I came across disturbing news about The Better Business Bureau, and how they were accepting bribes for grading businesses.
It’s a bummer, since the BBB is quite useful for online shopping when I need to check if a merchant is legit. Now that I think about it, the main alternative to the BBB is Yelp…another offender of selling out the public but at least Yelp posts reviews from real people.
Anyway, the BBB addressed the public by responding on Twitter and linked us to their public apology. The press release with all that PR bullshit was expected but they included a video message from the President/CEO. While I highly commend them for attempting to connect with the public, that post and video creeped me the fuck out. The President/CEO guy’s body language, mannerisms and intonation reminded me of the guy from America’s Most Wanted. Note: I couldn’t embed the BBB video here but you can watch it by clicking this. YouTube clip of America’s Most Wanted is here.
Sorry (well not really) but once an organization catering to the public breaks my trust, it takes a lot to regain it…and that lame video didn’t do anything for me. Actually, the correlation between the CEO guy and America’s Most Wanted makes me distrust the BBB even more.
That’s me though. Will you still trust the Better Business Bureau?
You know. I’m glad the public is aware of the education crisis in America and I’m not gonna lie, Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah are the reasons people finally, well, seem to care. I can not be happier. What makes me sad are the cynical comments.
Mark Zuckerberg doing good for positive press because of some movie — ok, fine. The timing is bad and I can see why people would think that, but you guys. What motivation do Mayor Cory Booker or Governor Chris Christie have? Have any of you actually been to Newark? Or New Jersey? (Teterboro and EWR don’t count.)
So I challenge all of you, on the Internet, to please learn more about why Newark deserved the grant before spewing negativity. Here are some resources to get you started: The Oprah clip: click this. Mark Zuckerberg’s thoughts: click here. My first hand experiences in New Jersey and thoughts: click this one. Slightly outdated round-up of Mayor Cory Booker’s background and accomplishments is here. More on the challenge grant via the WSJ. The thread where I posted that comment is on StartupEducation’s FB fan page. Click this to see the thread and while you’re at it, fan the page. Follow along. Then decide to critique.
- In 2008, McDonalds’ net profit was 4.3 billion dollars and their advertising budget was $823 billion
- Foursquare Day took place on April 16th. Six months ago. McDonalds and Foursquare are still getting press
- Of the 45 brands/businesses that participated, McDonalds is the only company still being mentioned in press
Looking at the above, I wonder what McDonalds’ goals for participating were and if 33% more check-ins or 33% increase in foot traffic really matters to McDonalds.
Just throwing it out there.
If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough
My most useful career experience was about eight years ago when I was trying to break into the world of VC-backed startups. I applied to hundreds of jobs: low-level VC roles, startups jobs, even to big tech companies. I got rejected from every single one. Big companies rejected me outright or gave me a courtesy interview before rejecting me. VCs told me they wanted someone with VC experience. Startups at the time were laying people off. The economy was bad (particularly where I was looking – consumer internet) and I had a strange resume (computer programmer, small bootstrapped startups, undergrad and masters studying Philosophy/mathematical logic).
The reason this period was so useful was that it helped me develop a really thick skin. I came to realize that employers weren’t really rejecting me as a person or on my potential – they were rejecting a resume. As it became depersonalized, I became bolder in my tactics. I eventually landed a job at Bessemer (thanks to their willingness to take chances and look beyond resumes), which led to getting my first VC-backed startup funded, and things got better from there.
One of the great things about looking for a job is that your “payoff” is almost always a max function (the best of all attempts), not an average. This is also generally true for raising VC financing, doing bizdev partnerships, hiring programmers, finding good advisors/mentors, even blogging and marketing. I probably got rejected by someone once a day last week alone. In one case a friend who tried to help called me to console me. He seemed surprised when I told him: “no worries – this is a daily occurrence – we’ll just keep trying.” If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough.via cdixon.org
A-fucking-men; the worst anyone can say is no.
Harvard University put up a beautifully executed site where the books checked out from their five respective libraries are aggregated, Tweeted and integrated with their proprietary catalog database (Hollis)
Fascinating and educational, as I am always looking for new ways to learn. Times like these I fall in love with the Internet allllll over again.
However. Where do past Tweets go? How do I pull up archives?? Am I the only one who wants more than real-time data???
There are ways to look up and archive my data (Tweettake, BackUp-ify, even FriendFeed) but there are so many neat Twitter API based services. Such a bummer there is no efficient search or archive.
Anyone have suggestions or methods they want to share?
THEM: Aren’t you concerned about privacy?
ME: What about privacy? Look at this way: think about how our data is used, not being collected.
Then, Fred Wilson’s taste makers post and Gmail’s smarter inbox announcement motivated me to finish this draft for this is super exciting technology.
The gist of the serendipity algorithm is digital intelligence. It is not perfect (yet) but through our repeated behaviors and our friends’ actions, sites and services know what we are looking for. Recommendations and things that are relevant to us is accessible as soon as we log-on or even refresh the page. Nowadays, we should be offended if we have to dig through enormous amounts of noise to find things that interest us.
Look around you, we see it on a daily basis on sites we least expect.
- Amazon pulls up recommendations based on past item purchases and browsing behaviors
- Facebook pulls up content relevant to you by the actions of your friends. If enough people in your graph LIKE or comment on an item, that item floats into your newsfeed, even if you are not friends with the original poster
- Yelp rises the users you have fanned to ensure you don’t miss what your favorite reviewer said about a particular establishment
- Twitter pushes Tweets -specifically @replies- into your streams from people who have been RTd
Almost every site and service performs these actions.
So how does this apply to our role as marketers?
We are seeing the medium change every single day. It is our chance to use this shifting paradigm to our advantages, to have a voice heard, a methodology outside of the norm seen… which is the reason social media, the Internet and all these products and services are so exciting.
Every brand, business and even individuals are on an even playing field. It’s about who can best strategize the message, to use social media as an execution tool.
As a marketer and someone who loves this industry, the Internet and my role, it is a bummer to see peers use this medium as a billboard.
That said, I will leave you with words from one of the greatest marketers of our time: the all mighty Steve Jobs.
To me, marketing is about values.
This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world.
And we’re not gonna get a chance to get people to remember much about us.
No company is.
And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.
Thus, marked the launch of the ‘Think Different’ campaign. (see the keynote here.) Funny how those words are still relevant a decade later.
So how are you going to think differently?
*added: Kevin Elliff chimed in with a much clearer post than mine. Read his thoughts here.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
- TBWA/Chiat Day for Apple (Thanks to Roberto Fisher and NYT bits blog)
Customer development is a fancy way of saying: I’m requesting a free brain picking session to better my product!
Look, I get it. I respect the start-up hustle. I also love helping people out but I have a day job. A very time consuming day job. So if you don’t sell me, I will turn down your request to save us both time. It’s not personal. It’s that if I say I’m going to do a customer development session, I will
- be interested in your product
- dedicate time
- provide as much well thought out feedback and sound advice
Because of 1-3, I refuse fulfilling development calls as favors for friends and this is why.
A few weeks ago, I made the enormous mistake of agreeing to a development call as a favor. This is how the conversation started:
Powerful stuff over at Alexis Ohanian’s blog.
For those of you who ask me: How are you so fearless? Or how do you stay strong? Or why aren’t you ever afraid to take risks? It’s because what doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger. Just like Alexis. Just like me, as well as a bunch of people I’m probably forgetting.
Anyway, thanks for the reminder Alexis. Much needed today.
Keep calm and carry on.
CHA-CHING. Right on the money. THIS is what is called community and engagement. #recognize
Other notable points:
- High engagement
- High value
- value vs potential = on point
How am I doing this? Here you go:
“MySpace on Facebook: The Beginning of Something Wonderful”
“MySpace on Facebook: How I’m Building Community”
My interview via Marketing Pilgrim
It’s frustrating to see so much weight placed on follower count, but articles like these give me a glimmer of hope. From AdAge:
“[...]But his first round of magazine-cover appearances suggest that the conversion rate between dollars and tweets is still pretty unclear. And not everyone, it seems, can cash in yet.
The issue sold just more than 1 million copies at newsstand, about 20% below the newsstand average for early issues this year and 20% below its newsstand average in April 2009.
People’s later cover with Sandra Bullock, who doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account but does have an Oscar, sold more than twice as many newsstand copies.”
Separately, there was an article in HBR today dissecting Twitter followers and how it correlates to influence.
Totally gonna toot my own horn, but I’ve been saying since lord knows when: Grow out of the Tila Tequila mentality. Follower count does not equate to influence. If 3 million people are following, but no one is listening, are you popular and not an influencer? Why didn’t Beiber’s People issue sell more than Sandra Bullock’s issue? Does popularity equate to conversion? Or even reach?
Only time will tell, but me? I’d rather have a fraction of followers who actually engage. I think it’s time we re-think the terms: influencer and popular. #fridayfoodforthought
Owning the page has been a treat, since the MySpace brand automatically gives me access to thousands of eyes. This page has been pertinent to understanding the MySpace audience. I still cannot believe I have the privilege to delve right into the core of the community — even if it is off platform. Actually, the fan page is still small (for a brand the scope of MySpace) so it has been easier to interact with the members.
When I started curating the page, it was not pretty. Users would post rude things unprovoked, spam the wall, comments and the Discussion threads. Slowly but surely, we are turning into a community where power users are being identified, comments are turning into conversations, personal attacks are rarer occurrences and community members take it upon themselves to ensure the conversation stays respectful. It is now a semi-community; a safe place where our users — customers — can come to hang out. Though I am not going to lie. These two and half months have been a daily uphill battle since users who visit the fan page still do not understand how to conduct themselves. It is also fascinating to see the reactions of people who are caught off guard when they realize someone from MySpace is actually present, listening, when they post rude or disrespectful comments.
That said, for all persons representing their brands online, it is important to remember: access to hundreds of thousands, does not equate to an insta-community.
So how am I building community?
When I took over the page, I double — perhaps tripled — the content posted and with every post, keep in mind the Internet is a medium to engage and socialize as I: 1. join and moderate the conversation 2. post engaging content and 3. set guidelines.
1. Joining the conversation: moderating
A key factor in building community is to actually, well, partake in conversation. The key here, is not be afraid. There is a person sitting behind the computer engaging with your content. So long as you keep that in mind, interaction is pretty simple: talk to anyone and everyone as you would like to be treated. Do not respond to every single comment but watch the direction of the conversation. If someone is unnecessarily rude, warn them and let them know: Hey, I’m listening. That catches users off guard and the conversation goes back to being civil. Regulars, are now used to moderation. If a person continues to insult or personally attack you, your brand or other members of the community: Do not be afraid to ban. It’s for the greater good of the community. I also do not delete comments unless absolutely necessary. I’ve found the community members watch what other users post on the wall and comments — even posts from a few days back. A couple of examples (warning, foul language):
In this day and age of sharing content, attention to URLs and thumbnails are pertinent. 1. there is an average of 50+ million shares on your Twitter and Facebook streams. Every piece of content you take the time to share, only has one shot. Don’t muck it up. 2. Content aggregated to Facebook and Twitter does not contain searchable meta data. Think about keywords.
Oh Yahoo, you sadden me.
ps: Separately, am I the only one who still can’t get over how UPS drivers make $74k?? Seriously, still in awe.
My Zappos UPS package was stolen from my front door, and like every prolific social media loud-mouth, I Tweeted it out late last night:
Now what I didn’t megaphone was how I filled out a customer claim form like a consumer who functions in society should. The next morning, I woke up to responses from Zappos via Twitter and email. No big shocker there, since I’ve been a fan of Zappos loooooooooooong before Twitter and their customer service has always been exceptional.
But I wasn’t expecting a response from UPS and I’m not going to lie. I was surprised to see them monitoring conversation.
As excited I was to learn the MySpace Facebook fan page was going to be handed to me, I was a little scared. Terrified, even, and I am not going to lie: there are still days when I share content on that page and prepare myself for the worst. Even on Facebook, MySpace is home to the 13-17 and 18-24 demographic and when I think back to those years I too, was probably a jerk for no reason 98% of the time.
However, I am pleasantly surprised.
Some stats and observations from Facebook’s fan page:
That’s me second from the right with @JessBerlin, @MelissaRowley, @BrianSolis, @Pistachio, @Rabeidoh and the photobomber. ;) (cc) Kenneth Yeung - www.thelettertwo.com
Holy smokes I survived my very first SxSWi (interactive) and I must jot down my thoughts while they’re still fresh. You know, this old age stuff is making me very forgetful. FINE. I just have a bad memory. Anyway, moving on!
1. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
Whatever you do people, listen to me: you must MUST stay close to downtown. Austin is this tragic land where hailing a cab is nearly impossible. Heck, the cabs with their lights on don’t stop. And. AND it takes forever and a flippin’ day for a cab to come, even after you call them.
2. Make friends with cab drivers
I am not even kidding. The very first cab driver you have rapport with, make sure you tip well and use that one driver for your entire trip there. It will save you a lot of time.
3. Fogo de Chao is overpriced and mediocre
For those who have never been to Sx, you are probably reading this going wtf? But seriously, Fogo de Cao is one of the nicer establishments conveniently located downtown. There will be many dinners there (sit down dinners) that you will probably be invited to. It is not a casual restaurant for BBQ and it is also a chain. Before agreeing to dinner, I recommend evaluating worth. One meal there is about $400 with alcohol, tip and labor — as in your time spent. So think — especially about the company — before agreeing to a dinner there. Note: this doesn’t apply solely to Fogo — there are so many people, so many events going on simultaneously, the most valuable thing at Sx is time. ;)
4. Brunch and breakfasts
It is near impossible to meet people for happy hour, quick drinks and by late night everyone is so wasted, if you are looking to build meaningful relationships, breakfasts, brunch, coffee and or lunch is the best time to connect. I also recommend scheduling with three to five (max) of the people you want to meet before Sx.
5. Put one day aside to avoid your friends
On my third and last day in Austin, I purposely avoided every place my friends checked into on Foursquare to meet new people. It was the best thing I did. Don’t get me wrong, I met up with my friends late night to party but because I avoided the usual suspects during the day and into the early evening, I met and connected with: Jeff Jarvis, Leo Laporte, editors and journalists from LA Times, CNN and NY Times, and the VP of Social Media for National Geographic. Craziness.
6. No badge needed
In case you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t bring up panels, talks and or the actual convention. Unless Sx kicks their content game up, I will most likely go badgeless again next year (if I go.) Sx is all about networking and connecting with people in person. I don’t need to attend people’s panels since I already read their blogs. Plus, recorded sessions show up on YouTube, Vimeo, et al. :)
The very last and most important thing I learned at SxSW is how honored and humbled I am to be connected to so many phenomenal people. The people who move and shake the Internet are…my friends (!) and even lovelier in person than they are online. I am so fortunate to have met the people I have.
So that was seven things, but whatever.
SxSWi 2010 and all my friends: I LOVE YOU. And thank you, Austin for your hospitality!!
A lot of people have been asking if I moved to L.A., and I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure. Since last year, I have been contracting with MySpace and only told a few close friends. However, as more people are starting to find out I thought it was time I finally talked (or blogged) about my move and what not.
Are you cringing right now? It’s ok if you are, I completely understand. Heck, almost everyone I told’s first reactions was this hilarious face — like they guzzled a jar of pickle juice type sour face — immediately proceeded with a WHY?!? People have also told me the same bajillion reasons why I am out of my mind to want to work there, followed with the prying: “What’s going on? Are you guys tanking?” etc., etc., so when I say it’s ok, I understand, I do.
However, I am proud and honored to be a part of this phenomenal team and MySpace is far from dead. It’s funny how one of the first things out of people’s mouths are: “MySpace isn’t going to beat Facebook.” and that’s completely ok too, since MySpace isn’t trying to be “a Facebook.” Yes, we are both social platforms but what we leave out of the equation is the most important piece: target audience.
An excerpt from a “MySpace isn’t dead.” piece:
If you check the most recent comscore, MySpace has grown 2 months in a row, and is back up to 120MM users worldwide. That may not sound huge compared with Facebook’s 350MM, but it is still 2X twitter’s audience, and blows almost any other site out of the water. We in Silicon Valley tend to think that when something is not hockey-sticking anymore than it is dead. That is not true. If MySpace lost 1MM users a month it would take 10 years to disappear. That still gives them some time to figure out what to do. (read the rest here.
MySpace still owns the 0-17 and 18-24 age groups. We tend to forget — especially, since we are no longer in those age groups. ;)
I believe in MySpace for many reasons and thrilled to be a part of this organization. The team — my co-workers and bosses — rock my socks off, you have no idea of the collective brain power and charisma (pertinent to leadership roles) this group has. The camaraderie and creative energy is something I definitely want to be a part of. I wish I can introduce you guys to everyone, for they are an exceptional bunch. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with and learn from these individuals, respectively.
There are still many many reasons, product related reasons — most I cannot talk about — all I will say is stay tuned. ;)
So to all of you asking me about my So Cal Foursquare check-ins or L.A. Yelp reviews: Yes, I moved to L.A. for this once in a lifetime opportunity. :) If you are ever in the area (or even live down here) you are more than welcome to stop by. We’ll go have tater tots from @grlldcheesetruk, they come once a week!
ps: there is more after the jump, but it is all personal (sappy) stuff, fyi. Continue reading
I sat on this post a day for I did not want to be the a-hole slamming such an amazing event, but two days later, I still stick by my initial thoughts: IgniteLA sucked.
Technical difficulties, it happens. Cruddy venue with sticky carpets and not enough chairs… hey, that happens too — especially since the event is free. But everyone I know who attends Ignites leaves…ignited. It was so disappointing how the night kicked off with a huge plug from APOC – USC’s New Media graduate program. The speaker, lectured us on the digital age, about how we are connected via Internet more than ever and how things go “viral” through Internet communities. Then. THEN she ended her speech by plugging her program and telling us graduates intern at top tech companies like Yahoo!. Uhhhhhhhhhhh okay. Whatever you say, lady, but most of us there are already eating, sleeping and breathing the Internet. Know your audience, Public Speaking 101. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t Ignites about charging creativity, showcasing original, obscure people in the community…? That presentation set an unfortunate tone to the night.
Another huge bummer: IgniteLA’s site is under construction. That happens, sure, but the site is in Flash. Flash. FLASH. Really? REALLY? The least they could’ve done was put up a schedule or list of speakers. I only remember three of the speakers and that’s because they are my peers or friends of friends. What about the people who attended for the first time? How are they supposed to connect with the speakers?
Aside from a few presentations, I wish the content was vetted more carefully. There were some bizarre bizarre presentations, including one with the slide: RED. WET. HARD. (LOL) and it almost seemed like the organizers were showcasing their personal friends (most of the speakers were introduced as “My very very very good and amazing amazing friend x and x.”) The ones who weren’t their friends, were introduced with a disclaimer: “The next speaker came highly recommended by “so and so.” So weird. Frankly, I don’t care who a person is, who they know, who they are connected to, or where they they come from. Just give me awesome content. The most troubling was how the final slide of all the presentations didn’t have any of the speakers’ Twitter names or URLs.
On top of that, there was no Ustream, no official hashtag, and hardly anyone was live Tweeting. Perhaps I am spoiled by the caliber of the other Ignites, but LA is a great city with so many collective creative minds, it was a shame this Ignite left me wanting more UMPH.
Maybe next time, I guess…? (Well, I hope.)
- Brian is thorough and shares invaluable information. His posts normally answers the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why) and takes it a step further by telling us how. Two posts that illustrates that: “The Science of ReTweets on Twitter.” — in which he breaks down the art of ReTweets (with pretty graphs) and how we (company, individual, or brand) can achieve virality. “The 10 Stages of Social Media Integration in Business.” where, well, it is just as the title reads. ;)
- Beyond the conversational aspects of social media, Brian teaches us other stuff — for a lack of a better term. Like how to optimize our social content — or in plain English, how our social media efforts can be rewarded by search engines (Google.) “Social Media Optimization: SMO is the New SEO – Part 2” is a good beginner piece I recommend to everyone.
- So what’s the difference between SMO and SEO? Well, there you go. Reason number three we should read that post and his book. Thing about the Internet is, things are constantly changing and we must keep learning.
- He recommends resources, backed with data — personally, I am partial to recommendations with analysis conducted by Dan Zarrella* i.e. “The Top 100 Twitter Publishing Tools and Services.“
- Brian also writes pieces that a lot of people in social media don’t take the time to think about (or even care about.) One of my favorites is “The Information of Divide: The Socialization of News.” where we — everyone who participates in any social media service — should read and consider. And not because I’ve been harping about it forever.
- The final reason is for the name droppers. Brian guest posts for Mashable OMG!!!!!!1111 (Mashable is the ultimate collaborative social media resource out there — just in case.)
…ok, so reason number six is kinda sarcastic. But if digital / interactive / social media marketing is your business, this book is highly recommended. Clearly. So what’re you waiting for, you can buy the book by clicking on any of the logos below:
Sorry Brian — totally stole the code from this post! :)
*Dan Zarrella is a social media scientist who writes some pretty rockin’ posts. Like this one. Actually, I haven’t read a junky post from him to date. That he shares. For free. FREE. Can’t believe it’s free.