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It’s not cheating if…

It’s not cheating if… published on 3 Comments on It’s not cheating if…

Before we get to the cartoon, two announcements for my Vancouver friends.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.