January 21, 2018

Does integrity make you a social media loser?

In three plus years of tweeting, I’ve picked up what I perceive to be the general etiquette for engaging on Twitter. I’ve also done research asking B2B marketers how they engage and how they educate their employees and SMEs to engage. I’ve rolled all that up into an approach that I doubt constantly.

I don’t seem to be alone. Lots of people seem to be having Twitter identity crises these days. Social media a-lister Chris Brogan, who had a policy of following back everyone who followed him, deleted everybody before finally settling on a few hundred people to follow and shifting his attention to the new social network on the block, G+. Another popular blogger, Mitch Joel, worries that he sucks at Twitter because he doesn’t follow everyone back.

Meanwhile, we have opportunist sites like Triberr that let you “grow your reach” by automatically tweeting things that people in your “tribes” write about, as explained (exposed really), by Neicole Crepeau in this excellent post. What a ridiculous notion, that someone’s content is worth tweeting every time. I don’t know anyone whose content I would recommend to my followers every time (and I have 135 feeds I follow in Google reader). Do you?

It’s always been clear that the people who invented Twitter don’t really know what to do with it, but up to now, it seemed like the users did. Now I wonder. I’ve invested hundreds, maybe thousands of hours into Twitter and I’m starting to feel like a loser. Integrity is one of my few talents and I’m afraid it’s wasted on Twitter.

Here’s my list of what seem like the right things to do on Twitter so that I feel like I’m being a good member of the B2B marketing guild—i.e., helping my followers learn and discover new people who have smart things to say about marketing. Can you add your recommendations to this list or tell me why I’m wrong? If you feel strongly about this, maybe we can turn it into a Twitter pledge and share it.

  • I read everything I link to in my tweets and everything I re-tweet
  • I don’t tweet my blog posts multiple times unless there have been comments that I want to alert people to
  • I do automatically schedule tweets but I don’t auto-tweet stuff I haven’t read
  • I tweet links to content, not quotes from famous people
  • Follower counts don’t enter into my decision whether to follow someone
  • I tweet at least 5:1 ratio of other people’s content to my own
  • I tweet thank yous to people who mention me in their tweets

That’s my list. What’s yours?

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Is Twitter “social?”

Majority opinion seems to be that Twitter isn’t really a social platform it’s a broadcast medium. A study by Yahoo Research found that 50% of tweets are generated by an “elite” group of 20k users and that those users tend to follow one another rather than branching out—what many refer to as the social media echo chamber.
For these reasons, pundits say that Twitter isn’t much use for reaching B2B customers. But I treasure this “eliteness,” and while older, high-level executive technology buyers are not on Twitter, the younger ones (and those that wannabe C-level executives) are. And in many years of interviewing this audience and blogging to it, they all tell me that they get online to learn, not socialize (even the older ones use online search like crazy.
Twitter isn’t for conversation, it’s for learning.
These days, my audience is B2B marketers and my goal is to help you learn. I have a search column in TweetDeck for “B2B.” I try to check it every day to see what people are sharing. 99% of the time, they’re sharing links to content—blogs, research papers, news stories, etc.—that they think is relevant. I browse through the tweets and look for things that interest me. Then I click through to see if the content is something that I think B2B marketers might learn from. If it is, I re-tweet it or rewrite the tweet if I think there’s a better point to be made about the content than what the original tweeter said.
If I disagree with the content I’ll say so and ask others what they think. Rarely do I see people who believe that the tweet alone is content to be learned from (except those annoying people who think quotes from famous people are worth tweeting). So I treat Twitter like a reporter rather than a cocktail party host.
Learning is social, isn’t it?
The best truly “social” interactions I see on Twitter are organized chats. I’ve been both a featured “guest star” and an attendee and I always learn something. But again, chats as I’ve experienced them have always been about sharing and learning rather than getting to know one another. What am I doing wrong? Am I wrong to believe that B2B audiences will gradually come to social media channels like Twitter to learn?
Many say that marketers are a different breed than “customers,” and what works for marketers won’t translate to the B2B world in general. I don’t think they’re so different. Sure, marketers like to participate in social media more, but that’s because they are the ones charged with making social media happen in their organizations. But just like their audiences, marketers are smart, educated people who like to learn. But I’m left wondering, is sharing content being social?

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3 factors in winning the social media horse race

Seems everyone has an opinion about Google’s G+. And as usual in a situation where little data exists (yet) to support fact-based opinions, most of them are extreme. Some say G+ is dead in the water because it hasn’t generated the mad rush that Facebook did and that growth and use is already starting to slow. Others say that G+ will rule because of its integration with Google’s other tools like Android, Gmail, Docs, and its media properties like YouTube and Google Music—in other words, the colossus effect that we’ve been waiting (for so long) to take effect.

It’s way too early to make a call, so I’m not going to presume to know G+’s prospects for success (especially when it hasn’t even been officially launched), but there are a few things that the rise of a possible new giant in social networking points out:

  • Social networks are porous. One writer claims that the attraction of G+ is the opportunity to start over in social networking. The argument is essentially that we’ve screwed up everything in Facebook and G+ is our social media morning after pill. But as even the worst one-night stand movie comedy will tell you, starting over is tough to do. Erasing or simply stopping our lives on a social network is possible, but it’s much easier to just start sharing across many at once. For example, just when I was lamenting having to do over all the work I’ve done to build up a Twitter community with some true interaction and conversation in G+, along comes a browser extension called SGPlus that lets you post on G+ and share it across Twitter and Facebook at the same time. When and if Google releases an application programming interface for G+, no doubt one of the social dashboards such as Tweetdeck will build G+ in. It’s easier for tweets to flow across all the various social networks because of their short nature and the fact that they usually contain links to longer content that can show up on Facebook and G+.
  • There are only two types of relationships in social networking. G+ is touted as something new, but it’s really a combination of two elements that I’ve talked about here before: Permission-based and viral-based relationships. G+ combines the viral model pioneered by Twitter, in which you can follow someone you don’t know and hear what they have to say, and Facebook and LinkedIn’s permission-based models, in which you can only engage in relationships with those you know. All the social networks we’ve seen so far are based on one or both of these models. G+’s relationship model mix of the two is a little bit complicated. So much so that it takes a PhD. to explain it.
  • There are only two types of content in social media. Short or long. That’s it. One of the reasons that Twitter is compelling is because its content is so short. You have to come up with something really pithy and link to the deeper thinking. Twitter kills the long-winded entry about nothing. The reason that blogs are so popular (and the cornerstone for social media in B2B social media marketing) is that they are long. They satisfy our need for stories with a beginning, middle, and end, and give us room to support our arguments with facts and proof (the cornerstones of thought leadership). Gone are those annoying blogs from the early days that just posted links to other stuff. Twitter killed them all. G+ tries to split the difference. Most of the posts I’ve seen on G+ have been twitter posts that go on for too long—140 words instead of characters, with little in the way of deep thinking or factual evidence to justify the wordiness. In this sense, G+ looks more like the blogging platform Tumblr. And we all know how Tumblr has taken off, right?
  • Commenters rarely engage in conversation. All the social networks allow for various kinds of real-time, texting style conversation, but when it comes to commenting on content, there’s little true conversation. It’s rare to see threaded conversations (unless the discussion is political, in which case the conversation usually happens at the shouting level). G+ and Facebook allow comments to specific entries that are pretty easy to follow. Twitter has the re-tweet button, @replies, and hashtags. I don’t think any of them have a particular advantage in the conversation department, but I think that G+ is at a bit of a disadvantage here. Those 140-word entries don’t have much depth to them, which means that many of the comments are inane. There’s just not much to say about something that didn’t have much substance to begin with. I also think there’s a piling on factor in G+. Maybe I’m being too cynical, but when I read posts by the A-list bloggers, there are tons of people who seem to think that saying something—anything, even “So true, so true”—is good for their street cred and exposure. I just don’t want to wade through it all. I think longer blog posts inspire more thought and better comments, even if they don’t rise to the level of conversation.

What do you think?

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Social media’s Hallmark Moment: the Twitter Auto DM

I take a perverse pleasure in reading my Twitter DMs, 99% of which are of the automated variety, looking for the heartfelt sentiment that goes out to me and thousands of other close personal friends every day from people I’ve started following.

I try to imagine the impulses that motivate the writers behind these parsimonious hanging chads of fake individualized attention. Technology is wonderful isn’t it? It allows us to divide the equivalent of a single “Have a nice day” into thousands of infinitesimally smaller investments of effort and goodwill. Automated DMs are like giving a new acquaintance a sliced off sliver of a single piece of mini-Chiclets gum and saying, “There you go. I hope you enjoy that.”

Since I think that automated DMs are about as useful as egg on sand, I like to parse them into snarky categories (these are all actual auto DMs I’ve received). See if you agree with mine. Perhaps you can add some yourself. (No doubt I’ll have fewer readers after this post—“Gosh, what’s his problem?! I’m just trying to spread a little good cheer!”—so I can use all the help I can get.)

The “You’re lucky to know me” category:

  • “@ me to follow you if I haven’t already.” Yes, I’ll look into that right away.
  • “What do you do?” Okay, so you want to automate the fact that you can’t be bothered learning anything about the people who follow you?
  • “If you miss my tweets, you can catch a summary in my monthly newsletter here.” So good you need to send them twice. Thanks.
  • “[            ] uses TrueTwit validation service. To validate click here:” Will I need two forms of ID for that?

The “I’m genuinely interested in knowing you more—no really I am” category:

  • “Let me know if I can help you in any way.” This is what salespeople say to me at stores. Except I’m usually standing amid consumer electronics or racks of clothing when they say it, so it makes sense. But now I’m on Twitter and I’ve just met you, so what kind of help are we talking about here? Oops, I’ve just invested more attention than he did writing the auto DM. I feel so used.
  • “Look forward to learning about your interests.” And yours, and yours, and yours…

The “I’m totally desperate to get some freakin’ cash out of you or anybody else—can you help with that?” category:

  • “I’m using this to make money on Twitter, I hope you find it useful.” Thanks a bunch. If I wanted fake Viagra pills I would have stuck to email.
  • Looking forward to chatting. Download a free value calculator.” Wow, king of the transition sentence, aren’t we?
  • “Here are links to my book, my blog, my company.” Gives new meaning to the phrase “cut to the chase.”

The “I just wanted to let you know that I’m trying to game my follower count” category:

  • “Plz help spread the word about me! I wana rise to the top!” Yes, spamming is such a competitive field these days.

The “I’m going to redundantly echo the empty sentiment of the act of sending Auto DMs by repeating that empty sentiment in my message to you” category:

  • “Have an awesome day!” But what about tomorrow, and the day after that? I feel so lost.

The “I’m trying to sound humble” category:

  • “I clearly see I’m going to learn a great deal from YOU!” Not if you’re auto DMing me.
  • “We will do our very best to keep you informed and entertained.” Why do I think this person has won an “excellent attendance” award in the past?
  • “Will try to keep it interesting.” Will try? Way to lower those expectations. What about doing your very best—every day! Hey, that’d make a catchy auto DM, don’t you think?

The “I often creep people out” category:

  • “I got my eye on you. Thanks for the follow!! If your on Facebook too hit me up!” Cause hitting peeple up on Facebook is what me like to do.
  • “Smile, you only have one today!” Cringing, not smiling. And what, I’m only allowed one smile today? I guess when you’re auto DMing smiles you have to ration them carefully.
  • “Glad to have you in my Twitstream.” I suddenly get this feeling that I should be ahead of a Twitstream rather than following one.
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15 things marketers should stop doing and thinking in 2011

Here’s a list of things I wish we would stop doing and thinking as of December 31st:

Social media

  • Social media cause people to waste time at work. Companies have a long and pointless history of resisting new forms of communication. From Facebook to email to putting telephones on employees’ desks (remember, the telephone started as a “consumer” communication technology, too), companies think that every new wave is going to lead to gajillions in lost productivity. Dude, this stuff isn’t heroin, okay? The problem is not with employees or with the communications technologies, it’s with the premise that employees come into work determined to waste time. Guess what companies, people wasted time at work long before Facebook came along. If the company is well managed, people who waste time will get fired. People who sell your trade secrets on the internet will go to jail. Stop wasting money on pointless, ineffective efforts to block this stuff and start finding ways to make these channels pay.
  • Social media relationships are shallow and meaningless. We all know twitter can’t start revolutions or substitute for gazing meaningfully into someone’s eyes over dinner, but what I don’t understand is why the critics can’t see a link between the bonds that we form on social media and the deeper links that we forge offline. For example, the viral relationship model of Twitter adds a new dimension to relationships, it doesn’t subtract. You meet tons more people than you would in more traditional permission-based environments and some of those relationships will wind up becoming the kinds of deeper, more meaningful exchanges that the critics say we are losing through social media. I’ve formed a handful of excellent business relationships on Twitter this year—we know each other on sight and (gasp) we’ve even spoken to one another. Now, are a handful of real relationships a good return considering that I have 1400 followers on Twitter? Yes, because these relationships would not have happened otherwise. Shallow relationships don’t have to remain that way and existing relationships don’t have to go all shallow just because you start interacting in social media.
  • Interactions substitute for relationships. Many seemingly logical, intelligent people send me automated direct messages (DMs) when I follow them on Twitter, making them seem like robot spammers rather than people. They think that by throwing that extra interaction in there that it is somehow going to deepen our relationship. Soon, we’ll be able to automate our social media relationships through bots that can judge sentiment. The theory is that social media powered by humans doesn’t scale well. It’s nothing new; authors automated their interactions with readers centuries ago with the printing press. Just don’t go believing that these interactions can ever be substitutes for a human relationship.
  • Filtered conversation reduces risk. The ultimate risk in business is that your customers stop buying from you because they don’t trust you. Preventing employees from speaking to customers because they might make a mistake ignores this much bigger risk—which existed long before social media came along. Customers want to speak to the people they will be working with. That’s why employees and subject matter experts should be on the front lines of social media rather than marketers or PR people.
  • External social media marketing is more important than internal social media collaboration. We did some case studies at ITSMA this year that showed that companies could easily blow up half their offices and do away with most of their administrative and bureaucratic structures without a single customer noticing. The technology for virtual collaboration is finally catching up to the promise of internal knowledge management that we’ve been hearing about for years. Plus, it can make both employees and customers happier than they are now.
  • More volume creates more influence. In traditional media, influence comes from sheer numbers—the more subscribers to your newspaper, the better. But influence in social media isn’t purely a numbers game (though numbers can certainly help). It’s also about the degree of interconnectedness. There’s a scary analogy here, to viruses. Viruses ultimately benefit more from infecting 100 people who travel widely across the world than from infecting 10,000 people in one place. The most influential people in social media will be those who can combine large followings with diverse groups of followers who themselves also have many diverse followers.
  • Social media has ROI. Unless you are selling products, and inexpensive ones at that, it is impossible to track a tweet or a blog post directly to a sale. For expensive, complex B2B products and services, social media can improve relationships with customers and increase awareness. Do you call that ROI? I don’t. ROI should be measured on a higher level—as in the ROI of all of marketing to the business.


General Marketing

  • Analytics can wait. We need to close the loop on what buyers do with our content and use that insight to predict what they will do next. Buying marketing automation tools or social media analysis tools aren’t enough. You need people who know how to create analytical processes and algorithms and all that stuff. Wall Street is already trying to make sense of the massive river of online conversation for business purposes. We need people who can do it, too.
  • We must measure the ROI of social media (or any other individual marketing tactic). CEOs don’t care about individual tactics; they want to know whether marketing in general reduces the time to revenue and improves the productivity of sales. We need to start measuring the larger impact of marketing rather than measuring activity or individual tactics.
  • Publish it and they will come. We have a crisis in marketing channels. All year, marketers have been telling me that they are having a harder and harder time getting noticed in traditional channels like white papers, email newsletters, and events. This is a typical comment: “I’ve got plenty of content. It’s getting people to pay attention to it that’s the problem!” We need to mashup some new channels out of combinations of new and old to stand out and be heard now. A few examples of things that ITSMA clients did this year:
  • Describing what you do is thought leadership. Creating compelling offers and descriptions of products and services is an art, it really is. But it ain’t thought leadership. Customers want ideas for fixing their problems and proof that they can trust you. Most companies still try to sell what they have rather than figuring out what customers need.
  • Sales support is marketing’s primary role. Many companies think that they are maximizing their investment in marketing by limiting it to sales support. What they don’t realize is that buyers have removed salespeople from the earliest stages of the buying process by doing their own research with colleagues, peers, on the web, and in social media. Marketing is most effective at this stage, when buyers want nothing to do with salespeople. Marketing organizations that don’t break out of the sales support role will be trapped in a Catch-22 of increasingly poor performance and waning confidence from the business side.
  • Email will always be cool. Hey, we’re humans. We resist change and we have irrational hope for the future. So we keep doing stuff we’re comfortable doing for longer than we probably should rather than embracing new stuff. Email is inconvenient, impersonal, slow, rife with spam, and not particularly intelligent. But we’re used to it. The kids have already dumped it in favor of texting and social networking. Email won’t go away tomorrow but it will gradually be starved of all meaningful human interaction until it becomes a graveyard of official business communications and, wait for it, marketing. We should probably start planning for email’s funeral now so we don’t miss it.

What things do you wish we would stop doing and saying in 2011?

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Stop doing PR. Start doing visibility.

Thanks for the great comments on last week’s post, “Is the Era of PR Over.” Okay, so if the traditional model for PR is failing, what do we do instead?

Most journalists have discovered social media as an important research tool. And research shows that even the stodgiest C-level executive does at least three web searches per day.

That’s why increasingly, PR is going to become a matter of simply allowing your subject matter experts to be found rather than enlisting armies of PR people to try to force journalists and customers to find those subject matter experts.

I’m not saying we fire all PR people. Every company needs a guard dog or two to be around in case of a PR disaster. But it does mean removing PR people from their traditional role as gate keepers between subject matter experts and influencers and customers. And it means taking the conversation out of the hands of PR people and putting it into the hands of subject matter experts, influencers, and customers.

Think of the traditional PR process as a supply chain with four steps:

  1. Subject matter expert identification and preparation. PR works to identify people in the organization who would be good representatives of the company, its value, and its offerings. Those people may receive media training, presentation and speaking training, etc. to prepare them to be public representatives of the company.
  2. Outreach. PR creates a communications campaign with press releases, calling and emailing influencers, etc.
  3. Gatekeeper. PR schedules interviews between the subject matter experts and the influencers and tries to influence the interaction to put the company and its offerings in the best light.
  4. Placement. PR tries to influence the placement of subject matter experts, content, and interviews in third-party channels (articles, conference and trade show speaking engagements, etc.)

Here’s a new that model cuts out the two middle steps and rethinks the first and last steps.

  1. Visibility. This is the new primary role for PR. Beyond discovering and prepping spokespeople for the company, PR becomes responsible for making them nodes on the online network that can be easily found by influencers and customers. Examples of how you do this are:
    • Make them visible on social networks. Make sure they have business profiles on the different networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). Push them to get lots of peer and customer recommendations and connections. Also push them to join relevant groups and contribute to those groups.
    • Encourage them to blog. The best way to get press and influencer attention these days is to write smart things that are easily discoverable. If your subject matter experts don’t want to write, use other types of media to populate the blog such as videos and podcasts. Or interview them and ghost write the posts. Just don’t MSE (Make S**t Up). The thinking has to be from the mind of the subject matter expert, not the ghost writer. And the subject matter experts must make themselves available to respond to comments in the blog.
    • Get them twittering. Twitter’s viral relationship model means that your subject matter experts can build up their networks of influence much faster than through a press release.
  2. Facilitation. In France, the concierge is a combination building superintendent and busybody. They get a small apartment on the first floor of the building with a direct view of the building’s front door and the lobby (I’ve even seen two-way mirrors on their apartment doors!). Consequently, they know everybody’s business but don’t intervene unless asked. This is the new role of placement PR. You monitor everything your subject matter experts, customers, and influencers do and say, but you stay out of the conversations themselves. Don’t require them to come to you before scheduling interviews or responding to customers and influencers through social media. You can’t do what one B2B company did: require that subject matter experts submit tweets to PR for approval two weeks in advance of posting. I don’t have to explain why that’s ridiculous, do I?

What do you think? Is this the new model for PR? What would you add or change?

P.S. Valeria Maltoni, who writes the excellent blog Conversation Agent, offered an interesting vision for PR last week that you should check out.

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Integrating mobile into B2B marketing

Great conferences have impact that lasts long after the day (or two or three) that they occur. MarketingProfs’ B2B Forum is one of those conferences. For example, the Twitter stream from this thing (#MPB2B) is still going strong weeks later. You should check it out; it’ll give you a great list of B2B marketers to follow.

Another sign of a great event is the people it attracts. I met two of my favorite B2B bloggers at the event: Christine Kerley (AKA @cksays) who writes CK’s Blog and Jeff Cohen (@jeffreylcohen) who, along with Kipp Bodnar writes the Social Media B2B blog. If you’re trying to stay on top of B2B marketing trends, you should be reading both of these blogs.

CK kicks butt and takes names. She collared me in the session I ran at the Forum on B2B mobile marketing and sat us both down with Jeff, who interviewed us about our views on the subject. CK has tons more content on B2B mobile that you should check out.

I’d love to hear your views on our interview.

B2B Mobile Marketing from Jeffrey L. Cohen on Vimeo.

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How Facebook’s privacy disasters will change B2B marketing

Have you ever noticed that your Facebook profile page looks like one of those horrible qualification forms that we make our customers fill out? If you go to Facebook and look at your profile, your immediate reaction is going to be that it’s asking for too much information.

Social media is beginning to teach us that long qual forms are going the way of the dodo. I’m still looking to pin down incontrovertible evidence of this, but anecdotally I hear from people that when they get rid of qual forms for their content the amount of engagement increases exponentially. The question that we’re asking Facebook is the question that we should be asking ourselves in our marketing: Do we really need all this information?

Facebook has built its business model around gathering as much personal information about us as possible. And just as our traditional thinking about qual forms is failing, so will Facebook’s personal-information-as-currency model. Both Facebook and we have traditionally believed that the content services that we provide—in our case studies, white papers, webinars, etc.—come at a price. It costs us money to produce this stuff, and therefore our consumers must pay a price. That price is personal information, company information, and buying intent. For Facebook, it’s personal information that advertisers can use to target us.

Customers are less willing to give up information
Especially as social media takes off, we’re finding that prospects and customers have less and less patience for giving us that information. The expectation on Twitter is that 99.9% of the time any link that you put in a tweet is going to lead to accessible content. Twitter etiquette, at least as I observe it, is that if the information that you’re linking to is gated, you take up some of that precious 140-character real estate to inform people of that fact.

It seems that Facebook has staked its future not on the interactions that occur between people on its network but on the idea that the value is in the personal information of its participants. This is a disaster if you ask me.

Now let’s compare your profile page on Facebook with your profile page on Twitter. It’s like the difference between someone asking for your e-mail in exchange for a white paper versus them asking for your salutation, your company size, when you are going to buy, your mother’s maiden name and on and on ad nausea.

The key is the interaction—not the information
See, what I think Twitter understands that Facebook and LinkedIn and all of the other permission-based networks don’t is that the key is in the interaction, not in the information.

I admit it; I’m a Twitter bigot. I find much more value in Twitter than in any of the other social media networks. So take my comments with a grain of salt. But I will tell you that this week I attended an excellent event run by Silver pop called the B2B marketing University in Boston. Because of my Twitter interactions with people in the B2B realm, I had all the information I needed to be able to approach four people I recognized at the event (if you’re reading this, you know who you are!) and engage them in real substantive discussions—even though we had never met.

I don’t know what schools they went to, or where they worked before their current jobs, but I know what they think about B2B marketing and I have re-tweeted their stuff and I know they’re smart. Those interactions on Twitter opened up a possibility of a relationship much more easily than being able to read their profile pages on LinkedIn or Facebook. I learn about them and who they are based on my interactions with them and in sharing content that is of interest to all of us.

Viral vs. permission-based
It’s this viral relationship model of Twitter that wins in every privacy showdown between Facebook and its users. There is a cottage industry developing out there for people who want to protect you from Facebook. Reclaimprivacy.org is a small browser based program that practices a kind of benevolent vigilantism and helps you change your vulnerable privacy settings. It’s a great service, but it only reinforces the perception of Facebook as Big Brother. The privacy issues for Facebook are going to be on the cover of Time magazine next week. There’s would be joy in Twitterville this week if it didn’t seem that the founders of Twitter have none of the ego and contempt for competitors that most businesses seem to have. (Of course, it may be a little bit easier to be this way when your own business model remains rather ill defined.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m always annoyed by people whose first question is what I do or what school I went to. But that is how we’re introduced to each other on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’d rather get to know you based on knowing that I have a shared interest with you. Frankly, I can’t imagine why 300 people would read my blog every week if that weren’t the basis of our relationship.

Ask for a relationship, not information
I think that as social media becomes more integrated into our lives and our jobs were going to see that just as with our content we are going to have to get to know one another through our interactions. We need to ask people for a relationship rather than asking them for their information. What if, next time you offer a white paper or video to prospects, instead of demanding their contact information, you invite them to join your community on LinkedIn, or sign up for an event, or follow you on Twitter? This would be the basis of a much more substantive encounter—and potential relationship—just as I had with my Tweeps this week in Boston.

We should all take a lesson from Facebook and understand that getting information from people is not a zero-sum game. It’s a gradual process—the currency of which is trust and exchange of value.

What do you think?

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