Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

IBM embraces niche networking for their employees as a team building (similar to best buys new network)

Just one more way companies can embrace the inevitable and try to grasp the power of getting to know one another via your computer. I've been advocating social networks for sometime now from twitter, to niches, blogging, wikis, review sites, bookmarking, and schedule/events. I'm on over 300 sites, with profiles, pictures, and informative content on who I am and why I am there (most with the same/similar content). Why? To figure out how they work, why should I use this site over the next, and to understand their differences to possibly leverage them in the future.

So the question on the tip of everyones tongue lately is what: How to leverage social media to connect it to their businesses. Do we use it for link building? Is social media just a way to understand ethnography and our clients personas?

Yes and yes, but it is so much more. It is a way to respond to your clients, your partners, affiliates, and more importantly your team. Who is the smart guy/gal sitting in the cubical across from you and why didn't you know from all those knitted sweaters they they loved to knit or own 2 cats and love snowboarding. What big charity is that person working on and did you know their is a big softball tournament the whole office is invited to play on? Maybe yes maybe no, point is these sites are useful, fun and here to stay.

The only way to get to know how to use social networks and their benefits is to experiment, go to networking events, and share ideas. So every once in a while get off your tush and invite someone out for lunch.

Big Blue Embraces Social Media

IBM has been encouraging social networking among its employees with in-house versions of Web 2.0 hits such as Facebook and Twitter

Let's say you're a big Facebook user. One day you get an e-mail from your company. It invites you to an in-house social network, a Facebook for just you and your colleagues. Do you sign up? What about if you learn your boss is on the site? Do you "friend" her? Will you let her see those vacation pictures from Club Med?

Social networks in the corporate world involve very different dynamics, and scientists at IBM (IBM) Research's Collaborative User Div. in Cambridge, Mass., are learning all about them. Over the past two years, IBM has been busily launching in-house versions of Web 2.0 hits. "We're trying to see how things that are hot elsewhere can be fit for business," says Irene Greif, an IBM Fellow who heads up Collaborative User Experience.

So far, IBM has Dogear, a community-tagging system based on, Blue Twit, and a rendition of the microblogging sensation, Twitter. It also has a Web page called Many Eyes that permits anyone (including outsiders, at to upload any kind of data, visualize it, and then launch discussions about it on blogs and social networks. The biggest success is the nine-month-old social network, Beehive, which is based on the premise of Facebook. It has already attracted 30,000 users, including top executives.

A Substitute for Face-to-Face Chat

This all might sound frivolous. Millions of workers, after all, wasting precious hours in cubicles around the world comparing favorite flicks on Facebook or Twittering about what they had for lunch. Why would Big Blue want to promote such behavior inside the company?

A couple of reasons. First, in a global company with nearly 400,000 employees, most people are too far away to plop down in a teammate's cubicle or grab a cup of coffee. These social tools, IBM hopes, will provide a substitute for personal connections that flew away with globalization—and help to build and strengthen far-flung teams. "People are putting up pictures of their family, the same way they'd put them up in the cubicle," says Joan DiMicco, one of the research scientists.

Adapting these tools, according to IBM, is also important for recruiting. Hotshots coming out of universities are accustomed to working across these new networks—and are likely to look at a company that still relies on the standard '90s fare of e-mail and the phone as slow and backward.

Making Atlas Connections

And it's possible—though still open to debate—that these new networks will provide a boost in the sharing of knowledge and expertise, and ultimately, innovation. That possibility—or perhaps the fear that competitors will figure out social networks first—is leading IBM's customers to clamor for social software including blogs, Wikis, and a program called Atlas Connections. Atlas culls information from e-mail and instant chat, and helps people map and visualize their networks of contacts. It highlights links between people, helping managers locate experts on certain topics or salespeople who know a certain customer. Launched five months ago, Atlas is already running in 200 companies. Heidi Votaw, who heads up sales for IBM's Lotus Connections, says that it's "the fastest-growing software product in IBM history."

The key laboratory for these tools, of course, is IBM itself. The team in Cambridge includes a host of social scientists who figure out how to guide people toward new social tools, and to get them to put more of their life and ideas onto the network. One feature they deployed on Beehive when it launched last September is called the Top Five list. People can make lists of the Top Five anything, such as the five projects they're proudest of, five technologies they can't live without, or the five best meals they've had in Paris. People come up with new lists, and others follow. Like much of social media, it mixes personal and professional—and each person has to figure out for him- or herself where to draw the line.

The Buzz on Beehive

Already, social scientists are studying the benefits IBMers are getting from the network. They see that it strengthens what are called "weak ties." These are the people employees might know only casually, some in a different division or down a distant corridor. Getting to know these people, even if it starts out with a Top Five list, widens employees' range of contacts and knowledge within the company.

Employees also use Beehive for self-branding. It's a way to strut their stuff for colleagues and managers at the company—whether it's for a promotion or funding for a pet project.

When do IBMers decide to take the plunge into social networking? Often when their boss takes the lead. Greif says that in recent months a host of top executives at Big Blue have jumped into Beehive, leading many others to do the same. And the No. 1 executive at Big Blue, Chairman Sam Palmisano? He has an avatar that rumbles around the virtual world of Second Life. But he has yet to dive into Beehive. "People have started a campaign to get him on there," says Greif. "A lot of people have been friending him, hoping to see when he shows up. "I might ask him next time I see him."

Back to the Future of Tech / IT 100 Table of Contents

Baker is a senior writer for BusinessWeek in New York.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I'm interested: How do you use widgets? If your company DOESN'T use widgets to brand/promote themselves would you like to, and how? Which company/non-company widgets do you like best or use the most?

Widgets come in all shapes and sizes. Most companies are embracing this technology driven phenomenon while, others are still struggling to realize what hit them in the past five years. Google is always a prime example for everything in simplicity: has a zillion widget combination possibilities for any users homepage. Facebook also offers the same plethora  of options for user profiles. Recently one of the most popular facebook widgets, Scrabulous, came under a bit of scrutiny from Scrabble's trademark owners hasburo (us owner) and mattel (has international trademark rights to the game). They wanted to have the widget removed, and sued the scrabulous makers from India. Over 65,000 facebook users joined a save scrabulous group, and for now it is still available.

So what exactly is a widget? It is an application, link, or badge that is available online for download. Many times it can be used as a desktop application. It can also be used to show a users likes/dislikes on a social community. In the application form it can be a game, a dictionary, a poll, test, or other interactive tool. Generally the makers either offer a copy and paste code or the application is linked/downloadable to specific pages or your desktop.

If I missed anything or you would like to share more please feel free to leave me a comment or ask me directly @desaraev on twitter.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Favorite bloggers. Learning from your peers. More on social media.

Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Scoble all are VERY popular online and some of my favorite bloggers. Recently, I read a post from Chris Brogan refering to a post Seth wrote in regards to why people should show up for work, and what makes a good meeting, or conference.   This was a great post and I recommend reading it, but it's not the reason for my post. This post is about refering to the blogs that you read, commenting, learning, connecting to other industry leaders and reaching out. Once things that I've noticed from a lot of great bloggers is that when they are stuck, or have a question they reach out. I like to use twitter a lot to reach out because it connects to so many of my networks, from facebook to smaller mediums of social meda. So my question(s) to you are:

  • How do you use social meda?
  • What do you see the future of social media being?
  • If you where in a forum with other people interested in SEO/SEM/Social Media what would you want to learn?
  • How are you tracking social media and who is talking about you/your company online? Please be specific with websites etc.
Thanks everyone. I'll keep you posted on the results of my feedback!

social media connects to small business

I read this on Chris Brogan's RSS Mailer, what a great way fro small businesses to connect to social media, worse case scenario any newbie to twitter can appreciate Twitter Packs.

Social Media Starter Moves for Small Town Small Businesses

By Becky McCray

Small town businesses have some fundamental differences from our big city counterparts. But our relative isolation doesn't mean we don't have a use for social media tools. To the contrary, small town professionals have the most to gain from making new connections. Liz Strauss was kind enough to let me tell some of the reasons why over at Successful Blog. To follow up, here are some starter moves to help you get connected to the larger world.

Twitter to make connections

Yes, I know you're heard that Twitter can be an enormous time sink. But only if you treat it that way. If you treat it as a way to meet people, to expand your horizons, to learn from others, and to feel connected, you can make it a useful tool for your business. I recommend you start by adding a handful of people, and let your network grow organically. Start with me; I'm @beckymccray, and I love to connect with other small town folks. Check Twitter Packs for more people in your industry or in your state. Share cool discoveries, information, and just connect on a human level. Twitter does not require (or deserve) constant attention. You can check in a few times a day, or monitor it more or less in the background while you work on something else. I've been known to let friends on Twitter keep me company while I'm doing my least-favorite bookkeeping chores. And yes, I've made and strengthened valuable business and personal connections at Twitter.

Blog to position yourself as an expert

Part of what makes a small town special is the sense of community, and that's what blogging does at its best. Find the blogs already talking about your field, and start reading and commenting. Then start your own blog, telling stories. While your small town business may not pick up paying clients from your blogging, you will be learning new skills, improving your writing, and making connections with people interested in your field. Read the Starter Moves for Freelancers to learn more about making your blog business-like.

Facebook to reach the community

Even in my home town of 5000 people, there is a healthy group of Facebook users. I just got an invitation to join the community summer band, via Facebook. I'm also seeing small town people using Facebook as a tool to remain connected even as they spread out around the country. By staying active yourself, you can make and keep connections based on this natural geographic affinity. Another option are the local community websites. In your town, you might find people online at the local newspaper site, an independent community forum, or even on a local business's website. The disadvantage? These are usually hotbeds of local politics. Use caution.

Experiment to learn

Use Flickr to connect with your local photo enthusiasts. Sign up with Utterz to give on-the-spot reports. (I would so love to see an ag commodity report on Utterz! "We're live at the Woodward Stockyards…" ) Use Operator11, Ustream or Blog TV to share meetings, trainings, or build a networking group across distance. Your goal is not to be on every single network out there. Your goal is to try the tools that could work for your business, or even for your clients, and learn them. Drop the ones that don't help you. And remember that it's not all about getting business, it's also about connection, learning and thinking.

Share your secrets

What tools are you finding the most useful for building connections? Share in the comments, and if you are from a small town, be sure to shout about it!

Tomorrow at Small Biz Survival, I'll have four examples of people who live in small towns and use social media to build their connections.

Written by Becky McCray

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What are the duties of an SEO specialist, my experience, and how does all of that connect to Social Media?

I have always enjoyed interactive as a branch of the advertising and marketing industry. My experience is dynamic and allows me to see the big picture of a campaign, as well as focus on even the smallest details of tracking, implementation, and budget/time management.

Job duties for a search engine optimization specialist to include:

• Planning implementation and ongoing management of link building strategies
I’ve used link building from both my SEO and Social Media experience. I believe tying in social media campaigns with SEM/SEO campaigns helps to strengthen the relevance of the links, while bringing in customer influence. If customers seeing these links respond (either by visiting the site or writing about it in there blogs, etc.) then the brand gains consumer evangelists. Responding properly to both strengthens the brands and customer satisfaction. All of the above are traceable with social media tracking, analytics (such as Google), and blog discussion tracking. The reason a person would want to track social media and add it to a link building strategy is as simple as the reason businesses started customer comment boxes. The web spiders or “bots” know when you link out and who links into your site. The more people talking about your name and keywords, as well as linking to you in either blogs or comment areas, the more relevant a site is. Thus, the site will receive a higher ranking when searched for.

My experience planning and implementing link management strategies include: internet based lead generation companies whose only budget limitations were whether the ROI for each keyword or affiliate was productive, big charities with no budget, and clients from my agency experience. Each client has had a different target audience, different goals for their organization, and VERY different range in budgets. Knowing which sites, blogs, and social networks to connect them with were always as simple as knowing who their client was and what the end goal for the brand was.

• Keyword research and analysis
Keyword research always starts with a brand insight document. What are the company goals? Who is the target audience? Do they know a “persona” for the customer? What is the company’s top selling products/services? Do they have any known top keywords or phrases?

After the client responds, using tools from the top search engines help narrow down keywords (yahoo, Google, msn, ask). SEO book also helps brainstorm keywords to test. Top keywords always cost more per click, which is why it is ALWAYS important to make each phrase as relevant to the site as possible in a SEM campaign. In SEO it is simply more important to use those keywords in all relevant situations from picture (alt tags), to headers, and in the content.

It is also important to know the competition. Looking up their sites and knowing what they are doing, checking out key meta data in html, and simply understanding who they are targeting will give any campaign the upper hand. Simply competing ONLY when necessary will help both companies succeed if they are similar, but have slightly different goals, clients, regions they work in, or the type of services they offer.

My first experience with keyword search and analysis started at a corporation with no minimum budget. Google alone had a budget of a minimum of $10,000 per day. Moving to an agency, whose target clients had close to no budget most days, taught me to be frugal and really target each keyword appropriately. Some clients want to be number one with EVERY keyword; others don’t need to spend that kind of money. More importantly, I learned that SEO, unlike SEM, is a long-term relationship. Nothing happens overnight in SEO, keywords need to be relevant, headers and code need to be properly used, missing pages need to be redirected and tags need to be in place.

• Client Search Engine ranking analysis and reporting
ROI is always going to be number one on a clients list. It is what proves to them that the campaigns they are paying for are not a waste of money. Google analytics shows whether their site has had an increase in traffic, which of their keywords are working in their client’s favor, and funnels can show how far and how long a consumer was on the site and when they got bored and left. Knowing when the consumers drop off your site is important so that the site can be improved from an aesthetic and usability stand-point.
Tracking who is talking about a client in social media shows how relevant the campaign is and how happy the consumers are with the brand. Social media is not a directly traceable ROI like Google Analytics can be, but it is still an important factor. These can be tracked with programs like blog pulse, tweet scan, etc., as to when the company name is mentioned and, as a result, the company can respond accordingly.

• Work with clients and internal teams to help educate and understand the SEO process and principles
My experience freelancing, in corporate life, and in the agency world has always shown me that people may not always want to be bored by the complete technical side of how things work, but they want to understand that you know what you’re doing, are aware of where the money is going, and have a grasp of how you are doing it. The grasp can be as complex and in-depth as a walk through of keywords, or having a hand in the link building, or having their own blog, or the marketing manager helping with the campaign, or as simple as a walk through of basic processes.

Many times the client knows that SEO or Social Media is important, but they’re not sure why it is important. So explaining that a campaign is long-term, make the brand more visible online by link building on more then one site, SEO will help move them up to the top of searches, and will strengthen the website content to pull it together helps the client feel apart of the team and know where they are going as a company with an SEO campaign.

• Monitoring and managing daily progress of search engine campaign details including strategy and implementation, copywriting, budgets and reporting
As I mentioned before, budgets are always an important thing to be aware of and to work hand-in-hand with reporting. I like to track how the budget relates to the campaign by keeping a spreadsheet document of the ROI to keyword ration. Trellian and Adwords tools also help to validate the numbers. Copywriting is important for SEM campaigns especially when writing the text ads.

SEO copywriting can come into play for content re-writing. Google optimizer is the BIGGEST help in this aspect. Using A/B or multivariable testing you can change the content of a site, choose which variable gets the most visits, and determine which content is working the best to keep customers on a site.

• Closely monitor campaigns and work with internal teams to ensure client goals are met
In corporate life, I worked with my marketing manager to track keywords. For affiliate campaigns on pay-per-click, cost-per-click, pay-per-acquisition, or pay-per (# of impressions) campaigns communication between account executives and keeping them up to date on tracking was the most important factor in making sure their campaigns worked.

In agency life, the team always has more then one, two or even three clients on their plate (sometimes more than 10-15) so it is even more important to communicate in-house. Knowing who is working on analytics, site analysis, if the campaign was set up… then, in addition, did everyone know the keywords and the campaign goals? The campaign budgets and strategy help determine how much time the client wants spent on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to monitor ROI, funnels or consumer tracking. But the budget is always at the forefront to time management.

• Trend analysis and Web Analytics interpretation to make appropriate campaign strategy adjustments
Trends, and web analytics are tracked with tools like trellion, yahoo, and google analytics and can be displayed in a statistical analysis, excel, or google tracking. I have received the most experience doing this in my freelance work, but first got a taste of it in agency life.

• Research opportunities with regards to new technologies or vendors
One of the reasons I think I’ve always fit with strategists is my love for research, and that probably comes from the history lover inside me. Just like any industry these days, if you don’t always seek out what’s new and upcoming then you’re more likely to fall behind. SEO, SEM, Social Media, Design, and development are definitely not exceptions to that rule.

I like to research new technologies and vendors via professional affiliations like Ad Fed, Ad2, MIMA, and IAB. I rarely miss an event to listen to the speaker and network with industry peers.

Networking research and learning is always available on the web. If I have a specific topic, I love to use various search engines (generally Google, Yahoo, and Ask). But if it’s blog related sometimes I use technorati or mahalo (the people powered search engine).

• Contribute to team efforts to maintain in-depth knowledge of industry current events and trends.

On a daily basis, I like to carve out a half hour or up to two hours for learning. Generally the best way to stay up on these new technologies is to hear it from those on the inside or from other people who discover their own techniques on a daily basis. As a result, I read blogs, watch respected podcasts, and pay attention to the new medias that are always popping up online like

• 2-3 years online advertising/media buying and SEO experience
At I managed over 110+ affiliate campaigns, while being the lead art director, designing flyers, print, and e-newsletter campaigns, as well as managing minimum budgets of $10,000+

I’ve worked in both the freelance and advertising agencies doing project management, SEO, SEM, promotions, and design. I know my freelance experience has given me the flexibility to understand my limitations and enhance my presentation skills, while my agency experiences have strengthened my team work and leadership abilities.

In college, I volunteered for the senior design exhibition co-chair of promotions. Since then I’ve attained a similar role at Ad Fed as the interactive promotional specialist. The positions have given me the opportunity to design promotional business cards for the new site, initiate discussion about social networking, develop and implement strategies to improve the volume of traffic and length of time spent on the web site, as well as manage the strategic development of the site and our social networking strategy.

Love these biz cards

Unique biz cards

This Article is continuation of one my post 27 Creative business cards you should've seen

In a company where the visual identity became essential, these creations make it possible to make the difference. A well designed and printed business card can impress and make people take notice and remember you . A badly designed or printed card can leave a bad impression or even worse be simply

Here is a collection of cool business cards to inspire you,

Cool Business Cards

Cool Business Cards

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Cool Business Cards

Cool Business Cards

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Cool Business Cards

Cool Business Cards

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Social Media and Corporations

MIMA Event Thoughts

I went to Mima's Big Brands Forum last night in downtown Minneapolis. Four speakers from well known fortune 500 corporations (best buy, target, finger hut, and general mills) were moderated by Gage Marketing's very own Mike Kraabel. The event was designed to discuss what these major brands knew about social media, how they (want to or are) interacting with social networks, how there brands are being portrayed online, and how they track consumer response online in regards to social media (blogs, microblogs, forums, wiki, photo streams, calendars, groups, networks, video/audio). The end result was not astonishing, but simple the know people are interested, people are talking, and each brand has some form of online presence, but they don't know what to do with it. One of the speakers noted that while most of it was amusing (such as all the different ways to entertain apps relating to the dough boy) that they don't know how to respond and aren't going to chase down the consumers, but are more likely to watch from a distance for now with bemused head scratching. Basically, the corporations know that social media is a big deal, its here to stay, the consumers are wanting to interact with their favorite brands, but they don't necessarily know how to respond except to listen to the consumer. Simply listen.

I personally think listening is important, but how active of an approach are people taking? Are you searching these people out with  blog pulse, twitter scan, tracker, and google alert? What else are you using, micro bots? Are you responding? I think a great example of companies listening and taking initiative would be Tony, the CEO of Try saying his name on twitter. He will friend you withing twenty minutes! Also @comcastcares is the newest level of constumer service. Complain about comcast and how you can't get your phone to work. Someone will help you. There are other examples of brands listening not necessarily to consumers, but their own staff. Best Buy recently launched an in-house social network to connect their employees nationwide. Everything from pictures of cats, to tips on team development can be shared to grow a sense of team. Even charities have become interested such as the mother's day bone marrow campaign and The Great River Energy Bike Festival's new online strategy that span from flickr, to facebook groups, twitter, tumblr, pownce, a blog for pro's (written by doctors, professional racers, and other biking athletes), as well as another blog that represents the average biker (mt. bikers, enthusiasts) looking for training tips and healthy living ideas.
The post below belongs to a very popular blog: New Media Wise and their take on last night. Enjoy and don't hesitate to write a comment or send me your feedback via twitter @desaraev

Big Brands Talk Social Media in Minneapolis

General Mills, Target, Best Buy, and Fingerhut Bare It All at Interactive Marketing Confab


So, you wonder, do major consumer brands "get" social media, or are they even starting to deal with it at all yet in any meaningful ways?  Well, thanks to our local 850-member strong Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association, we had a chance to hear from some of our more well-known corporate biggies last night.  It was a gorgeous, sunny, 70-degree evening in downtown Minneapolis, but a crowd of 300+ jammed inside (on the third floor of the Solera at 9th and Hennepin) to hear a panel that had been billed as Who Controls Social Media in the Enterprise? [I guess we can assume the hope is that marketing will do that, and not the lawyers… :-) ] The panelists were:
• Jim Cuene, Director of Interactive at General Mills
• Gary Koelling, Creative Director/Social Technology, Best Buy
• Jason Kleckner, Manager of Information Architecture, Target
• Brad Smith, VP eCommerce & Digital Marketing, Fingerhut Direct Marketing
• Moderator: Michael Kraabel, Group Creative Director, Gage Marketing

After getting well oiled in the pre-reception, most of the standing-room-only crowd rushed the seats, then started grabbing their phones as the moderator told them how to email, text, or Twitter questions to him for the panel [but, sigh, Twitter wasn't working at the time]. Then, off we went into into a very candid, revealing look at how big-company brands are thinking about social media today, and—do tell—how some of them are actually even doing something about it.

Since I couldn't Twitter the proceedings, a skill I'm becoming quite well-honed at, I had to....yes, take notes on dead trees. But, hey, whatever works. Now I'm gonna give it back to you straight up, as I heard it—well, at least some of what I thought were high points worth writing down.

General Mills' Cuene got things started with a bold prediction: "In a few years, there may be no better way our brands go to market than social media." He noted there are lots of consumers doing things with his company's brands on MySpace that they of course didn't ask the permission of General Mills to do, but implied that at least some of that is good for the brands involved. Best Buy's Koelling spoke briefly about his new social network for company employees called Blue Shirt Nation, which already has 22,000 users—and even has a chapter devoted to it in the back of Charlene Li's book, "Groundswell" (just out). Kleckner was asked about Target's Facebook page and said it now has 33,000 users. That's without any real marketing, though, he pointed out, noting he'd like to see it promoted more. What's General Mills doing on Facebook? moderator Kraabel asks. "Well, nothing," admitted Cuene, "but we're looking and thinking" and agreed that "there's tons of unauthorized things" people are doing about his company's brands and products on the social networks. What's surprising to him, he said, is that there isn't too much monitoring by the company yet, "except what we do in corporate communications...the brands are doing a little, but it's mostly head-scratching."

When the moderator asked the panel who's doing social media well, he got an answer from Target's Kleckner that drew laughs, considering the makeup of the panel: "Circuit City." I assumed that to mean a social initiative of theirs for consumers, which I wasn't aware of, as opposed to the successful internal effort we'd just heard about from their rival Best Buy. "We don't really have a corporate voice doing that (referring to Circuit City's effort)," Target's interactive marketer said, obviously with a tinge of envy. [I found it interesting that Circuit City had gotten the jump on Best Buy in this manner, since that also happened in 1999 when CC's full e-commerce site beat Best Buy to market by 10 months. But I was to find out later that Best Buy isn't too far behind this time. I guess Number Twos have to try harder—and in this case, CC is a very distant Number Two.] Fingerhut's Smith said his take is that "the companies doing well in social media are those that are responsive." General Mills' Cuene said "it's a huge challenge for us both in how we respond, and in what we say. We've been built for one message, one campaign. We're not well set up for this."

Best Buy's Koelling is not aware of many companies doing social media well, but said "to engage socially, you must be useful" and "successful companies are providing people with tools." General Mills' Cuene said a " 'how-can-we-help-you' mentality (akin to a retail salesperson's) needs to be drilled into companies"—and he includes his own. Target's Kleckner says companies need to keep working on "how to translate physical experiences to online experiences."

But it was at this point that things got even more interesting. Best Buy's Koelling was especially eloquent: "We've allowed corporations, for a long time, to be NOT social. Now they have to be able to show up at the party without being boring or dangerous." But he wasn't done yet. "Who's gonna teach us how to do this social stuff?  Our agencies?  I don't think so—It's going to be the customer." Fingerhut's Smith agreed wholeheartedly, direct marketer that he is: "You have to listen." And it was then that General Mills' Cuene gave us a critical insight into his own company's thinking: "The question we ask internally is this: what does your brand look like when it wants to be social."

Thinking this discussion couldn't get much better, and seeing I already had a ton of notes, I was glad to see I hadn't quite run out of paper. But we weren't done yet—moderator Mike Kraabel of Gage kept pushing, so I flipped my notebook over and looked for more places to scribble: "So how are you measuring this stuff?" he says. "What's the ROI?" Which Koelling jumped right into with this gem: "Social media is so cheap these days, if you can't engage your customer, you're doing something wrong." Fingerhut's Smith cautioned patience: "Online display advertising has been evolving over 10 years, so we need to give this time. We'll see in social media over the next few years how people interact." But General Mills' Cuene had a very specific recommendation for the marketers in the audience (at least, we presume, those in consumer packaged goods: "The social media budget should be under product development. If it's under advertising, it will never ROI out." Best Buy's Koelling added: "Part of me hopes we never see an ROI equation for social media." He related a great story [Shel Israel, are you listening? your tweet about how we we all love stories was so true]—about the little town in Iowa where he was raised. The longtime general store there, a very successful business, never advertised. The owner just knew everybody in town, and what they wanted. "Social media takes us back to a time when people were more normal—when they interacted with each other."

Okay, panelists, said Kraabel, sitting up straighter: "How do we turn back time? How do we get management to spend money?" [This guy has a way with words.] Well, said Fingerhut's Smith, "We're not turning back time. Consumers have always owned brands...Now, we're just accelerating how they interact with and build brands." General Mills' Cuene threw in his take: "Finally, with social media, we can do at scale what the general store did." And Best Buy's Koelling gave some great advice: "You must be willing to TRY—to do small things. Be authentic and customers will be forgiving." And that's the challenge at big-brand companies like General Mills: "We have to find that authentic voice," echoed Cuene. Koelling continued his advice: "If you want to create something good, do something that will enable you to listen—it's a much easier sell."

No one would disagree that this social stuff is much easier when you're talking about younger audiences. "So, how do we expand it to older consumers?" asked moderator Kraabel. Target's Kleckner was totally honest: "We haven't figured that out yet." Fingerhut's Smith related that his demographic, as we all know, "is not exactly bleeding edge." (It tilts to older, lower income, and rural.) But, he said, "they do want to be heard. And we're working on some private communities." General Mills' Cuene added that "with newsletters and web sites, we're trying to bring older folks in." Best Buy's Koelling answer to getting older people in: "Bigger type?" Then he got more serious: "Apps on Facebook are mostly silly, childish stuff. Older people aren't interested in what's being put out there." General Mills' Cuene reminded everyone, however, that "we're in the early stages—slow down, watch, be patient. A little maturity can help." [And, doggone it, that was music to the ears of the gray-hairs in the audience! I agree that marketing still benefits from the voice of experience, even in these rapidly changing, social-mania times.]

The final question you might have guessed: "What about the future of media? Where are we going?" The first insight came from General Mills' Cuene: "Consumer content generation is only increasing and happening faster. This isn't going away.....Pretty mcuh everyone is a media outlet now." And another good point came from Target's Fleckner: "Calling it social media is kinda weird. It's really about 'experience." And Best Buy's Koelling agreed: "It's not about 'media'—it's something else. Really platforms. And it's still a little 'Wild West' out there." He also noted that we won't be seeing anymore big social networks. "There's no room for them!" But Koelling ended the panel discussion with a great wrap:

"Brands are going to have to figure out how to act like people." Amen, brother.

Thanks to MIMA and all the participants for another great networking event, a really eye-opening discussion for a lot of people.  And now I'd love to hear your reactions—please do so via the open comments section below!  Hey, I'm listening, see?  Always tryin' to do my thing to be social… :-)

Categories: Marketing, Media, Social Media, Community, Social Networking
Keywords:, social media, marketing, Minneapolis, General Mills, Target, Best Buy, Fingerhut

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

So I was asked to describe me, and what I do... order to sign-up for some exclusive designers portfolio site. (you know the invite only type) Anyway so I came up with this:

My portfolio: explains it the best I'm a social media and creative guru with a nack for multitasking in strategy, usability, front-end development to serve my clients. Search for my username on google and you can find me actively on over 200+ social media networks. My designs are modern and optimized for technology to enhance asthetics.


I was recently asked if I knew what "Personas" are, why you would use them, how they are effective, and why. I was honestly a little unsure, if fact I googled it thinking it had something to do with Avatars. As usual I can not just let a hot topic go unresearched, and so began my quest for knowledge. Starting with a twitter poll of who all used personas in business and why, then followed by a quick Wikipedia search, I highly recommend reading this as it was one of the most insightful resources I found. The next thing I did was read the first pdf resource from wikipedia, followed by skimming all the other resources available. I have listed them all below. as well as other resources I found on my own search that were interesting.

So, in brief what is a persona? A 1-2 page document that lists the behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and other fictional attributes and personal details to bring a hypothetical character(s) (primary and possible additional) for practical implementation in production and design of user information and sites (such as social networks). I also read a lot about ethnographic research such as the archtype user. This helps with the analysis of underlying logic, practical implementation, and empirical results. Basically makes ethnographic research makes it easier to narrow down useful user information rather then just imposing your own traits as the target audience.

  • Carroll, John M. Making Use: Scenario-Based Design of Human-Computer Interactions. MIT Press, 2000. ISBN 0-262-03279-1
  • Carroll, J.M. ed. Scenario-Based Design: Envisioning Work and Technology in System Development. Wiley, 1995. ISBN 0-471-07659-7
  • Chapman, C.N. & Milham, R. The personas' new clothes. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) 2006, San Francisco, CA. October 2006. [1]
  • Cooper, Alan. The Inmates are Running the Asylum. SAMS, 1999. ISBN 0-672-31649-8
  • Grudin, J. and Pruitt, J. Personas, participatory design and product development: an infrastructure for engagement. Paper presented at Participatory Design Conference 2002, Malmo, Sweden. June 2002.
  • Pruitt, John & Adlin, Tamara. The Persona Lifecycle : Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design. Morgan Kaufmann, 2006. ISBN 0-12-566251-3
  • Rönkkö, K. An empirical study demonstrating how different design constraints, project organization, and contexts limited the utility of personas. Hawaii

International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) 2005, Waikoloa, HI. January 2005.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Oh what a tangled web tWeet weave.

If you've read some of my past blogs you know what twitter is, and if your a member of twitter then you have probably already accumulated a few friends and followers. Would you like to know who is following who? Curious which of your twitter friends know each other? Well your in luck connects the web for you. With the hover of your cursor you can see who knows who in no time!

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