Posts Tagged ‘authenticity’

The 4 Challenges of Cause Marketing

Posted on: May 21st, 2012 by Geoff Livingston 22 Comments

Downtown Chicago

Want to be my guest at the Cause Marketing Forum this May 30-31 in Chicago? The best comment wins a free registration worth $1,045.00 for a business or $795 for a nonprofit, compliments of Razoo (also cross-posted on Inspiring Generosity). A decision will be made tomorrow morning based on comments on both blogs.

Customers want brands to invest in marketing, that much is clear. There’s enough data out there that shows that people love brands that invest in their community’s general well being (skip ahead if you want to see the stats). Yet brands struggle weaving cause marketing and corporate social responsibility programs into the fabric of their marketing communications.

Some of the cause marketing problems facing corporate brands include:
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Personal Branding and the Destruction of Social Fiber

Posted on: November 16th, 2011 by Geoff Livingston 16 Comments

In the post social media era, we are in a fight to preserve authenticity, perhaps a losing fight. Commercialization has destroyed many aspects of the once coveted community, including the ability for people to simply be real. A primary causation of this deterioration of real people talking to real people is the personal brand movement.

In an effort to put one’s best foot forward, to win business, to gain higher notoriety, to be liked, conversations have become contrived. Personal branding, a movement flawed in so many ways, has stopped people from being present.

To be clear, mindfully present doesn’t necessarily mean that one needs to air every single defect of character throughout the day on Twitter. But it is a journey.

We saw Ashton Kutcher muff up a Penn State tweet. Instead of hiring his social media agency to program his personally branded tweets, it would have been much more refreshing to see an actual sincere apology and a forward leaning conversation. But in the era of personal branding, Kutcher did what so many others have already done. He sold out.

When people are driven to purposefully maintain an image or a sales proposition, they are no longer there. Often they will drive any active conversations toward their intent, instead of focusing on the other person(s) and the ideas at hand.

Fake Flowers in the Sun
Fake Flowers in the Sun by Orin Zebest

It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who is not there.

Social media is a relational media. When relationships can’t be watered, they wither like flowers in the blazing summer sun. And so without real people talking to each other, the very fiber of social media is weakened. This is the state of the over-commercialized, personal brand-centric social web.

Perhaps the battle for authentic human behavior online is already lost. But real people talking to real people will never stop being desirable, nor will it ever go-away. More likely, it is bubbling under the surface of the commercialized noise, or simply existing separately as individual private sub communities in the underground.

How do you think personal branding has impacted the social web?

Copyblogger Brian Clark on Authenticity, Klout and Google+

Posted on: November 6th, 2011 by Geoff Livingston 5 Comments

Sobconers Brat Pack
From left to right: Shannon Paul, Brian Clark, Jason Falls, Zena Weist, Derek Halpern

Most of you already know the top-ranked blog Copyblogger. Founder Brian Clark started the company as a blog in 2006, and has expanded it to become a media company that helps businesses grow through social media and online marketing.

A mainstay in the sector, Brian is also active in relevant conversations. After Jennifer Leggio’s Forbes piece on authenticity ran last month, we began discussing some of the articles points, and have no expanded our conversation into a full-on interview. Special thanks to Brian for his insights on authenticity, Klout and Google+

Authenticity

Q: Why is authenticity preached, but not really wanted by the crowd in major social media marketing and business efforts?

BC: This is a matter of perspective. People do want authenticity, but they want what’s authentic to them. People want to connect with people they relate to, not to corporate speak or talking points. And yet, they also might not want to know your bathroom habits, or your political views, or enjoy your salty language, depending on the context.

The rallying cry of authenticity in social media has given people who consider themselves marketers to put their egos first and the desires of the people they communicate with second. This is the antithesis of good marketing, or even simply being a human being that others react favorably to.

Good marketing, good business, and being a good person, in my view, are all about putting yourself second and focusing on others first. When you do that, you have to speak to people in a way that’s appropriate to them, or they’re not going to listen.

When they listen and are influenced by you, however, a magical thing happens — you end up getting what you want after all. And it’s a win for everyone.

The other issue is one of context. We act differently in different situations: you’re different around your mother or at church than you are at a reunion with your college buddies. Both are the “real” you, and yet you behave differently due to changes in context.

The context of social media marketing requires you to decide which aspect of you is most appropriate for the audience. And again, I firmly advocate putting what your audience wants ahead of your own desire for “self-expression” or whatever. But only if you want to succeed, of course.

Q: Given that, what is your personal approach to authenticity on Copyblogger and your social networks?

BC: First and foremost, we put valuable content ahead of individual personalities. This is a fundamental key to why we’ve succeeded at turning a blog into a software business.

Also, due to the nature of being marketers teaching other marketers, we’re exceptionally transparent about the fact that we “practice what we preach.” In other words, rather than trying to pretend, we make a point of letting the audience know we’re doing to them what we’re teaching them, both as a demonstration that it works, but also because to do otherwise would be exceptionally bogus (a.k.a. inauthentic).

On social networks, I’m basically me. I’ve got a goofball and irreverent sense of humor that’s combined with a focus on sharing content — both ours and from others — that helps people achieve their goals.

That said, I filter myself in a few ways. This comes back to context. Just because a relatively large group of people desire to learn more about copywriting, content creation, online marketing and related topics, doesn’t mean they’re all similar in other ways. In fact, they are a radically diverse group of people.

So, in “real” life, I tend to use fairly colorful language. I have opinions about religion and politics and other volatile topics, just like anyone.

Online, I generally avoid cursing or discussing other “off topic” areas that provoke controversy. And I truly mean generally. I often slip up because (surprise) I’m a real human being just like anyone else.

Maybe it’s because I was raised in the southern United States, but I try to avoid those things because it’s not professional or polite. In other words, if you don’t know what will offend someone, it’s appropriate to avoid certain behaviors and topics. And when you have 155,000 blog subscribers and 92,000 Twitter followers (find Brian on Twitter), it’s really easy to offend people without really trying.

Every once in a while I’ll say whatever comes to mind. I call these Twitter purges. Some leave, a lot think it’s funny.

I call it sanity preservation. 😉

Mostly though, I genuinely love to teach. If I tried to fake that, not only would I be inauthentic and miserable, but Copyblogger (and every other business I started that preceded it) would have failed. This is something you cannot fake, at least not for long and not well.

Klout and Google+

Q: Klout is back in the news with a retooled algorithm that’s caused some controversy. What do you think of Klout gene, and influence metrics like it?

BC: I think metrics like Klout are useful as a beginning point. Our Scribe software incorporates Klout scores as a starting point to build relationships with relevant influencers, but it’s the beginning of the journey, not the destination.

That said, too many people are focusing on boosting their Klout scores (i.e their egos) instead of helping others. It’s in the latter realm where true influence is created and practiced, regardless of some numerical score.

Q: It’s been a four plus months since Google+ launched. You and I chat there periodically. What do you think of its future?

BC: I’m bullish on Google+, mainly because I love it over there (follow Brian on Google+ here). But it’s also hard to ignore the practical applications as a content producer. Google is moving more to site usage and sharing data for search rankings, and Plus is a direct feed of relevancy and value. If you’re creating great content, you can’t afford not to make a bet on Google+, because you’ll be scrambling later like the initial Twitter doubters.