10 Things in Social Media That are “so last year”

January 5, 2011

Given it’s a new year and we are all immersed in guessing and pontificating on the coming trends for 2011, our team figured we’d offer up some quips and advice to make sure that your social media isn’t out of date. Following are 10 things that are considered immature and out-of-fashion in social media for 2011. While we have been around and providing social media for over 10 years, it seemed that 2010 brought everyone to the game (thanks mainstream media for pretending you actually get Twitter) and there was a deluge of offensive behaviors to us old-timers in the industry. Let’s refine this interaction and mature the space a bit.

  1. Auto-responders. An auto DM in Twitter is annoying, period.
  2. Connecting with people in LinkedIN that you don’t know. LinkedIN should be used to keep track of your network. It’s only useful if it’s a clean one where a recommendation or introduction is authentic and backed up by real knowledge of the person.
  3. Companies setting up “fan pages” that are really human profiles. Learn to use the fanpage feature of FB. Using first name: company, last name: company isn’t cool. And in fact it violates the terms of Facebook use.
  4. Companies talking AT people in Twitter or Facebook. These are not free advertising tools in the way that your traditional agency is selling you. You have to actually engage with your customers about things non-related to your products. And you even have to respond to things that make you sad.
  5. Not having real pictures/avatars. People connect with people. Period.
  6. Friending people on FB to then send a MLM/direct marketing, or otherwise salesy email as your first interaction.
  7. Posting your company ads on other people’s walls that you otherwise don’t ever interact with.
  8. Not participating in social media. It’s a way of life. No, it’s not going to eradicate other forms of media, but it really does matter, and it’s not about the kids.
  9. Hiring your kid, teenager, intern, etc. to handle your whole social media strategy. The bottom line is that while yes, there are too many “social media experts” floating around now, there IS indeed a need for people that know what they are doing and more importantly who know the nuances in proper communication. We happily (because we are the only social media agency with a full compliance team in-house) see gross missteps in social media that result in fines and the like. And in most cases, it’s because they thought the messaging of their company can be left to a 14-year-old.
  10. And most importantly: having no concept or interest in true community building. It’s called SOCIAL media, not “annoying advertising” media. This is not one-way conversation. And you will lose if you continue to treat social tools as such.

Bonus #11: Not having friends in the real world. The beauty of social media is transitioning new relationships from online to offline. Get out there. Meet one new person a week!

Feel free to add your own. And I’m sure many of you will disagree with ours which is fine too.

Continental Airlines versus US Airways

October 15, 2008

Please change to view posts at: http://www.amandavegablog.com now


Most of you know that I am somewhat of a travel snob. I like to think of it more of a safety issue. Not that being in first class is actually “safer” in terms of air disaster, but that I travel frequently and have a very low tolerance for casual travelers. (Ok, yes, and a very low tolerance for a lot of things in life.)  So, for the safety of those around me, I always book a first class ticket.  I adore the comfort of a bigger chair. I even go as far as trying to get the first row of seats to allow extra leg room (even though I’m under 5 feet tall.) I like boarding the plane early and getting my stuff ready for what is surely a long stint of uninterrupted work – no phones, no text, no email – just real work like public relations plans, social media content and strategy, and the stuff that seems to pile up in the inbox of my daily 300+ emails that I have to personally answer.


Now, for years now, I have been a huge fan and zealot of Continental Airlines.  I fly them EVERY time – except two occasions: a quick trip to Vegas where I’d have to fly via Houston, or over the water because everyone knows that domestic overseas travel even in first class just doesn’t compare to the luxury of an international carrier heading outside of the country.  I tell my staff to fly Continental or one of their partners (their SkyTeam Alliance allows for travel and mileage accrual on great partners like Delta and Northwest) and that the beauty of travel is being loyal to one airline so that as they travel and collect miles, then one day soon they too will be up in the front of the plane.  Part of the reason I selected Continental was due to direct flights to NYC where I also have an office. The other was the Skyteam Alliance with Malaysian Air who has the most amazing first class experience to China where we also have work. The other is also that for my team or friends that may travel with me, Continental has managed to still serve food (yes, on every flight and even in the back of the plane,) waited the longest to charge for any bags (and are still a bit lower priced on that fee and in first class waive that charge,) and seem to have logical flight patterns, pricing, and amazing customer service.  So, for years now, I’ve been a loyal Continental First Class traveler and for the non-first class traveler could boil the logical choice to be the same due to the nice meal and free drinks alone.


However; this past week I traveled in first class on US Airways and realized that first class among domestic carriers, much like first class on international carriers versus domestic is NOT the same at all.  It seems that the $1000+ tickets for first class on US Airways has been just as diluted as coach tickets.  US Airways didn’t feed the first class passengers on 3 hour flights (you ALWAYS get fed on Continental – first class AND coach.) They served us in plastic cups. The flight attendants were grumpy (ok, so that’s also almost always the case on American Airlines as well.)  Their first class cabin isn’t assigned an attendant for the flight. Instead, they all go to the back of the plane, so once you’ve been handed a basket of chips to choose from (a la Southwest Airlines – which is cool because um, you’re paying like $5 for a plane ticket so you expect nothing) they just scoot to the back of the plane never to be heard from until preparation for landing.  The men had to ask to have their jackets taken for them, and most of the baggage space was taken by both attendants luggage and coach passengers (which is usually stopped by attendants on other airlines.)  The overall experience was just remarkably different and a bit frustrating.


And yes, I can hear everyone thinking “what a snob” – but the point is that when purchasing a ticket in first class which is usually 80% more than coach, there are going to be certain things that you as the buyer expect…and it’s not just a bigger seat and free cheap wine.  It lead me to think deeper about business and cutting costs and while I somewhat see that airlines need to do some cutbacks to help offset an increase in fuel costs and taxes (don’t get me started on how really that is just an easy excuse to move our attention away from just a poorly run business and the like – but hey, most consumers are buying the story and not digging deeper) I don’t think that the same cutbacks should apply to the passengers that feed the potential profit for the whole plane.  (It is assumed that first class tickets are 3 times profit of coach tickets – see more here) and that the first class seats before flight schedules were cut and there were too many free upgrades allowed, used to finance most of any flight.    


So, how would that lessening of service to your first class clients look or play out?  What would happen if you or me as a business owner decided that we had to cut costs/services in order to save money and relegated those changes across the board?  Would we really ever as an agency stop delivering first class perks to our biggest clients who have retainers that are 80% higher than our start up clients?  Now, don’t get me wrong – we have never believed that a client should get less service, a substandard product, or go to a newbie account executive (which we have none) because they have smaller retainers. But certainly, the clients paying say $2,000/month versus $30,000 month probably don’t get as many extra perks such as really expensive dinners and show tickets in Manhattan (our $2K clients get a great dinner and an off broadway show, let’s say) and that’s only because you’d end up perking more than you are getting paid.  But if you equate this to the airline – my first class ticket has remained the same cost (as have the coach tickets) yet the service, it seems, on some airlines, has basically gone away completely for everyone.  If we or any of our competitors in the social media or public relations space completely cut out the perks or the benefits of having us work with them, then why come to us in the first place?  Interesting thought, I think…


My assumption is that first class travelers will eventually find a way to drive down costs through increasing need of private jet leases and sharing of such.  I took a ride with someone who had a Flexjet contract and it cost me $500 more than the first class ticket would have – however; I also gained 2+ hours of my time back.  To me, that wasn’t much of an increase – and really, some would say it evened out in cost/benefit analysis.


And, if I owned the airlines – my answer would be simple: raise the prices. Period.  When I was a kid, flying was a luxury – and ALL tickets, even in coach, cost well over $1,000.  (And, BTW, for my young readers, you NEVER traveled in your PJs carrying a pillow – you dressed proper for your flight..)  So, if the airlines have to find a way to be profitable I’d say one, address your business model and do a complete analysis of everything from the top down – because quite frankly fuel can’t be the ONLY reason you are having problems. And second, raise the prices overall.  It doesn’t have to be much – say 20% across the board. People, especially in first class HATE to be “nickel and dimed.”  Don’t charge the coach passengers $5 for water and a $3 for a cookie – raise the price of the ticket by $10 and call it a day!


And let the competition begin. Fly Continental whenever you can. They seem to be doing a LOT right – especially in first class.  It’s NOT all the same. Be discriminative…especially with luxury items.


What do you guys think? Aside from my snotty rant – would your business be OK if you cut out all services to your best clients? Would they go elsewhere, or would they just understand?  Most companies are having to look at cutbacks and ways to save money -but is everyone also killing the service? I doubt it. We push for more web meetings and conference calls, but still take calls 24/7 and give incredible service.  Where have you cut costs without cutting service? And have costs been the same for the small fries as the big guys in your customer list?


October 4, 2008

See the new blog at http://www.amandavegablog.com

There’s no privacy in “social”

October 4, 2008

For the first time this week I encountered someone that started following me on Twitter  who had their account set to “private.”  While I’ve seen this in mySpace, which I also think is silly for anyone over the age of 18, I never once thought anyone would have the audacity to privatize a FREE micro-blogging and uber connector service. Call me crazy, but somehow the words “blogging” and “social networking” doesn’t lend itself to privacy. It actually kinda defeats the whole point.


I guess I’m just confused as to why you would even sign up for a Twitter account if you are shy, or have things to say that you’re sure your husband or boss shouldn’t find.  I ask these users why they don’t instead use one of the many instant messenger services and create groups or chat rooms if they need to communicate in snippets with subsets of people.  


This goes back to a question that inevitably always gets asked when I’m speaking for groups and conferences – what do you do about privacy concerns on the Internet. My answer is typically some version of “if you are really concerned about privacy, then stay off the internet…” Again, the very definition of the Internet was to connect people and give access to information. It was kinda the whole point.

Anyway, my take is that if you have a Twitter account, or a mySpace or a Facebook…if you use social bookmarking tools, or do commenting on blogs, etc. then do so openly.  If you want privacy, then use email. Better yet, send a letter. But be careful – someone could go through your mail.  


The bottom line is that the information superhighway was never meant to be a private country road.

Olympic Thoughts on Gymnastics, Food in China, and Advertisers

August 15, 2008

Okay, so I’ve seen the Olympics both on TV and up close and personal. Here are some thoughts I’ve collected throughout the last 10 days that I thought would make good full posts, but really think they should all come into one post.

  1. Why are people so surprised that the food sucks in China?  It’s CHINA. Now, since I have an office there, I have found actually some GOOD food. The best part is that most of those complaining are either eating in McDonalds or KFC (neither of which taste like it does in the US – but KFC is the favorite of all fast food in China, just so you know, called “Kon Dudge Eee”) or they are frantically searching for beef and broccoli – which isn’t Chinese.  Go where the locals do. Try some bugs. Or, go for the dumplings – all varieties and kinds!
  2. I think we should be able to choose the sports we get on TV. It should be like pay-per-view or like the Football package on satellite.  While I love watching Michael Phelps swim and win, over and over and over and over…I personally wanted to see ALL of gymnastics – not just highlights of our team. It’s possible, even with the complexities of broadcast ownership and rights…it will just take consumers requiring it.
  3. I feel bad for a local gymnastics training center in Phoenix.  They had a quick 30 second commercial last night that aired locally. I can just see a sales rep from Channel 5 telling the owner, who is about to spend more than his annual budget for ALL of his marketing on ONE spot (silly) that he will get TONS of students and recognition because it will show up right during gymnastics. It didn’t. It was during swimming. And, it was pretty late at night. So, shame on them both. 
  4. Commentators – ok, most commentators really, really annoy me.  Too often they are talking just to fill quiet time.  For example last night during swimming one of them was saying, “ah, see as Phelps was coming out of his turn, he looked over down the lanes to see his roommate and find out how far ahead he was.” Yah. I’m sure.  If I were swimming like a million miles an hour for the hundredth time beating records, I too would have time to check out what my pal is doing.  Whatever.  I think he’s a little busy and perhaps, acutely focused on something else…like winning.
  5. The US women’s gymnastics team got screwed in scoring. No more to say. You saw it. We all saw it. Love that they have no balance checks, fumbles and stick the landings yet the Chinese gals do the exact opposite and come out with better scores. Ah…to the rest of the world – just stop hating. Thank goodness it turned out right in the end. But we still go screwed.
  6. I think it’s funny, and smart that prices are up in China during the Olympics.  I watched Samantha Brown’s Trip to China and noticed that the poor girl paid $35 for a cab. That’s just wrong. And the producers should have told her better. While there I noticed too that prices were up all over anything close to the arenas – WAY up. So, good for the Chinese for adhering to the supply and demand theory. Sad for those that were too afraid to go 10 feet from the area – because even a mile away, prices were normal – great dinner should cost less than $3 in China. And yes, that’s for 2 people.
  7. Okay all you tree huggers who complain about pollution – what about the torch being lit 24/7?  (haha, now let’s see how many crazy bloggers out there are spending more energy powering their computers to blog against the torch than the torch is using…I love it!) 
  8. During the opening ceremonies, can I just say how proud I am that our basketball players were able to successfully walk in and reinforce all negative imagery of American’s as a brand?  Thank goodness they are famous. But really – do you have to act like a thug when representing the US? How about a smile? How about some graciousness? 
  9. Um, does anyone else find it really kinda lame and messed up that Nastia’s mom wasn’t present to see her daughter win gold because she was “too nervous” and was out site seeing?!? Um, were you getting a masagee masagee?  Happy ending maybe? Sorry, I don’t buy it. She can say it over and over, and her daughter can repeat it with that pained face that is painted with anger about 75% of the time, but come on.
  10. And of course, how about the 5 year old gymnasts from China?  “Oh, we put blue eye shadow on you. Now you 14!” LOL!
Overall, they are all great experiences. I’m mainly glad so many people that I know and have talked through over the years were able to experience China and see how great it can be. We have had great opportunity there for sure, and find the people endearing and wonderful, not to mention some of our best employees.  

Presidential Campaigns Using Social Media….kinda

June 25, 2008

I wish I had the time to uncover all of the links to all of the attempts of the presidential candidates to forge into social media, but I quite frankly don’t have the desire. I write this post after hearing in the background once again on “The O’Reilly Factor” a review of the various forays that both parties have made into the social media sphere in hopes of appearing hip and reaching out using this “new technology.”  I have to stop and laugh at the concept and try to discern as to whether I should be happy that for the first time the candidates are making SOME real attempt at using the Internet, or cringing at the fact that again, they just don’t get it.

Those that follow me and my posts here and elsewhere on the web and in articles know how I feel about this, and I will say it again. You canNOT take your TV commercials, made as advertising campaigns, and pop them up on YouTube and call it “social media.” It’s the consistent mistake that marketers, agencies, companies big and small, and even the so called “experts” in this space make over and over. They miss the biggest part of the definiton: a TWO WAY conversation.  And no, allowing comments that have been pre-screened to insure that they only speak to your expressed opinion do NOT count.

If candidates REALLY want to use social media and reach constituents they would open up a real dialaogue or offer up a frank Q&A discussion on their sites, or inside of their cute little Facebook/myspace accounts and allow ALL commentary to come through – and…now wait for it…ANSWER them in real format (not just some crafty answer contrived by writers that really aren’t as clever as those were on “The West Wing” such as even dare I say our staff to really not answer a question at all.

Personally, I think that debates and all content on a site for anyone running for office should operate like this.  In a debate, you are asked to take a position – YES or NO – on things that pop up in those overpriced polls that change by the minute. If you don’t answer, or if you give some round about “answer” that doesn’t REALLY answer the question, then you are out. Game over.  “Are you pro-choice or pro-life?” There are two answers, period. Even if you scale your answer to have a “in this instance,” or “at some times…” then it’s still falls to one side of the fence. Your navigation toward the middle one way or the other we can all figure out on our own.

And in social media – answer the questions. Read the commentary.  Respond to those taking the time to allow for TWO-WAY conversation. Don’t stick your dang overpriced, overproduced, contrived messages in my face on YouTube and call it social media. Call it what it is: more advertising placed in a different medium!

Oh, and lucky you that the medium is FREE…wouldn’t it be nice if YouTube could command the same rates to blatant advertising posts for people with ad budgets in the same viewer ratio?  Wow…that would really mess with everyone. But that’s another post…for another day.

Ad Agency Genius…the LG Campaign I bigpuffyheart

April 29, 2008

For all of you that accuse me of “hating ad agencies” and “not appreciate brand managers” here is one for you.  This campaign is one of the rare (in a sea of thousands of really crappy campaigns you see very few that are genius) examples of where ad agency dollars pay off (and where they are best spent in my opinion.)

Specifically, really good agencies come out with GENIUS ad campaigns.  They can craft messages and long streams of advertising snippets that take life in various mediums, and sometimes, the very nature of the campaign is so creative and interesting that you have to commend whoever the idea came from in a cocktail laden planning session.  You see this a lot with Crispin Porter – always fabulous.

See, the beauty of a big agency is that they get paid money to do mostly really lame and easy tasks.  But, the 10% creative genius that happens in a good agency is where the payoff can be for a client.  There’s no art in writing a media plan, or really in doing PR, or even general ad campaigns that follow the standards that have been in place forever.  Where the “magic happens” is when you get a creative team that is allowed the luxury of time (based on crazy retainers and really high billable hours the client is paying) to come up with something that would really capture attention.  See this awesome campaign for LG that was just uncovered!

LG Electronics kicked off a $100 million global marketing push with a long-awaited event that promised to be the red-carpet premiere of a TV series by director David Nutter called “Scarlet.” However, the show, which had been previewed in the press and even listed in online movie database IMDB.com, was a promotional hoax designed to focus attention on LG Electronics’ new line of flat-panel TVs.

I was “victim” to their campaign seeing commercial after commercial thinking – “what an odd show, but maybe I’ll Tivo the first one to check it out…”


So kudos to the brand manager, and the “number of agencies” they say they used (who sadly didn’t get any praise from all the press attention – shame on your press..and shame on you Kwan-Sup Lee if you didn’t tell the writer to include them.)

So, I’ll say it again – use ad agencies (good ones) to craft genius stuff – let them spin their wheels and come up with cool ideas that get attention from multiple streams (goodness knows you won’t pay your interactive team to spend time THINKING or CRAFTING) and then let them work with us to help implement these creative streams to even higher success (like, why isn’t LG blogging about this, or posting it on their site and pushing it out into the relevant blogs with trackbacks, etc. – see, there’s where the agencies go really wrong…)



“We meant to do that” and other random quotes

February 12, 2008

I’m not sure why, but it always amazes me that people cannot simply accept the knowledge of others, or even better, perhaps thank them for sharing that useful intellectual property.  Everyday, especially when speaking to small clients, you hear funny little quotes; most of them tied to an odd sort of defense mechanism than anything else.  Here are some fun examples I thought I would share: 

1. “We meant to do that” – a response when we pointed out that a site a client built (who claims to do web development on the higher end levels) wasn’t visible in Google.

2. “We have too much business” – their continued rebuttal which I found incredibly odd in general, but especially in a down economy. I’ll be sure to check back in with them in 3 months.

3. “We didn’t have any business in January, so we are not going to do any advertising in February” – well, you can see where the flaw is in this one if you know about my rants, but more importantly, the client was on vacation all of January so his phones were not answered. You know how I feel about that.

4. “The internet has only been around for 10 years.” This came from a guy who sells interactive advertising.

5. “There’s not a whole lot of people using the Internet yet.” Self explanatory.

6. “I don’t think we should deal in that social media stuff.” – This from someone who has no ranking in Google for his own name, but there are over 10,000 NEGATIVE posts ABOUT him in Google. 

Got anymore? Share them here!

Ohhhh…Everything 2.0

January 30, 2008

Today I feel like I’m in a time machine, or having flashbacks, or some mixture of both.  When monitoring the feeds coming in from writers that are seeking sources for stories, one of the requests for someone to comment on “sales 2.0” and it led me back to my early days at AOL when we were working hard on this whole new concept of the world wide web and creating ways for people to actually use this new medium.   

Shortly after that, you saw a deluge of new sites come up across all industries all with one special moniker…”e” or “i” something or other. For what was really YEARS after the web was already in use, the rest of the world outside us nerds got on board and agencies all over the nation were quick to set up web pages and give them all clever URLs like “eINSERTINDUSTRYHERE.com” or “iINSERTINDUSTRYHERE.com” over and over.  It was maddening.  

Now with the new recognition of what many of us have been doing for years (blogs, community sites, forums, video,) we see the rest of world calling this “Web 2.0” which is great in so many ways, but also showing the non-creative side of traditional minds getting on board with something us old zealots have been preaching for years. 

So now, you see “Web 2.0” churning out numerous followers to this tagline.  “Sales 2.0” “Real Estate 2.0” and the “Economy 2.0.”  It makes me wonder though, now that the leaders in our space are forging into “Web 3.0” to give a name to the NEXT level of integration, will we now see “Dating 3.0” or “Banking 3.0?” 

No one/ Pleo left behind

November 30, 2007

No one/ Pleo left behind

Originally uploaded by e-storm.com

Just thought I’d add this amazing product to my blog this was in addition to my previous post today. So dang cute!