Mark Ragan responds to my questions about Social Media Club on My Ragan

Mark Ragan has responded to my questions about the removal of the Social Media Club group from My Ragan. Mark writes:

Several days ago, I asked Chris in a letter to reconstitute the group under a noncommercial logo. I explained that others saw his shingle Social Media Club, with its URL and its permanent ad for seminars and workshops, and were thinking I had sold Chris this space.  I urged him in that letter to remain moderator and then said I would wait for his thoughts on the issue. After not hearing back from him, we reformed the group under its current name.  Chris then sent everyone in the group a letter attacking me, never mentioning that I had asked him to stay on as moderator and that I only wanted him to replace the group’s icon. It’s that simple.

Interesting.

I recognize that My Ragan is MARK RAGAN’s space, not MY space or YOUR space. He owns it. He can do what he wants with it.

But there was a different approach that he could have taken. He could simply have posted that he does not sell advertising space. Then no one would think that the use of the Social Media Club logo connoted paid space.

Every other social networking place that I belong to allows participants to post photos and graphics. If I want to replace my picture with the Thornley Fallis graphic on Spacebook I can do that. The same with Twitter. Ning. Jaiku. You get the picture. 😉

Mark early set up a Canada group with the Canadian flag. Do I think that this means that the Government of Canada is buying space from Mark Ragan? Of course not. The image is a way for me to identify with the group. I think the same reasoning applies to a Social Media Club group.

How would Mark Ragan respond if I set up a “Hill and Knowlton Alumnae” group (I’m proud to have learned my craft at H&K) and used the H&K logo? (assume that I would have cleared it with H&K) How would he respond if I set up a Thornley Fallis group and used the Thornley Fallis logo?

If My Ragan really is to be a place where PR pros congregate, the rules need to leave room for people to freely gather around their interests. If no one is interested in Chris Heuer’s Social Media Club project, then no one will join the group. The very fact that so many did join indicates that Chris is on to something. My Ragan is diminished by the removal of the Social Media Club group.

Mark, I think that you have set off on the wrong course. I urge you to reconsider and reinstate the Social Media Club group.

  • I’m glad to hear that Mark at least tried to contact Chris first before taking action. From his response, it sounds like Chris had not seen the e-mail when he wrote. (Knowing first-hand how inundated Chris is with e-mail, that does not surprise me. I sometimes don’t get a response for a couple of days, and I’m a co-founding member of Social Media Club.)

    Still, your larger point is on target, and I agree that the use of the SMC logo in no way implied that MyRagan was accepting advertising. My Every Dot Connects logo doesn’t remain identifiable when I shrink it down to thumbnail size, or I probably would have used it for my profile photo on MyRagan — never imagining that could put my membership in jeopardy.

  • Ben Swetland

    I’m the director of sponsorship and advertising for Ragan, so I suppose I should add my cent and a half.

    I don’t speak for Mark, but he has a background in journalism that heavily influences what we (and specifically I) do at Ragan. We do our best to draw a bright line between editorial and the commericial. We don’t sell the mic at events, we do minimal advertising on the web, etc.

    When it came to myRagan, believe me, I wish we were selling it. But we’re not. We want every member to me a real-live human being. We want discussions to be real and authentic. Because (and maybe we’re wrong) we thought that’s what you wanted.

    But we’re also in beta. Verrrry much in beta. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we need feedback. If our users want a ‘hands-off’ approach, that’s what they’ll get. If they want to avoid logos and branding (pity me) then they won’t get ’em. Maybe we were quick on the draw here. But we’re trying to do it right.

    Mark has set up a forum on myRagan to address this issue specifically and I do hope that having a single spot to discuss will at least demonstrate the value of a platform like myRagan.

  • This was not the email he sent to me. Since he deleted all my messages though, I can not provide any proof one way or the other except to say that he is mischaracterizing the nature of the communications between us. I emailed asking for clarification on what I saw as a strange request from user FRANK123 but received none (signed Mark Ragan – perhaps a test account he setup?).

    For the sake of everyone involved, I would ask that he recover the groups messages, recover my account and allow us to see the original emails. Regardless, he misused his power and control and I dont believe he is to be trusted.

    Had he simply asked for the logo to be removed (which is silly since he invited me in specifically to promote the club and our workshop) I could have and would ahve done this. Instead, the email he sent said he was going to be renaming the group and removing the logo. But the very reason the group became so large was because of the name and the recognition we have built in helping professional communicators get it…..

  • PS – after seeing his request over the weekend, I did remove the promotion of the workshop from the group’s description – despite his vehement support of me doing so and not having an adequate explanation of why he had changed his mind… but again, since he deleted it, he is in control and the truth will always be cloudy as a result…