Every social media cocktail needs a beer chaser.

By now you’ve probably been bombarded with enough posts elsewhere on Google Plus, so you’ll be glad to know this isn’t one more of them. Because what I’m writing about has wider implications than just one tool. It has to do where your entire brand lives in the social media realm.

I’ve come to the conclusion that clearly in terms of social media we should all be on TumblrGoogTwitBookTube.

Sorry for the confusion, but I think others with their behaviors and proclamations of late are just as confusing.

I’ve had it with those who feel another social media tool has to die so that another may live. Maybe it’s the rush to be proclaimed as a prophet of some sort, but it’s bogus. Actually, to be more accurate, it’s dangerous brand strategy and it risks burning the relationships you’ve cultivated.

I really have to marvel at people who are writing about how they are leaving their current outposts because something else has come along that’s far superior.

“We were on Facebook but we’re moving everything to Tumblr.”
“We were on WordPress but we’re going over to GooglePlus. Follow us there!”

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

They’re missing the point of how their own fans and followers use social media, which is to say that we almost never put all our energy toward one channel.

We have a hub and then, many times, we have at least a secondary channel. The most common example I’ve witnessed of this is Facebook for personal relationships, LinkedIn for business relationships. Or LinkedIn/Facebook as primary hub, Twitter as a 2nd, lesser visited destination.

It’s kind of like a favorite of restaurant of mine that serves a Bloody Mary with a beer chaser of Miller Lite during Sunday brunch – every good primary hub deserves a secondary accompaniment. Much like the primary and secondary ways we consume social media. Or “Hubs” and “Outposts.”

It’s downright rare for us to spend 100% of our time in one place and that’s more than OK. Yet, every single time a new tool comes along like Google Plus, it has to be the Killer of something else. It was the Facebook Killer, the Twitter Killer and the LinkedIn Killer.

Nope. I’m not buying it.

Why can’t we research, experiment and explore? I spend the majority of my time on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not only because it’s what I’m comfortable with at the moment but more importantly, it’s where the people I have relationships with and potential clients are spending their time online. With Google Plus being new, I’ve done my due diligence to check it out because like many other people, I was curious. If enough of my audience is there – and stays there – I’ll deepen my commitment (I wouldn’t get hung up on the 10 million people who signed up for it until we see the staying power months from now).

I remember a much simpler time when we only debated in absolutes between “digital” media and “traditional” media. 

Which was seriously only a couple years ago.

Now, just as social media is gaining credibility in the boardroom as a viable option for marketing budgets – yes, I believe we’re moving past that point – we’re going to complicate matters and confuse them by saying, “No, don’t go here anymore, you want to put all your energy over here.”

“But I thought you said Facebook was equivalent to the 3rd or 4th largest country in the world.”

“Yeah, I did, but it’s on its way out. You want to be on Tumblr. You can do so much more with it.”

“But our audience is in their 40’s. Isn’t that a tool more popular with Gen Y right now?”

“It’s OK. They’ll come around to it.”

Sure. But they’re not all there right now. So it’s more sensible to dip my toes in that water before jumping in with reckless abandon.

This may sound like you shouldn’t be flexible, but I’m actually championing for greater mobility.

Far before this thing called the Internet and social media came along, advertising agencies who had intelligent planners knew that their audience probably watched TV, listened to the radio and read certain magazines. They didn’t tell companies to put 100% of their marketing budgets in one medium.

We shouldn’t be telling people that now.

What I’m hearing is the equivalent of someone not only telling a marketer to put all their money in TV, but all their money in one channel like ABC. That doesn’t sound like good advice, right?

Well, telling a brand to go “all in” on one social media channel is probably along the same lines of competence.

We should be telling people to diversify and plan based on what we have gathered about the way their audience has, is and will behave. If social media is a component of their brand strategy – which it is – we should be treating it as such by diversifying our percentages of time spent on various channels rather than flipping off the light switch while people are still in the room talking.

I’m not suggesting that you should spend time on a dying channel or a channel that’s not reflective of your audience. That would be silly. What I am suggesting is that you should add social media channels rather than burn bridges. We can still be pioneers and sherpas of social media while being true to how our brand’s followers are living today. Then, if and when it appears that either the channel is on its way down for the count or that your audience is steadily trickling away from that channel, you make a move to change your commitment to it. From “primary” to “secondary” to “non-existent” if you have to.

So it’s OK to suggest when appropriate that we should take a hard look at spending time on a new channel because that’s where we believe based on research and conversations that this is where our audience will be headed. We’d be doing a disservice not to communicate this.

It’s just that when you build up a following on any medium, it’s something that’s not only taken time on your part but is a serious investment made on the people who have chosen to follow you that should never be taken for granted.

Sometimes I wonder if brands and gurus remember that before they torch the old place.

I found my Klout on Empire Avenue while staring at the PeerIndex.

The other day, someone bought 200 shares of me. I was flattered, but would’ve been even more excited had it been real money. Still, the virtual game that measures your influence, Empire Avenue, had shown that in my brief period of time on it, my shares were going up and up. Mind you, I’m not really sure what the algorithm was for this other than the fact that I’d participated in several social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all while doing a blog post.

Hey, driving up your simulated shares is hard work.

Meanwhile, I noticed that my Klout score was similarly going up and up. Normally, I would be very excited by this, except for a few things.

There are people in my industry who I look up to who I can’t imagine having less real “clout” than me yet have less Klout than me. I’ve enjoyed reading Bart Cleveland for years as an AdAge columnist along with his work at McKee Wallwork Cleveland. I’ve admired the work of David Oakley at BooneOakley – frankly, I am looking up at them in a balanced world, not the other way around in a Klout world.

The second quibble I have is that while it says I am influential about social media and social entrepreneurship (OK, I’ve written about those plenty, I’ll buy that), Klout also says that I’m influential about, of all things, Groupon. I wrote about Groupon in one blog post in my life. Unless that was a hell of a post, I don’t see how that’s possible.

The third issue with Klout is that, unless I’m off, the system can be potentially gamed. If you like someone and are influenced by them, you can give them a “+K” to their Klout rating. Which sounds fine and good until I convince 20 of my closest friends to get together and Klout our scores into the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, over at PeerIndex, I have a similar issue with the influentials as I do with Klout. I’m a humble man and there are some peers that are ranking lower than me that just shouldn’t. My score is fine enough, trending higher and nothing to sneeze at. Kind of like my Klout score. At least here I can tell it’s from a combination of Audience, Authority and Activity. So I know which “A” to work on most.

What to believe? Who to believe? Are these tools helping or hurting?

I think I have the answer – you have to take these “measures of influence” for what they are – the best methods we currently have to measure social media capital that have room for improvement. Better than nothing? Yes. I would not ignore or blindly dismiss them. They do have meaning. They are a fair measure of activity, reach, etc. And like most other tools, they will probably be replaced by something more efficient and accurate, if these tools can’t tweek themselves fast enough.

But don’t get so wrapped up in your score that you can’t stop looking at your Klout, Empire Avenue share price and PeerIndex rating. I’m not proud to admit it, but I was doing just that when I first signed up. The worst thing you can do is say to yourself, “Oh heavens to Betsy, my reach isn’t far enough, what do I do?”

Breathe. Relax. These are algorithms that need work and will get better. Embrace the technological steps forward for what they are and realize there are slight imperfections – hey, Google’s algorithm isn’t perfect, but I’ll bet you still used it to search today, didn’t you?

Meanwhile, focus on what you CAN control:
Creating great content regularly and interacting with people who matter to you most on the channels where they “live.”
I believe when you concentrate on that consistently, the rest will hopefully take care of itself anyway when it comes to influence.

Of course, if this post influenced you and you’d like to throw a few “+K” to DanOnBranding or buy a bunch of shares….ah, never mind.

Your Comment turned into an E-book and now it’s a full-on Buzzkill

Hanging out in enough discussion forums, from LinkedIn to the AdAge Small Agency Diary blog/forum, I enjoy the generally good discourse that takes place between people. Opposing views can be great for the conversation. But what I can’t stand is when someone takes over the discussion with what can be only described as the equivalent of a filibuster.

I’m talking about the dreaded Comment From Hell.

You know what I’m talking about. The CFH is not a few paragraphs. It’s a 10-paragraph-or-more “look at how intelligent I am compared to everyone else here” comment. And it’s like tossing a grenade into the room. I’m exhausted trying to read the point, whether it’s good or not. Recently in LinkedIn, I had to power my way through a guy’s lengthy diatribe over why he wasn’t convinced on the power of social media. He didn’t think he’d seen enough proof that it worked.

Great. I respect your viewpoint. I don’t agree with it, but I respect it. But when your Comment is that long, there are a few things you should ask yourself.

1) Is this my blog? My website? My Facebook page?
No. You’re a welcome invited guest into a conversation with others. You’re in someone else’s “house.” If you want to deliver a speech, go deliver one. Elsewhere. If you want to have a conversation, have one that doesn’t consist to grandstanding and shameless self-promotion. Show you care about what other people have to say other than the voice in your own head.

2) Is there another place I could be posting this opinion?
Yes. Your blog, your website, your Facebook page. Just for starters. Even there, you should be inviting commentary back. Which I do here, by the way. Nobody is telling you not to share your thoughts. But could you apply that energy to a place where it is better suited?

3)  Is it taking me longer than 4-5 minutes to make my point in the Comment area?
That’s right. Time yourself. How long is it taking you to get the words out? I can recall writing an radio spot for my boss with entirely too much copy – no wonder his response back to me was, “This screenplay sounds great, but what I’d really like is a 30 second spot.” You can write something impactful and compelling in fewer words. I guarantee it.

4) Do people have to scroll down very far to read my comment?
Let me be very clear. When I see an ocean of words associated with one person compared to everyone else who can generally make comments in 2-3 paragraphs or less, my first thought is: Angry? Frustrated? Egomaniac? Not interested in having a real conversation in a place where conversations are supposed to occur?

Of course, maybe this isn’t you at all. But think about the impression and effect you have on the rest of the discussion.

So what to do to be a Conversationalist and not a Buzzkill via a comment manifesto?

Simple. Imagine yourself at a party where you join an ongoing conversation. Are you going to listen first? Hopefully. Are you going to enjoy the conversation more if there’s a bunch of give-and-take? Probably.

Or are you going to just butt in, interrupt everyone and start talking about what happened to you today on the way to work, regardless of whatever else the rest of the group was talking about before you got there?

Unless it was a laugh-riot, they’re probably going to look at you funny with an expression that says, “Who invited this guy?”

Embrace the dialogue in these groups and the genuine opportunity to build relationships by self-editing. If you want to promote the heck out of yourself that badly, provide a link at the end and if you’re at all interesting, we’ll go there. If you’ve bored us to tears, we won’t.

I see I’m approaching a word count that would be totally unsuitable for a Comment Area. But not bad for a Blog. So I’ll wrap it up here.

Comments welcome. Seriously.