Posts Tagged ‘culture’

5 Quick Tips to Smash Silos

Posted on: July 17th, 2012 by Geoff Livingston 9 Comments

Death by Silo by @gapingvoid

Breaking down silos remains a huge issue for communicators.

Either in the context of the current social business buzz or modern integrated marketing, breaking down barriers within a culture to create comprehensive stakeholder experiences only makes sense.

The question then becomes how to break down those silos? Marketing in the Round (co-authored with Gini Dietrich) discusses the topic in depth, but I wanted to provide some quick tips for change agents looking to evolve their organization. Here we go:

The New American Dream: Be a Pundit or Wonk

Posted on: November 1st, 2011 by Geoff Livingston 16 Comments


  • Pundit: A person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner usually through the mass media
  • Wonk: A person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures in a specialized field

We as a culture have moved from doers to talkers, and even our education system seems to acknowledge this. A recent American University ad campaign in the Washington region encourages local prospective students to be a wonk. The ads highlight a subtle cultural shift to a desire to be known as an information source, famous for subject area knowledge. Today, Americans want to be famous for talking about things.

In the past, Americans wanted to do things with their career. They wanted to be a fireman, the president, a lawyer, a nurse, a parent, etc.

Notice the verb switch from doing to knowing. The two are not the same thing. One involves actively engaging in a career. The second path can possess the domain knowledge from experience, but not necessarily. The realm of the pundit or wonk is to talk about a profession, as opposed to actively engaging in that work.

Even the campaign subtext seems to acknowledge this: …where budding experts are transformed into true wonks.

What this trend acknowledges: Most Americans want to be famous. We have a celebrity culture. Success has transitioned from great acts to a great public perception. And now with the advent of social media building such a perception is easier than it has ever been before. A recent news article aptly dubbed this trend, “too much sizzle, too little steak.”

The new celebrity culture does make you wonder about a few things:

  • If we are all so busy talking about the work, who will actually do it?
  • What are the rewards for being a “doer?”
  • Does the talker fare better now? Have we dis-incentivized real action?
  • How do we as a culture delineate opinion from subjective experience and fact-based research?

Just some thoughts on the New American Dream of being a publicly known expert. What do you think of our celebrity culture?

How the Google+ Hype Lost Its Mojo

Posted on: October 4th, 2011 by Geoff Livingston 29 Comments


If you read some top social media blogs, it’s clear that Google+ is the hottest thing since the launch of the iPad. Others believe the fledgling social network is dying, with dramatic declines in interactivity.

The truth is that the network seems to be growing pretty rapidly still, especially since opening its doors to the public. Estimates have the network at 50 million users currently. Though no one seems able to discern interaction or retention rates from the earliest adopters, Google+ growth has reignited in September.

Yet perception of the network amongst early adopters has fallen quite a bit. Some of this has to do with retention and frequency of use, but the Google+ blues have deeper roots.

From a marketing stand point, one has to wonder how did the Google+ launch lose its perceived mojo so quickly? Here are three possible reasons:

1) Google Culture

Google’s cultural approach to product launches is to release the product, and let people figure out how to use it (full disclosure: I have done unrelated work for Google in the past year). This typically less than social approach has created problems with prior social launches.

The Google+ launch is different with much more interaction on both the blog and with community managers. But there is still some remaining cultural impact. Numbers are not well reported. There have been communication snafus with a promised Google+ for Business offering that has yet to materialize (which is fine, but communicate why).

People are unsure of how Google+ is doing because Google isn’t really communicating well. Yet.

2) The Facebook Assault

It’s clear that Facebook has responded quickly to Google+, and is taking the competition seriously. From video chat to new friends list management to a revamped news stream, Facebook has matched or tried to surpass Google+’s primary differentiators.

While Google+ has made changes to its network during the same time, it has not launched any major new initiatives outside of games. This has lent the perception of momentum to Facebook. In essence, people believe Facebook is evolving while Google+ isn’t.

Further, unlike Google, Facebook is a PR machine. So this perception is one created of attention and noise, too. There is no equivalent of the F8 conference or feature season for Google+. Yet.

3) The Social Media Expert Land Grab

The social media expert land grab that occurred with Google+ this past summer was a big turn-off. From audacious statements to webinars to books about Google+ for Business (ironic given that Google+ hasn’t opened its doors to businesses yet), many people in the industry were repulsed by the zeal of digital “49ers” seeking Google+ gold.

The most notable Google+ “expert” Chris Brogan argued that business is open and everyone is free to make a buck. He is correct. That doesn’t mean that it’s attractive or admirable though.

Unfortunately, throwing out the baby with the bath water may have occurred here. Some early adopters left or ratcheted down interaction simply because they were turned off by the behavior of some more well known people in the field.

Truth and Reality

There are accounts, and then there is usage. Right now Google+ has done a fantastic job of breaking all industry records for new accounts. Interactions and page views seem to be growing, too, if not from the first adopters, then definitely from the sheer volume of people coming on to the network.

At this rate — IF momentum continues AND if continued interaction and retention occurs — it will be hard to deny Google+ as a major tier 2 network by early 2012.

With increased user interaction, more growth and page views, the truth will reveal itself. Thanks to strength of numbers, Google+’s perceived mojo problems will go away. But Google can help the process by opening up more, and continuing to evolve its network in a more exciting competitive fashion.

Businesses and nonprofits should be experimenting with the network. Please keep in mind that only 10% (give or take) of the network’s users are actually in the United States.