How to Think About Four Different Types of Social Channels

There are four kinds of social channel communication in a model used by influence marketing superstar Matt Broberg. Matt shared this model in a recent interview on the excellent Influence Marketing Council podcast. I think this is a great model to help guide and deepen our thinking about community, marketing, and communication. Each category of channel has different strengths, weaknesses, and expectations.

Broberg’s four categories are:

  • Synchronous communication: real time, back and forth, low overhead, casual channels. Slack is a common example, Twitter another.
  • Asynchronous communication: channels where a response isn’t expected immediately, people tend to take a little more time to think about responses, it’s a little more formal. Email, listserves, and forums. Matt talked about Discourse as an increasingly popular example of contemporary forums.
  • Knowledge base: Where you share, store and access timeless information. Maybe that’s Google Drive, or an intranet. I have a personal wiki I created for myself that I started using PMWiki and I put lots of notes from things I learn there.
  • Discovery of new initiatives and developments: I’m going to call this the newsfeed model. Facebook at Work is a good example. I’d love a newsfeed for all my various platforms, updates from co-workers, my wife, machines, etc. This is a powerful type of communication platform, rich with opportunities!

I love this model and want to spend some time thinking about the various channels of communication I participate in, along these lines. Hope you found it useful too. This has been an update to my blog, a communication channel that’s mostly asynchronous, some part knowledge base. Have a nice day.

Will disinformation rock the world forever?

The future of information, misinformation, and public discourse is called “an arms race,” a very dismal situation – and offering some reasons for hope, in the latest Pew mega-analysis of an important trend on the internet.

Titled “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online,” this massive survey of more than 1000 technology industry experts is rich with analysis and on a qualitative level, the following conclusion when the experts were presented with good and bad possible scenarios:

51% chose the option that the information environment will not improve, and 49% said the information environment will improve.

It’s a long and really good survey with amazing thinkers included. Amazing. It’s so long that I just consumed it by using the text-to-speech function of the Pocket mobile app while walking my dog and cleaning my bathroom. (A work call got cut short and another one rescheduled.) I had the app reading at the fastest speed possible and it still took 45 minutes! I highly recommend that method, though.

The fabulous automated highlighting service called Summarize that comes with Mac OSX says that across the entire collection, this is the most central paragraph:

Jerry Michalski, futurist and founder of REX, replied, “The trustworthiness of our information environment will decrease over the next decade because: 1) It is inexpensive and easy for bad actors to act badly; 2) Potential technical solutions based on strong ID and public voting (for example) won’t quite solve the problem; and 3) real solutions based on actual trusted relationships will take time to evolve – likely more than a decade.”

Here’s my personal favorite:
Jim Warren, an internet pioneer and open-government/open-records/open-meetings advocate, said, “False and misleading information has always been part of all cultures (gossip, tabloids, etc.). Teaching judgment has always been the solution, and it always will be. I (still) trust the longstanding principle of free speech: The best cure for ‘offensive’ speech is MORE speech. The only major fear I have is of massive communications conglomerates imposing pervasive censorship.”

But there are hundreds of other informed perspectives in this write up. I recommend it highly.

SSCC (Stop Start Continue Change) and a daily activity log

“Captain’s log, stardate…” Can you picture Captain Kirk dictating his captain’s logs on the Enterprise? I sure can.

I’m the captain of my own life and career, and while the wind and seas are often stormy, I’m having a great time exploring.

For the past few years, off and on, I’ve been keeping a short log each day of the day’s activities. Just a few lines on what I did during the day. I’ve found that it helps keep things in context, helps me keep track loosely of how long I’ve been working on some things and how long it’s been since I worked on other things. It’s good for accountability and perspective.

I’ve gotten pretty good at logging at the end of the work day, but I’ve not been great at going back and reviewing those logs.

Tonight I went back over my entries so far this month with the following process, which I thought might be of use to you as well.

1. Make a plan

This right here is my plan; it is said, by the way, that one of the best ways to reduce stress about a situation is to write down a quick, if temporary, plan for dealing with it.

2. Read the past week or so’s entries

I ended up reading all this month’s.

3. Identify outstanding issues, ongoing challenges, highlights, and opportunities

The Institute for the Future says that it’s essential in this era of information overload to be able to effectively and efficiently extract actionable insights from the river of input flowing past us all the time.

4. Reflect

Intelligent action requires both knowledge and focused thought.

5. SSCC: Stop, Start, Continue, Change

Here’s the most important part. I took notes on all of the above, then I made a list of things, based on what I’d observed about my own activity, that I would like to stop, start, continue, and change.

6. Reread

I reread the entries again, there weren’t that many of them. “When we reflect on what we perceived during the journey, we receive a whole new level of information,” Sandra Ingerman once wrote.

7. Revise SSCC

In this case, I found that my particular observations in this case were easiest for me to understand when I put them in a specific order. So I wrote out a few sentences, based on my SSCC list.

8. Record your commitments

I put mine in Trello, as a repeatable checklist (drag to “done” column to mark done).


That’s my new process experiment – now I’m going to try to use this checklist each work day! I’ll be recording how it goes, of course.

The power, beauty, and opportunity of social media, from 30 different angles

These are my thoughts, short summaries of different ways I’ve been talking about the use of social media with the companies I’ve been meeting with, articulated in some specific facets. perhaps they’ll inspire thoughts about your relationship to social media, personally and for business. Click to view full size. I’m writing on paper now my personal answers to each “what could you do” question. It’s feeling good.

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Influencer marketing can drive decisions or it can create context

It’s October 16th, 2017 and I’ve fallen deep into a blogging hole.  After ten years of creating tons of opportunities by blogging – I have no excuse not to write up a quick post about the things on my mind more or less every day.  So I’m going to do that for the next 30 days, through the middle of November.  We’ll see how that feels.

In his book Return on Influence, marketing expert Mark Schaefer says there are two ways that consumers relate to “influencers” in any market. The first is as an authority to obey, because obeying authority generally serves most people well (?) and because it’s a big time saver over having to make all your decisions for yourself. I don’t know about that, I don’t like the sound of it, but I can respect the effort to save time and effort on non-essential decisions.

“…many people, overwhelmed by the information and the density of modern life, are conditioned to look for decision-making shortcuts ascribed to real or perceived indicators of authority. This fundamental psychological principle can lead to an autoresponse, and without extreme care and due diligence, that can be dangerous.” (Schaefer, 2012) [Ahem…Russian fake news…]

Another world is possible, though! 

Earlier, Schaefer writes “Bloggers are passionate about what they do and are usually expert witnesses to developments in the industry.  Their reputations are built on their ability to provide an insider, passionate, and balanced perspective because their reputation depends on it every day.”

This is a model where “influencers” bring expert knowledge, historical context, and broad perspective to a discussion online. That’s so much better for the human soul.

Influencer marketing as connecting to thought leaders who can put you and your company’s efforts in context.  Like, “trust me, I’ve looked at all the products in this market and this one is super cool.  I’ve been talking to the company for several months and I know where they are coming from and how it relates to competitors.”  That’s good stuff.

From a marketer’s perspective, that might be understood as an influencer saying “I’m going to give you an independent opinion that puts this thing in context, validates it, and helps you make a more informed decision regarding whether or not to buy it.”

Back when I was the first writer hired at TechCrunch, founder Michael Arrington used to insist that every write-up of a technology include two things. 1. Information about the founding team’s backgrounds.  And 2. some critical perspective on the company or product.  I think that was Michael’s idea, the second one might have been mine, I can’t remember. But if you read a blog post about a product and there’s not a single critical word in it, then that’s just a small step above a press release.

Some people used to say “I don’t read TechCrunch for the writers’ stupid opinions, I just read that site because they find cool things first and I click the links.”  I have always argued that having a thoughtful, researched, somewhat-informed stupid opinion can be a big value add and help any content creator rise above the others.  That’s why I always tried to include in my blog posts about products some thoughts from other writers, mentions of competitors, and any other context I could.

Today, the broad spectrum of strategies available in influencer marketing includes not just connecting with people who will advocate for your brand or product – but who will help put it in context.  Even more common, however, is the smart strategy of listening to influencers (not just listening for influencers) – because they can tell you a lot about what’s going on out in the market.  Then you can use that information to maximize your relevance. The relevance of your marketing, of your product, of everything.

As marketing thought leader Jay Baer says, there are only two ways to win in marketing and communication these days: by being more emotional than others, or by being more relevant.  “Relevancy is the killer app,” he says.

Hoping that influencers will drive people to make a decision because those people have an innate need to defer to authorities is kind of icky.

Spending time listening to and engaging with influencers so that you can better understand the context you’re going to market in – and they can help put your work in context for their readers/viewers/followers?  That’s awesome.