Archive for November 2010

Recipe Centipede: Six Ways to Not Innovate with Social Media

November 30, 2010


This morning, Jay Baer (someone whose writings and thoughts I enjoy), tweeted a link to Chris Street’s blog post, “Six Ways to Innovate with Social Media.” I gave it a quick looksee because I’m a fan of innovation and when Jay tweets things, it’s usually worth reading.

Here are six ways to use social media with innovation in mind:

1. Take an interest in other people – and pass on their content. It will get you noticed – the Law of Attraction. It really does work: these people will notice you back, in time, and reciprocate.

2. Take risks – be authentic, speak with your actual voice on social media platforms. Get the vibe of your business or Agency out there: let people know what working with you looks like, feels like.


6. Stop talking and start listening – too many Agencies (PRs are the worst culprits) are so busy shouting about how brilliant they are, and how many industry (navel-gazing) awards they’ve won, they forget the audience. Less broadcasting, more listening please.

This is all really solid, useful advice, but am I the only one who thinks it isn’t particularly innovative on its own?

In contrast to the definition of innovation given by the author, it’s all good advice that’s not really new or contrary to established social media norms.

The info above, rather, is probably more useful in laying down the groundwork for innovating in your social media use.

Truly understanding what your business, cause or passion is about and really listening to & engaging with the folks you hope to reach, hopefully, will be the key to pushing through merely common sense principles to get to the real innovation in your social media use. Those are what the above pieces advice are helpful with – the groundwork to start with.

In my opinion, a far more useful blog post with regards to innovation is Chris Street’s post, “How to Understand Social Media: Watch Cats” –

In that post, Street takes his observations of something common to his daily life and extracts lessons that can be applied to his (and our) social media use.

For true, organic innovation in social media use, there probably needs to be something interesting or innovative about what you do (even if it’s just your passion behind it), followed by a way to translate that into interesting and engaging social media usage.

The New York Neo-Futurists are a great example of that.

They are the New York branch of the Neo-Futurists of Chicago and are a theatre ensemble made up of writers, directors and performers dedicated to creating new works that are innovative, irreverent, thoughtful, funny and smart. Their Twitter account (@nyneofuturists) reflects those values in its voice, tone and content of their tweets. Going one step further, they’ve actually incorporated what they do on stage (to some degree) into how they engage with social media.

The hallmark Neo-Futurist show is Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, a weekly whirlwind attempt by its performing ensemble to execute 30 short plays in 60 minutes. Audience members are given a menu of that week’s plays, each one numbered for convenience, and the order of performance is determined by audience members shouting out the number of the short play they’d like to see. With new performance pieces rotating in each week, a spontaneous running order and a limited amount of time, the whole experience is frantic, fun, and exhilarating.

Knowing that their audience is made up of people who can appreciate such creativity and are likely to be creative folks themselves, @nyneofuturists issues Twitterplay assignments every Tuesday:


Followers of their Twitter account are given a specific challenge to incorporate into their writing of a micro-play that can be contained in a single tweet. Twitterplay participants hashtag their micro-play and the next day, @nyneofuturists collects them and publishes them on their blog.

So, while the NY Neo-Futurists have other plays and performances beside TMLMTBGB, the show that’s their most popular and well-known is rooted in short, new works and you can see how that has inspired an innovative way for them to interact with their followers.

That is true innovation in social media use and it didn’t come from merely following a list of tips that are useful but mostly common sense.


Twisting Twitter: The False 4.7% African-American Turnout for the 2010 Elections Stat

November 3, 2010

So, last night while I was cringing as the results of last night’s mid-term elections rolled in, I was also reading what folks were saying on Twitter.

I don’t quite remember what time I saw the following stat floating around, but I’d say it was about 11pm (Arizona time): “Only 4.7% of African-Americans voted in the election.” Sure enough, checking Twitter’s trending topics, “African-Americans” (or some variation) was near the top.

Many of the tweets repeating the stat would also go on to admonish “… but 100% of y’all gonna be in the clubs this weekend” and claim that, in contrast, 94.7% of African-Americans had checked out WSHH.

All of those ridiculous claims aside, the stat seemed funky to me. If there were still some ballots being counted across the state and the nation, how could anyone solidly assert that only 4.7% of African-Americans had shown up at the polls. Also, none of the tweets contained any links to a credible source for that stat.

So, I did a little searching this morning (using Google’s excellent Updates Search, which pulls from Twitter a lot more helpfully than Twitter’s own search currently can) and found this timeline of the 4.7% stat blowing up:

The original 4.7% of African-Americans blows up.

Here’s a link to the Google search that yielded the image above:

Here’s the first tweet, from Andre X. Douglas (@DRE_XD) of Wisconsin pointing out that 4.7% African-American voter turnout stat at about 8pm (10pm in Wisconsin) last night:

And here are Douglas’s follow up tweets, each within an hour of the initial 4.7% stat tweet:

So, the stat was originally quoted from someone’s status update (on Facebook, presumably) that was quoting early reporting from USA Today (a quick Google search couldn’t turn it up) and, if true, only applied to the turnout of African-American voters in a single district, Wisconsin’s District 1. Through all of the retweets and editing from others, it was extracted that only 4.7% of African-Americans voters nationwide.

I don’t think anyone can really blame Andre X. Douglas. He was expressing his own dismay at the stat and clarified it within his own Twitter timeline.

It’s just a good reminder of what an insane game of telephone the internet (not just Twitter or social media) can be.


I decided to check out the still hot, if no longer trending, topic of “4.7% of African-Americans” on Twitter and stumbled upon a good read by Anna John (@DCntrc) of WAMU, American University radio in Washington D.C.:

John quotes the Washington Post as asserting that 10% of voter turnout was made up of African-Americans.

Saheli Datta (@sahelidatta) wisely notes in the comments that African-Americans making up 10% of total voter turnout last night across the nation actually translates to about 32-33% of registered African-American voters and around 25% of all African-Americans.


Making up 10% of the voting electorate can’t meant that only 10% of registered African Americans voted. ~ 90 odd million people, so 10% of that is approximately 9 million voting African Americans. Voter participation in this midterm election was supposed to be 42%, so if 90 million = 42%, the total eligible voter pool was 214 million, and 13% of that means there are probably 27 – 28 million registered African Americans. 9 million out of 27 million is much closer to 32- 33% participation rate, not a measly 4.7%. That’s pretty comparable to the general rate of 42%, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the discrepancy is due to being disproportionately burdened by the factors that depress voting for the less than wealthy. It’s a working day, not a holiday, there’s no childcare, and polls are often hard to get to–all things we should fix. ( I got my statistics on the voting numbers from this AP article by Matthew Daly.).

According to Wikipedia In 2000 there were 36 million African Americans in the united states, so assuming growth was steady, there are about 40 million *now*. Many of those people are under the age of 18, so they can’t vote, so that means over all participation was AT LEAST 25%. That strikes me as pretty respectable–especially when you consider wide spread evidence that African Americans have been disproportionately and unfairly disenfranchised b/c of the discrepancy in felony status laws regarding the use of crack vs. the use of cocaine, not to mention other less clearcut kinds of unfairness in the criminal justice system.

In the above analysis of the over all participation rate (i.e. voters/eligible voters, not voters/*registered* voters) I’m assuming all African-Americans the census counts as such are citizens, which might be a more reasonable assumption than for any other ethnic group except I don’t think the census differentiates between century+ African-Americans and more recent immigrants. So the over all participation rate in the ‘indigenous’ African-American community might be much higher than 25%.