Category: Social Networking

Don’t Be That Guy/Girl. #smartersocial

I love that non tech savvy are getting Androids, iPhones, etc., and Facebooking-Foursquaring-Tweeting more. It makes me feel less nerdy and well, normal (or as close to normal as I can be.) Plus I don’t feel as bad for broadcasting check-ins and the like to Facebook.

HOWEVER. I’m sorry (well not really) but this has to be said.

Am I the only one who doesn’t give a two sh*ts if you’re at Home Depot looking at new toilet seats? Or at Target buying cleaning supplies? Or at the gym the same exact time, every single day?? Seriously. What’s the point???

If you think I’m a hypocrite, think again. It may seem like I mindlessly broadcast, but I pick and choose why I share what with who and how. So unless you want stalkers (knock on wood) and people to actually listen/pay attention to and be interested in you, think before sharing and remember to tweak options! You can still check-in for mayorship purposes without megaphoning everywhere.

For those wondering, Foursquare has a purpose aside from: Hey look at me! I’m outside of my house! It’s great for bookmarking and the tips users leave are super handy. i.e. cleanest restrooms in area, recommended dishes at restaurants, times and days of special deals, where electrical outlets are located (for people who are constantly charging), etc., etc. It’s such a bummer these options are kinda ignored. It’s worth checking out. No pun intended.

So don’t be that person spamming your friends! Think before following trends. #thankyouverymuch

The BBB’s Creepy PR Video #unnecessary

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?

Why Newark Deserved the Challenge Grant from Mark Zuckerberg


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.

Thank you.

McDonalds 33% check-in vs foot traffic: does it matter? #perspective


The buzz today seems to be about McDonalds and the ROI discrepancy but does it really matter for a brand the scope of McDonald’s?

Consider:

  1. In 2008, McDonalds’ net profit was 4.3 billion dollars and their advertising budget was $823 billion
  2. Foursquare Day took place on April 16th. Six months ago. McDonalds and Foursquare are still getting press
  3. 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 #fb

If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough

September 12th, 2010 | careers, startups

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.

A-fucking-men; the worst anyone can say is no.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – via TBWA/Chiat Day circa 1997 for Apple

Harvard Library Tweets Books Checked Out but One Problem


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?

Serendipity Algorithm and What It Means to Marketers

Last week, I saw a piece by Nieman Labs eloquently define the direction of search Google is perfecting as a serendipity alogorithm.

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 rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. #SteveJobs

“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)

Dear #startups Don’t Be Guilty of This Crime


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

  1. be interested in your product
  2. dedicate time
  3. 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:

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Keep calm and carry on: What you didn’t know about…

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.

MySpace’s Facebook Fanpage Valuated. Verdict? #MONEY

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

Proof Number of Followers Don’t Matter on Twitter

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

MySpace on Facebook: Building Community

The MySpace Facebook fan page just keeps on growing!

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):

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Why URLs and Thumbnails are Important. #internet101

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.

Why I Trust @Zappos More than @UPS and How Tweeting is Not Enough.

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.
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MySpace on Facebook: The Beginning of Something Wonderful

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:


On growth:


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Six Things I Learned at my First SxSWi

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!!

MySpace is My New Space and My Big Move to LaLa-Land!

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