This week we discuss several aspects of social media: how to use and abuse analytic tools, whether your CEO should have social media accounts, and understanding the differences between using social media as a “narrowcast” one-way medium vs. having actual interactions and conversations across various networks. We cite two different studies.

Domo and released their annual CEO social media survey earlier this summer. They found that 40 of the Fortune 500 CEOs have a Facebook page, down from 57 two years ago. We don’t think the drop is necessarily a thing. Every corporate executive should have a solid account and profile on LinkedIn – and we suggest that CMOs should take some time to review those accounts to ensure that they reflect well on both the individual and the corporation – but engaging on social media creates an obligation to continue that engagement, and not all CEOs are comfortable with that idea.

We also examine a Forrester report from earlier this year. (PDF here) on how to measure social programs. The authors point out that many marketers say they haven’t been able to show the impact of social at all, and that it can be hard to pin down its actual impact. Marketers mistakenly expect social metrics to parallel digital performance channels rather than augment these channels help guide their efforts and add color or feedback at the appropriate places. If you expect social media to deliver an immediate boost to sales, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree.

Listen to our 16 min. podcast here.



The Equifax data breach that was revealed last week has so far been an unmitigated disaster – for the company. While we could spend the entire show talking about the firm’s missteps, we just touch quickly on the lowlights, including poor IT management, the lousy breach notification, a confusing website that was constructed in haste and with overwrought legalese, the lack of quality reporting from the general and security trade press about the incident, and how hard it is to find out whether your own personal information has been compromised. Sadly, this breach will be a case study of what not to do in marketing communications for years to come.

We move on to something that we both have spoken and written about frequently, keyed to a piece that ran this week on Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey (We’d give you a link, but the site is behind a paywall.) It’s about David’s attitude toward PR pitches. He and Paul go over some of his their preferences on things like the length of pitches, whether to mention competitors, how pitch use metaphors and the value of third-party support endorsements. One thing we agree on: Re-pitching – or following up on an earlier pitch – is a good way put yourself in the doghouse. and end up in the deleted email pile.

FIR B2B podcast #79: How to find the right CMO for your startup

This week Paul Gillin and I talk to Crowded Ocean’s partners Carol Broadbent and Tom Hogan. The two have written The Ultimate Startup Guide, the foundation of which is their work with 47 different startups over the past 10 years. Ten of those companies have had successful exits, and only two went out of business, so our guests have credibility.

We invited them to join us after we read their piece in VentureBeat about “marketing-as-a-service.” Most organizations hire their CMOs first, but the duo recommend that this should actually be the last position to be filled by a startup. “Most CMOs have a bulls-eye painted on their backs, they have the shortest tenure, and often startups hire the wrong species,” they said.

Instead, Carol and Tom suggest that you examine more closely the different component skills that make up marketing, and staff accordingly. These include product management, corporate marketing, product marketing and IT fluency. The evolved CMO has the backbone of the marketing department, the breadth and understanding of the customer experience and the depth of a new key organizational growth pillar that shapes their point of view. Our guests suggest that the initial full-time marketing insider should be someone that they call “Seth” who is a 28-year-old numbers jockey who can give their sales organization demand generation data.

Other recommendations: Hire a stable of reliable contractors rather than fulfilling every need with full-timers. Simplify your website’s message. “Too many startups want to display all their great ideas and technology on their website, turning it into a library of brochure-ware that a prospect has to wade through,” they wrote in VentureBeat. And design online content and structure that can be useful on mobile devices.

Carol and Tom’s recommendations challenge a lot of the conventional wisdom, but they have the track record to justify them. Listen to our 21 min. podcast here:


Danielle Cooley has spent more than 18 years applying a number of user experience (UX) research and design techniques to a wide variety of applications, including hardware, Windows, web, telephone and mobile. Her work has benefited such organizations as Pfizer, Navy Federal Credit Union, Fidelity Investments, Hyundai, Graco, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and more. She is a frequent conference speaker at professional UX gatherings and holds several technical degrees.

Paul Gillin and I talked to her on our latest podcast about rookie UX mistakes, such as popup come-ons and autoloading videos, the difference between UX and user interfaces, and how marketers should consider the UX maturity model of their organizations when developing their programs.

Danielle also ranted a bit about the “hamburger menu” of three parallel lines that are often shown in many mobile apps (including my latest website redesign, oops!) and how they have become a cover-up for bad navigation. Here’s a presentation on what to do instead.

Danielle and I wrote this article for a UX journal where we use the example of four data breaches (Cici’s Pizza, Home Depot, Wendy’s Restaurants, and Omni Hotels) to see how each firm tried to regain its customers’ trust.


Paul Gillin and I talk to Dermot O’Connor who is the VP of product and co-founder of Boxever, a marketing big data automation company. We discuss the changing nature of customer experience (CX) and how the rise of the online world of Google, Amazon and Facebook have changed customer expectations about their interactions with suppliers. Big data is essential to improvement for marketers. We also cover the differences between these two approaches and how difficult it is to incorporate the technology solutions that are required to implement the best CX, and how marketing departments need to get a handle on what data they have about their customers too.

Dermot offers his suggestions for how to create “Micro Moments” along the journey, a concept introduced in this Google blog. That’s about making each touch point with customers a part of crafting the best experience. O’Connor thinks the next phase of CX will center around micro-design and suggests ways in which himbrands can bring micro moments to life.

You can listen to our 12 min. podcast here:

Making tech hiring more inclusive

If you are in tech, you know we as an industry aren’t very inclusive when it comes to the people working at our companies. The problem has gotten worse since I entered the work force back in the days when fire was first invented and the Steves worked out of their fabled garage: fewer women and minorities now work in tech.

In the wake of the formerly celebrated bro-culture bad-boys that have either lost their jobs or have given forced social media apologies, even the general press has picked up on this meme. Witness the program this past weekend on Megyn Kelly’s Sunday Night, where she interviews six Silicon Valley women engineers and startup founders about their harassment by men.

So it is nice to see some good news in this sector, care of a recent post about Atlassian’s practices. They are software company that has employees in Sydney, San Francisco and other cities around the world and employ 1,700 people. Over the past year, 18% of their tech hires and more than half of their engineers were women, up significantly from earlier years.

Atlassian credits several things for their diversity. First and foremost is dropping the notion that they are a meritocracy, which is a mask that many Silicon Valley firms hide behind and use it to block inclusive practices. MIT research shows that managers at these companies perceive themselves as more impartial, and are therefore less self-aware and less likely to root out and bust their biases.

Sure Atlassian has some corporate credos that they post on their website, such as “play as a team” and “Don’t <mess> with the customer,” among others. But they also say that “Continuous improvement is a shared responsibility. Action is an independent one.”

To that effect, the post also mentions that the time to change is now, and the earlier in a company’s founding the better.  “Getting a first woman on the team is a lot easier when there’s only three employees and they’re all men, as opposed to when there are 20 that are all men. Invest early. You’ll have to put in less effort over the life of your company when you do,” says Aubrey Blanche, the company’s head of diversity inclusion (shown here).

The post mentions some tactics your firm should take to widen diversity, and includes following some key folks on your social media accounts (here is a handy Twitter list if you want to check some of them out yourself). Another idea: create a culture where feedback about how you’re doing in regard to inclusion is constant, embraced, and rewarded. Use Slack or other IM tools to directly ask your staff for feedback on a regular basis. Until your culture is inclusive and you are listening to your folks, you won’t be. Have meetings that are designed to let introverts excel: send out agendas in advance, ask people to prepare remarks, and engage your remote employees.

There are a lot more tips in this blog post on how to encourage a more diverse workforce. Take some time to read them, and more importantly, act on them.

Is there good news for journalism in the gig economy?

This piece originally appeared in Sam Whitmore’s in late June 2017.

We all know that the Bezos Post and the Grey Lady are doing well selling monthly subscriptions. (During the last three months of 2016, the Times added 276,000 net digital-only subscribers, more than they started the year.) They are the counter-examples in the otherwise dismal NewspaperDeathWatch (done by my podcasting partner Paul Gillin) series of layoffs and site closures.

But what about some way new models that could support quality journalism? Here are a few bright spots, some operating sites, some ideas that are still being worked out:

  • The Marshall Project, which is a non-profit newsroom focused on criminal justice with stories such as The Mental Health Crisis Facing Women in Prison and How to Cut Down on Searches in Traffic Stops: Legalize Pot.
  • Press Think, which is a US version of the Dutch site, De Correspondent. That site is funded solely by its 56,000 members who pay about $63 a year. Jay Rosen is leading that effort, which has articles on politics and the gaming nature of PR. It is funded by a foundation for now. The idea is to optimize for trust.
  • Stratechery, which is Ben Thompson’s one-person effort to look at the intersection of tech and business, with recent pieces on the Amazon/Whole Foods deal (which has one of the more insightful things said about the merger) and Google and antitrust.
  • The Information, which is also tech news related. That has been around for several years and has done some excellent reporting, which is what you would expect if you hire some of the top journalists and charge $400 a year for subscriptions.
  • Most recently is Civil, which announced plans to build a blockchain-powered marketplace on Ethereum. This marketplace could be where citizens and journalists form common communities and financially support factual reporting and investigative work. The motivation is to substantially limit misinformation through effective collaborative-editing methods. Call it “fact-checking as a service,” if you will. It hasn’t yet launched.

All of these efforts are worth watching to see what gains traction. Against this landscape, or maybe in spite of it, are a series of re-energized corporate blogs that seem to be well-funded (such as IBM’s and new information delivery models (such as Jason Calacanis’ series of email newsletters — NB: I am a contributor to both efforts).

Will any of these gain real traction? Hard to say. Paying for content is expensive, and paying for superior content is even more expensive. Crowdfunding may not bring in enough dough, whether it is in traditional dollars or some crypto-currency that can trade at wide valuations.

Part of the problem certainly began years ago when advertising revenue evaporated, or at least moved to other places. But that just shifted the cost basis of most pubs. There is the issue that Google and other search sites now collect those funds, and have sucked the air out of any news-oriented site.

But another issue is the trust deficit that news sites now have with their readers. Witness the CNN issue earlier last week, or any of the latest collection of presidential Tweets. So, as they say in the media, stay tuned.