Posts Tagged humanism

Personal or Professional: Why not both?

Posted by on Thursday, 3 April, 2014

934897_10200977113927595_398103035_nWhen it comes to social business, there’s little difference between “social media” and “real life”.

Social media has blurred the lines of professional versus personal. Some businesses, like LinkedIn, have attempted to clarify those lines once again by focusing on one side or the other. However, that intended focus isn’t concrete and still causes some blurring to occur. Because of this, I am often asked whether it is advisable for a person to maintain only a single mixed account, or to manage separate personal and professional accounts on sites like twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and Googleplus.

While the general advice is to do what you are comfortable with, I definitely urge to one side of that spectrum and have posted previously on the topic of managing digital personas.

Social media is different from “real life” in one very important way, however: there is no distinction between work and play. Because of this, it is best to think of social business not in terms of work, but rather to see social business as an after-hours cocktail party. This analogy plays out as conversation during cocktail parties runs the gamut of topics from professional to personal; because it is more social than work, the atmosphere is more relaxed, less professional, but can be focused on business or personal endeavors as the conversation flows. In this way, social media provides a virtual platform to engage in conversation at any level with which you are comfortable.

To best use this dynamic in social business, I find it most effective to maintain a single identity. In any of the spaces in which I play, I am simply me. The conversation can take many different directions at any given time, which both provides for a broader scope of topics in which my networks may be interested, as well as build some sense of humanity which a flat professional presence wouldn’t provide. In my experiences, it is that depth of humanity in social media which really builds the connection and relationships in social business that become valuable down the lines as business needs arise and opportunities present themselves.

So when I am asked what my recommendation is, I say: be yourself. Do what you are comfortable with, but do it in an authentic and human way.


Sentiment analysis is dead, long live sentiment analysis

Posted by on Thursday, 9 January, 2014


Article authored in collaboration with Kelly Smith, @kellypuffs

Ok, we’re being provocative here (but when are we not?)

Perhaps sentiment analysis is not dead, but it will be if we forget one of the basic tenets of social business: it’s all about the people, the human side of social.

One of the many lessons we’ve learned from the past few years working in social business, is that sentiment analysis works best when real live people are on the social media front lines, in the muck of it all actively searching and engaging in conversation. Building your audience is done by listening and reacting to what people are saying in a real-time environment, as it happens – in short, paying attention. Humans, interacting in the social spaces you’ve found useful to your brand, sharing things which your target audience wants, and providing the assistance they demand, that is where your investment in social needs to be and where your investment will begin to reap the rewards of human connection.

Without a human team to watch the reports, sentiment analysis will only cling to life in the marketing space as a way to understand simple A/B, yes/no, good/bad leanings. What really matters, and where you want to be spending your marketing dollars, is on quality social teams; people in the muck of it all who can actively analyze and understand the value in your sentiment reports and take those insights into actionable items.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective:

You have 5 spoons. Each one of these spoons represents a 40 man hour work week. You have two projects in which to disperse these spoons: Automated Sentiment Analysis, and Proactive Social Business.

  • The first project, Automated Sentiment Analysis, provides you with daily, weekly, or monthly reports on what your audience and the wider social spheres are saying about your products.  The end result of this project in one week’s time is a better understanding of what people feel and say about your products. This business intelligence can then be delivered to other organizations for action based on this information. One might argue that social sentiment packaged up and delivered on any schedule less than daily is irrelevant.  It’s almost certainly not directly actionable, and it’s stale in this highly automated fashion. As it stands this may only take one or two spoons to run.


  • The second project, Proactive Social Business, provides you with real-time sentiment analysis and business intelligence in the form of direct conversation and the ability to immediately address any issues to which can impact sentiment within minutes. Simply by actively participating in the social networks, sharing content, amplifying others’ content, active network curation, and running ad hoc reports to locate relevant conversations, each spoon in this team can take immediate action on the discovered data using the right tone and voice as each discovered post dictates. More importantly, active listening and paying attention on social channels is MUCH more accurate, focused, and timely.  While this takes a few more spoons to ensure success, something as simple as a follower reporting a broken link can be actioned immediately. More importantly, a quick response shows the company is listening, interested in feedback, and cares about the end-user experience.


After all, that IS what social business is about, right? The ability for clients, customers, and general audiences to break down those corporate walls and directly connect and engage with companies – not bots, not automatons, but humans in companies –  in conversations to resolve issues, gain insight or knowledge or champion for brands. Social business isn’t about passive listening, nor is it a marketing communications channel.  It is about relationship management, real-time engagement with your clients, seekers, business partners, and potential customers to provide them with value when and where they want it.  To accomplish this with any modicum of success, you need a team of dedicated, socially savvy people, on the ground with their hands in the soil of social conversations, and paying attention to both real-time sentiment and the garden/network they are cultivating. You need to put your spoon investment in the right places in order to get the right results.

Because it stands repeating: Humans, interacting in the social spaces you’ve found useful to your brand, sharing things which your target audience wants, and providing the assistance they demand, that is where your investment in social needs to be and where your investment will begin to reap the rewards of human connection.


image credit:  Some rights reserved by Gauravonomics

The art of unfriending- humanism in social media

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 September, 2012

Recently a friend shared out this article titled “Facebook and Twitter: the art of unfriending or unfollowing people” 

A captivating title to be sure, and one that did its job: it got me to click into it and read. For the most part, I agree with the article’s basic premise: social media has changed how we connect and increased how long those connections stay around us. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, these longer lasting, or rather lingering connections raise that important question of what to do when they are simply no longer relevant.

If you are reading this post, I can guarantee you have at least 3 of these lingering connections which you’d be better off without. We all have them; some, more than others. Each, of course, should be dealt with in their own way.

But, as you’d guess, I do take issue with a few points in the article as well.

The first, and of least concern is the complain made by the author’s music industry friend who laments the bus load of people he brings along with any twitter interaction. This, to me, just seems like someone who may not understand the medium or the ramifications of using it for more private conversation. The simple basis of twitter revolves around open sharing. What is even more amazing is that this person, from an industry upheld and focused on audience, seems to forget he always has an audience in social media platforms; a simple break in logic that really defeats any argument against the platform.

More problematic, however, is the advice on how to handle ‘defriending’ provided by Anjali Mullany, social media editor of Fast Company:

“…. She advises making a public proclamation on Facebook in which you specify the criteria by which you’ll henceforth be defining people as “friends”. Maybe you’ll resolve only to remain Facebook friends with people you’ve met at least once in real life, or maybe you’ll use a stricter standard, such as whether you’d invite that person to your wedding. Explain, in the same proclamation, that the consequent defriending shouldn’t be taken personally, and that you’re doing it to a number of people at once. Then start clearing out the clutter….”

It is precisely this attitude, this perspective which engenders such a growing vitriolic distrust of social engagement by the public. The explanation is simple: this advice wholly removes the human aspect. It treats your followers as a number, a non-human entity easily discarded. This concept flies directly in the face of the basic tenets of social engagement: connecting people to one another in open and authentic ways. So, of course you should take it personally! It IS personal. Social media is hinged on being personal. But, that doesn’t mean defriending or decluttering your follow lists is a bad thing. Attentive curation of your social feeds is indeed necessary, but also requires a better level of thought and empathy. Of course, attentive following is a great start to maintaining manageable social streams.

Proclamations like the ones advised above will do nothing but serve to reduce your friends list. Likely with no further effort on your part as it will show the world exactly the kind of person you are. The world is not so striated as to fit every person into these neat little compartments, even though we try our best to do so. Announcing a friends/following cleansing only serves to publicly display callousness. A more human approach? Quietly unfollowing without making a big noise about it. For those who have simply drifted away, they will likely not even notice. For those who do notice, a simple explanation, if asked, is all that is needed. No drama, no lengthy apology, just treat them as you’d wish to be treated. We can’t all be friends with everyone, regardless of what the founders of Facebook believe or want. Knowing and accepting that not everyone will like you is not only freeing, but it will help you address some of these tougher social media issues as they arise with deeper empathy.

This may be odd to hear, especially coming from a misanthropic curmudgeon like myself, but callous and cold proclamations are not the way forward. Embracing the human element is the path to success, both for individuals at the personal level, as well as for businesses engaged in social activities.