Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

Getting Serious about #onewordwednesday

I launched the incredibly successful Twitternet phenomenon, #onewordwednesday, in May 2009, at least by my reckoning.


The fact that on every subsequent Wednesday (and sometimes earlier) the hashtag has seen action, and not just due to my own fervid zealotry, I consider one of the few real achievements of my adult life.

Nevertheless, I fear that I have been lax to the point of wishi-washiness on what constitutes proper observance of #onewordwednesday. Among other things, my wavering spirit has led some to attempt a #onewordwednesday takeover, albeit it in the interest of your eternal salvation.

Today, however, I’m drawing a line in the sand and stating clearly and definitively, that true, devout observance of #onewordwednesday calls for limiting all Tweets that day to ONE WORD.

“But Matthew T. Grant, what about retweets or the sharing of links?”

Gosh darn it! OK. Fine. As Buffy Saint-Marie once sang, “I was an oak, now I’m a willow, now I can bend.”

  • You may retweet other contributions to the #onewordwednesday experience until the 140 character limit has been achieved.
  • You may also share links if and only if the Tweet consists of nothing more than one word and a shortened URL.

Look, I’m not asking that everyone across the Twitterverse adhere to this standard of observance. I simply want to provide those interested in truth, purity, and righteousness a guiding light and a clear sign that they may better find their way on the path to (#)one(wordwednesday)ness.


The Final Session at MarketingProfs Digital Mixer

Photo 555

I write this with very mixed feelings (and a slightly upset stomach).

I’m at the last session of the Mixer and the Mixologists are laying on us a bunch of idears that folks can take back to their real lives and implement. I’m trying to listen, but tears choke my ears. Still, I’m going to be strong and share with you what I’m hearing….

Note: I started writing this one way, but it was too scattered, fragmented, and incoherent. So I started again. If you’d like to read the first attempt, please scroll down.

Here’s by hyper-boiled down version of the boiled down takeaways offered up by the Mixologists:

– HUMANIZE! The social media are personal genres. Make your efforts personal. Let your people speak and participate. As Michael said of Dell’s Twitter stream, “To me, Richard Binhammer is the brand.”

– ORGANIZE! You need to structure your company internally in a way that will allow you to do what you want to do externally. Don’t create barriers in your organization that prevent you from maximizing the potential of emerging technologies and,  more importantly, emerging behaviors on the part of your audience or customers.

– TRY & TEST! Whatever you are doing, don’t assume that you know what is going to work and what won’t work. Try stuff and test, test, test.

– MEASURE! Along the same lines, look for measurable results in what you are doing, which generally means: have a concrete goal and be ready to say whether you achieved that goal or not.

– OPTIMIZE! Yes, content has to be killer and you have to be “offering something of value,” but you need to be as savvy and informed as possible about making sure that people can actually find what you want them to find where you want them to find it.

This is what I wrote at first:

I just heard Stephanie Miller say something about “using down-funnel data,” I’m sure she was quoting Bill Leake of Apogee, but I’m not entirely sure what that means. I must focus. FOCUS!

Jason Baer sez it has to be about passion first, and position second when it comes to recruiting people internally to produce content or represent you on social media. Jason’s main takeaways were summed up by Stephanie as, “We as marketers need to market our marketing.”

Michael Brito sez that his track, “Engaging with Customers,” rocked. People relate to people, not to logos or companies, so the main way to be engaging in your marketing activities is to lead with your humans.

He echoed what Jason said about getting the passionate people involved in social media marketing and community engagement, rather than “celebrities in the organization.”

Similar themes were sounded by Beth Harte when reporting on the Peer-to-peer sessions: Make your business blog/social media presence personal: hand over control of community to the members of the community; don’t hesitate to educate your organization and its leadership – they want you to do this.

SEO and Social: A Live Blog Experience from MarketingProfs Digital Mixer

Photo 552SEO has become a recurring theme for me at this conference so I was very curious to check out Li Evans of Serengeti Communications’ presentation on search and social. I’m glad I did. Here’s what I learned. I hope you find it helpful.

First learning: Search is not JUST about text. Current Google search results, for “charleston dance,” for example, include images, video, etc. as well as static, text-based pages. “It’s not just your ten blue links.” This also means that Google is giving you access to content within the search results themselves.

I asked a follow-up question around this because, while Google will not only return text-based results, search is still driven by spiders which do better with text (meta tags, content, etc.) than with pictures. In other words, from a machine perspective, search is still text.

Li said, “Sort of. Spiders are very infantile. They won’t go past things that they don’t understand (Flash, Javascript pop-ups). They can’t see what’s in a picture or a video, yet, but they are getting there.”

Second learning: Search is not just taking place on search engines. People search on YouTube (beating out Yahoo!), craigslist, eBay, and so on.

Third learning: Google is using the Google Toolbar and Chrome in order to gather ever more data about your online habits and behaviors and this data increasingly influences search (while also providing good content fodder if you follow the trends and create content accordingly).

Fourth learning: SEO isn’t just for the few, it’s for everyone and it’s not magic. There are very specific, knowable things that you can do to optimize your content for search. “Content is not king, OPTIMIZED content is king.”

Fifth learning: Google knows you through your accounts and will show you results based on your behaviors, your location, etc. NO ONE can guarantee you a top 10 ranking because Google is personalizing results to fit YOU.

Sixth learning: THEREFORE, you need to understand your audience and optimize towards that. How do they search (which engines, what devices, etc.)? How do they consume media? What lingo (vernacular) do they use (i.e., do they say “commode,” “john,” or “toilet”)? How do they prefer their content served (video, audio, maps, etc.)? Are they national? Local? Global?

Seventh learning: It’s not about the technology, the engine, the platform, or any of that. It’s about being found. To get found, you need to optimize around keywords, the way people really search for you, and the way they are talking about the things that are relevant and valuable to them.

Eighth learning: “Other people make it easier to find you, not just search engines.” Make your content valuable, shareable, and actively engage with the online community that plays where you play.

A Brief History of #onewordwednesday


About three months ago, I wanted to see if I could launch a trending hashtag and the hashtag I hit on was #onewordwednesday. My first tweet containing that hashtag read, “meme #onewordwednesday.”

I quickly discovered that I was not the first person to use this expression. That honor goes @markdudlik, who was about a month ahead of me. By the way, he’s a scientist. Of awesome.

The basic rule for #onewordwednesday is: Post at least one tweet containing a single word of your choosing along with the hashtag, #onewordwednesday. I guess I could have gotten more complicated by insisting that all your tweets for the duration of #onewordwednesday be one word in length, or that you should only tweet one word for the entire day, but I wanted to keep it simple, for good or ill.

So far, about 38 individuals have contributed to the #onewordwednesday effort with @cristinagordet, @motoole1, and @rsheffield deserving special recognition for their unflagging and enthusiastic support of this quixotic endeavor. I would also like to point out that #onewordwednesday would have been strangled in the cradle had @devinusmaximus not reached out and inspired me to keep hope alive in the early days of our movement. Devin, you are the wind beneath my wings.

The future is unwritten, as the Clash used to say, and I do not know whither #onewordwednesday is bound. I like that a kind of game is developing in which people retweet a #onewordwednesday word and add a related word. That sort of thing can only go so far given Twitter’s character limit, but it emerged spontaneously, which I find promising. Who knows what the day after tomorrow might bring?

The other idea I had was to choose a word, like “focus,” and see how many people we can get to tweet, “Focus #onewordwednesday.” In addition, we could retweet any random tweet containing the word “focus,” adding the hallowed hashtag as well. Are you game? Let’s do this.

Does Your Company Need a Blog, a Facebook Page, a YouTube Channel, and a Twitter Feed?

Actually, the answer to that question is fairly simple: I don’t know.

I realize that answer might not be very helpful, but at least it’s honest.

Fact is, you can only figure out if you need those things, and what you’ll do with them once you got ’em, after you’ve decided what it is you want to do.

In other words, I would prefer to answer that question with this question: What do you want to do or get other people to do?

Like Soilent Green, Content IS People

2987167878_fa9e3315a1_mLast week on Twitter, Lewis Green asked if anyone was interested in writing a guest post for his blog, bizsolutionsplus. I said I’d been playing around with the idea of content as a process, not a product, and he encouraged me to write something on that topic. What I came up with was, “Content Is Still King (It’s Just Not What You Think It Is),” which was inspired in part by Mack Collier’s provocative assertion that “content is king” is “total bullshit.”

My main point was that stand alone content (whether in the form of a blog post, a white paper, an eBook, or whatever), no matter how well written, had certainly been dethroned, but that it’s place on the throne had been taken by all the content created by members of an organization in the course of their numerous, ongoing, continually evolving online activities. (This point is not dissimilar from Mack’s that your activites off your blog are what make your content interesting, relevant, and attractive.)

Now it is certainly easier to manage a collection of discrete, set pieces than it is to manage an unpredictable range of actions undertaken by a constantly shifting and sometimes loosely defined group of people, and yet that is the challenge facing anyone interested in developing and executing a meaningful content-based marketing strategy today.

What makes the shift from content as product to content as process particularly challenging is that it forces marketers to involve themselves in business operations to an unprecedented degree because, at the end of the day, an organization’s people are rapidly becoming its most active and vital communications channel.

At the same time, these people – their attitudes, their personality, their style, their abilities, and their actions – serve as more than a channel; they constitute in themselves a company’s most meaningful and influential content.

My question on Lewis’ blog and here is: Are marketers ready to engage the rest of their organization as intensively as the rest of the organization is engaging current and prospective customers day to day and minute by minute?

Image Courtesy of miuenski.

I Recommend Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

aquenteverybody.jpgIt’s not a revolution if nobody loses. – Clay Shirky

I just finished reading Clay Shirky’s masterpiece, Here Comes Everybody, and feel compelled to recommend that you read it. It’s thoughtful, insightful, and well-written. It also a “business” book that is so rich in detail and far-reaching in implication that you can’t easily reduce it’s thesis to a PowerPointable sound-bite.

Although ostensibly about technology – “social media,” broadly speaking – the book’s focus falls less on the geeky details of wikis, blogs, and tweeting, than on the way these technologies facilitate the organization and actions of groups in an historically unprecedented, even revolutionary, manner. In the words of His Shirky-ness, “[W]e are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional institutions and organizations.”

If you feel like you or your business could benefit from greater participation in the social media revolution, or if you feel that these new, powerful, group-forming-and-coordinating tools pose an existential threat to your business or occupation (as the rise of the printing press did to medieval scribes), then you can’t afford not to read this highly readable book.

Image – “Everybody was here” – Courtesy of {dpade1337}.

The Irony of Authenticity and the Authenticity of Irony

authenticity and social mediaSeems like nowadays, authentic is the thing to be.

Mitch Joel calls authenticity, “the cost of admission” in the Web 2.0 world, though he warns: “Being authentic isn’t always good. Let me correct that, being authentic is always good, but the output of being authentic [ie, revealing your flaws, shortcomings, and “warts” – Matt] is sometimes pretty ugly.”

HubSpot TV called the “marketing takeaway” of a notorious scandal involving a company paying for positive online reviews: “Be authentic. If not, you will get caught.”

When CC Chapman was among the Twitterati recently profiled by the Boston Globe, one of his Facebook friends asked, “Ever wondered why you have such a following?” He responded, “I wonder it all the time actually. I asked once and the general theme in the answers was my honest approach between life, family and work when it came to sharing things.” To which another friend replied, “Exactly right CC. You don’t try to be someone you’re not. It’s that authenticity that attracts people.”

Among the first to identify this flight to authenticity were James H. Gilmore & B. Joseph Pine II, who wrote Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want (2007). What notably separates them from contemporary partisans of authenticity is that their take is tinged with irony, an irony most evident in their promise to define “how companies can render their offerings as “really real.”’

This irony is refreshing because invocations of authenticity regularly fail to acknowledge or appreciate what is inherently contradictory about the concept. Said failure begins with the mistaken equation of authenticity and honesty (see above). Honesty may be a characteristic of an individual, but it is not a characteristic of authenticity. For example, an authentically honest person is being “authentic” when she is being honest, but an authentically devious person is being just as authentic when he is lying.

Similarly, we don’t call a painting an “authentic Rembrandt” because it is honest; we call it authentic because it was really painted by Rembrandt, unlike the forgery which only looks like it was painted by him. In other words, we call it authentic because it is what it seems to be. Herein lies the essential contradiction of authenticity: Authenticity isn’t about being real; authenticity is about really being what you seem to be.

The centrality of “seeming” to authenticity becomes even more clear when we call a person “authentic.” Such a designation usually means, “the way this person acts transparently or guilelessly reflects who they really are.” Because our sense of their authenticity depends on an assessment a person’s behavior, we should pay special attention to the fact that authenticity is performed; as paradoxical as it may sound, authenticity is an “act,” in the theatrical sense. (Which is why I always say, “Be yourself. It’s the perfect disguise.”)

The bigger problem though, is that our notion of authenticity assumes we really know who someone is and likewise the imperative to “be authentic” assumes we know who we really are.

Our identity, “who we really are,” is always contingent, provisional, and changing. It is an amalgam of who we want to be, who we mean to be, who we’re supposed to be, who we have to be, and who we are in spite of ourselves. Moreover, no matter how much we’d like to think so, we are not the authority on who we really are since it includes much that cannot be known by us. Indeed, and again paradoxically, we can’t know anything about ourselves without assuming the perspective of another, that is by identifying with someone else and precisely NOT being ourselves.

Just as one must consult an expert to determine the authenticity of a treasured heirloom – it can’t speak for itself – we can’t call ourselves “authentic;” that is for others to decide. At best, and this is the irony, we can always only strive to “seem” authentic. True authenticity calls for acknowledging that “who you are” is an open question and, moreover, a collaborative work in progress.

In the end, we must distance ourselves from our claims or pretensions to authenticity. We must call it into question and even suggest, especially to ourselves, that it may just be a ego-driven pose. (Hey, it just may be!) This distancing, implicitly critical and potentially mocking (or at least deprecating), is the classic stance of irony. And though the dodginess of irony (“did he mean that or didn’t he?”) seems to put it at a distinct remove from authenticity (“this is exactly what I think”), it actually mirrors the open-ended, unresolved, and ever-changing “dodginess” of reality itself.

Which is to say that irony, as a posture, an attitude, and as an approach, is more authentic (in the sense of “really being the way reality seems to be”) than honesty, sincerity, openness, or any of the other qualities that pass for such. The tragedy (or irony) is, however, that it will always seems less than authentic due to the all-too-human suspicion of ambiguity, indeterminacy, uncertainty, and, lest we forget, the wily intelligence native to irony and the ironist.

Image Courtesy of Mary Hockenbery.

Product Placement in the Real World

Another blast from the past, originally published on Aquent’s Talent Blog, December 11, 2006. Summary: Advertisers must consider “all the world’s a stage” and manufacture ubiquitous product placement.

2534254541_06b30f2c59_m“As a result of the growing popularity of consumer-generated pictures, videos and e-mail messages on Internet sites like YouTube and Myspace, advertisers are getting consumers to essentially do their jobs for them,” according to this New York Times article which focuses on the emergence of Times Square as “a publishing platform.”

In brief, thanks to the ubiquity of digital cameras and the rise of user-generated and social networking sites, marketers are finding that “experiential marketing” (aka, “publicity stunts“), such as Charmin’s fancy public restrooms, are growing long legs on the Web. These restrooms alone, “[u]sed by thousands in Times Square [were] viewed by 7,400 Web users on one site alone.”

While this raises a lot of interesting questions about the meaning of “product placement” and whether or not advertisers should start courting, and compensating, particularly popular or prolific private citizens for featuring their products on Flickr and YouTube, I was particularly struck by the formulation “getting consumers to essentially do their jobs for them.” Now it is certainly the case that YouTubers and Flickr-ers are, wittingly or un-, doing things that benefit advertisers and the brands they promote. But so is anyone wearing a t-shirt with a visible logo.

It is not the job of advertisers to wander around the city in sandwich boards; it is their job, however, to come up with novel ways of getting brand-specific messages out to the world. If they create a spectacle noteworthy enough to generate spontaneous buzz promoted by random individuals, then they have done exactly what they are supposed to do. In fact, by now, I’d be astonished if the folks who conceived of and executed these events weren’t planning on a significant “web” effect. In a sense, if no one had posted this stuff to the Web, then you could rightly accuse advertisers of shirking.

Or do I, and not the paper of record, misunderstand what advertisers are supposed to do?

Image Courtesy of funadium.