Before we get to the cartoon, two announcements for my Vancouver friends.
- Morgan Brayton’s show Raccoonery at the Vancouver Fringe Festival on Granville Island is funny as hell, brilliantly performed and just generally entertaining. There are three more shows – September 16, 17 and 19 – and tickets are $17, including a Fringe membership. Go, go, go.
- I’m teaching The Art of Social Media starting Wednesday evening, September 15 at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (also on Granville Island). This six-session course looks at social media basics, with a special focus on the arts, self-expression and marketing. There are still a few spaces left – more info here (and more social media courses here).
I’ve posted a few times about how my unease at the way social media can help a marketing mentality shape our self-expression and online relationships. Obsessing over metrics and follower counts is the beginning; before you know it, you’re thinking of romantic dinners and late-night liaisons as “conversions.”
But give marketing – especially online marketing – its due. The same thing has happened with marketing that happened with video, audio and many other fields: tools that were priced far out of our reach only a few years ago are suddenly cheap (or even free) and readily available.
Google Analytics is probably the best-known of those tools, now joined by innovators likeChartbeat. You’ll also find everything from keyword analysis… to Facebook demographic numbers (a Facebook Ads account opens up a huge window into the makeup of their users, even if you never buy a single ad)… to sophisticated e-mailing list services like Campaign Monitor and MailChimp… to simple A/B testing plugins for your blog.
But there’s a cautionary note to sound here. Case in point: if you’re old enough to remember the advent of desktop publishing, then 1) I hope you can read this through your bifocals, and 2) you’ll also remember the eyeball-searing newsletters and posters pumped out by folks who could read the PageMaker manual but didn’t have a clue about design. (Sixty different typefaces on one page! Cool!)
The point is that a tool might be easy to use, but it isn’t necessarily easy to use well. And reading even a few books about, say, analytics – I’m a fan of Avinash Kaushik‘s, for example – will put you head and shoulders above most of the rest of us.
And once you know how to use a tool well, you’ll be in a much better position to use it (or when not to) to achieve the things that really matter to you, whether it’s valuable business conversions or meaningful personal connections.