BusinessWeek has put together a not so short-list of voices in social media and they want you to help them decide who they should do a profile on. Being active on multiple networks—I've heard some complaints about who's on it. What do you think? If you think it's fair representation, go tell BusinessWeek who they should profile. If you think it's lame, who should be on the list that isn't? I'd like to know. (full disclosure, I am on the list and am sufficienltly lame).
Peter Shankman (aka Skydiver)
Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus
Chico the Dog
Honey Bee network
A top-10 list
Tristan Harris, Apture
B. L. Ochman
Chris Bruzzo (MyStarbucksIdea)
More updates to the blog and as you can see, I've come full circle to the punchline of the previous cartoon. I've added a navigation bar to the top left of page (right under "START HERE"). So no we've got some permanent sections added to the experience here. I will most likely be editing the content in these sections but it's a start. Again, way overdue.
Please, please leave some comments about who you are, what you do and why you do it in the About You section. The page will be a part of the permanent architecture here and I would love to reference it from time to time. Is the blog looking more like a Website? Well that's by design. :-)
I'll be doing some updates to the blog design. Tweaks, iterations—trying this and that. It's been long overdue. Right now if you come to the site, you'll notice an updated header with a slightly new visual. The header is less deep so you can see more content above the fold. To the right, I've embedded the video to "brand u.o" as a speaking sample that will be at the top of the page permanently. The width of the page has been expanded to make use of newer resolutions with a wider center column so I will be able to upload visuals at a larger size. The background is lighter and less blue (hey—tastes change).
Next steps will include adding some sections and a basic navigation bar over to the left. As for the rest—we'll see. I'll probably play around with some widgets in the sidebars and maybe even update the blogroll (which is ancient).
If you are coming here out of a feed, be sure to do a browser refresh every once in a while just to make sure you are seeing things right. Long gone are the days that a site goes under construction. We're building airplanes in the sky. :-)
If you paid a visit to Barack Obama's Twitter page—you would see a moment frozen in time. The last message sent out was on November 5th, which on Twitter is a life time. It reads
Obama's Twitter profile has one of the most impressive number of followers you will see on the Social Network. Close to 160 thousand. While the office of president elect Obama continues to feed other media outlets such as video (here Obama gives a holiday greeting) it's unclear if the Twitter presence will continue to go on. I think it should. Here are 10 reasons:
The Web has proven to be a fragmented medium and the Obama campaign did a steller job of coordinating a mass campaign with micro-interactions all over the internet. Twitter is small ecosystem that sparks large influence ripples. Sustaining a presence here can get people's attention very quickly.
Many Twitter subscribers receive updates via their mobile phones. While e-mail and video communications require sifting through noise to get to it, reaching people immediately in their pocket can be an effective way to communicate.
3. The Human Feed
As I talked about recently, Twitter acts as a sort of human powered filter. When people are engaged in it, they look to others to help make sense of information. Obama's account on Twitter could be used to direct people to relevant content, or in the event of dealing with the press—Obama (and/or his staff) can use it to directly tell their side of the story in real time.
It's likely that Obama's staff and the governent is monitoring conversations everywhere for a variety of reasons. Twitter becomes one more place to monitor and keeping the account active can help. While few people will expect Obama to "talk to them". It can be used to listen.
Team Obama must realize that they have an effective PR tool on their hand. For the first time in history, a president will have multiple lifestreams in place. Whether it's him or not, it's an opportunity to provide non sensitive information about Barack the man, not just the president. Presidents who come off as human—that we feel connected to tend to fare better.
As the Mumbai attacks have shown us, Twitter is a medium of immediacy. If there is a message of urgency that needs to go out quickly—Twitter can trigger a ripple effect and can even support links to sites with critical information. This could come in handy during a time of crisis.
If you look at Obama's time line, it was mainly used as a campaign tactic to mobilize support—to let the people know where he would be and where they could join a rally. Twitter is an extremely effective tool for rallying people. Post election this could come in handy when legislation needs to get passed.
It's just too covenient. Easier to update than a website, faster than a video and can be equally effective if done right.
While the last Tweet in Obama's stream captured a memorable moment—it also sends the message that the communicaiton on Twitter was campaign based only (since it hasn't been updated since). Reviving the account and comitting to using it in an effective way would demonstrate a commitment to the near 160k followers and then some.
Twitter's stream is liquid. It's an environment in constant flux—one that changes in an instant. This is a medium where it would make sense for a modern day presidet to have a presence in. It made sense during the campaign and it makes sense post campaign.
Realistically, I would never imagine that a president could sustain a presence here—but thinking about the number of followers that was amassed (and continue to grow), I just wonder if there's a missed opportunity here if the account stays dormant or doesn't evolve. What do you think?
Recently, I exchanged some small talk with Mike Wagner. If you don't know him, you should. And he ended an e-mail with this:
"Keep creating unexpected value"
And it stuck with me. And it made me think about the things in life that I often tend to notice. Like the soothing clicks and beeps when I first used a Tivo. Or the handwritten note that I recently got from Zappos which recalled details from a phone conversation. Or the time I figured out how to take screen grabs from my iPhone (much to my surprise and delight). Or the secret move I taught Max on Marvel Universe. Or the first time I checked out at a Trader Joe's. Or the unexpected value I recieved from the millions of micro-interactions I have with people online—most whom I've never met before.
Value, is subjective—but the way we respond to it isn't. We save things of value, we recommend them to others, sometimes we can't even put a price on it. When it's unexpected, it's even better. When someone or some company provides value, we'll reward them with our attention. When something valuable is produced—we'll take good care of it. I remember reading research that compared the behavior of PC and Apple users. One difference was that the Apple users "babied" their machines. Taking greater care to protect and preserve them. When we value something, it makes us do the unexpected, like treating a machine as a child.
After spending a decent part of the day debating the value of value—it occured to me that the simplicity of Mike's message was even more valuable to me. And creating unexpected value is good advice, regardless of who you are and what you do.
This morning walking from the train to the office, it was below zero and I was extremely uncomfortable. More accurately, I couldn't feel my feet, toes or face. I'd write something poetic or sugary, but the fact is it dampened my mood. To be honest with you—I was downright grumpy. Later that afternoon, I worked on this card. And it made me feel a little better.
If you know someone who needs a little warming up—feel free to pass it along. And most importantly, here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and joyful holiday season to you and yours. Stay warm.
There's a lot of talk about Twitter these days from upcoming books such as Shel Israel's Twitterville to how-to's like Twitter For Dummies. But there's a much bigger movement at play here that you need to grasp before you go diving into networks such as Twitter and try friending your way toward influencer status. I believe that one of the functions that networks such as Twitter does is to serve as something of a human powered feed, a real time living stream of links, content and conversation often times generated by our friends, peers or the people we look to as "filters"—indivisuals who we trust to seperate the wheat from chaff.
But aside from the tools, it's important to take a step back and see what's going on here. In the earlier days of the internet, the Web became a place quickly saturated with information and we needed something to beat the information into submission. Search engines were born—and as a result the internet became more productive. Today, the internet is still about information—but it's also about attention. There is a surplus of information, and a meta surplus of marketing in every form. For individuals, we are experiencing the opposite. We have a deficit in attention.
We've long exceeded the capacity of information that we can absorb and retain. We all suffer from technology induced attention deficit disorder, bright and shiny object syndrome and short term memory loss.
Bookmarks don't help—now we need tools like del.icio.us. And of course we need Google more than ever. And there's once more thing we need. We need each other to make sense of it all. We need a Web with a human touch to help guide us through the fragmented, landscape of the internet. And that's where the human feed comes in. If you sign up to a service like Twitter, Friendfeed, or even subscribe to the del.ico.us links of real live people who you trust and look to for insights, you'll find that a wealth of information will be brought right to you vs. you having to go out and hunt for it.
In many ways, this is why Twitter is so talked about. I have nearly 7k followers through Twitter—most of who are working in related fields. Even with this substantially sized human engine in place, it's one of the first places I go to monitor conversations, scan for links and look for patterns. Of course I can also go the search route using search.twitter.com. But I've found power in the human feed. Another way I've tapped it's power is by using it as a research tool. I ask the collective on Twitter qeuestions and the human feed goes to work passing along high quality links and information that are very niche in nature. I consider my feed to be high quality and because I provide value to them, they don't hesitate to provide it right back.
Often times the quality of links and information I get on Twitter is better than what I would have gotten from Google because the knowledge of the human feed is deep, niche, and fickle.
I don't believe that you have to have thousands in your human feed, or network to provide value. If you put in the time to cultivate high quality connections that are in the tens or hundreds, you can get similar value. It's not always about size—it's also about quality. The key here is understanding what's going on here and why, not just thinking about how we can use these tools to our own advantage. The human feed is a powerful evolution of the Web that is providing us key insights into where things are going.
As more noise, clutter, information, services, and networks are introuduced on the Web, the human feed—human beings will become even more essential in helping us all filter signal from noise so we can make the most of the medium. It will be messy, organic and serendipitous in some ways, combining conversation with content. But context will be key.
As we dive into streams, that's where our attention will be. If our trusted peers are swimming in those streams as well, we will look to them to help us stay afloat.
If you think there is something here that you'd like to explore more, I'd invite you to join myself and others on Twitter to see how just one of the manifestations of the human feed works.
Derek is a "hotdogger" for Oscar Mayer. He believes in the brand—so much so, that he got it tattooed on his arm. Derek is a passionate employee. Would you hire him?
There are actually few organizations that can support passionate employees—even if they say they want them. That's because the original industrial revolution was designed to support productivity. Productivity means you produce. That's how you're measured. Passion is difficult to quantify, and yet if you ever talk to teams who have produced break through products and innovative solutions—you know it was there. Passionate employees believe in something bigger than themselves. They're not interested in punching the clock, and sometimes they bend the rules.
Managers want passionate employees, but don't always know how to manage them. Passionate employees question things, probe and push. Who's got the time to deal with that? Productive employees get things done. No questions asked.
Deep down inside we know we need both—the question is do you have the right balance, and if you've got a few passionate employees on your hands, do you know how to motivate them? If Derek had the gumption to tattoo your brand on his arm, what else is he capable of doing? If you hire someone who lives and breathes the internet, they might be social networking on your dime. If you hire a sports fanatic, they might sneak in a game on the computer you provided them.
And if you align someone's passion with their job description—you just might boost your department's productivity. And that's where it gets interesting.
"A combination of good strategy and poor execution is like a Ferrari with flat tires"
~Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap
I've been thinking about the one prediction I contributed toward Peter Kim's 2009 Social Media list and it's been haunting me. So I went back to some basic personal inspiration and truths. A truth that we all probably know but are often times hesitant to admit is that it's really HARD to do something right. If you chew on Forrester's latest study—which points out that corporate blogs aren't trusted or doing all that well—as a marketer your first inclination may be "well, right—we tried a blog, and that didn't work, so let's try something else".
And that's just wrong.
Pardon my frankness here—but hear me out and take the words of Mr. Neumeier very seriously. Execution matters—in fact, it's everything. You would not be reading this blog right now if you didn't sense the countless hours I spend on it. The dedication it takes to keep this machine rolling. The effort I put into screening out signal from noise in order to try to deliver some value. It is a labor of love, and hopefully that's what keeps you coming back.
There are relatively few successful case studies in this space—and I can share with you from a personal perspective why that is as I've met some of the people that fuel them. I visited the folks at Dell when they were only a fraction of a team, the thing that I observed about them was their passion and commitment to the space. They understood not only the tools and how to use them—but were themselves immersed in the networks. Their jobs didn't end at 5:00. I recently had a chance to visit Zappos, and you can tell that the culture there is different from most organizations. In fact, recently their CEO went out of his way to help us redeem a coupon and my wife was blown away that he took care of the issue himself as opposed to delegating it to someone else. It's no suprise that the Zappos presence on Twitter has nearly 30,000 followers. And lastly—have you actually spent time with Frank Eliason from Comcast? I have, and I can tell you that he never shuts down. He's constantly trying to help people or point them in the right direction.
If you're scratching your head wondering why your socal media initiatives aren't the bright and shiney object you were sold—it's time to realize that there is a truth here that goes beyond social media all together. The fact is that it's hard work to produce something of value. It's really tough to do something that gets people talking (in a good way), and no amount of strategy can produce trust. Trust comes with time, interactions and has to be proven.
Trust has to be earned.
If you've bought into social media—know this. A strategy is very important—especially when we're talking about large organizations with numerous decision makers. But we're talking about a slow burn here. I started this blog in February 06, and my career has benefitted from it—but it's an ongoing effort that requires passion, dedication and commitment. Same goes for the the way I use Twitter. There is no way around it. In order to get these initiatives off the ground, work is required. A lot of it.
If you are a brand or organization struggling with your own social initiatives, I'd recommend you think about the following questions:
1. Do you have a passionate and dedicated team who will obsess over your efforts?
2. Are you trying to provide value or "quick hits"?
3. Are you willing to engage your customers/consumers?
4. Are you willing to empower your employees/agencies to represent you?
5. Are you willing to risk failure?
That's a start. I guess we could walk away from a Ferarri with flat tires, because there's not much you can do with it. Or you can roll up your sleeves and do what it takes to get it fixed. It'll probably be messy—you might even get a little grease on your shirt. But think about the places you could go.
Your feedback is appreciated and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Watch Personal Branding, David Armano, Digital Mass in News Online, Webisodes, and Game Videos | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
So here's the video from my talk on personal branding at the Chicago New Media Summit (Now called the Chicago Convergence). The video is decent quality and it's not very long (just under 20 mins) and you can download the slides from here. Hope you like.
Every once in a while a technology comes along that captures my attention and I start using it. In early 2007 it was Twitter. I immediately saw something in it—the way you could quickly get started, the instant gratification and the fluid conversation. I quickly dubbed it a "conversation ecosystem". Today, I just spent less than 10 minutes of my time playing with Bubble Comment. While I can't predict it's success—there is something here.
In mere seconds, anyone has the ability to leave a video comment on most sites. Here you can see that I've left a video comment on Seth Godin's blog (which ironically does not allow comments).
Will this new service alter our behavior? I really don't know. But it has a few things going for it:
4. Ease of use
And as Stacey pointed out, this type of application could come in handy for deaf individuals (you can use sign language). Most importantly, it put a face, voice and personality to this whole Web 2.0 game. And as you already know, giving people a voice goes far nowadays.
From my latest contribution to Ad Age Digital:
Had Carl G. Mayer, nephew of Oscar Mayer and creator of the Wienermobile put his concept in front of a bunch of marketing executives, I'm not certain it would have ever gotten the green light to move forward. Think about it -- if you never saw the Wienermobile in action, how would you estimate return on investment? I mean it's not actually selling hot dogs and it is dependent on fuel and maintenance. Aside from giving out coupons in front of grocery chains, how do you measure the ROI of something like the Wienermobile? How do you measure smiles? What do those get you?
Read the full article
Here's something else you already know. Try to please everybody and you'll please nobody. What does this have to do with business? Everything, just like in life. Too many features on a product equals something unusable. Too many chefs in a kitchen causes chaos. Too many validated opinions can lead to a compromised product or watered down vision of something that was once great. You already know this because you've been there, you are there, you're going there.
But the little voice kicks in. "I want to be liked".
It's subtle—you might think you're beyond it, but not as much as you'd care to admit. Pleasing yourself isn't the solution either, especially if you consider what you do to be in the service industry. We're all in the service industry now. So who do you please?
That's for you to figure out.
I've been called an expert. An expert blogger, an expert "social media" person—whatever that is. An expert in user/consumer/customer experience or "Web 2.0". If the "expert" label gets thrown my way, I don't give it much thought. It's just a label that helps people wrap their heads around something abstract to make it more concrete. Sometimes we need to categorize in order to make sense of things.
The thing is, I'll never see myself as an expert.
You might think that's humbling. I only wish I were that humble. I'll never see myself as an expert, because once you've convinced yourself that you are one—that's the moment your ability to see the world differently begins to decline. Expert eyes know what to look for. They can also be the eyes that miss the most obvious insights which lead to the most elegant of solutions.
I've embraced Forrest Gump as one of my heroes. An expert in nothing—with expertise in several things. Someone who did more than most of us dream, because he never saw himself as an expert.
He just did things.
There really isn't a problem with having experts around. They make us feel better. But I'd rather be an expert in nothing, with expertise in something. The next time you consult with an expert, ask them if they see themselves as one. The answers can tell you something about what they really know.
This post was inspired by a "novice".