation, engagement, community, sharing, embracing are all pretty-sounding memes. But you’re running a business, not a circus or a lily-patch. Even Barnum & Bailey and and gardeners understand the value of pragmatism and results rooted in something deep and palpable.

At the conclusion of social media marketing pitches, throw this acronym into the air, step back, and observe body language: ROI. There’s no right answer. It’s not so much a quantifiable number (as in the ROI of a widget-lathe). But the way the pitcher answers goes a long way in telling you how much they understand business, accounting, finance and common sense. If they look nervous, or sound vague, graciously say “Thank you, but no. Give me the names of three of your competitors and enjoy the rest of your day.”


(This part of the blog post isn’t required reading. I just added it because you have a right to know that I have no experience in this field. But I am honest.)

You can follow me on Twitter. Following me won’t boost your revenues, but I’ll do my best to do interesting things and maybe link you to useful places. I’m no social media expert, but who in the hell is?

So what are my qualifications and why listen to me?

I used to be an accountant and could interpret and implement FASB pronouncements for Fortune 500 companies and piece together accurate SEC filings. I got out of the business years ago when I realized the profession started losing its moral edge.

Subsequently I became a critical care RN and figured out how to operate life-saving ventilators and infusion pumps. I learned how to tell family members that their loved ones were going to die and I fought like a warrior to defend the dignity of the last moments of fellow human beings: human connection is deeper than you know until you face death.

Right now, the pharmaceutical industry consumes my attention and benefits from my hard work. Perhaps along the way I’ll help that industry learn how to move away from the outdated marketing model of last century and toward the yet-to-be-discovered model of this one. Quality drugs are medically necessary for a healthy economy. Intelligent uses of social media just might help market those products at lower costs. Just a thought.

None of my history makes me a social media marketing genius. It just means I enjoy figuring out things and passing along what I learn in this short life to others in meaningful ways. I have an interest in the success of every honorable business. My son’s future depends on getting social media right. That’s my argument. You make your own assessment of my worth to you.

I hope the list above is useful to you. Feel free to use the content in this post however you wish. I hope you spend your money wisely. Lord knows last week showed us how easy it is for experts to blow a large portion of a world-englobing nation’s GDP. You’re smarter than those geniuses, aren’t you?

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Advice for the Bipolar Hearted

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Bipolar affective disorder might be one of the most common afflictions among some of the most productive members of society. In fact, much of what we find most exciting about our civilization owes some measure of debt to the accomplishments of talented people who happened to inherit a disordered genetic trait. Unfortunately, the cost of this elusive illness is higher than its apparent benefits.

Somebody you know or work with (or for) probably has bipolar illness. You know famous people who have the illness. Every once in a while you hear about a suicide that seems to have come right out of nowhere. It most likely was due to manic-depression.

Successful people that you look up to have the disorder. Sooner or later, however, that person’s illness will take a nasty downturn.

Contrary to public mis-information, most people who have some form of bipolar illness are functioning, productive and otherwise healthy contributors to our world

Still, the illness is lethal. It crashes career parties. Bipolar illness has demolished good, hard-working and intelligent people’s lives. The stigma that our society loves to stamp around is just about as dangerous. (More on that in a future post, so subscribe here for updates.)

So, what do you do if you’re a successful lawyer or neurosurgeon or entrepreneur with bipolar disorder?


Well, if you have bipolar disorder, or know someone who does, I’d like to share some pointers about how to live a good life in spite of the illness. Having worked a bit in psychiatric nursing, I learned a few things from some amazing patients. Here’s some advice to those of you have have bipolar disorder and would like to remain healthy and productive:

  1. Sleep. Lack of sleep is both a symptom and a cause of hypomania
  2. Keep taking your medications, especially when you think you no longer need them
  3. Keep up with psychotherapy if only to get feedback on your mental status
  4. Don’t glorify hypomania: depression always shadows hypomania
  5. Don’t over-pathologize your illness: accept it, treat it and keep your life in perspective
  6. Attend support groups and include your family or most trusted friends in the loop
  7. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks: it’s an illness, not a punishment
  8. Keep a mood chart up-to-date and show your doctor and therapist
  9. If you find yourself suddenly dabbling into religious or alternative philosophies, be suspicious and talk to your therapist
  10. Understand that you and your illness are two different things
  11. You don’t always have to be productive: accept the fact that you will need downtime
  12. Know your pressure points (aka triggers): determine what sets you off and develop simple tactics for cooling off

This list can go on and on. I’ve missed a lot, perhaps you can add your suggestions to the comments below.


Some of the brightest, most successful people I have met in my life turned out to suffer from the disease. Some of them went undiagnosed for decades. They spent most of their lives in a mild form of hypomania and never experienced depression. For them, when their illnes caught up to them, their depressions were utter hell.

When people who have bipolar illness enter depression, it’s a much more hellish experience than it is for most people. Imagine: you’re sky high, everything in life feels to be going for, your libido is fully charged and satisfied. Then: slam, the door shuts, the lights go dim and life conspires against you. Could you handle that? Could you go on? Of course, you could: but most likely, without help, without knowledge, without hope, you could find yourself right in the center of Dante’s Inferno.

So, to you who have this illness: don’t give up. Don’t kill yourself. We need you. You, and your ancestors who carried the genes that you inherited, have made this world so much more interesting, in spite of the illness. If you’re up: be careful. If you’re down: be kind to yourself and get help.

To you who don’t have this illness: be aware that the manifestation of bipolar illness is all around you. Traces of it are in the art you view; the movies you watch; the music you love; the books you read. You need to start caring for these peoples’ lives. You have much to learn and much to lose when these beautiful people leave our world out of painful desperation.

These days, fortunately, we no longer have to let good people die from a bad disease. Bipolar disorder is not a character flaw, nor a punishment, nor a justification for ignorant stigma. Neither is it something to glorify. Hendrix said it best: Manic depression is a frustrating mess. But it doesn’t have to kill you or end the beating hearts of those you love and who love you.

Learn more at NAMI and become a hero. If you think this post is useful, please use the ShareThis button below to email or otherwise share it.

Disclaimer: none of this is medical or other professional advice. It’s just some chicken soup. If you or someone you know is in crisis, just dial 911. Thank you.



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Are We Going to Get Social Media Right?

New, Improved *Semantic* Web!

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As social media tools proliferate and as a global social cloud forms, there is a question about what it all means. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? A bit of both? Where’s it all heading?

I’m envisioning the future of the entire social media cloud. There’s ample talk about what’s going on right now. More than enough in fact. Don’t you want to know what’s going to happen? Do you hope, as I do, that we get it right?

By right, I mean that we expand democracy and shrink tyranny. By right, I mean that we become collaborators and not rivals. We will be both, but the cost of rivalry in a nuclear world increases as knowledge proliferates through the future social medium.


Perhaps we need to step back for a peak at the past and where we stand. For this post, I’ll break up the web into three phases:

  • Phase 1 (version 1.0): computer-to-computer connection (FTP)
  • Phase 2 (version 2.0): document-to-document connection (WWW)
  • Phase 3 (version 3.0): data-to-data connection (Semantic Web, Cloud)

For simplicity, we’ll say that Phase 1 began about 30 years ago, while Phase 2 began about 15 years ago.

We’re at the beginning of Phase 3. Phase 3 will transpire during a sharp technological inflection. Computing will evolve away from desk and laptops toward mobile devices and other portals. What we call the web, and are starting to call the Cloud, will become a global device into which we will all be plugged.

Social Media will be completely different in five years or so. Today there are thousands of tools, some of which win in popularity and others just die. What we call Social Media is greater than the sum of its tools. The tools might change, but the medium will grow. But just as Google pretty much won the text-search war, another entity (or small group) may ‘win’ the social media platform war.

We’ve gotten used to the idea that the web is just an invisible connective tissue for disparate points in a big fishnet. We have gotten acclimated to one model for the web. The web is rapidly evolving. Today’s model won’t work tomorrow. Ten years ago the model was TV. How wrong we were!

What’s going to happen when we are perpetually plugged into what will inevitably become a global supercomputer? Right now the web is a network of devices. That will change. The web will congeal into a dynamic mass of interactivity.


So, if we get this wrong, if we don’t address fundamental problems, we’re going to have big problems on our hands. The barbarism of the 20th Century hasn’t passed: industrialized nations are still waring, and economies are faltering. We cannot possibly think that what happens in the real world will be washed away by social media parlor tricks, can we?

Oh, and I forgot about RFID technology (or its future equivalent). When we’re inextricably embedded into the Cloud, who or what do we turn to if things are dystopic? Each other? Well, if we get it wrong, ‘each other’ might be the core of the problem. Phase 3 will bring unprecedented opportunities and dangers. It’s time for reviving science fiction exercises; we need intelligent and imaginative discussion.

Whatcha think? Are we getting it right? Are we discussing what matters most? Or are we so narrowly enthralled with the latest social media tools so much so that we’re forgetting about the future of the social media cloud?

Are we clear, or foggy?

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