Thursday, September 18, 2014

Internet Killed the Hollywood Star: Why being a star is not enough in the Interactive Age

"Run and hide, Hadji! It's me they're after. Not you."
"Run, Hadji! It's me they're after. Not you."
To be a success in the 20th century was to be a star. Whether a movie star, a rock star, or an NBA All Star, your job was to shine brightly and be worshiped by “the little people” below you. Feedback from the masses was next to impossible and that was OK by you.
Many stellar Fortune 500 corporations operated in much the same way, preferring target demographic marketing over actually engaging with their customers.
Then the Internet—which abhors monologues and other one-way communication—snuffed out many of the stars of the 20th century and gave birth to a new celestial model of success: the quasar.
Unlike a star, which only radiates, a quasar has an enormous black hole at its core that sucks matter and energy in while simultaneously emitting more light than any star in the universe. This two-way flow of energy is the foundation of successful communication in the Interactive Age. Dictatorial monologues are out; thoughtful and empathetic dialogues are in.
As it happens, the word “QuASAR” is also an acronym for the five-step process that can teach you how to become a thoughtful and empathetic communicator yourself, and show you how to get people to hear—and genuinely comprehend—what you have to say. QuASAR stands for Quest, Audience, Stories, Action, and Results.
Quest—Most meaningful communication begins with a quest. Unlike a mission—which is a directive from an external source, usually a framed piece of paper nailed to the break room wall—a quest is driven by a passion that comes from within to achieve a purpose that you hold dear. By discovering your quest, you will find—and attract—other people who share your goal, and your passion.
Audience—Until very recently, an audience’s primary function was to serve as a barometer of success. They were counted, not consulted. Today, however, the audience you attract on your quest will actually give you invaluable insight and helpful advice as you share stories during—and about—your mutual objetive. You cannot overstate the importance of your audience to your quest. They are no longer passive observers of your communication “campaigns.” They are your new partners and active participants in your quest.
Stories—Press releases, official statements, and talking points don’t initiate conversations; they kill them. To engage in a dialogue you need to share stories. In fact, now that you’re on a quest with new friends who share your objective, it would be almost impossible not to.
Action—Woody Allen famously said “80% of success is showing up.” In the Interactive Age, it’s closer to 100%. You need to take the time and energy you’re spending on quarterly magazines, monthly newsletters, and staged press events and spend it on developing organic, ongoing dialogues with your audiences. As Jay Baer, best-selling author of The Now Revolution, said, “Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.”
Results—Success used to be measured by the number of clips your press release generated. But those metrics (and most press releases) are far less important in the Interactive Age. Successful communication isn’t measured in “hits.” Success is measured by your audiences' reactions.
Take Molly Katchpole. Ms. Katchpole was a part-time nanny in 2012 when she decided that she didn’t want to pay Bank of America $5 every month just to use her debit card. So she started an online petition opposing the surcharge that generated more than 200,000 signatures in one week. It’s a safe bet that BofA’s media team reached tens of millions of people that week, but that wasn’t enough to keep bank CEO Brian Moynihan from crying “Uncle” and dropping the $5 fee.
Interaction is the currency of the Interactive Age. After years of talking at your targeted audience, you and countless others are going to have to adjust to talking with both your targeted audiences and with the many new people and communities you will meet as you venture on your quest.
It will be difficult, but it’s not impossible. If Daniel Pink can learn how to draw a passable self-portrait by using his right brain, you can learn how to mechanize the magic of meaningful and effective communication through the QuASAR process.

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Comments, Please!" The 7-step process that will rock your page views

"Say 'Benghazi' one more time and I'm gonna give you such a slap!"
"Say 'Benghazi' one more time and I'm gonna give you such a slap!"
One of the hallmarks of social media is the “comments section,” a kind of virtual town square where people can share their opinions on articles, blog posts, and Benghazi.
The comments sections that don’t devolve into hate-filled shouting matches provide an excellent opportunity to connect with people who are literally thinking about your issue at the moment you post your comment.
The comment section is truly a product of the Internet Age. Back in the day, the only way to weigh in on an article was to draft a letter to the editor, get it approved by your boss, run it by legal, send it to the target newspaper, and pray that it would be selected to run in the paper several days later … long after everybody had lost interest in the story.
But online comments sections let you:
  • Post your comment immediately.
  • Imbed a link that will instantly drive new traffic to your website.
  • Use the same comment on numerous sites because exclusivity is not required.
  • Engage directly and instantly with people who have demonstrated an active interest in your issue.
The best part is you can start right away. Let me show you how it works.
Shortly after Dylan Farrow accused Woody Allen of bad touching her when she was a kid, the Daily Beast published an article written by Allen’s biographer that essentially called Dylan a liar.
Having experienced a dash of what Dylan had gone through, I wrote a blog post challenging Allen’s biographer. Then I drafted a very short comment that encapsulated the main point of my blog post—added a link to my blog post in the comment I wrote—and then posted that comment on every heavily trafficked site I could find.
I, too, am wondering why I didn't think of this sooner.
I, too, wonder why I didn't think of this sooner.
The results were impressive. Prior to this campaign, I was lucky to get more than 200 page views for any given post. But this post attracted nearly 3,000 page views, with over 2,000 of them coming in just a few hours after I hit “send.”
To make sure this wasn’t a fluke, I launched another comment-section campaign a few weeks later. Here is the step-by-step process.
Step 1: Select the broad issue you want to promote. The goal of my personal blog,, is to teach people that there is often much more to a story than meets the eye. I’m constantly on the lookout for stories that seem to be too good—or too bad—to be true. When I find one, I pounce.
Step 2: Look for trending topics that relate to that issue. Not long ago, multiple news outlets reported that a “NASA-funded study” predicted the imminent collapse of Western Civilization. Having a selfish interest in the topic, I set out to learn just how valid this study was.
Step 3: Write a blog post that presents your perspective on that issue. I started with the most obvious question: Who exactly did NASA fund to do the study?
Turns out it was a researcher who has been writing about society’s pending collapse since at least 2011. He also holds a rather notable bias against the free-market system, calling for government policies to “stabilize population,” and to “stabilize industrial production per person.” It made for great blog post fodder.
Step 4: Craft a very short comment and imbed a link to your blog post. After I wrote my post, I drafted a comment which included a promise that the reader could find more information by clicking on the link back to my blog.
Step 5: Copy and paste your comment into every applicable site. This is the fun part. Now that I had essentially done the work, I just cut and pasted this comment into heavily trafficked every article I could find.
It took one day to get the 911 pageviews for  the NASA story. It took one year to get the 694 pageviews for the post below it.
It took one day to get the 911 page views for the NASA story. It took one year to get the 694 page views for the post below it.
Step 6: Identify your performance indicators on your blog’s dashboard before you post your first comment so you can see exactly how effective this tactic is … and which media outlets send the most traffic to your site. In this case, my comment generated more than 800 page views within two hours—second only to the Woody Allen post.
Step 7: Create an auto-search for terms relevant to your issues. Every news story that gets legs follows a certain pattern of coverage—it breaks online, gets picked up by the foldable media, inspires blog reaction and old-media editorials, and finally if it’s significant enough, columnists will talk about the societal implications of the issue. Following this cycle will give you plenty of opportunities to generate more web traffic.
It's that simple. So give it a shot and leave me a comment telling me how it went.