Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Now that we’ve met…

Hey wait ! Come back! Yeah you, the one that just read my blog. Who are you? What were you looking for? How did you find me and will you be coming back? And why didn’t you say hello?

It is not as if we are complete strangers anymore, you read my words. We just “met”.

It would be different if say we were in the street, say in a public square and you were looking around to meet someone. You had someone in mind, but was it me? There are people everywhere, surrounding us. Faces in a crowd don’t have keyword bubbles above their heads, nor is there a live action “search” option to find out what we might have in common, not to mention whether I might be dangerous. But we did meet, in a safe place. On my blog.

But you left without saying anything. Nothing at all. Was I not who you thought I might be? After reading maybe the first paragraph, did you just move on? Was I boring? Or maybe not the subject matter you were looking for. And what exactly were you looking for? I’d love to know.

You might have been looking for a job candidate. I could be that. I work hard, and am always looking for an opportunity that would enrich both myself and my employer. And if that’s the case, I probably failed the first interview. Which is unfortunate, because I never got to know you. We never had a conversation.

Maybe you just followed a link on my Twitter or Instagram pages, email signature or any other number of social media sites where I am present. If so, I’d love to know what I said, linked to or posted about that motivated you to go that one step further to read my blog. Even if you don’t like my blog.

There is no implied agreement in social media that you reply to what anyone says. If however we were face to face and I said something, I would expect a response. And you probably would say something, unless I was a raving lunatic and you felt the need to just run as fast as you could in the other direction. In hindsight a raving lunatic would probably get more response in social media venues than in public which is evidenced by the comments sections of many blogs.

Truth be told, I could find out how you found me, how long you stayed and where you went when you left. But honestly, that does not interest me. It’s not enough for me. I’d prefer we start a conversation. After all, you did hear what I just said didn’t you?

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Getting back: The Value of Warming Up

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Being a recreational cyclist for nearly my whole life, I know better after being off the bike for more than 3 weeks, than to jump on and turn out a 60 mile spin. The results would be disastrous. It’s not that I wouldn’t finish the ride, but rather that in the end I would be so physically drained that I would be reluctant to get back on any time soon.

And it is with this in mind that I restart my blog with a quick spin around the neighborhood. Just getting the wheels under me so to speak. I’ll avoid the steepest hills and the more technical descents. Just concentrate on feeling the road, being aware of my surroundings and getting the feeling back.

Writing takes practice, lots of it. And just as I find myself 3 weeks from my last ride, I face the keyboard with weakened writing skills. The ideas are there. I have three unfinished blog posts to show for it. But I was so anxious to write that perfect post without stretching first, that I went nowhere. I read blogs about blogging. I scoured the Internet for the latest trends in social media and technology. I “followed” “thought leaders”. I rekindled my relationship with Twitter and subsequently found myself doubting that I had anything worthwhile to add to the conversation. That would be akin to jumping to the front of a pace line in The Tour de France and being disappointed that you couldn’t keep up.

The array of tools that we have to disseminate all our thoughts and ideas instantaneously to thousands if not millions has created billions of pages of information at our fingertips. And there are a myriad of tools available to help direct people to us. But unless we have something compelling to say, it doesn’t matter how many people we reach.

In a recent interview, Jim Messina, the man behind President Obama’s re-election campaign was asked about the technology heavy, social media and metric driven tactics that were employed during the 2012 election. Nobody had ever amassed so much data on the voters and utilized it so widely. Yet what stuck with me after reading wide-eyed at all the technological wizardry was this simple coda. 

“You can build a whole suite of analytics… but it all comes back to the campaign, it all comes back to having a message that matters,” Messina said.

That’s it. The message is what matters. Without well thought out and compelling content, a blog is just more words sent out into the digital ether. Okay, the legs are warmed up, and I can feel the rhythm of my cadence again. Think I’ll turn around and head home. Don’t want to push too hard the first day back, because even though my all carbon-fiber bike is one of the best that money can buy, in the end, it doesn’t go anywhere without me as the drive-train. 

Jumo.com: Chris Hughes’s New Direction for Social Media

When I read yesterday of Facebook’s Chris Hughes’s soft launch of his new project, Jumo.com, I immediately clicked, read, and followed. It was exhilarating. I was within the first 200 to follow on Twitter, an early fan on Facebook and, I began combing the web for more information. And I am sure that for him and his partners, it must be reassuring to know that his name has some equity.

With Facebook’s over 400 million users, that’s a pretty good base to start with. The question quickly becomes, how many of them will be attracted to an enterprise whose primary focus is connecting individuals to causes and concerns around the globe, not just connecting old classmates to each other or brands to consumers.

Jumo, is a word from Yoruba meaning, “together in concert”. And with Jumo.com, Hughes hopes to create a place where people can really engage.

As Hughes explained the project, “We’ll be matching people based on their skills and interests with organizations around the world that need their input. It’s a discovery process that first matches, then helps people build relationships, then let’s people share their resources.”

Watching the recent outpouring of money through social media during both recent earthquakes has shown that people are willing to click to pay, or text to pay to show support. What remains to be seen is whether the current social media model can sustain the long term needs of an organization like Jumo, whose goals are so lofty. I for one will not bet against Hughes.

I am curious as to how others feel about Jumo, and what its chances are of succeeding in the long run. Take a moment to check them out at jumo.com, and I would love to hear your comments.

Stickybits Meets Avi Buffalo at SXSW

Has my focus changed so drastically in the last year? Or has SXSW become more about indie software developers than indie music? (sorry, I hate labels too). And the subtext is that this year it’s all about the “Location Wars”. Not a battle of the bands, but more of a land battle of sorts. Everyone is fighting for geospace. All the “big” players will be out in force. Foursquare, Gowalla, Google, Facebook and Twitter will be posting their claim to know where you are and when. And naturally sell that information to the highest bidder. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Our recent recessionary economy has stimulated enormously creative ideas in marketing. And this is just the beginning. But just as established bands (meaning they’ve been around more than just 5 years) play SXSW alongside bands just looking for an audience, so too are the young upstarts in social media looking for their groupies! And just as with the bands, we’ll be hearing people tell us that they were in Austin in 2010 and saw the introduction of, say Stickybits.

Many of you have not yet heard of Stickybits. In fact, I had not until today. But trust me you will. The startup founded by Billy Chasen (Chartbeat) and Seth Goldstein (Socialmedia.com) introduces its seemingly quirky but potentially groundbreaking location based service.

The concept is simple. With the advent of barcode scanning in hand-held phones, consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips. With Stickybits, you can attach digital data to any barcode. And when someone scans that barcode with their phone, that digital data is then fed to their device. Let’s say you as a young band playing at SXSW is giving away CD singles with a barcode on the sleeve. That barcode could be linked to a video of your band along with a link to your website. Or maybe your product has a distinctively low carbon footprint and your customer is interested in how the product got to the marketplace. Fine, attach a link to your website or a video that traces it’s journey.

There are no limits to how these little gems can be utilized. And no doubt this week at SXSW there will be a lot of creative and hilarious applications. Free adhesive Stickybits will be handed out to many of this years’ 12,000 attendees. These barcodes can be followed, so if your girlfriend slaps you on the ass when she heads back to the hotel, be sure and have your buddy check to see that she didn’t leave any Stickybits behind.

As for me? Well to be honest, I’d probably just assume see Avi Buffalo in their first SXSW appearance. I mean, I saw their first gig in a vegan restaurant in Long Beach!

Walter Cronkite’s Legacy and Social Media’s Responsibility

The death of CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite and news coverage of his storied career in the development of television journalism in the 20th century gives me pause as the world of media continues to change at breakneck speed. Especially within the realm of social media.

Everyone knows Cronkite’s title of “most trusted man in America”. And most agree, that we will never see anyone in the unique position that he held in America for over 20 years.
The very way that news is gathered and disseminated, and by whom, guarantees this.

But it also should remind us, that although there will no longer be a single, trusted source for our news, we are all now responsible for what information is disseminated. Every link, every tweet, every rumor has the potential to influence people.

In virtually every post I have read about blogging, the mandate is stated. “you must establish trust” with your readers. But maybe even more important, is that all of us as consumers of information must be trusted as well. Trusted that we will research a story before re-tweeting. Trusted that we will think about the potential consequences of a story before hitting “send”. And trusted that we will use these incredible channels of communications that sit on our desktops to do good, and not just a channel to sell goods.

One thing that Walter Cronkite gave us was a great example of what to do when given such incredible responsibility. He showed us the way, and it is now, our responsibility to respect it.

The Kids Are Alright

Last weekend, I hosted a graduation beach party for my son and his friends who just wrapped up their high school years. My head was flooded with so many emotions ranging from remembrances from those long ago days of innocence, to the amazing and yet troubled world into which they are headed.

I was so proud of both the graduates and the success of the public school system (not to mention the parents) here in Long Beach, CA. Here is a graduating class of some 700 plus students and close to 10% graduated with honors. Of these, they garnered over $6 million in grants, scholarship and other aid. This is over twice what the class of 2008 had accomplished. And while doing this, they as a group had a combined 12,000 hours of community service in their 4 years.

Many are headed to 4 year universities, while others will attend local community colleges, but one thing about this class of “over-achievers”, was that they were not a bunch of bookworms. They had full, well-rounded lives throughout their high school years. They were artists and musicians. They were poets and photographers. I have heard so often that our kids are being raised in a super competitive environment with too much pressure to achieve. Yes, the pressure is there, as it should be. Life is full of challenges and teaching children to focus on task is essential. But I reject the fact that all this pressure is turning kids into one-dimensional beings.

They play video games, they Twitter and Facebook and MySpace and YouTube. But they also create and learn about the world around them. They are curious. They are anxious about the unknown. But they cannot wait to take the next steps that will lead them to the lives that lie ahead. It is an unnerving time to be an adult in this world, but the kids, they’ll be okay.

Stop and Listen to the Medium

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So let’s say you’re in a room, at a party maybe and there are a lot of people there. And everyone there is there for the same reason, to get noticed. To be heard and seen and perceived as important in some way or another so that they stand out in the crowd. Okay, now imagine the room stretches from Boston to LA, and those attending the party have at least one thing in common-–they are all out of work print production professionals. The first thing you might ask is, “do I have to be at this party?” For these purposes, the answer is yes.

You are an unemployed print pro, so that’s why you are there.
But do you have to stay? Well, that’s different. You are free to leave at anytime and join any other group of people looking for work. You decide to leave.

So there you are in a new room. It’s unfamiliar. The conversation is different. At first you feel like maybe you don’t belong there. The other room was filled with conversation that was so comfortable. It just felt familiar, easy. Maybe you should head back to the other party. No. You begin to listen to what’s being said. It’s not all that different at all. In fact, the more you listen, you realize that these people have a lot in common with those in the other room. They just do it without paper. They converse online with Twitter and Facebook and yes, with blogs. And the conversation is stimulating. This is a party you want to be at.

So you decide to stay, to listen to what folks are saying. You listen a lot at first because you’re a little unsure about whether you know enough to join in the conversation. You want to make a good first impression. You do have a lot to say though. You’ve been a marketing person for 25 years. It’s not so different, it’s just a different medium. But like a lifelong painter approaching a chunk of marble with a chisel for the first time, you stop yourself. You step back and listen. There will be plenty of time to talk later. Once you learn and understand the medium.


As Bill Tweets

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