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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Content based marketing advice: aim to increase base hits, not home runs

Several colleagues of mine recently attended this year's Internet Summit in the US, so not unexpectedly, lots of advice came couched in the form of American-friendly metaphors. I'd lamented some years before about culture-specific expressions, and how they confuse non-native speakers, but given my heritage, the advice cited in the blog title actually "struck home" (baseball pun not intended).
Perhaps a soccer metaphor would be more recognizable to those outside of North America, in which case it would likely be to strive for strategic passes and goal assists, and to value the role of Libero (or sweeper) rather than fixate on scoring goals or becoming an ace striker.
In any case, this advice pertains to keeping a blog fresh - a topic that I've been mindful of, having started several draft posts since my prior entry in April, which have not seen the light of day. So, here I am wading back into the fray, as it were, by taking said advice. From now on, if I find something new to share that's relevant to this blog, I'll endeavour to do so.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thoughts on introversion, extraversion, and related controversies

 20 question quiz to test for extroversion by lonerwolf.com
Try the quiz linked via the graphic, to answer 20 questions all skewed towards extraverts

Most of my socal media profiles openly declare my self-identification as an INTJ (estimated to comprise 1-2% of the population, and popularly depicted in fiction as antagonists or anti-heroes). I've tested as such since I was 11, though during my university years I came close to registering as INTp. Of course, Myers-Briggs has had numerous valid detractors, and one criticism is that the dichotomies of I-E etc. are not quantified by the labeling: that is, one cannot tell just how strongly introverted I believe myself to be. And since it's a self-identifying classification, one could easily delude oneself into believing that inclination is manifesting directly into actions, meaning that others may not classify one as belonging to that type at all. Nevertheless, lately there have been quite a bit of confrontation between the two camps, where one normalizes one's preference and marginalizes the other. Being in the perceived minority yet again, I can't say that I've been impressed with the arguments presented by either side - but personally, introversion has never been a point of concern, and less so after ex-patriating to outside of North America.
Certainly, it should be no secret to introverts that socialization is encouraged for the most part, and conversely, expressing predilection for spending time by oneself is (at best) treated as a weird quirk, or at worst, a sign of mental disease. Isolation (in the solitary confinement sense in prisons) has also been claimed to be torture. Business situations certainly call for networking, interpersonal and inter-organizational engagement, and it's presumed that extraverts, since they tend to enjoy such opportunities, will generally fare better in them, for several assumed reasons.
However, establishing a reasonably successful career necessitates that an individual explores and confronts their weaknesses, at the same time as playing to her or his strengths. Thus, no matter how disinclined one may be to schmoozing, networking, and elevator-speech delivering, being employed drives one to hone all such skills, and anecdotally, I've found that one's proficiency in gaining such is not correlated necessarily to one's preferences, but rather one's innate capacity combined with effort and making it a high priority to attain.
Before anyone asks, I have not yet read Susan Cain's bestseller, whose title I'll contract to just "Quiet". Part of this being that I haven't access to much English language material locally (I prefer to borrow rather than purchase books, already having a burgeoning collection and a dearth of shelving), but mainly this is due to my already having been sold on the concept of introversion having merit and some advantages.
With that disclaimer, I'd like to present a few observations and opinions of my own, coming from a significantly biased perspective:

  • "Thinking aloud", especially in meetings, often comes across to me as wasting everyone's time. Is it not polite to formulate one's position, preferably with substantiable reasons, before opening one's mouth?
  • Having been raised at home with the cultural attitude that "Silence is Golden: only break it if you know you can improve upon it", I was penalized for well over a decade in Canadian schools by the extraverted mindset. My teachers frequently, and erroneously, concluded that I was disinterested (not true much of the time), had no opinions (also almost always false; I simply took too long to arrive at my conclusions), and lacked confidence (the most persistent and mistaken of the trio of misunderstandings).
  • I believe that generally speaking, it is extremely difficult to get to know others in a group context, particularly since even observing them means the information gleaned only comes from how they happen to behave amongst that particular set of people, and said behaviour can shift dramatically. Small talk may have its place, but it's singularly inefficient as a style of conversation, so I would prefer comfortable silence over stilted, shallow exchanges. I would certainly prefer deeper discussion over either of the former two, with just one or two individuals at a time.
  • Extraverts are also capable of (or vulnerable to) clinical depression and demonstrating withdrawn behaviours. Introverts may prefer to have periods of solitude or reduced company at times, but this is not equivalent to exhibiting depression. Non-depressed introverts genuinely enjoy their time interacting with others and can lead balanced lives with quality socialization without severe discomfort. 
  • Introversion is also not shyness, necessarily - it may speak to feeling drained after being in the proverbial or literal spotlight, but not to an inability to share ideas or opinions with others, or being a poor public speaker. 
  • Like sexual orientation, I believe inclinations such as introversion to be on a spectrum as pictured at the top of this post. Most of the population would fall in the mid (not extreme end) zone.
  • This article claims that 75% of those with IQs over 160 are introverted - of course, EQ is a separate (and equally important) metric, but I'd be interested in understanding the extensiveness of the research that drew that conclusion.
  • The "Quiet" website implies that "Asian-Americans" are baffled by the extravert-friendly educational system in the US, but this statement irks me also, as roughly half the Asian-American population consists of those inclined to extraversion, too - it's just that in some contexts such as speaking out of turn or embodying that Proverb (17:28) are culturally embedded, serving to mitigate extraverted behaviour.

I'd like to share one final article link concerning how extraverts seem happier than introverts, before I end this rant-esque post. As one of the top comments states, when the survey questions have to do with social situations, of course extraverts who draw energy and worth from said external experiences would report higher levels of happiness. Another example of a skewed survey, indeed, where the "norm" is defined as extravert-friendly activities, and the preferences of the introvert are largely ignored.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Using HootSuite for Facebook page posts: a mystery glitch?

Although the engagement completed in 2013, I have the privilege of remaining on the admin list for one of my employer's Facebook pages. In the past day, my colleague was kind enough to note that due to a glitch, scheduled posts via HootSuite attribute me as the person creating them. This is in spite of my never having linked my HootSuite account to that page, although I do have it linked to my personal Facebook account. For full disclosure, while I'd considered personally sharing one or both of the stories below, I hadn't, nor had I used HootSuite to view or share them to my various social media channels (which in this case, would likely have been personal Facebook via Twitter, as well as LinkedIn and my Google Plus page).

Evidence A and B:

If one is not an administrator of the Facebook page, however, this additional information is not disclosed - so had I chosen to keep my silence, very few people would be cognizant of the onset of this strange phenomenon.
My question to those reading this post is this: have you encountered this or a similar case of false attribution of posts to an SNS? I'll update this entry with any information that I can uncover.

Update: received a helpful tweet from a former colleague from Dublin Software Lab:
@sodoherty@MayoTakeuchi your FB issue probably related to this. http://t.co/kGgoSS8eZs

The above link from cnet reports the following:
Facebook said Tuesday that it has tweaked its News Feed formula yet again, this time to include posts that Pages you've "liked" are tagged in. The alteration means you'll find stories from Pages you don't follow mentioning those that you do.
So, it's clear that things are in flux when it comes to relating content from Pages to user accounts - however, I'm not seeing this issue - that is, I don't see additional content when the page wherein I'm an administrator has been tagged. I did appreciate being notified about this, though - thanks, Simon!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Finding the sweet spot for content and social media driven strategy

Earlier this month, my work days were filled with the review of a relatively new page from my employer's Japanese presence. Specifically, it was to do with a significant acquisition from this past summer, and what it meant (and continues to signify) for our current and potential clients. A tremendous amount of investment used to be required, in traditional marketing models, to ensure that the public would become aware of such news. But in a social media driven world, strategy (and its optimized implementation) has become the key to successfully conveying the right message to the right subset of the populace.

Customers generally think they know what they are looking for, and perform web based searches accordingly. However, there are several types of content available from the following types of sources:

  • Traditional "broadcast" style content - that is, what businesses wish to convey to new and potential customers about their offerings.
  • Anecdotal, social media driven content - what existing customers, with their own biases and varying levels of credibility, have discussed about the business and those same offerings.
  • Third party (e.g. Forrester Research) sources also provide useful content and competitive comparisons.
Now, I invite you to examine the crudely drawn Venn diagram below (I have never claimed to have strong graphic skills, and this example amply - and literally - illustrates why):
Showing the intersections of traditional marketing, content available via social media, and the body of information customers are seeking, in Venn diagram form.

The shift to inbound marketing means the focus on marketing content generation has moved from the area shaded in yellow, to the areas shaded in blue and green. I would posit, however, that the green area is of the highest value to potential customers, as it can be substantiated by a third party. Given the overall burgeoning of all online content, honing in on the truly valuable content has increasingly become challenging.
The enablement of social media driven content to be presented in aggregators and newsfeeds on official business sites is represented here in the area shaded in orange. This body of content too, is increasing in volume and prominence for B2B.
There also exists content that customers don't realize consciously that would be beneficial to them and thus are not seeking - which may come from any of the areas in yellow, orange, or pink. Even when this is optimized for the most salient topics or keywords, the right people are not choosing to search for them, so it remains difficult to discover.
From this last point, I would hope that part of content strategy for businesses includes the effort to identify and optimize these useful pieces of their online presence. And I look forward to doing exactly this for several of my clients in 2014.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Recognizing "wild ducks" in oneself and in the workplace

Congruent, yet independent. A Mallard mother and part of her brood, Stadtpark Pond in Vienna (July 2013)
The above photo, of a duck and her ducklings, was one of my (unsuccessful) entries in an intra-organizational contest just last month. Coincidentally, the notion of "treasuring wild ducks", metaphorically speaking, had been one of the subjects covered during my employer's Centennial commemoration. There is a 14 minute video with beautiful animation and story-telling, if you happen to have the time and inclination.

As those following my +Mayo Takeuchi Plus presence may have realized some years ago, ducks are the most common type of wildfowl that I can readily record, in both still and moving images. This year in particular, the local park has seen a bumper crop of ducklings. Their precocial abilities still manage to impress me: aside from the youngest ones emitting a high pitched, urgent peeping call when they lose sight of their mother, they know how to independently seek edible matter, swim, dive, stretch their as yet flightless wings, and cluster together for safety when they sleep. Compare such competence with most mammalian young!

In the business context, "wild ducks" are the non-conformists. To a wild duck, being fed (remunerated) is not tantamount to being domesticated. Pioneering and creative, they do not have to hide amongst the masses, nor will they always flock with them. Last December, I was reminded of this when a lone Red Crested Pochard drake spent a few weeks commingling (but not socializing with) the sea of Mallard and Mallard-esque ducks, also in the Vienna Stadtpark pond. He departed, as mysteriously and as suddenly as he'd arrived, at the beginning of 2013.

However, unlike that drake, human "wild ducks" don't necessarily stand out so clearly. They may not be vocal or behave in an extroverted manner during meetings. They may not even behave in an alien or unusual way, or openly flaunt convention and due process. Rather, their inner thoughts, reasoning, ideas, and perhaps a suspension of preconceived notions of limits - all or some subset thereof may reveal their inherent wildness. Detecting wild workplace ducks may take months or years, and ideally, a combination of open-minded yet supportive management and a sense of self-confidence that has been earned and nurtured, would allow for such individuals to maximize their potential.

Does your employer nurture the wildness that might lurk within its staff? Do you perceive yourself as a wild duck? And, what benefits may there be to being tame? Could we all become a flock of wild ducks without drawbacks?

These are some of the questions I've been mulling of late.

About Mayo

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Professional: As "SEO Specialist" in IBM's Business/IT Transformation (CHQ) division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.