Monday, May 4, 2009

OnlineSpin: The Tomato And To-Mah-Toe Of Social Networking

Last week Kendall wrote "The Widening Role Of The Super-Producer."

Craig Elimeliah wrote in response, "So happy you wrote a story on this.

It is a major advancement in our industry and one that brings us much closer to maturation.

I have actually started a website devoted to this new breed of producers -

We are close to our goal of interviewing 100 industry producers and then will be providing articles, advice, experience and will be a resource for producers to converge and share advice on tools, methods, hiring, biz dev and so on.


Monday, May 4, 2009
The Tomato And To-Mah-Toe Of Social Networking
By Kendall Allen

These are double-trouble, serious times. But at some point, the pressure must release, and any old device will do.

It was a week that felt like a dog pile of not-so-Hallmark moments: the media contortions around Obama's 100 Days; the real stats on the economy; the real deal on torture with a capital T; our inflated consciousness of the swine flu; and the death of everyone from Bea Arthur to Jack Kemp. I needed some levity, so I enjoyed my moment of timely spiritual alignment with Jon Stewart. On one "Daily Show" late in the week, Stewart reflected on the weekend prior, when he'd "cut himself some new jeans shorts" and gone running in the sunshine with a feeling of hopeful turnaround -- only to be duped by the torrential week to come. The visual alone soothed all ills.

In my own heady week of launching a business for a client on a shoestring, researching or programming a confluence of digital media events and panels, planning a potentially dubious trip to Mexico -- I took the cue to lighten up. When the weekend hit, I jumped off the grid, ate roughly a slice of pizza per night, and went to see "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past."

Upon resurfacing Sunday, I have decided to keep on my own mental jeans shorts a bit longer and focus on light matters only. So I thought I'd check in on my social media experiment in progress -- that is, my reentry into the Twitterverse, which I mentioned a few months ago.

You may recall I had bowed out of Twitter Life a year ago, but not because I didn't buy its marketing value. The existing application did not have reasonable controls for me.

In those early days, I was agitated by the convergence of my Tweighborhoods and just not into it, no matter how much I respected the larger arena as a marketing communications device. When I reentered, I did so with a narrower scope, a few parameters and a commitment to finding the right tools to facilitate my experiment. Result: I've been having a blast. So, with a light heart, and decked out in jeans shorts, I share these cultural observations on the Twitterverse, some more trivial than others.

Five Behaviors I Find Curious and Potentially Ridiculous
1.A constant focus in mixed company on promoting one's own works. I'm not talking about promoting products, media programming or events, but literally showering kudos on oneself, maybe even in the third person, for industry articles written and self-ascribed brilliance. Seems to me, that if one roams in a skillfully cultivated Twitter-sphere, the sparks happen organically, without such direct self-reference.

2.Continual reference to the number of followers striving for or achieved. This exuberant tallying of where one stands feels akin to musing aloud about one's own real estate dealings or compensation. In a word: gauche.

3.The righteous belief that a refollow is an obligation, not a natural, discriminating reaction based on a shared circle, interest or valid and desired connection.

4.Limiting your tweets to barking announcements of where you are, 24/7. These tracker missives are especially bizarre when they are one's only Twitter activity and never include any details on a gathering. When the stream stacks up too thick, I can't help but picture this Tweep sitting in said wine bar, velvet-roped lounge or artisan cheese den, all alone and watching the door.

5.Public fighting in the Twitterverse between pseudo-celebs. Unsure if you have witnessed this, but it's great fun. Typically, this Twama breaks out around conflict on #1-3 above -- as loyalists call each other out on various points of ego or disrespect.

Five of My Own Behaviors Others Might Find Curious and/or Ridiculous
1.Staying beneath the radar (to quote one of my favorite Tweeps), primarily by not prescribing to #1-3 above. I'm not that hard to find. And, don't be fooled by the glasses in the photo.

2.I don't unleash the tweet at every turn. At least for now, I keep my focus mainly on several streams of interest: research and programming around digital media events; my own news and media consumption; slow food, a big involvement of mine; observations while out and about in New York. I like to see what sparks from these paths, so I can figure out where I want to go next.

3.I refollow based on intersection with people on the above streams or prompted interest in new territory. A refollow is not a given and may take me a few days. I'm motivated by deepening streams of learning -- not just building the base.

4.I rarely tweet my location. Reasons for this should be obvious. In short, I don't like to watch the door.

5.The interplay between my environments and channels is not continual. Sometimes I integrate, especially when I am marketing something or someone. But, I'm not firmly focused on an always-on integrated push. However, a friend recently turned me on to Pixelpipe, which will likely consume a few late nights of experimentation in the next week or so -- as this allows one to synchronize messaging, photo sharing and updates in a fairly intricate way.

Our social-media-socialized culture shows us daily how we differ -- part of the hilarity that keeps us from taking it all too seriously. My friend I'll call Yogi and I recently had a big laugh, when, following a shared, unfortunate social interaction with someone -- a joint foot-in-mouth moment -- we were both immediately friended by that person the next morning. I exercised an out and relocated the contact to a pure business sphere for me -- Linkedin.

I asked Yogi about this over lunch, assuming he had done something similar. He said, "Oh, no, I friended her. I tend to friend everyone. Thus, the 1,587 friends." I relish this tomato/to-mah-toe reality. As in life, one man's comfort is another's no-fly zone.




Kendall Allen is headquartered in New York City. She consults for publishers and agencies on integrating digital -- most recently at MKTG, where she just completed a long-term assignment. Previously she was managing director of Incognito Digital, LLC, an independent digital media agency and creative studio. She also held top posts at iCrossing and Fathom Online.

Online Spin for Monday, May 4, 2009:

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