Monday, November 24, 2008

Putting the "media" in social media.

As an up-and-coming media professional, and, admittedly, a sometimes flighty little person, I like to take a step back from time to time and have a think about the career path I’m currently skipping down. Especially when someone says something that gives me a jolt in regards to what it is I value about the profession. The kind of stuff that makes me go for a three-mile jaunt on the treadmill to clear my head and ask myself if I am out of my mind. What is it that I am doing with my time and brainpower? And why?

The topic in question is social media. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, linkedin, Flickr, Vimeo, what-have-you, the communication lifelines of the young and interactive. And lately, not even the young - just the interactive. The innovators, the influencers, the opinion leaders, along with pretty much anyone who has a computer and an internet connection – people are talking to people on the internet. Interaction via internet – and to think, it has only been 38 years since we walked on the moon (okay, I stole that, but it's funny). And, I find it quite surprising, or, ridiculous is another word, to hear media folks disregard the social media world as dumb, stalkeresque, time-consuming, childish, etcetera. Seriously?

What is media, really? Media, as a discipline, is many different things, but to me, it all boils down to creating a logical avenue for message delivery based on the psychology of an audience – it’s the precise artistry of lending credibility to the message per the target. Media is research, reporting, flighting, balance, budgeting and negotiation – and the sweat put into fine-tuning these items is for the purpose of perfecting our client’s channel of communication, and the communication itself, while we’re at it. We pour over syndicated research, we create storyfinders and build daypart analyses, we comb through SQAD and focus group findings in an effort to unravel the audience, to see how they think and breathe and go about their day – to determine how our otherwise insignificant message can reach them based on their raison d’ĂȘtre. We strive to show our audience that our message is credible and worthwhile to their lives because we understand them. Really, media, as with any other aspect of advertising, is people talking to people. And it is beyond confusing to me that people who like research, and want to understand people and how they dole out and accept communication, could disregard something as simple and useful as social media.

There are certainly less than desirable activities that take place surrounding social media. But at the core of the idea is a hothouse of basic media principles. Social media takes an abstract and slippery-to-track concept like communication and makes it tangible, measurable, and historical. It literally provides a concrete framework on how people communicate. It’s tracked and recorded in the catacombs of the interwebs. And, it’s free, simple, and brilliantly easy to study – just go play in it, to quote a friend. Sign up for accounts, find your friends and family, and start talking. Meet new people based on industry and interest groups. Download widgets and gadgets to change the way you use the applications, based on how you best communicate. Check out the other ways of looking at it, to see how others are communicating. Build feeds to keep everything in line and see what you want to see of what others are posting. Really, it’s an incredible wealth of information and insight, and it’s easy and fun. How better to understand how people communicate than by taking part?

And the value as media vehicle - people have historically devalued blogs, social apps, things of this nature in media planning. Clients want to stay far away from social media, because it is unpredictable. But people are unpredictable - communication reflecting life, go figure. These avenues are where people are seeking out credible messages, because this is where they are talking. Obviously it will not necessarily make sense to use social media in a plan, but to not even consider it when determining media strategy is to overlook an incredibly potent vehicle of human communication.

As media buffs, we are in the business of talking to people. How can we talk to people if we are writing off the ways that people are talking to people? I am not trying to say that social media should be a replacement for planning tools. All I am saying is that this movement is relevant to us as media planners. We say we want to know how people receive messages, but we are ignoring the fantastic insight that social media provides. It doesn’t make sense. I asked this question of one of my favorite social media junkies, and his response – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

“People are talking to each other online. It's measurable, and you can find the right people easier than you ever could before. If you want to ignore that, feel free. I, on the other hand, will not be ignoring the fastest-growing, most networked channel of communication we have ever experienced.”

Amen. I’m-a gonna go tweet about it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Do The Hutch Hassle.

I know this is kind of stupid, but I found myself missing my Whiskers crew. I guess you could say I am quite susceptible to cute holiday interactive ads. I think my favorite part would be at the finale, where Jaime clearly demonstrates the Hutch Hassle. C'mon c'mon c'mon.
(L-R Clay, Don, Jaime, moi, et Brooke)

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, November 17, 2008

A good idea.

I will be the first to admit that there have been times in the past few weeks when I was hesitant about Chicago. As I sorted through all the details that moving threw in my direction, I found myself stopping every step of the way to ask: is this a good idea? My family, my friends, even my former coworkers reassured me that yes, of course this was a good idea! How could I not think this was a good idea? And, I didn't know!

It occurred to me today that perhaps I had been asking the wrong question. While Chicago and a big fancy agency job seemed exciting and glamorous and attainable and real, I am not exactly known for my spontaneity. Good idea or not, I think what I really wanted to know, was: is this going to work?

In the first minutes of the 6-hour train-a-thon that made the up majority of my first day at my new post, Howard Draft, Jonathan Harries, and Laurence Boschetto were delivered in glittering high-def to welcome new hires to the business they had built. After a simple and powerful (who better than admen to deliver simple and powerful, eh?) introduction to their philosophy, the three men faded out as the following words flashed across the screen, searing themselves into the back of my brain.

There is no such thing as a good idea that didn't work.

The quote illustrates an interdependent relationship between good ideas and things that work; I saw it as stemming from good ideas. At which point I realized: holy shit, yes, this was a good idea, and as such, it was going to work.

Technically, that brief orientation clip was just a little agency branding. But, I love branding, and therefore, I am inspired.

Here are some work- and life-related reasons that this is going to work:

1. I love this city. It is beautiful, it is fun, there are a million things to do, and there are a million people here who I would love to do those things with. Not being a loner in a place I can fall in love with is a good idea.

2. I love advertising, and from what I got out of today, these Draftfcb people do too. From the wheel model to Return on Ideas to Insight to Incite, I was more or less sold on everything they had to say, and I am thrilled to be part of it. Sharing a passion with some really smart people; so far, it smells like a good idea.

3. I met not one, not two, but three people today who informed me that they were gluten-intolerant. Two of which were on my planning team. Seriously?? Awesome. Dietary buddies = good idea.

4. In my orientation packet was a notice encouraging team members to use their voices, and stretch their interactive wings, via blogging. Weird. What a good idea!

5. My friend Josh from college is on my team. Instant friend on the 13th floor, who immediately sent me the link to the cafeteria menu. Thanks, Josh. Making a new (old) friend on the first day, really a very good idea.

6. I actually really enjoyed the walk home. A good opportunity to reflect on the day, and check out the lights on Michigan avenue. A little time alone in my head is always a good idea.

Good ideas, all.

There is no such thing as a good idea that didn't work. This new life was definitely a good idea. And I will make it work.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheers, to new beginnings.

Tomorrow begins my new life in Chicago.

I guess technically, last Saturday began my new life in Chicago. Signing my life away on a one-bedroom piece of real estate in the Gold Coast sealed the deal on that. Utilizing every last inch of a tiny U-Haul trailer to transport my life from Milwaukee, saying goodbye to various items of furniture and my precious Honda Accord, and procuring assorted injuries while attempting to set up my new place - the icing on the cake.

More technical yet would be to say that my new life in Chicago began on Thursday, Oct 23, when, crying my eyes out, I put in my two weeks at Hoffman York and signed my offer letter with Draftfcb. One of the greatest agencies in the world told me that they wanted me for their newest media planner. And I wanted them, too. How could I say no?

It took me a while to build up the moxie, but I am ready for a new life, a new city. Most importantly and nearest to my heart, I am ready to take this step towards realizing my career goals. HY gave me a great foundation in media and ignited a passion. I am excited to see where my ambition can take me from here.

Tomorrow, my first day with Draftfcb, begins my new life in Chicago. I have cheers-ed out the old, and drank in the new. Rested and recharged, I am ready to learn, to be challenged, to be better.

In leaving HY, our chief creative officer told me to make sure to shout so my voice would be heard in Chicago. As an attempt to do so, and also to learn more about the interactive space (and to get with the program, it's the 21st century), I have created this blog. It is my aim that it will serve as a forum for my ramblings on media, on Chicago, and on life. I also hope that maybe someone will find it interesting.

As a post-script, if anyone is in the market for a 2003 Honda Accord (4-door sedan in graphite with grey upholstery, 2.4 liter engine, ABS, power steering, 45K miles and newly tuned-up), holler at me. She's a sweet, sweet ride.