posters and pasters

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Eliza Esquivel, an executive marketing lead at Mondelez, spoke at Google Firestarters-NY earlier this week. This lady can ball. No marko-babble from her.

I really sat up when she used what seemed an inside term of art “Building Memory Structures.” It warmed my self-taught heart to hear this because I’ve built a similar framework but never put it so elegantly. I often speak and write of “building muscle memory” and doing so using “1 claim and 3 proof planks,” but these words from the Mondelez camp explain why it’s a company to watch. And why Ms. Esquivel will someday be Ad Age’s Marketer of The Year.

In this Fast Twitch Media world, filled with more Pasters than Posters, Google brand planners (planner who rely on Google only for insights), in a country where every business owner feels s/he is a marketing expert, it’s nice to know there’s are some marketing 30 somethings coming up with big eyes. A generation not smitten by shiny ephemeral tactics and automation technology. Ms. E has some serious vision and a lovely sense of control.

It’s going to be fun watching her career.





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A Twitter account is not unlike a thick magazine. One buys a magazine for the writing, the subject matter, pictures and opinion. As the magazine grows broader in its content, as ads are added and more ancillary content printed the book gets heavier. And more sloppy. And cluttered. To me, that’s what happens when you fill your Twitter feed with too much prattle. Everyone loves the randomness of Twitter and the ability to learn from others, but how is that going to happen when you follow 6 thousand people? The chaff hides the wheat as they say.

Top brands tweet 20 plus times a day to break through the noise. I follow 1,500+ people and a single tweet disappears under the fold in a matter of seconds. For people who follow thousands it’s probably milliseconds. I know there are lists and filters but I don’t use them; if there is someone I want to click up, I click them up.

So I’m selective. I review people’s tweets before I follow. I make sure they are Posters not Pasters. I read what they care about? Is it interesting? Entertaining? Can I learn something? If not, I don’t follow or follow back. And I don’t cull the herd too often, but it’s not a bad idea. Keep the people you follow at a more manageable level and Twitter becomes more powerful. My 2 cents. Peace.


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I first ran into Marshall Kirkpatrick in the blogger’s room at the Web 2.0 Expo in 2007.  At the time he was writing for ReadWriteWeb and one of technology’s top 10 bloggers; in the rarified air with Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, Malik Om, Erick Schonfeld and Jeremiah Owyang.

Sitting in on start-up product pitches for a living must have been hard.  Then under deadline, having to write about it, explain it and prognosticate — even harder. One would imagine that people like this would have at some point aspired to be involved in a start-up. But not so much. Mr. Kirkpatrick is an exception.  His company is called Little Bird.  If I got the Is-Does right (I sat through a webinar yesterday) Little Bird is a Social Monitoring 2.0 tool designed to help find category Posters rather than Pasters. The tool feels really smart at first pass.  

Seeing hundreds of start-up presentations over the years has prepared Mr. Kirkpatrick for the “life.”  The funding period(s), naming, first hires, code-fests, Beta testing and pitching. And more pitching.  His tech blogging background does not insure a successful tech startup, though it certainly should give him a leg up. I applaud his derring do and look forward following Little Bird’s progress.  (Nice name by the way.) Peace.

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A colleague sent me a nice post on social media curation — all the points of which I agree with.  (See my SlideShare preso from a year ago.)  The one point I could take some issue with is the first point suggesting we use the media each demographic group is most comfortable with. It cites Baby Boomers, who more comfortable having content shared via newsletters containing embedded URLs.  Quite logical but not particularly media-forward. I’d prefer to find Boomer “Posters” with my curated content and let them reach the Pasters.  Those Posters are typically not reading newsletters with the voraciousness they take on social.

That said, check out the Linked Media Group article, heed its advice then practice, practice, practice.  Peace. 

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There is strategy and there is execution.  A great strategy poorly executed pays naught. I like AOL’s “content is king” strategy; buying the Huffington Post and TechCrunch were nice blockbuster moves.  There are two ways for these purchases to go: either the properties will be enhanced by AOL and grow or they’ll be hindered and slide.  At the high end, these two purchases are defining moments and should be very interesting to follow.

But let’s look at the lower or middle tier. AOL now needs to find some traffic-building Posters (original content creators) on their way up.  Not those owning killer numbers, but those with killer points of view and motivations with big upside.  Sports teams make a living off of young over-performers who are killing it before their first big contract. Up and comers are what AOL needs. Some of whom may not even be Posters yet.   

Finding potential big time Posters is R&D in the web content world.  AOL needs to research what people like online, then find and/or develop the property.  Content is not writing. It’s not reporting.  It’s not curating or aggregating. These are content tactics.  The best Posters (who attract the all-important Pasters) are people with an idea, a passion, a motivation or a love. They are also sharers.  AOL is buying media properties and traffic and that’s a good start, albeit a bit old school.  It now needs to do some R&D and find ideas that fill voids. In markets and brains.  Peace!

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Unilever has launched a Vaseline Intensive Rescue campaign via Bartle Bogle Hegarty, NY.  It was conceived in a conference room, formed and nurtured through social media, and produced by a CPG company and ad agency. Excuse the pun, but BBH never uses a rough hand in its work so I’m surprised by what I’ve seen and read so far.

According to a write-up in today’s NYT, BBH employed a web monitoring company to scour blogs and social networks for women with dry hands.  Smartly, they were looking for Posters rather than Pasters and found three who like to blog about mommy stuff and seem web-o-genic. But then they trotted out camera crews, writers, producers etc., in an effort to create “authentic” spokesperson stories. I smell 15 minutes (of fame).

Social media campaigns works best when the spokesperson is not managed.  When they are real.  Melting Mama, for instance, is an example of a Poster who is real.  Kandee Johnson, make-up artist, is real.  These two have personal motivations that makes them compelling. Not a motivation, seeded, tilled and fertilized by a marketing engine.  BBH is better than this. It feels B team and formulaic. This is no “Prescribe the Nation” campaign – BBH’s brilliant work for Vaseline Clinical Therapy in 2008-9.  That was an idea with ballast. Peace!

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In Jaron Lanier’s new book You Are Not a Gadget,” he discusses how the Web has spawned an almost mob-like behavior favoring Pasters (those who copy, paste and mash other people’s content) over Posters (original content creators).  The “wisdom of crowds” (James Surowiecki) mentality, he writes, supersedes individual wisdom…and that’s a shame.  

Readers of “What’s The Idea?” know I write about the proper care and feeding of Posters and Pasters in social media marketing.  Understanding the theory is easy, making it happen, not so much. The key to successful, extensible social media marketing initiatives is in finding the right Posters to pollinate the Web.  That’s the heavy lifting.  One needs to be a good talent scout. Finding Posters (in your product category) before they become too big is also key. Find them on the way up, in other words.

How will you know a good Poster when you find him/her? Here are a few hints.  They are doers — they get out of the house or building. They’re creative — experimenting and solving problems in new ways. They are not shy, though their posts and content are not “me, me, me ,me” focused. They blog and have a following. They inspire respectful comments on their blogs or conent channel.

Find a good Poster in your category and learn from her/him. Don’t seek out wisdom in the crowd or hive.   Peace!

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According to Harvard’s Dr. Urs Glasser, “By age 20, kids will have spent 20,000 hours online – the same amount of time a professional piano player would have spent practicing.” Were one to calculate all the television children of the 80s and 90s watched, I’m sure we’d see a comparable number. That said, TV is one-way (inbound) and online is two-way (read-write) and therefore a little healthier.


Regular readers know I have dumbed-down Forrester Research’s Technographic segmentation study into two simple groups “Posters” and “Pasters.” According to Forrester and a couple of other sources only 8% of social media users are “posters,” or original content creators.  But, according to the Book “Born Digital” written by John Palfrey and Dr. Glaser, 35% of millennial girls and 20% of boys in the U.S. are blogging, meaning these so-called “digital natives” index very high as Posters. As such, they need to be treated differently. 


While writing my anthropology thesis in college, I sent out letters to leading professors around the country asking for input. It took months and lots of effort on everyone’s part to gather, process and exchange all the info. Today, using email, the net, and links, I could have done this work in a day. (Digital Natives get this in ways others don’t.)


As a brand and communications planner, understanding this culture and how Millennials buy and are sold is going to be quite a fun ride. Peace!


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