Monthly Archives: April 2009

Google Search Art

Saw this cool Google search art the other day (April 27) celebrating Sam Morse’s birthday, the creator of Morse Code.

google-4-27-09

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WSJ: Bloggers for Hire

The folks over at Dell’s Digital Nomad tipped me off to the WSJ article, “America’s New Profession: Bloggers for Hire.” Paid bloggers are one the rise, almost 1% of the American population now have a job blogging.  Author Mark Penn writes, “The best studies we can find say we are a nation of over 20 million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work ,and 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income. That’s almost 2 million Americans getting paid by the word, the post, or the click — whether on their site or someone else’s.”

Staggering.  In fact, I met The Tracksuit CEO Daniel Hope at SXSW and he shared with his breakout group, Blog on Company Time–and get paid, that he was receiving a graduate education at the University of Texas in exchange for blogging for the university.  Amazing.

You should probably read the article yourself instead of me regurigitating the amazing article.  He even cites the fourth estate and dubs a new fifth estate.  Here are some cool employment stats provided in the article:

Comparing Job Numbers in America

Lawyers 555,770
Bloggers 452,000
Bartenders 498,090
Computer Programmers 394,710
CEOs 299,160
Firefighters 289,710

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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April 19 #blogchat Recap

I never knew how much fun having a #hashtag discussion on Twitter could be.  I’ve seen them take place before and commented on a couple of posts, but I never actually broke out the search on tweetdeck and followed along–mainly because I’ve only recently switched to using tweetdeck for my twitter client.

Last night’s blogchat discussion was a total flash discussion. Flared and ended in about 30 minutes.  The discussion centered around two main ideas: Customers guest blogging on corp blogs and rules to corp blogging.

Customers Blog

The idea that came from the talk was the shift to having a company’s customers provide guest posts on corp blogs.  Having customers provide a voice is great idea.  Some questioned the creditability that a customer post would have: is it sponsored, is it only the happy customers that post, etc.  Moving forward it would be great if customers did post to corp blogs.  This turns a blog into a forum, extends the value of the community.  Another great result of this tactic is having customer testimonials to arm your sales force with.  Testimonials are never easy to get.  Yet with a blog post, they are no longer just a customer, it’s not just a testimonial–they’re part of your community.  I’ll let the goosebumps go down before continuing……..

The Rules of Corporate Blogging

Tim Jahn (@timjahn) said it best, “The number 1 rule for blogging? Make your own damn rules.”  It easy to read all the analyst and dare I say, experts, and think you’re doing it wrong.  If you start benchmarking similar blogs or what others are doing, I’ll talk to you in 3 years and you still wont have anything to compare your community to.  This is scary sure, but it should be viewed as empowering you to take risks, make decisions on your blog strategy.  And remember, you make your own damn rules.

Can’t wait for the next one.

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Twitter Goes Mainstream – Are You Happy Now?

Oprah gains 225,000 followers in less than 13 hours. Ashton Kutcher hits 1 million followers twitterbefore CNN.  All signs point to Twitter has gone mainstream. Yet, the community isn’t happy.  Twitter was the lone place where the geeks reigned supreme-think the arcade in Can’t Buy Me Love – but now all the cool kids are coming in.

Twitter in it’s short life span has been thought of and talked about in many ways:

  • At first it was, “who cares what I’m doing right now”
  • Then it was, “I can’t believe how many people are downtown at the Apple store right now, impromptu tweetups ROCK !”
  • Then the onslaught of tools came to help the community communicate and find each other easier
  • From there it went to, “I listen to as many people as possible because it’s better than Google,  it’s user-authenticated search on topics that matter most to me”
  • Some thought it would replace Google as the new form of search
  • Replace text messaging, although it’s sort of like text messaging
  • And now, it’s a popularity contest with spammers promising more followers and celebrities begging for more followers-and that’s if they are really the ones tweeting
  • I should mention, it still hasn’t made money

I think that the Twitter community is big enough to host the different types of people coming in.  Just like any community, it starts with one mission, then more people come and naturally there’s a cultural split and segmentation occurs.  It’s a diverse crowd now, and diversity is not all that bad.

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Goodbye Mr. Clabo

Every once in awhile you’re fortunate to get a great boss.  I’ve been lucky to have a bunch.  One of those managers is moving on today.  It was three years ago yesterday that I started working at FedEx and it’s been one wild ride ever since.

Part of what has made my time so fun was Howard Clabo.  As a manager he empowered me to go get in trouble, yelled at me when I did and then toasted me when we did good.  So, my ears will miss the shouts of “Maaatt,” the SNL video breaks and white-boarding the next big project, but I wish him and his lovely family well on their next adventure (Nameste, Carol).  May Acham’s Razor continue to guide you.

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And the Noid Wins…Unfortunately

If you haven’t seen the Domino’s video of employee’s sticking pieces of cheese up their noses dominos_pizza_noid_19851and doing horrible things to food being used to make a sandwich, I wouldn’t. It’s disturbing and sickening.  It damages the brand to the core – consumers trust. 

“Nothing is local anymore,” Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre says. “That’s the challenge of the Web world. Any two idiots with a video camera and a dumb idea can damage the reputation of a 50-year-old brand.”

USA Today has provided commentary on the incident, but not from a financial or business standpoint.  A social media standpoint.  USA Today editorial provides the following advice to companies below. Complete article is here.

UPDATE: Jeremiah Owyang at Forrester adds Domino’s to his Punk’d by Social Media List: @jowayang web strategist.

USA Today interviewed some professionals and provided some best practices and learnings:

• Monitor social media. Big companies must actively watch Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social sites to track conversations that involve them. That will help uncover potential crises-in-the-making, says Brian Solis, a new-media specialist and blogger at PR2.0.

• Respond quickly. Domino’s responded within hours. “They responded as soon as they heard about it, not after the media asked, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” says Lynne Doll, president of The Rogers Group, a crisis-management specialist.

• Respond at the flashpoint. Domino’s first responded on consumer affairs blog The Consumerist, whose activist readers helped track down the store and employees who made the video. Then it responded on the Twitter site where talk was mounting. “Domino’s did the right thing by reinstituting the trust where it was lost,” Solis says.

• Educate workers. It’s important that all employees have some media and social-media training, says Ross Mayfield, co-founder of Socialtext, which advises companies on new media.

• Foster a positive culture. Workers who are content and customers who like your product are far less likely to tear down a company online, PR guru Katie Delahaye Paine says. “This would be a lot less likely to happen at places like Whole Foods.”

• Set clear guidelines. Companies must have clear policies about what is allowed during working hours — and what isn’t, Doll says. “It won’t prevent everyone from breaking the rules, but at least they’ll know what the rules are.”

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What Las Vegas Taught Me About Social Media

Viva Las Vegas. Viva La Blogosphere.  I had the great opportunity to go to welcomelasvegasSin City over Easter weekend with my wonderful wife to witness a family member be married.  While I was out there I watched and observed–it was a total onslaught of the senses.  Why do stores with Subway’s in them always stink?  Like bad?  Anyway, during my two day stay, a couple of thoughts on social media came to mind.

1. People never stay where they stay: Pretty simple idea and maybe one that has been talked about to death.  We stayed at the Wynn, but always left to eat, gamble, sight see, etc.  The reason? While the Wynn was pretty (the room was awesome) I couldn’t see paying 4 dollars for a cup of coffee.  I couldn’t see paying $20 for two cocktails.  My favorite word comes to mind: value.  The coffee, the drinks, the atmosphere not worth the value.

We wandered. Ate at Treasure Island, The Mirage, in old Downtown.  We bought drinks at New York, New York. Gambled at MGM and hung out in the Venetian.  So what’s the lesson? While you’re home site is beautiful, is it providing the best value to your consumers?  Are you building a website knowing that people will leave?  And what is the value proposition for people staying?

With this consumer digital migration in mind, Facebook Connect and OpenID are excellent tools to integrate into a site.  These tools enable, almost empower, consumers to leave a site but take all their information with them.

What if the Wynn had allowed us to use our room card to swipe at NY NY to buy a drink, at the MGM to play blackjack, at Treasure Island to eat the buffet.  They would be able to collect and aggregate buying preferences of all their guests to make their offerings stronger.  They would understand how far people would travel from the casino to get what they want-what the value of walking clear across the strip was just to get away from $20 Captain and Cokes.

This is more about technology, but it’s using social tools to understand consumer behavior.  Oh and by the way. I think the Wynn costs that much to pay for it’s flash-heavy, light on information website.  Having said all of that, let me reiterate, the Wynn was gorgeous and I recommend sleeping there to everyone!

2. Your visitors don’t all look the same, act the same, think the same, but they all make up your community: So, a couple of life’s questions were answered for me in Las Vegas: Why are there so many tattoo parlors in America and who buys all those Hooker shoes from places in the mall that blare loud music? (One for the Murtaugh List)  Vegas has every type of person, demographic and lifestyle all melded into one bright-lighted community.  It’s great.  It made me realize there’s not a single demographic to target, but the value of Vegas is what draws them all to one place.

The lesson: when building community, understand that your content has to be solid enough for all audiences, because all audiences will come.

3. What Recession: Vegas was packed. When looking for sweet deals on rooms and airfare, none to be found — at least not from Memphis.  A journalist I spoke with this week said he found deals all over the place, but he was coming from California.  Anyway, cabbies were bullish. They said it’s not that people aren’t coming, they just aren’t spending because they don’t have 8 credit cards with high limits. People coming are losing cash.  Not sinking deeper into credit debt.

The lesson: opportunity is out there.  However, organizations don’t have credit cushion to test out social media programs.  There needs to be strategy, baked in facts, to drive social media to community-think.  And, understand perspectives of a good deal are all over.  If a good idea doesn’t work in your group, that doesn’t mean it won’t work in another.  Put your social equity on the table and double down.

Anyway, I didn’t lose much, the only thing I gained was weight and I didn’t sleep.  What a perfect vacation.

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My Murtaugh List

I’m a huge fan of the show How I Met Your Mother. Huge.  I can even get over Doogie Howser murtaughbeing on it.  Anyway, recently they aired a show about how Ted has compiled a “Murtaugh List” of things he can never do anymore because of age.  How did this name come about?  Detective Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon.  It seems right before they take the bad guy down, there’s a scene where Detective Murtaugh does some feat of physical activity and says, “I’m getting too old for this sh*t.” Watch for yourself: HIMYM: Murtaugh

So, it’s no secret since I’ve hit the big 3-0, I’ve been on a downhill slope. It’s well documented.  Anyway, here’s my official Murtaugh List (it will probably grow) of why I’m old. And, I’m probably getting too old for all this sh*t anyway…

  1. I can’t stand radio stations that play “today’s hits”
  2. While at the Apple Store, a kid probably aged 10, totally embarrassed me at Star Wars Lego
  3. My son told me I had hot breath
  4. I saw a car just 3 days ago driving down a major street with the driver and passenger dancing. I thought, this is why kids shouldn’t have licenses
  5. I rather appreciate talk radio and will only listen to sports radio or NPR
  6. The other day I was actually listening to the radio and I heard 3 great songs strung together and then the station identification came on and it was an Easy Listening station.  Easy, freakin, Listening Man!
  7. I identify my age by music
  8. When I get up in the morning I used to view going to the bathroom as a good thing to do, now it’s a necessity and don’t get in my way
  9. When I get up needing to go to the bathroom, all my muscles hurt, which complicates the necessity
  10. I feel the need to tell you my bathroom habits
  11. I complain about how much milk (soy) my family drinks a week
  12. I actually told my son, as he was getting milk, to “close the refrigerator door, I’m not paying to cool the house and you’ll break the motor”
  13. I enjoy going to Home Depot and Loews more than going to electronic stores (RIP CompUSA)
  14. When I get online, I research gardening tips and landscaping ideas instead of going immediately to fark.com or other time wasting sites.

Okay, so that’s the list as it stands today.  I asked my twitter friends to add theirs, so here’s some good ones.

@rebeccag – For me, it’s memory. I cannot remember a thing – have to write it all down, or it’ll be gone forever! Hate that.

@chriswilliams2 – I pay attention to the price of gasoline and have never heard of most of the people who win music awards.

@runtrap – I determined I was old when I began to like flavors of candy/popsicles that were not red in color

What are some that have made your Murtaugh List?

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SXSW Wrap Up

It’s been almost two weeks since my SXSW experience and I’m still amped from it.  It was definitely a who’s who in social media and if you weren’t there…I didn’t see you.  sxsw09

I had great conversations with folks from JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Disney, Nascar, author Debbie Weil, analyst Jeremiah Owyang, and pros like Chris Brogan, David Armano, Mark Collier, Tim Hayden and the Dell social media folks. I even caught up with PR faculty and students from Texas State, my Alma mater.

The presentations were great, but the scene in the halls in between session was awesome.  I learned a lot and validated ongoing strategy.   There were a ton of smart people there and I can’t wait to go back next year.

I think the show was great for one reason: visitors were ready for better times.  Attendees could feel that social media is ready to go mainstream and they were soaking it all up.  The show was inspiring, the people were motivating.

Hell, I was even asked by Bryan Person from @liveworld to say some words about the Citizenship blog.

The show established itself as the premier conference in the tech/social/marketing world.  See you next year.

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