rusty speidel

On the Blog Wagon — How to Fall Off and Get Back to It

By Communications, Social Media

It was pointed out to me today that I haven’t been blogging much at all. And a lack of blogging for me means a lack of Twitter or Facebook interaction and a general sense of missing-in-action for my followers and for me, personally as well. I miss it, and being busy with client work, while true, is not an acceptable excuse. Writers’ block doesn’t suffice as an excuse and isn’t the case, either. It just happens, once in awhile. My appetite wanes, I guess.

So how to re-energize the process?

I’m mixing up my content by adding a couple of contributors: Jaggers Communications team members Rusty Speidel and Erika Gennari have recently contributed blog posts. I’m also thinking philosophically about what content I want to post, categorically, and thinking about reorganizing categories to reflect the firm’s capabilities. I also know from a look at analytics that the more personal I am in my posts, the more reflective about my business or the more fired up I am about a particular communications issue, the larger the audience.

You guys sure like it when I get pissy.

So I’m considering all of that, and working on getting back to posting much more often.

Suggestions, demands and questions will be entertained by the management. Comment below.

Jaggers Communications Adds Director of Client Services, Rusty Speidel

By Communications, Jaggers Communications News, Public Relations

Last year the most popular post on this blog was, sadly, not written by me. My good friend Rusty Speidel wrote it. So when it became apparent that it was time to expand the Jaggers Communications team, I didn’t have far to look; the right person for the job was right here all along.

He is the Felix to my Oscar; the Ernie to my Bert. I’m so happy to have him as part of the team!

Rusty brings a wealth of experience in brand positioning and management and a specialization in bringing products to market. A long-time digital communications expert, Rusty’s experience has focused on designing or improving user experiences and business processes that drive revenue, increase brand affinity and attract users.

Rusty’s background includes the creation of Rowdy.com, the social network for NASCAR fans. As the vice president of social media for Rowdy, Rusty grew the network to more than 1.5 million views per month and launched the award winning #1 ranked iTunes podcast, which has more than 60,000 downloads per month.

As part of the team at Jaggers Communications, Rusty will be involved in client plan development, brand positioning, project management and client services, content creation and strategic communications planning and execution. His capabilities, interests in technology and the environment, and thought leadership in community development and go-to-market strategy enhance the firm’s product offerings and complement Jaggers Communications’ client service.

Social Media: Providing Valuable Content or Just Over-sharing?

By Communications, Social Media

It’s a really fine line sometimes, the balance between over-sharing company news and content on social platforms and making sure you’re providing value to your audience. It’s the difference, I think, between selling and telling your company story. It’s hard for a lot of individuals representing organizations to make this distinction. One way to keep this practice in check is to constantly ask yourself what value you’re providing your audience with the information you choose to share.

Your content may be leaning to the “too self-promotional” side if every link you share is to content of your own creation. Try to share others’ content at least a third of the time. Another self-check is to see how often your tweets are @ replies or RTs. Ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Are you engaging in conversation with your readers by replying to comments or tweets?
  2. Are you commenting on others’ blog posts?
  3. Are you facilitating introductions within your network to help others build business or find opportunities?
  4. Are you teaching a skill or sharing information to others’ benefit?

It’s easy to slip into the habit of traditional marketing tactics and resort to selling . . . focus on providing value, instead and watch relationship development grow and improve.

(Thanks to Rusty Speidel for the inspiration for today’s post. Read Rusty’s thoughts on social media fatigue, and what communications professionals should do about it.)

What are some ways you keep your commitment to providing value, rather than just self-promotional content, to your audience?

Clear the Mechanism: Sidestepping the BS of “Social Media Fatigue”

By Communications, Media, Public Relations, Social Media

Just about everyone I know has written about the new “yuppie flu” we’re calling “social media fatigue.” There are valid perspectives on the position that we (consumers, corporations) are inundated with and overwhelmed by the demand to be social. Communication overload is as old an affliction as, probably, speech itself. I’m pretty sure the third phrase that ever evolved was loosely translated to “would ya just shut up already?” (The first had to do with food, the second; sex. I’m sure of it.)

On the business side — I totally agree with my friend Rusty Speidel who wrote his opinion that not all businesses require a social solution. It may surprise you to know Idon’t think social platforms are the be-all, end-all to doing business and I certainly don’t think that social media represents a series of stand-alone tactics. I have a really hard time with a business that wants to plunge into social media engagement without even knowing where they’re going. The companies without consistent branding, messaging and media relations plans in place too often are getting ahead of themselves creating an online presence not remotely supported by content that is strategic or that has a recognizable purpose.

That’s the kind of stuff I, too, would like to see stop.

As a consumer, I don’t feel the need to engage socially 24/7. Even though I make part of my living providing social media counsel and education, I typically totally unplug on the weekends. I manage my engagement to a level of comfort, and freely unsubscribe, unfollow, remove and delete without compunction or guilt.

I will not (ever) “friend” a business and I have to really be interested in your content to actively follow you on Twitter, like your business page, or read your blog content. There is just FAR to much content, for even a hyper content consumer such as myself, to absorb. I value my time — all of it — and I’m not going to waste it on anyone offering me yet another solution I don’t need, a sale I’m not going to take advantage of or a loyalty program that has no pull on my purse strings.

Many people have reached a saturation point — so many that it’s been branded “social media fatigue.” I’m tired of hearing about it, frankly. (Sitting, drinking a beer between this guy and this guy as they argued about it pushed me to my breaking point.) Enough already.

Social strategy is part of communications strategy. Social media represents a fleet of tools we can use to help us communicate. For businesses, this must be applied carefully and not with the broad brush formerly used in media relations or direct marketing.

As consumers, it’s our individual personal responsibility to “clear the mechanism.” That quote comes from one of my favorite baseball movies, For Love of the Game, which I realize dates me and makes you realize that I’m older than you thought I was. In it, the pitcher played by Kevin Costner, uses the mantra “clear the mechanism” while on the pitcher’s mound to negate the sound of the crowd and to focus only on sending a perfect pitch over the plate. (*Editor’s note: I changed this post; originally I said the movie was Bull Durham, another baseball movie favorite but thanks to Jeff Uphoff, a baseball movie authority, realized my mistake. Thanks, Jeff!)

Consumers need to do this as well — clear the deck, shut down the programs, pare down the reading lists and above all, get rid of the crazy amounts of notifications you’re getting from all of these platforms. I’m stunned to learn how many of you get e-mail notifications daily from LinkedIn, from Facebook, from Twitter and/or Google+. For goodness’ sakes, no wonder you’re fatigued — get rid of that stuff. You don’t need it. Lord knows the last thing anyone needs is more e-mail.

If you’re a consumer feeling overwrought by communication, clear the mechanism.

If you’re a business feeling the pressure to use social media, question the process, the tools and the direction that strategy is headed. There may very well be steps you’re unwisely leapfrogging to get there.



Social Media Fatigue: Why Communications Professionals Should Pay Attention to the Overwhelmed

By Communications, Public Relations, Social Media

Rusty SpeidelToday’s post is from Rusty Speidel, vice president of marketing at Encell Technologies. Rusty is a 20-year veteran of the internet/online marketing space, specializing in alternative energy marketing and user experiences.

I’m a one-man Marketing department for an alternative energy startup. As such, I rely on a lot of consulting assistance to set and execute against my company’s marketing objectives. We use services from all types of vendors; IT consultants, software developers, web design firms, PR firms, even procurement and manufacturing firms. It’s part of being a startup and I actually relish the freedom it gives us to act quickly on ideas. I come from a user-experience background, so I like staying connected to the latest trends in marketing from the customer’s point of view, including social media tools, customer-controlled communication and transparency. In a former life I actually built an entire social network about auto racing, so I appreciate the philosophies and processes of connection and sharing.

But lately, I’ve been feeling a little fatigued. OK, a LOT fatigued. Suddenly everywhere I go there are “opportunities to connect.” Whether it’s loyalty programs like the CVS Card, Cardagin, and Groupon, location –based social tools like Foursquare or Places, any one of thousands of social media “experts” that claim to have all the answers for this new marketing paradigm (like Google+), or the hair-trigger salesmen that react to any request for online information with four phone calls and seven emails within 30 minutes, it’s all just getting exhausting. It feels like if I don’t react to all these “opportunities” it’s me that’s missing out, not plugged in, not up to speed. I can’t even order lunch or buy a quart of oil without being asked if I’ve joined this or that rewards program, or if I’ll go online to take a survey. I’m actually starting to get angry with these poor cashiers.

At work, it’s not a lot better. We make batteries. Large batteries. We are not a consumer brand, we are a large-scale energy wholesaler. While I agree that using the social platforms to create thought leadership in the alternative energy space online is appropriate, I am not particularly worried about reaching fans on Facebook. I don’t need a Twitter-based customer service department yet. And yet every PR and marketing assistance proposal I receive suggests I need just that. Everyone’s climbing on the social media bandwagon so aggressively that I just shut down.

Everyone just STOP. Stop now.

I don’t WANT to find my service station on Facebook. I don’t NEED a rewards program for toothpaste. I don’t feel particularly stressed over the fact that our company is not completely plugged in to every social network available RIGHT NOW. I do not need to share every little detail of my personal or professional life on YouTube. I DEFINITELY don’t need another lecture on “how to create a social presence online.” What I NEED is expertise in mapping my company’s needs to strategies that reach my customers where they are, not where the expertise is headed. None of our competitors rely much on social platforms and 70% of our customers still make buying decisions at trade shows. Why doesn’t that matter?

It feels like the old snake oil days, when gypsies roamed the west on covered wagons hawking the latest solution to whatever ailed folks back then. Today’s sarsparilla is SEO, social media monitoring, blogging advice, video production services, reputation management, letting the customer tell you what he wants, etc. It’s totally, completely overwhelming. Sometimes I think the industry likes to keep it that way so they can make a living explaining it.

I am sure I am not alone. Communications professionals take note: there are other disciplines out there besides communications. They don’t all see the world the same way you do, and the overload is starting to hurt the head. Soon it will start to hurt your bottom line.