Why Search is a Waste of Time and Social Media allows us to Gain Time

“No matter how fast it seems, most search is a waste of time. In a way, we are using time (i.e., the time-based structure) to gain time.”

This quote is from a recent opinion blog in Wired Magazine online and it hits the target in clarifying what I have been trying to say to my clients for years now about the difference between Search and Social Media.

Yes they are two different animals. Why? because Social Media is Time Based and Search is not. The issue of time based vs non time based media is one dear to my heart as I studied Classical Animation. Animation is a time based media as is performance art, dance, music, new media, and some visual arts. “Usually time-based media are video, slide, film, audio or computer based and part of what it means to experience the art is to watch it unfold over time according to the temporal logic of the medium as it is played back.”

I know this to be true because of all the social media platforms, I have always loved Twitter the most. I knew that it’s “real time” communications and it’s dynamic quality were key factors in my love affair. David Gelernter goes on to state that this time based quality — which is inherent in New Media— creates new way of structuring time on the internet. This new structure re defines time on the internet, taking it from static websites and search results to the “streams” of data arising from your curated interests that constantly add into your feeds. As seen from the author’s sketch below we are at the intersection of the “now” and the “new”. We are now fully engaged and informed by Social Media.

“Instead of doing an endless series of separate searches, we tune the knobs on our stream-browser to continuously feed us just the information we need.”

Image

Unlike Search which brings up pages for you to review, having your social network set up to monitor people, topics and issues that are of interest, allows you or your business to always be in the moment and in the now of the conversation. This is the Zen state of being.

“But it’s about time: “Bring me what I want” is almost always more useful than “Let me rummage around and see what I can find.”

The other awesome point that he makes on this paradigm shift in communications is that this state allows for an abundance of creativity. Again for those of us who love to create content on the fly this is the best place to be as it allows for constant inspiration, insight and interpretation.  This is the state of artistic perception that McLuahn referred to in his definition of an artist as being one who “updates consciousness “. The Artist is one who lives in the moment and not in the past or the future.

“Yet it took us more than 20 years in computing to get here. The field has finally moved from conserving resources ingeniously to squandering them creatively.”

How true. I have been engage with new media studies for 20 years now and remember the MIT article that I zeroed and keep in my files up until today that speaks of the coming convergence of computers, video and telecommunications. Today we have the net, you Tube and smart phones. What matters most are not the devices themselves but the new real time communication channels of Social media that run across our devices via the internet and deliver great content to us. This in turn allow you to place that information, be it text, image or video, in a context that is relevant to your business – thereby adding value each and every day to your personal life or your business. Over time that value becomes enormous as your networks grow in influence and reach.

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Activate Your New Customer Service Channels Today!

This weekend I attended the Oakville Networking Un-Conference on Social Media and engaged in discussion on Social Media and Customer Service. In an attempt to communicate the benefits of Twitter and Facebook in a simple manner I positioned them as new customer service channel which, as Jay Baer & Amber Naslund note in their fabulous book “The Now Revolution“ have replaced the telephone as a communications channel!

These days when I am asked by a small business owner “When is a good time to get active with social media?” I reply – “If the phone rings in the office, when do you pick it up? First ring, second, third? Who picks it up? Your receptionist, your assistant or you? Imagine that the tool you choose to manage your Facebook and Twitter accounts with, be it Hoot Suite, Social Scope or Post ling is your new telephone. How will you respond to its data?” Naturally in order to connect with a potential client in the past you listened for the ring and answered it. With Twitter and Facebook you must both create the content and manage the response that arrives in the form of mentions and re-tweets, comments and posts. Like a new phone that has just been connected in your office – you will make your clients aware of your business phone number by some form of marketing be it a business card or print ad. When it does finally ring you will strive to respond in a manner that creates trust and credibility in order to move towards a point where you can offer up your service with the intention of making a sale. This occurs, of course, once you have determined there is a need for your offer. If no need is apparent you can continue to educate the potential client on your area of expertise with the hope that when the time is right you will be top of mind.

Below are two reasons why Social Media is here to stay and not just a “fad”. Both are essential to business success in today’s rapidly changing world. The Social Media “figures” of Facebook and Twitter that dominate your new customer service are framed against a ground based on
1. MEDIA – The platforms of Facebook and Twitter both reside in the cloud connected to the internet. This media is not new we have been utilizing for at least a decade, first with email, then with a website.
2. USER CENTRIC PHILOSOPHY – The internet has evolved to place where the user – customer, consumer, client is at the centre. This shift was driven by search engines – in particular Google. Now social media based on networks have arisen to allow your customer to build their own profile and connections and if they choose – they can include you in their network. If you win their trust and crediblity, if you engage with interesting content and insights that same user can easily share your posts, updates and SMS –(real time micro-blogging) to their networks..

These key factors allow for real time conversations powered by social media. When fully utilized this new division of your business can generate leads, engage customers, spearhead campaigns, provide market research and gather consumer insight – all through the simple acts of listening, engaging and conversing and is a must have for all wise leaders “looking to work on their business rather than in their business.” If you find you do not have time to manage these channels then it is smart to outsource it. Hire someone to do it -even on a part-time basis who is media savvey and knows how to sell. An hour a day is a great start and the long-term benefits will serve you well.

  • BACKGROUND to Your new Customer Service Channel
  • The history of advertising began in the late 1880’s with the basic assumption that the product for sale would give you what you need. For almost one hundred years that concept was delivered as a one way message through various media like print, radio and television. While big businesses used the services of large agencies most small businesses have relied on “word of mouth” to get the word out. It was not until 125 years later that marketing began to take on the role of helping businesses to grow by providing services that were accountable, interactive, integrated and targeted.

    With the new media of computers, mobile phones and the internet connecting people and extending their reach – a new way to communicate has emerged. Over the last three years the rise of Social Media is radically changing the way in which business is conducted. Social Media brings with it a quantum shift in HOW we connect and share information with customers, suppliers and other businesses. Ironically this new form of media amplifies the power of “word of mouth” as people share electronically with their friends, family and business acquaintances (their social networks) information that is relevant to them.

    The good news is that the era of very expensive one way mass marketing is no longer effective. It has been replaced by online marketing which is the most cost effective way to connect and creates the greatest return on investment. Investing in Social Media is a wise decision and highly recommended. The bad news is that social media is so new that many business owners are frightened by the change that it brings. Giving up the phone for a piece of software that manages tweets in hard to fathom. One of the first topics up for discussion at the UnConference was “Social Media is nothing to Fear”. Just as the phone and fax transformed the way business was conducted in the past social media is doing the same right now. As a business leader it is wise to position yourself ahead of the curve. Have no fear, for this time around it is the consumer who will benefit the most – keep in mind that people like you and I are also consumers who seek better access to information on products and services we buy. The more we participate in this experience the more we reconginze how this new type of customer service and its responsiveness is good for the consumer. It is no longer about the one way messaging of large corporations and the frustration of waiting in line for hours to return an item or on the phone to resolve an issue. With new tools in place consumers expect and demand real time resolutions from business. Below is an example of twitter being used by Best Buy as a customer service portal.

    Your customers live in one of the most connected areas in the world. For most people in Canada the internet is the first place we turn to search for information on whatever it is that we need to buy or want to research. In addition consumers can now use their social networks for “shopping” referrals. Our social nature is such that we like to share our opinions and thoughts on various topics and services daily whether offline or on. Your customer has already figured out that they are in control of the conversations around what they buy, where they eat and where they can shop and know that they can easily share with others their reaction to each and every business transaction. Instead of fearing this real time interaction wise businesses should embrace the tools afforded by this new media and use them to their advantange by implemeting solid social interactions and real time relationship building.

    Social Media, Creativity and Innovation in Canada

    I was watching the Lang O’Leary exchange last night from my comfy berger chair with my laptop connected to a twitter tool – when I heard the CEO of the Canadian Business Development Bank — discuss the dismal failure of small and medium sized businesses to innovate and it dawned on me that I could be facing a tough market for a long time simply due to the prevailing Canadian business mindset which is very conservative and risk adverse. As a single entrepreneur, I am not going to be able to shift that anytime soon. I did not do the survey or write the report that says Small & Medium sized Canadian business gets a D for Innovation. The fact that we are ranked 14 out of 17 worldwide for our lack of creativity and innovation is however, shocking. “Yikes”, I said outloud. The cat jumped up. I almost dropped my laptop. Could it be that bad? Way worse than what I had thought but totally in line with what a good friend, who works with Google insiders, said to me some time ago about the state of Canadian business – “They are doomed on their own local markets, if in the next 5 years, they don’t get connected with their consumers online”.

    While Marketing is an integral part of business- its first role being to determine if there is even a market for a product – it never fails to amaze me the number of businesses who still think that they can rely on word of mouth as a viable long term strategy for marketing their product or service in a high technology city, province and nation.

    Technology of course is the most innovative of industries as it relies on that “analytical computing machine” which has now connected the entire globe in a web of communications. Technology, Communications and Media have now merged in cyberspace and for the most part small Canadian businesses are nowhere to be seen along the information highway (remember when we actually called it that here in Canada?) while the virtual social media space is becoming more and more crowded with consumers, your friends, family and business associates, all piling on in search of information on health, wealth, love and stuff to buy – Canadian businesses are nowhere to be found….not in search, not in the social networks. They are lucky if they have a website, out of date, static, boring with a contact phone number.

    I have been blogging on this topic for some time now. In fact, over a decade ago I was in much the same position trying to sell business owners on the idea of having a website. At the time they could see no advantange to cutting print costs or being found on the new medium of the internet. It was a hard sell. Much the same as it is today.

    Now that a business should have their marketing focused online you would think that the need for those who are creative thinkers, indeed the creative class would to be embraced, employed and hired to work with them to create a new level of productivity and success. Sadly small businesses are missing in action and if you are tying to secure work a larger client make sure that you have a freshly minted undergrade degree in marketing from a University which did not even touch on social media or have you study the history of media aka MCLUHAN in Canada. Even though creativity (dare we say ART/Apple) and TECHNOLOGICAL (electronic/MS) innovation has transformed BIG business culture over the last three decades, heaven forbid they actually hire someone with the knowledge, skills and experience of this history who could base their innovative marketing strategies on the nature of media, someone who could engage in the type of experimentation needed to sail the uncharted waters that are the sea of Social Media.

    With a virtual “tsunami” of tools, apps, methods, numbers, metrics, stats, strategies available today where even medium-sized businesses think that being creative means having a personal facebook account with pictures of the last party you went to or a blog filled with some sort of trivia that reminds one of a content farm.

    Feeling depressed about the D GRADE Canadian businesses got on innovation, I googled for a quck fix – the phrase “quotes on innovation” for something positive and the search engine pulled up, guess what? — Quotes on Creativity and Innovation. It seems you cannot have one with out the other. Duh? And yet time and time again I am smacked down for being too creative and too innovative…

    So while I stuggle to “sell” the idea of social media to small and medium sized business in Canada at least I now know who is to blame for the conflict. It is not me..it is not my problem, I have an ART SCHOOL Education, I know how to innovate, how to problem solve, how to imagine, how to visulize, how to be flexible, be open, be transparent, be engaging. The problem lies with the make money mindset that has no idea how to connect with consumers in the 21st Century when their is an oversupply of goods and a lack of attention from consumers who are now in control!

    This time, I am on the side of the banks. While I may have very little capital in the bank since no one wants to fully engage me to execute any serious social media in Canada — they preferring to sit on the fence and watch their customers disappear down the information highway instead….I will do as I have done for decades now. I will ride out the wave working remaining in the moment of the NOW Revolution of Marketing.

    It may be too much to ask for a “standard” small business to innovate on its product offering…but it would be nice if they had the vision to innovate in when it comes to their marketing strategy. Same old product, new way to market and sell it. Now there is an idea.

    There are only two options here you either adopt social media or you are swept away. Time waits for no man or woman. Above us is the global connected techosphere where the big boys play. Learn the rules of the game and pay to win Canada. FYI, the name of the game is not HOCKEY – forget the pre meditated brain injuries in this game it is all about BRAINS, Creativity and innovation!

    Happy Creative 2010! Get your Search On!

    When considering what to do over Christmas I came across a list of best books for 2010

    Reviewing the list I was both shocked and surprised to find the top three books were about Creativity and Ideas but happy that I could download 2 of the 3 of these books on my ipad through the KOBO application.

    I was shocked because these book are NOT reflective of the current state of the Canadian business world at all – and I would hazard to guess that is the case in small town USA as well. While I am still waiting for the trickle down effect on Richard Florida’s notions of Creative Culture in Toronto, with a new mayor who aims to run the town for profit only and whose first words were that the “party” around the notion of “green” is over it is back to the basic Burger culture with all hopes of a larger sphere of cultural influence extending outside the core of G20 Ground Zero to the burbs resounding like a large methane fart….

    For the most part small businesses do not even have a budget for the most creative part of their business plan loosely called “marketing”. Further — they totally miss the tie in between creative sales and marketing, never mind the fact that social media is NOT free, you have to pay someone who “gets it” to do the job of curating all that stuff….

    I was surprised because the recessionary mindset loves to bash the Creative even though they are the only ones with the talent to generate ideas in the new knowledge ecomony, witness Google giving its employees 10% raise for Christmas and 26 year old Mark Zukerberg being names TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year”

    If I were to sum up the 2010 year with respect to the number one discussion with my clients -sadly it had nothing to do with Search and Social Media always revolves around a struggle over ideas and creativity. This is contrary to the very notion of the creative act, which is about FLOW. Again and again we reach an impasse where my creativity is questioned over their knowledge of their business offering. This encompasses everything from the smallest decision on ad word copy or to large campaign concept. It hurts my head, heart and mind as I never win the duel and it makes me wonder when the 50K I invested in ART school training will EVER be recongnized as having any validity whatsoever…

    “Success benefits the body, but failure develops the Mind”

    And yet I soldier on, with sword in hand a daughter of ART the Farmer.. I read an article yesterday on the web that asked why Big Business is having so much success in Social Media and the answer is the same as it was in the old days of Advertising – Big companies employ small Creatives, like myself – who have “unique” ideas and who go to bat for them at the boardroom table and argue passionately for their right to execute them in order to engage users with the brand and ultimately drive sales…go figure, what a concept…duh…

    It is not the BIG company per say that embraces the idea of Creativity, rather – it is individuals within the organization or those hired by the organization to create ‘buzz”, generate new ideas and execute them. They take the risk and the big company funds it. Win or loose Big Biz has no choice for someone must be reading the books on how Creativity RULES – I would guess it is what McLuhan called the “print bastards”. Creativity is not an experiment, it is a business imperative. Read the top three book on the list above and tell me if this is not the case argued again and again….

    What happens with small businesses is that they have the “employee/employer” mentality in which only the BOSS has really good ideas. They may hire marketing “experts” but do not want to surrender even for one minute their vision for their brand…and so it quickly turns into the “I am paying you to….scenario” to which I reply with attitude, “paying me to do WHAT??? the same old same old?” And yet – the expecations at the end of the day are that you will elevate them to ROCK STAR status.

    The reality is that small business in Canada is so far behind the times that it is not funny. Not only should they take on a true leadership role and “delegate” the task to those who have expertise in the area of idea creation — in 2011 those BIG companies who are really progressive will be hiring creative types who know how to engage the audience, get them to interact and make applications for just that purpose.

    Speaking of creative companies, Google is celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary in SEARCH and has created a great little application on You Tube that let’s you get your “Search On” Check it out by Googling You Tube / Search On. Here is my contribution to the Search On Stories…. Time is ART 2.0 Just as it was in the daze of Disney — I believe in happy endings in which good triumphs over evil….lol…