The End of the Social PR Revolution

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In building the program for xPotomac (February 25th), I sought to address a sea change in media evolution. That change spells the end for the social PR revolution, a marketing movement embodied by brand-led conversations over the past seven years.

We are currently experiencing a throttling of branded, online grassroots power. Specifically, it’s becoming harder and harder for marketers to be seen with branded earned media and social updates.

This evolution is best evidenced by the increasing role of owned and paid content placement (as discussed, content marketing is the 21st century nice description of advertising), and social or native advertising.

Other signs evidence this change, too. Social search and stronger policing of black hat SEO by Google has put a premium on paid search again. Facebook’s use of Edgerank to force companies and individuals alike to pay for attention is another harbinger of this fate.

The rise of big data and the forthcoming wearable computing revolution — themes that run throughout xPotomac — will cause a further throttling of online grassroots pipes.

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Why Email and Search Outsell Social

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So much for social ROI. Yesterday, the New York Times ran an op-ed debating social media marketing’s ability to deliver sales in comparison to other forms of advertising (for example, traditional search or email marketing).

A recent Forrester report stated paid search matters most for new customers, email matters most for repeat customers, and social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers. Correlating this data, ExactTarget surveyed more than 700 consumers (ages 15+) in its 2012 Channel Preferences study, and 77% responded that email was preferred over social media for communications for promotion offers.

Opt-in email and click throughs driven by paid search represent private acts of engagement that occur deeper in an online sales cycle.

While the linear sales cycle has been disrupted by online media in the past ten years, buying still represents a process.

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Improve Social Search


When you see a strong, social visual interface like Pinterest or Instagram, or even the revitalized Facebook and YouTube interfaces, you realize how far social search has to come. Search engines are generally not visual, don’t port well for sharing to networks, and are closed to commenting.

Google, Bing and Yahoo! index a blend of news and social conversations, but this early concept of social search is pretty stale.

The content presentation and simple link interaction is very 1.0 with text links, and a complete lack of dynamic commenting and sharing.

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Why Klout and Kred Fail

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Last Friday, I spoke at TEDx Peachtree about how any of us can become influential and affect change in our world (you can read my speech here).

The speech took to task social scoring technologies Klout and Kred for failing to predict influencers and movements as they arise.

Attention — and more specifically public recognition of influence — almost always occurs after the fact. Someone who achieves a high Klout score for something notable already created that act.

That does not mean they will repeat their successes and inspire widespread action over and over again.
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The Naked Truth of Social Media

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Phil Gerbyshak‘s The Naked Truth of Social Media offers a compelling view of social media and its various experts.

I wrote the introduction to the eBook, which features experts debating the myths they see, and their version of social media truths. Reading it revealed a few truths to me, too. The following is a version of my introduction to The Naked Truth

Whose Rules?

First (and my myth buster), rules offered by social media experts don’t mean much unless you want to be a second tier version of this person (or business).

Even some of the opinions in the eBook offered starkly contrasting views.

It just reminded me that rules are meant to be broken, particularly when it comes to self-created etiquette. Continue reading