Ethos of Blogging – Building Credibility for Revenue


Why do we blog?
So what do I mean when I say the “ethos” of blogging? So ask yourself, why do you blog? Is it a platform to tell your story? Is it a place to journal? Is it a place to build awareness for your organization? Do you make money from your blog?

Ok…so let’s tackle the last question. More and more people I talk to…more and more people want to know how to make money from your blog. Many people place ads on their blog. Many people track clicks as they help direct traffic to products and services. I like to talk about how to build credibility.

Why is credibility important?
Credibility is one the biggest issues I think we should always bear in mind when it comes to representing our interests not only in the off-line business space but the online in the digital space.

A few years ago, I was working with an investment firm that had just created a new company with a new board a directors. Once of the biggest issues they faced…credibility. Great leadership running this group but lots of bad press online after the economic collapse, especially given the fact some of the individuals came from banking.

We needed to build some online credibility. Specifically, when people performed Google searches of these individuals, we needed to have links to articles that provided content beyond the bad press. We needed to take ownership of their online identity.

A simple plan to build credibility
The new website for this company was the typical postcard web presence. We added two things: a blog and a news section. We started writing blog posts from the leadership, content they created in their voice, and posted on a regular basis. We also started posting news releases consistently on the site detailing monthly items we wanted the public to know, positive content about the company that included the board’s names inside the copy.

The next thing we did was create a Twitter account for the company and a monthly email newsletter. With Twitter, we followed all the news outlets in the region along with local businesses, agencies, and organizations where the board had relationships. We were hoping they would follow us back. Then we started sharing our news and blogs, along with items from the life of the organization.

The email newsletter was a monthly email blast to investors and influential people in region where the board had relationships. This was just a simple newsletter repurposing content from the blog and news sections of the website. We only included the first part of the news item or blog with links back to the website to read more.

Over time with consistent writing, sharing, and directing people back to the website…we began building traction. We watched the hits increase each month and we also began to notice the blogs and news items rose in the Google Rankings, especially when people performed searches of the board of directors names.

Sharing our story
*We* were sharing *our* story, sharing the story from *our* perspective, and building online credibility. So, what does this have to do with making money? *We* did not have ads on the blog or news sections. *We* did not have a product or service we were directing our clicks for revenue. *We* were building credibility for the *sales* cycle. *We* were not talking about sales or investments in the blogs or newsletters…*we* were talking about leadership, entrepreneurship, and what it was like to build this type of company model during this financial climate. We were telling our story.

The Pay-Off
This past year, a potential investor met with one of the individuals on the executive team. He had attended few group meetings and wanted to have a one-on-one meeting with a person on the executive team. When the meeting began, this potential investor shared that he had learned a lot about this executive team member. He had been reading the blog, reading the newsletter, and had enjoyed getting to know him virtually. At the end of the meeting, the individual wrote a check for a large six figure amount. Let’s just say that this investment paid for blog and the digital media consulting services was paid back more than 20 times over.

In this model…building digital credibility was a huge part of their success. Ethos is everything in the world of blogging and it is more than just thinking about direct revenue from each blog post, click, or hit. Sometimes we have to think bigger for the big return.

Blogging, Storytelling…Finding Your Voice For Digital Equity

I always love coming away from teaching with something that helps me contextuallize a process. I began working with my MBA Students on blogging…and ultimately building/finding your voice.

Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship Program is a one year intensive program helping shape twenty-two students’ business plans into a reality. As a part of this program, I working with them all semester to build a digital communication strategy.

Every class from finance to sales, they are constantly having to pitch. They are pitching their business ideas and I get to take it from a communications point of view. How do you take that elevator pitch and turn into a marketable piece of communication for numerous target audiences. One way is to get them writing and sharing…and we are doing this through the blogging process.

As I was working through today’s session, we were not focusing on platforms…but the message. What is the mission behind the blog? Who is the audience? What are you going to write about on a consistent basis that meets your goals. Most importantly, how does that effect their digital equity?

I thought this diagram above made sense as I was walking through a messaging process. As they begin the writing process, they are searching for their voice. We know those keywords that will attract the search engines and the audiences, but the more they write…the more they refine their message and their voice.

We have to understand that blogging is a foreign many of these students. As they find their voice, they begin writing for their audiences. The more they share, the more chances they have to build a community around their idea(s). As the community grows, they begin moving from writing specifically for the audience to writing with the audience as community effort.

This workflow helps refine and grow their digital equity and thus their blog’s search engine optimization. They continue to think through their keyword strategy and continue connecting with more and more individuals that share their common ideas. This is just fun!

Now…this is my perspective and one small part of an overall blogging strategy. But, this just made sense during our discussion this morning. I love helping people work through the thought process surrounding audience and purpose…ultimately finding their voice.

finding your voice…just blast the music

Finding your voice is one the hardest things to do in the world of the creative. Finding the point where we place language with passion. Giving words to your passion is sometimes just plain hard to do.

I have found myself in the middle of a creative conundrum so many times…a great idea comes to mind, but when it is time to articulate…BLAH. So many times we find that thin place where we are completely connected to our ideas yet we have no words, no way to articulate.

Sometimes we use visuals, pictures, video, and even sound to articulate our passions…but sometimes we must find the connection to our internal discourse. So how do we find the voice?

I have always stepped back and taken part in answering three questions:

1) Who is our audience? Who are we trying to communicate and reach?

2) What is our purpose? Why are we trying to communicate this message? Why do we want to spend the time and energy to achieve this goal?

3) How are we going to deliver this message? Are we going to use words, visuals, sounds to reach our audience?

This helps me frame my  thoughts. This helps me bring context to my mission.

Then…I free write. Yes…I do a brain dump by writing until I cannot write anymore.  We should not deny our creative impulses and allow our ourselves to freely share our deepest passions.

When I am deep in a creative desert, one that feels like it is hard to find my way to water…I use music to inspire. I grab my keys, jump in the car, roll down the windows, and blast my favorite songs. I sing as loud as possible and use this time to purge all my predispositions. Sometimes that is all I need, to purge what is clouding my judgement.

Finding your voice can be hard sometimes…but sometimes we have to be willing to get away from what makes us comfortable and allow the creative juices to flow.

blogging is our story…our free will…content RULES!

There are so many mixed messages and “how-to’s” about blogging that absolutely drive me up a wall. It is actually disheartening to read much of the online conversation surrounding this space.

I spent Sunday night watching the mixed conversation surrounding opinions of personal blogs and the value they bring to the space. Many people think that there is no place for these personal spaces of exploration. Some people think that there is no room to use them as a journal or place to write our “pity parties.”  Some even think that you should use the same SEO and marketing techniques to broadcast and optimize for the web.

I have news for all you self-promoting, money hungry consultants who are trying to share your business and shape online content…go sell your mess to someone who is willing to pay your lame, nominal fee.

I am terming personal blogs as spaces to that are not used to generate a business lead or promote some service/product. These spaces are places of self-expression, places of free will, and spaces to write…just to write. These are spaces owned by those who create the content and if they choose to connect, open for commenting, post on social sites, make them anonymous, make them public, or share their darkest moments…then they are just as organic and crucial to the space of digital free-expression as business blogs.

“By the end of 2011, NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company, tracked over 181 million blogs around the world, up from 36 million only five years earlier in 2006.

Bloggers: Who are they?
– Women make up the majority of bloggers, and half of bloggers are aged 18-34
– Bloggers are well-educated: 7 out of 10 bloggers have gone to college, a majority of whom are graduates
– About 1 in 3 bloggers are Moms, and 52 percent of bloggers are parents with kids under 18 years-old in their household
– Bloggers are active across social media: they’re twice as likely to post/comment on consumer-generated video sites like YouTube, and nearly three times more likely to post in Message Boards/Forums within the last”

Ok…so if you look at these stats, you can probably infer that not all these bloggers are business bloggers. They are probably individuals writing about their lives, their kids, their thoughts, and probably have a tremendous sphere of influence. They are probably not writing to make money, they are probably writing to share and connect.

In the B2C world…we need these bloggers and all their willingness to generate self-expression and share raw, un-marketed content. We need them to write from the heart. WHY?

First…it reminds our souls that it is ok to share our thoughts/feelings/expressions online. We live in “free society” and we should encourage self-expression. I would be willing to bet that a small portion of these bloggers listed above tell a tremendous story and eventually turn this content, their into a book. I will address the idea of self-destructive content in blogs.

Second…from a digital marketer’s perspective, we need to share. We want them to talk about their experiences, their favorite food, their favorite place to go, what makes them happy, what makes them sad. Why, so if they happen to talk about “our” brand, then we can glean some rich consumer driven, un-solicited attitude that could help us better understand the effectiveness of our brand. If a mom was fussing about a bad visit with a doctor, I would want to know and have context so we could find a way to fix the experience.

Third…these blogs/journals/spaces of self-expression are spaces in our digital/social documentary. We now have a place that allows us to publicly share our lives then allow us to go back and re-live that experience. Blogs are perfect organizational tools for social content. It gives us the place to organize information according to dates, times, categories, etc. so we can go back and find that recipe, that video,  that thought we had that day when we were happy, sad, or whatever.

Fourth…these spaces can create rich communities. We are so bogged down with self-promoting, ego driven, digital marketers selling the snake oil that an “effective” community is all about large numbers. A rich, sustainable community can be a community in small numbers. I think of many blogs from women who are going through/dealing with breast cancer. These outlets are not only crucial for the healing process, but a place to connect with others sharing the same experience whether it is a shitty day or a high-five. We are social creatures and we want to connect with people having similar experiences.

Personal blogs are the backbone of this sphere of self-expression. We should not try to put these people in a silo and force them to conform to the same practices as those trying to make money from clicks. We should not also condemn these individuals for having enough strength to share their inner most thoughts online. BUT… Tumblr has drawn the line with this self-destructive content being generated by reversing it’s opinion:

“Tumblr has announced that the policy of permitting self-harm blogging has been reversed. The updated content policy will disallow any blog post which “actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm”. The company plans to prohibit content which urges cutting, disordered eating habits or suicide. Instead, Tumblr searches which look for these subjects will be directed to information on helpful organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association and other counseling hotlines.” 

Yes…there maybe a line between self-expression and destructive discourse, but we have to be-careful how judgmental we are when we read. Maybe those same bloggers think your business blog is just as self-destructive as their whimpering about the day when lost a loved one, dealing with breast cancer, lost a child, or just got fired.

I am still thinking through where the line should be drawn between self-expression and destructive content, but this was not the topic for this blog post. The topic focused more on the need for more self-expression in blogs…if not more so than business blogs used to generate clicks, Likes, tweets, revenue, and other sources of business income.

Blogs are our place…our story…our free will to explore our ability to articulate our free expression.

Content Rules…It Is Our Story!

Finding inspiration for your blog…be yourself!

There was a wonderful discussion on #Blogchat Sunday night surrounding how do we find inspiration to blog when we are faced with writers block. Great discussion and great question. I think this is a bigger question than just blogging…it is a creative writing question.

Blogging is a digital display of  our most passionate thoughts. It is the place to share our ideas, our thoughts, our visions, our business…it is our editorial voice for online ownership. Blogging is very personal.

So how do we take something so personal and put it to paper, as the old cliche goes. What makes us sit down and type away, and share our thoughts with a mass audience. It comes from inspiration…it is the connection between our ideas and how we articulate these ideas in a digital paradigm. Most people think blogging is just about writing. Some of the best blogs are more that just words, they are pictures, videos, podcasts…they are the visual representation of our thoughts.

In order to understand the question how to find inspiration to blog or write…we must figure out what inspires us. Inspiration comes from connection…how we are able to connect with our ideas and articulate those ideas in a way for others to consume. How, when, where do I find inspiration? It is about trust and listening. We have to trust our instincts and listen to the little creative bug that says, “that is a great idea…so you better write it down.”

Blogging is more than just inspiration. Inspiration comes at the oddest times for me. It might come at 4am when I am laying awake in the bed. It might be standing in the shower. It might be when I am riding down the road. But when a creative thought comes across my mind…I know I must find a way to document and articulate that thought. If I am driving, I might try to record some audio of my thoughts. If it is in the middle of the night…I might pick-up my iPad and jot down some notes. If it is a visual image infront of me, I might pull out my camera and snap a picture.

Blogging is more than just writing…it is capturing and articulating media. So many people preach that we must use pictures, video, and other digital mediums to grab interest or even leverage SEO. Yeah…those are great thoughts. But as a documentary storyteller, I think we should use those mediums to articulate our thoughts. We should use video when video explains our thoughts better than the written word. We should use images or pictures when reinforcing our written argument. We should use audio from a podcast or MP3 when sounds bring meaning and depth to our explanations.

Blogging is more than just communication…it is illustrating our digital thoughts in a way so the visual world can see our world view. Blogging is the one time we can combine all the visual and digital means to share our thoughts. We have the ability to help our audiences navigate through our story.

So where do we find inspiration…make sure we are truly connected to why we write, why we blog, why we share. Trust that if we are not inspired to write, blog, or even share…to trust that inspiration will present itself again. We just have to be willing to listen to our creative inspiration…and share those thoughts.

***Image is from Christina Berry’s Blog: http://christinaberry.me/inspiration/

Interesting 3rd Quarter Stats from Neilsen – Why do we blog?

1. Australia – Among Neilsen’s 10 Internet-metered markets, Australia Interent users spend the most time visiting social networks and blogs, averaging 7 hours and 17 minutes per person.

2. Brazil – Orkut is the #1 social network and blog site in Brazil, visited by 30.3 million Brazilians in May 2011, 11 percent more visitors that #2 site Facebook.

3. France – Nearly a quarter of active French Internet users – 9.6 million – visited #2 social networking site Overblog.

4. Germany – German Interent users spend more time on social networks and blogs than they do any other online category of sites, a total of 12.7 billion minutes during May 2011.

5. Italy – Italian Internet users spend nearly one-third of their time online visiting social networks and blogs (31% of total Internet time).

6. Japan – FC2 Blog – the top social networking site in Japan during May 2011 – was visited by over half of active Japanese Internet users.

7. Spain – Although Spanish Internet users spend most total time on #1 site Facebook, they average the most time per person on #4 site Tuenti (4 hours 42 minutes per person).

8. Switzerland – Social networks and blogs reach 60 percent of active Internet users in Switzerland.

9. U.S. – Blogger is now the #2 social networking and blog sire in the US with 501 million unique visitors, up 17 percent from a year ago.

10. U.K. – Internet users in the U.K. view 229.6 million pages on Tumblr, the second most page views on any social network or blog in the country after Facebook (20.2 million page views).

These statistics are from the 2011 3rd Quarter Social Media Report by Neilsen. http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/

So…what can we draw from these stats? Did you notice each geographic location noted blogs as a major connection or traffic arena. What does all this tell us?

Well…blogging is an international communication platform. Whether you are telling stories, sharing a recipe, sharing pictures from a trip, giving viewpoint about a press release, expressing a political view…blogs are our one single place to communicate in a way to crosses all geographic, ethnic, gender, and socio-economic borders. People are reading our thoughts.

Is the content of these blogs creating a mass homogeneous world of digital noise? More and more people are sharing and connecting by sharing their thoughts via blogs…but are we adding to the noise? If so, how can we create content that does not continue to add the mass hysteria but create a path for like minded individuals to freely connect.

Are we fueling Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all the other search engines highly charged financial model. The more content we give them to index, the more they rank content for social searchers (like ourselves) to find what we are looking for digitally.

Are we writing passionately or are we creating content just to say we wrote a post. Are we writing to build digital stamina, to flex digital muscles in the hopes someone thinks we are smart? Why do you write…to connect, to explore, or to self glorify our self-perpetuating egos. What is our mission when we write?

Is the story we are telling, the story we are writing significant enough to stand-out beyond the global, digital space? Can we say more with less and can we say it in a way that truly impacts our readers to take action…or are we just a bunch of marketers?

Converting Passionate Writing/Blogging…

As I took part in #BlogChat Sunday night…I was so pleased to see the conversation move away from technology, which blog platform to choose, and other topics sometimes I browse through. Finding passion in your blogging and writing has always been my position. Regardless of you blog for advocacy, business development, or even to generate income…you have to have some passion behind your message.

Above is what I think…”Passion is food for the soul…if you can blend that passion into your writing…it can become infectous!” So tell me, what blogs do you connect with…that touch you daily. Is a photo blog, video blog, a business blog, one of advocacy, what is it?

As I was thinking through this topic, the one thing that always finds a way to make it’s way from my subconscience to the forefront of my thinking, how can we convert passionate writing into revenue and a business development tool. I even wrote a blog post about this very topic: Does Passionate Writing (Blogs) Generate Revenue? These is a method to the passion, writing content that passionately connects…thus the SEO argument.

Regardless…this has made me look back at my work and do an assessment, an assessment of my writing and my direction. So the best way I know how to do a simple assessment, create a word cloud from all my writing in my blog.

Here is a word cloud from this blog, my business blog:

Here is a word cloud from my personal blog (http://bobbyrettew.com/personal-blog):

I chose not to do a word cloud from my tags, because that is just measuring frequency of the words that I deem searchable for each blog post. This is a subjective viewpoint of my writing, looking through a lens completely focused on SEO. Instead, I used Wordle.net to pull all the words from all my posts to assess frequency of the actual content I am actually writing. I am focusing solely on the content in this simple assessment.

So begs the question…are the largest words in the word cloud (which shows the largest frequency of usage my my blogs) match the purpose and mission behind my passion for both my business and personal blogs. My business is based on video, media, blogs, people and those are the largest words in the business blog word cloud. But…based on this simple assessment, I can see words that are apparent that I might want to focus more in my writing. I also see areas in my personal blog that I might want to re-focus a bit…I am wondering if I am talking too much about business in my personal blog?

Passion can be focused!

my life as a visual storyteller…translating to new media

My wife and I have been cleaning out our attic and working on the baby room. I found an old picture from 1998 when I attended the NPPA Oklahoma Workshop for News & Video. NPPA stands for National Press Photographers Association, which is a group of people who believe in one common goal, telling a good story visually. So why do I bring this up in my blog…well, it goes the very foundation of my business.

As a young journalist, the NPPA along with many workshops like Poynter Institute in Florida, I learned how to listen, capture, and craft a compelling story. From technical proficiency, which included using camera, sound gear, and our linear edit bays to visual storytelling that believed in capturing the moment. These skills have stayed with me over the years and influence how I approach every project I work on today.

Being a good storyteller is a subjective trait…many different people have different approaches. Some use writing, some use photography, some use technology. I use my cameras and my digital knowledge. I have learned how to transform that storytelling, journalistic approach into a marketable business in today’s economy. Now what does that mean?

Every project I work on whether it uses video production, new media, teaching, or coaching…I work to find the story in each context. I use a stoytelling approach to each and every project that crosses my desk. I was trained as a journalist to listen for the stories. Yes….listen for the stories. When I would go into a breaking news scene, we were trained as photojournalists to listen visually. Carry our cameras on our shoulders and our microphones in front of us and listen for the stories.

We would capture images from the field during hurricanes, conventions, fires, events, etc. and listen for the story. Listen for people talking and those colorful metaphors that painted the picture. We were trained to look at every situation and then turn 180 degrees to find those who were describing the story. Why…what better way to capture a story than through the eyes and ears of the people who are experiencing the situation. We resist writing voice-over in our scripts…it signifies we did not do our job collecting quality interviews and moments. We aim to allow people to tell the story, not some third party voice-over.

So how does photojournalism and storytelling translate into new media including blogs and social outlets? Storytelling is an amazing tool. It gives us the opportunity to tell stories, third person accounts through outlets like video, blogs, journals, and other new media tools. It allows us to capture other peoples’ thoughts in a way that we can share them others to enjoy. It provides and opportunity to bring the audience into the context and see thing through someone else’s lens. It also provides and ethical approach to content creation. We learn to honor those whom we are using to tell stories, to represent their interests along with ours as well.

We have an opportunity to take a project, a blog, a video, a message and bring the audience into a theater, our digital theater. We have a chance to see something through another lens by using words, video, pictures, sounds, etc. We have a chance to stop writing corporate copy, generating brand messages…instead craft a story that can translate to the people around us.

One of my favorite things to do on a project is a little ethnography project. When I first start working with a group, I like to emerse myself inside the story. I like to find myself inside the context, then start capturing the sights and sounds of the message. Their are many ways to tell a story, but I chose to tell it through another’s viewpoint…to capture reality for others to enjoy. Content can be king!

Seattle Mama Doc has found her passion!

I had the greatest opportunity to chat on the phone with Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson from Seattle Children’s Hospital…and it was a treat. First of all, she is a very busy woman, not only as a physician and a mother but also as a thought leader  when it comes to physicians communicating through social outlets. Her message that I thought was very profound, and I am paraphrasing…”I have this IVY League education and I want to find every way possible to use it to empower and educate my patients and the people around me.”

She is obviously a smart lady that found something unique through her blog and twitter. She can tell stories and empower the people around her using her knowledge, her experiences, and her background so they can make better decisions as parents. She takes pride in her writing and is very passionate for the purpose behind the message. In the thirty minute phone conversation with Dr. Swanson…it was everything I could do to soak-up all her passion and knowledge.

Early on when the blog started, she found a need. She found that she only had roughly 15 minutes in the room with her patients. With the demands of her job and the need of seeing as many people as possible, she could only provide so much information. She found herself writing her blog as an outlet to provide more information beyond the 15 minute consultation. From video blogs to analyzing the latest research, she takes time putting the patient first when speaking through her message.

She feels like this is the new way to get back to the days of small town physicians, where you can build a personal relationship with your patients. She uses her blog to share her love for children, passion as a physician, and willingness to educate people as much as possible. She can take those questions that might not get answered in an exam room setting, and articulate them via her blog. She can spend more time addressing research, trends, and answer questions through the discussion of each blog post. She wants to bring that small town reality back to the exam room, but do it in a way that meets the needs of the patients of this digital age.

She does not spend time looking at metrics, clicks, and hits (The Digital ROI)…she focuses on the questions and concerns of her patients. She also focuses on the trends and research plaguing families. I know as a parent-to-be that my wife and I are bombarded with new trends from SIDS to what to feed our newborn when she arrives. I think Dr. Swanson has found a way to reach people (like my wife and I) that few doctors have been willing to do…speak passionately online.

If I was in Seattle…I would want her to be my child’s pediatrician. I am fortunate I was able to spend 30 minutes on the phone with Seattle Mama Doc…I think her name matches her style!

You can find Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson (Seattle Mama Doc) in the following places:

Her Blog: http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/
Her Twitter Account: http://twitter.com/SeattleMamaDoc

***Image Credit: Seattle Children’s Hospital and Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson

Content can be king outside of SEO…just plain tasty!

Recently…I have become increasingly irritated with rubric’s and how-to’s that are consistently floating around the social space. It is driving me up a wall. Most of this is inside the world of blogging and the social space…that we must find a way to create a path for the perfect blog, that we must create the perfect social “strategy”, and there is a formula for social media messaging.

It is my humble opinion that those that are preaching these strategies, rubrics, and methods are in the business for their checkbooks. Each time I watch the tweets come down the timeline, “5 ways to do…”, “how to measure…”, the perfect blog must have…”, it is all about generating revenue for the person writing the posts.

Writing from the heart and creating great content is not “BS”. You cannot put a path to success when it comes to writing, connecting, and building an online community around a social outlet. There is no magic cookie cutter. Anyone that is selling this, pushing this, or tweeting this is selling it to generate their own income streams and not bringing value to this initial open source community.

If you do not have a passion for writing…then while the hell are you blogging? If you do not have a passion for exploring ideas, generating genuine creative thoughts, and connecting with others online…then why are you interacting in the social space.

I have read more and more tweets and blogs screaming to re-define the word marketing in this social space or 3.0. Many of which are searching to create a whole new space based on consumer trends and big company strategies. Why are they are re-defining this…well it is helping them land the next retainer deal, speaking engagement, big corporate marketing gig. But those same folks who surround themselves in chats an online discussions pushing what they deem is innovation…well they are actually trying to put this social space of user created content into a cookie cutter, placing a marketing dollar to each tweet, blog post, youtube video, and Facebook update.

These same “innovators” are actually stifling the social space right back into the same old marketing channels. Each of these spaces are becoming distribution points of corporate generated content specifically geared to track and generate a metric. Why, because the CEO’s and the VP’s of Finance who sign-off on these initiatives need a metric. We are right back where we started when the social space was beginning to appear.

Twitter is now the AP Newswire, Facebook is the new email chain, and YouTube is now our living television set. Just distribution points for those pesky marketers to generate a strategy for ads, product placement, and sponsorships. WTF…hashtags that are sponsored? Great…can’t wait. Sign me up.

Phil Baumann is right as he writes in his latest post: “Are Healthcare Marketers Destroying Twitter?

“Because hashtags are important, packing tweets with them defeats their purpose. It muddies communication – of all people, Comms peeps should know the vitality of clarity, and the cost of clutter and noise. Why so many Healthcare pros don’t understand such a simple concept is beyond me, but I digress.

I’ve thought to myself: you know, Twitter once had so much promise, and now it’s becoming all serious business and so-called marketing. What a shame. We’ll all lose in the end.”

Thanks Phil, I do not think we will all loose…but there is a big ole shift.

Several months ago, I was talking with a very smart lady, Robbin Phillips after she came and spoke to some students at Clemson. She says it so nicely…(i am paraphrasing): “there is just so much noise out there in this space.” I have to agree.

I blame us…us marketing people have gone out and screwed it up. We had to find a way to put in some sort of cookie cutter system so we can track it and metric the crap out of each profile and communication channel online. Hell, we are even spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars for companies like Radian6. We want to track those conversations. And we will pay top dollar to analyze the heck out of those conversations.

All of this stifles innovation. It stifles passionate writing. It stifles true connection. It prohibits individuals to use places like blogs, YouTube, and other creative outlets to become pioneers. We want each of them to think there is a rubric for using these channels then track the success. Why can’t success be simply creating content, writing passionately, making a cool video. What if the only person that you were communicating to was just one person. If that person read it, listened to it, connected with the message…then led to see life through the authors eyes…then success? Right?

I remember when I was working on my thesis for graduate school and some of the many academic articles that followed. Each person in the academy I spoke too told me that getting an academic thesis or academic article approved was like jumping through hoops. My mother calls it “Hoop Dreams.” Yes…it was almost like social construction of knowledge. My genuine ideas were shaped to meet the expectations of those academic gate keepers whose agenda’s were played out in each word that was written. Some argue this process is necessary to form true scholarship…to meet the expectations of the academic world. I see the value in this process, but I also see the value in allowing true innovative writing and thinking to shine.

The connection here is that regardless where we go, where we write, what we create….someone wants to fit it into a cookie cutter paradigm. The social space is starting to shape-up to be just that. We marketers and new media people are trying to force clients, organizations, and small businesses into a framework that meets the needs of our pocket books. Why not just teach the technology and how them to utilize this framework as a place to share our inner thoughts, a place to express our inner beings.

Content is King. Communities grow as content and ideas are created. In order to connect we must share our thoughts and communicate.

I think there is a true progression in the way people create innovative content and connect through their ideas.

Idea —> Content Creation –> Content Shared —> Ideas Consumed –> People Connect … then the cycle starts over again.

A blog is just a place to hold thoughts. A video is visual representation to share motion, action, sounds that represent our creativity. These are just technological theaters for others to engage with our ideas. If we are thinking, writing, sharing in a way that the people that are truly interested in reading, listening, watching, understanding…then their peripheral vision will disappear and become completely engaged in the passionate content we create!

To hell with SEO…sometimes?