On Social Change and Communication Technology

The real change, to me, is in the advancing availability of communication technology.

Yes, we’ve had communication technology before. When the telegraph was cutting edge, alongside its use for official-sounding business, it was privately re-purposed by whoever had access. One Wild West use was as a sort of an underground gossip network between potential lovers, sometimes with the scheming help of matchmaking relatives. No kidding.

People have a thing about communication and expression. Maybe it’s written in our DNA that we absolutely have to express and connect. That doesn’t say we’re going to do anything about messages that fly back and forth. That’s up to the individual, and on the level of just being able to speak, the individual who speaks has already done enough.

Little voices don’t have to make big change, but isn’t it fascinating when, together, they might show us a climate of possibility?

I heard that a few years ago, in China at the time of Tiananmen, there was a run on a new-ish technological gizmo known as the FAX machine. Traditional media was tightly controlled or at least closely watched. With a fax, a letter or a picture could go long distances in minutes. Time and date stamps can be cut off of printouts, which gets you an anonymous bit of insurgency to pass on, a business communique, or news from family – dealer’s choice. I suppose that someone clever can clear a machine’s memory. With a fax, sent in this way, along with efficiency there is at once privacy and intimacy.

The FAX itself is an object that did not change anything. The individual faxes may or may not have had any influence on anything. The possibility of the potential was important enough to create motivated buyers, for the right person in the right situation. The same could be said for revolutionary ideas, or even a good hug.

Running water does not create cleanliness.

Twitter won’t make social change.

Potential happens in the mind.

There’s a science fiction story about a bug that was accidentally squashed by time travelers, creating a chain of events that changed the world. This is a romantic and frightening idea. And there’s no doubt that a plan has more of a chance of enabling a goal than bugs that get squished along the way when there is the lack of a plan. But, the idea that I can communicate something worthwhile by stringing together letters using this computer thingy has kept me here at my desk writing this post, and I like that I can do this.

I don’t have to be part of an organized movement on its way to accomplishing change to feel that I have done something good just by being here.

p.s. My @quotesnack Twitter avatar will be green for a while. I won’t pick sides, but I will support the people (and a free media,) in my stubborn inconsequential way, from my position here as a butterfly wing on the face of the Internet.

I’m Your (Twitter) Pusher Mom

Not so long ago I was trembling with trepidation over Twitter. It’s only been a few days, and I’m already hooked. Hooked and recommending it to others.

I’m Your Pushermom

My Push Mower

I’m your Mama,
I’m your Daddy
I’m that blogger

In the alley
I’ll connect you
When in need
Want some clicks?
Have some tweets
You know me,
Get my feed
Your green thumbed

Stumble Mum

I’m your pushermom
I’m your pushermom

Tweak and test, coding clean
Super lean WordPress theme
Dealin’ good, for the brand
Betty Crocker, Take a stand
Quoterati, quickly read

Twitterpated, in the head

I’m your pushermom
I’m your pushermom
I’m your pushermom

Social life online
Woman of many favorites
A diva of social delights
Feed me readers, RSS
And I’ll dofollow all your best

SM traffic is a blast
How long can a good thing last?
Woo-hoo, no…

Got to network it, y’all
Gotta network it, now
Pushermom gettin’ linkin’, y’all

Branding mind, branding sign
Make connections all the time
My profile and just me

For all readers to see
Blogging queen is my thing
Writin’ posts is how I swing

I’m your pushermom
I’m your pushermom

‘Twitters, please’, for a generous post
Make your world what you want it to be
Gotta tell y’all I love community
Wanna give you somethin’ better than time

Been told my voice is fun to read
Can give a readership what they need
I know I can connect, I know I can build it
Just SEO don’t make it
SM, yeah

Got to network it, y’all
Gotta network it, now
Got to network it, now

I’m your Mama,

I’m your Daddy
I’m that blogger
In the alley
I’ll connect you
when in need
Want some clicks?
Have some tweets
You know me,
get my feed

Your green thumbed
Stumble Mum

I’m your pushermom

The Real Pusherman

Twitter – A Digital Game of Hot Potato?

sprouted potato

How many dozen screens has this potato passed through since it was last touched by human hands? And yet, in our mind’s eye it’s touchable, as fresh as it was the day it was first “screened.” You can almost smell it.

Let’s Play Pass the Idea

Yesterday I passed on an IM about a Stumble about a blog post about a Tweet, and it was good.

The very concept of passing on an IM about a Stumble about a Tweet, voluntarily, is dizzymaking. A shiny idea-nugget caught my attention, and, ping a ping ping, it was tripping through three screens for me, two of which I changed or created, and then it made a progression through a couple more screens on my chat friend’s end.

On the opposite end of the breadcrumb path, my idea-nugget had gone through several more screens to get to the originating blogger and become part of his blog post. Yon little tweety thing had been quite the traveler, before we even get close to the Tweets that inspired my happy chatty “Oh cool! I know someone who has to hear about this.”

Moving information from person to person is like a digital game of hot potato. In the case of tweets, let’s call it a game of toss the digitater, with many, many branches.

Follow me on Twitter.

Image Credit to ThrasherDave

A Preface to my Bouncing Baby Benchmarks

Question: What did I want from my 101 days?
Answer: A sense of direction. An orientation beyond web design.
Question: Why couldn’t I just pick some keywords to write about? Use that to form a bridge between my beloved web stuff and a prospective audience?
Answer: Because keywords are only a part of the picture. Very often, the target audience is no longer a passive receiver. The Internet is in the midst of a paradigm shift that won’t be mastered by tactical logic… and, you know, maybe I am, too.
Question: Paradigm shift?

Answer: The one-to-many mass marketing that works so well via old school SEO is increasingly intermixed with not-so-little blips and sparks of one-to-one communication, and we natives are restless. Sometimes we don’t like being at the other end of one-to-many. Badly done online one-to-many is spam – the kind of thing that gives marketing a bad name.

With the explosion of social media, one-to-one is intermixed with one-to-many. People “talk.” Sometimes online one-to-one WOM is not marketing or gossip; sometimes it’s a real someone, or a someone we really know, who talks to someone else we know about the specific features and benefits of something that makes a difference in our not-so-unimportant, everyday, face-to-face lives.

Did Google see it coming? Was anticipating user’s hunger for one-to-one and social media part of why Google devalued potentially spam-like strategies? Did they read the writing on the wall, see that people wanted people, and there would be a backlash against being marketed at? Maybe it’s a chicken or egg situation. Some of the famous algorithm updates of the last few years were crushing to sites optimized for old school SEO, or Text Link Ads, or even sites optimized for Google’s own Adsense.

What’s a little guy to do, after Google rolls over? Erm… blog and network, perhaps? Try sharing, face-to-face-ish style, clumsily or slickly market-spammer-like, whatever you have at first, using whatever tool bypasses the search engines?

Those tools look a lot like social media, and…

Question: Excuse me?
Answer: …huh? Oh. Yes?
Question: Could we get back to the part about tactical logic and keywords, please?

Answer: Well, by tactical logic I mean strategies that give results that can be measured and anticipated in a quantitative way. If 100 people searching for brand x see a page about brand x’s product named keyword y, how many are likely to buy, move on, or ask for the product named keyword z? These things can be projected with statistical guestimates.

Social media and word of mouth traffic is more of a qualitative thing, more emotional logic than tactical logic. With social media you may get 1,000 people on the keyword y page, but if they’re not there for a reason targeted to looking for keyword y, the old quantitative projections are out the window.

Question: Why else would someone go to the keyword y page, if not looking for keyword y?

Answer: I believe that often those reasons are going to be less directly connected to wanting to acquire a product or service. There will be more dreamers, readers and self-educators, and fewer buyers. Want specific reasons? You name it, it’s possible.

  • Browsing favorite topics, for entertainment
  • Interest in a cause
  • Very early stages of research
  • Compelling title
  • Compelling image
  • Curious about what someone from some country across the world would bookmark
  • Curiosity about why someone notable liked it
  • Wanting to be seen bookmarking the same things as a rock star
  • Trusting the taste of someone you’ve “friended”
  • Building a social media profile
  • Promoting one’s own site
  • Curious about a friend’s site, or a friend of a friend’s site
  • Checking out a big brand’s really dumb typo
  • Looking for beautiful pictures of far away places, or of cats
  • Hunger for information and ideas
  • Browsing for recipe blogs
  • 101 things I haven’t thought of yet
Question: Remind me of what this philosophizing and social media speculation has to do with a business blog, or a business blog strategy?

Answer: OK. It’s like this. There are about a gazillion small brick and mortars out there who lack a good web presence. A majority of their keywords are not intensely competitive when combined with local search, especially if there is some existing brand recognition from existing face-to-face marketing.

They’re out there among social media users who are not Internet marketers or make-money-online bloggers. And they’re watching. And when they feel ready they’re going to want a site that gets votes on Yelp or reviews on Stumble, or whatever. They won’t have a corporate budget. They’ll want a lower cost site that still has web 2.0 perks – perhaps a customized WordPress theme, and they may need a coach and a writer or ghost writer to help them get started. That’s probably where I’ll come in…

Question: Erm…

Answer: I know, I know. What does all this have to do with my 101 days?

OK. It’s like this. For me, at least, emotional logic – empathetic, qualitative judgment – requires getting in there and stretching but good, with an open mind. Change and growth must be both learned and felt, and I need a sort of an emotional and informational immersion boot camp to get there. Eventually, I start to surface with a strong philosophical frame of reference that helps to give me an anchor.

Besides, this web thing is not natural for a lot of the people I’ll be focusing on working with. If I stretch my own comfort zone I’ll have more clues and cues for how to help them through stretching theirs. That’s the theory anyway.

Question: Noooo, I was going to ask myself if I knew, when I started blogging here in November, that I’d be having these thoughts about this target market.
Answer: LOL. Well… Not really. There is so.much.change in our world today. Sometimes I really need to shed my skin to find out what’s underneath, and what shape and size I am. IMHO everyone should try it.
Question: And why is this post called “A Preface to my Bouncing Baby Benchmarks”?

Answer: Because statistics are meaningless without a frame of reference, there’s no way I’m talking benchmarks before making you read this other stuff. It’s all about the brand, baby.

It’s not about the traffic. It’s about the relationships.

My Blogging Benchmarks Post

Tomorrow I’ll bring out some observations about my traffic and content. I’ll be chatting about my own ideals, plus some of the benchmarks Jenn blogged about over at Search Engine People a week ago.

Today, me, myself and I are closing by asking if any of you reading this have ever wanted to interview yourself? This is new for me! I started off by asking myself a few questions to write about, and the Q & A format started to flow.

Social Media: Can Broken be Better?

A while ago I noticed something slightly broken about the StumbleUpon toolbar. The send-to function doesn’t always make it all the way through to the recipient. It can take hours, or seem to vanish completely.

StumbleUpon Toolbar with sent page waiting
StumbleUpon Toolbar with a sent page waiting

Social Media, Social Testing

I got online with a few people I follow through StumbleUpon and sent some pages back and forth. Paul of North South Media was the first. We refreshed views, re-started browsers and rebooted to no avail, off and on over a few hours. Many hours later the pages started to trickle through. Paul was curious about what happens between different time zones, and at peak Internet use times. The commute between the west coast of the US where I am and the Scottish “back-back” where Paul lives shouldn’t be too awfully rough for a little digital blip between people who are not on dialup, but a mystery is a mystery and I was off to see what I could see.

I tried the same thing with Emory of Clickfire. Emory is in Georgia, only three time zones away. Some of our messages got through within twenty minutes or an hour, and some seemed to vanish until the next day. Better, but still mysterious.

My next willing victim was Moojj, also known as Adam of Adamant Solutions, creator of the StumbleUpon Alerter. Adam is a gazillion time zones away from me, in Australia. He did not believe that sent-to pages were getting lost somewhere. His theory was that if it seemed not to go through it was actually just not showing up for some reason.

Voila. We sent our pages to each other. I saw nothing. He saw nothing. He tried clicking on the “Stumble” button, and my page and message appeared. The same thing happened on my end. Mystery solved: the sent page is sent and received almost instantly, but if it’s stuck in the toolbar you won’t see any sign of it unless you push the Stumble button.

a sent Stumble arrives
Clicking on the Stumble button reveals a waiting page from Fatgadget2

When something doesn’t fit I start to wonder. This time I’m wondering if there are cases where less functionality is better. Does slowing down SU help keep it more civil and less competitive? More share-friendly?

Is Gently Broken Better?

Humor me for a minute. If users (and bots) had full access to who responded to a SU thumbs-up request and how long it took to get what kind of action from users with certain characteristics, would that make the users who are the most willing to be “nice” into targets for spammers? Yes, if bots got into the system, I think it would. Maybe, for the good of the users, some information is better off shrouded in unreliability… not too awfully shrouded to the point of bad usability for the devoted users, just gently broken here and there from the perspective of a marketer who is looking to do more using than joining in.

Leaving it a little bit broken makes taking the time to make a real human connection even more important. For instance, to get a screen shot of the incoming sent page I used above, I sent a pm to Fatgadget2. I am more likely to look at a page that comes from someone whose SU reviews I am subscribed to. Without a note, I would have seen who sent it, but getting it wouldn’t have felt as… human, especially if the page was lumped in with all the other Stumbles I could go to via the toolbar.

SU received page without a note
Received page without a note

Are there things about your favorite Social Media application that you would like to see ever so gently broken?

What I’m Doing Instead of Attending SES-NY

Dazzlin Donna has inspired me. :)

…let’s pull this baby back to what I was originally talking about. Content. Giving users what they crave. Right…now we’re back. I’m going to spend a fair amount of time on just this one topic, and I’m going to give my visitors lots of content to quench their thirst for information as well as great graphics to please their visual souls. Once I’ve satisfied this craving, I’ll go back to the analytics reports to see if they are craving something else that I could provide more of. And that, my friends, is what I’m doing instead of going to the never-ending carousel of search conferences. What are you doing?

What I’m Doing Instead of Attending SES-NY

Here goes…

Getting Used to Writing More Small Posts

~ or ~

Perfectionism Gets a Day Off

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that I decided to start this blog in backwards mode. I am blogging about finding my brand before I consciously choose one. I am creating content before considering what I want that content to do, before considering my audience or who may be my intended audience. I am starting with “me.”

It’s hard! A to-do list based on actionable goals may look longer and heavier, (and use more big words – dontcha just love “actionable”??) but in reality, there is no substitute for a map.

Now, you’d think that the informality of how I decided to start this would mean that I’m already comfortable writing short, informal posts that help us keep in touch. Not so. I am a perfectionist. I am the worst kind of perfectionist: I procrastinate. Perfectionism plus procrastination equals paralysis, and don’t you forget it.

When I saw Donna’s post of today I knew what I had to do. Perfectionism gets a day off, and we’ll just see what happens next.

I Like Networking

Later today I’m meeting three different people from three different places in this great wild world of ours, online, in chat sessions, mainly to discuss projects. This happened because I like to brainstorm, we’re all on StumbleUpon, and seeds of ideas like the light of other ideas. One person talks to another, and another, and sometimes something very nice starts happening. It has nothing to do with trying to get the other guy to click on your widget. Repeat after me: there are enough clicks to go around.

If SU ever becomes a bot-infested quasi directory link farm I’ll be in that part of the trenches marked “community first,” wearing my brand evangelist hat and swinging the biggest stick I can get my hands on.

Writing About Print Style Sheets

This evening I’ll be putting the finishing touches on a tutorial about print style sheets. I’ll also install one here – LOL. If you don’t have a print style sheet yet you’re in good company. There are some pretty impressive blogs out there that either don’t have print style sheets or have really bad ones.

If you’re one of the Famous Few or just some lost blogging wannababe who’d like a clue or two, tune in here in a few hours, because this is EASY, folks. Quick and easy. I’ll have tips, 1-2-3 how-to’s, and cautions.

Making your own print style sheet should take under half an hour, unless you are both a raging perfectionist and have a lot of inline styling to futz with. If you’re totally unfamiliar with code, you may need more time. If you need help with that, leave comments here or head over to Cre8asite and send up a white flag. The theory is that my tutorials will help people who want to learn, and may need to figure out where the how-to books meet the blog template that’s in their hot little hands, right now, as is.

Caution: given that my “evening” can last until I go to bed at 2am the next morning, depending on your time zone you may not see my post about style sheets until tomorrow.

Road Testing Action Plans, as a community-building activity

This is new. On Monday Jennifer Osborne of Search Engine People started a five part series on blog strategy. Her first post was How to Sell your Client on a Blog Strategy. I’m going to take her plan and apply it to my blog. She’ll be posting weekly for another four weeks. At some point after her posts come out each Monday, I’ll blog about how I am applying her strategies.

The topics:

  1. How to Sell your Client on a Blog Strategy
  2. How to develop a Blog Strategy? What makes it a ‘Strategy’ versus just implementing a Blog?
  3. How to Come up with Blog Post Ideas for Challenging Industries
  4. What are realistic measures of success for your Client’s Blog?
  5. How to get your Blog Traffic to Convert

My reasons for doing this are many.

  • First and foremost, I encourage others to blog. They’ve got their own resistance that has nothing to do with mine. If I am putting my energy where my mouth is, I think it will help me help them.
  • Secondly, I like how Jennifer thinks and I think I can use the way she combines her ideas with pragmatic, “actionable” planning.
  • Third in line and probably the most meaty in the long run, I like how the web connects us, and this is a way to take that in and grow with it. I want to test and demonstrate my belief that the Internet has changed the way we can be community with each other. Creating a popular list of resources is “only” creating content. What happens next?

    IMHO, blogging is part of a communication revolution, in the sense of “The” revolution, the revolution to change the world that many were so hungry for in the 60’s.

First Things First

First I’m going for a walk. Though weather reports promised us two weeks of rain and cold, for some strange reason the sun is shining. I’m treating it like a reverse of that cartoon of the guy who always has a rain cloud over his head. This is my sunshine, baby, and I’m not going to stay inside and miss it.


A p.s. for the two curious souls who wondered if my peas are sprouting: the answer is yes. Each of my six pots of possibilities is showing the heads and shoulders of several vigorous sugar snap pea sprouts. I can hardly wait until the leaves start to unfurl.

I Dream of Way Cool Blog Posts, but it’s not what you think

Soooo, at about 9:00 Friday evening I was working on a blog post, not this blog post, aaaand thought I’d take a little Stumble break before polishing it off. The next thing I knew it was after 1:00 am Saturday and I was in that twilight zone where a person wonders if they are awake or asleep. This poor pumpkin doesn’t do time change very well.

When I nodded off I had several open browser tabs. I’d fallen asleep in mid “oh what a cool post.” The Very Cool Stuff I’d been happily reading was just as cool when I woke up three hours later.

At this hour I’m not going to coffee up and finish the post. I won’t even tell you what it is going to be about. You’ll have to come back later and find out.

I will, however, share these tasty bits.

  • I fell asleep with my mouse highlighting the following lines from 41 Blog Success Tips from 10 Years of Blogging You Can Learn Today. Read it. Print it. Draw a sunny smiley face on it, and post it by your computer.

    Yummy, sensible and inspiring. From the page:

    • 6. Communicate fascination – If you love your subject then let your readers know, share your enthusiasm, make it contagious
    • 7. Write better – All of us can improve our writing but it takes effort and motivation
    • 8. Grow your experience – Do new things, broaden your horizons, stretch yourself
  • As I snoozed away, the post Are You a Maki or a Yaro? was open in another tab. It’s a good read about identity.
  • Want Credibility? Send a Signal is the last blog post I was reading in my sleep. My favorite lines are near the end, where he suggests that to get a buyer’s trust, a seller first has to give something. He relays a list of good “gives” that are more material than I what would have come up with. I’m more of a give-of-my-self person: I wouldn’t trust someone who wants to give me “material wealth” without also letting me get to know if I like them. Maybe my give-of-myself thang could be handled by number six below.
    • 1. Material Wealth
    • 2. Time & Energy
    • 3. Opportunity
    • 4. Power & Control
    • 5. Reputation & Prestige
    • 6. Safety & Well-Being
  • You might also enjoy my pre snooze Stumble, an Interview With Zenhabits Writer Leo Babauta in which Mr. Zen himself talks about his development as a blogger. Also a good read.
  • Stumble is fun. Sure, there are days when I don’t want to play, but there are also many times when my attitude about Stumble is pure “Beast needs brain food. Feed me.”

    I’ll babble on about Stumble later. Right now I’m going to sleep without setting the alarm: I’m sleeping in. :-)

Hey – I feel like a valiant blog-mom, because I provided good snacks to hungry blog-guests. LOL.

Next stop Zville.

More later, y’all. Read happy.