Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quick-n-dirty Social Media Podcast: Episode 4 Recap

For the most part,  co-host, Jennifer Leggio and I got our act together for episode four. The only wild card for this one -- and it was a big one -- was the news that pop icon, Michael Jackson, had died just before our show got started. And while neither Jennifer or I are huge MJ fans, it felt only fitting to take a moment of silence during the show for "Mr. Moonwalk."

For anyone new to the show, recaps of episodes one, two, and three can be found here. We'll also be posting the roster for next week's show on the Blog Talk Radio show site soon.

If you missed this week's show, you can listen to an archive of episode four here. If you're more of a reader than a listener, you'll find a recap of this week's show below:
  1. Featured Social Network: If you like music and you like Twitter, then is the place for you. You can DJ your own music, listen to others, give "props" to your friends or cross-post links to your favorite songs in other networks like Friendfeed, Facebook, etc. On the positive side, it looks like Blip has some element of a business model by allowing users to buy songs on iTunes and Amazon. They also have tons of live versions of songs. On the "room for improvement" side, not every artist has allowed their songs to be played leaving a bit of a gap.
  2. Special Guest: Michelle Heath, CMO of ForEx startup, Currensee. During our 10 minutes with Michelle, she talks about how she and Currensee are tapping into the power of social to not only create but promote a community for foreign exchange traders. Good stuff.
  3. Case Study: Pitney Bowes/Lithium. I could talk about this or I could send you over to Jen's much better write up on her ZDNet/Feeds blog.
  4. Executive on Twitter: This week's exec is the CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School, John Halamka. During our conversation, Jen and I discussed the fact that John doesn't fit the normal "featured exec" mold because he doesn't follow many people back and he mostly uses Twitter for updates. However, given his field, I thought he was doing a good job at providing some transparency in a normally tight-lipped space.
  5. Point / Counterpoint: Is social media too cliquey? Inspired by Jennifer and my mutual friend, Doug Haslam's post, we talked about whether folks in social media were shy as Mack Collier claimed or just arrogant. Find out who took whom's side by listening in.
For next week's show, we need your help. We're trying to decide whether or not to move our show up an hour to start at 5:00 PM ET / 2:00 PM PT. If you have thoughts on this front, either leave them in the comments below or tweet one of us... @aaronstrout / @mediaphyter.

What, this recap wasn't enough? Well go and listen live or download archived podcasts here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twitter as the GPS: Video from @JeffPulver's 140 Character Conference

Last week, I was lucky enough to be asked by my friend, Peter Fasano, of Coke to moderate a panel called "Twitter as the GPS for the Greater Social Media Mesh" at the 140 Character Conference in NYC. The idea was to talk about how Twitter is helping businesses navigate in a "2.0" world. Given the backgrounds of our panelists, we decided to focus on four different vertical industries: financial services, entertainment, advertising and CPG.

My fellow panelists were:
  • Brian Morrissey (@bmorrissey) - Digital Editor at Adweek
  • David Berkowitz (@dberkowitz) - Emerging Media Director, 360i
  • Hadley Stern (@hadleystern) - Vice-President, Fidelity Labs
  • Peter Fasano (@pfasano) - Principal/Lead Catalyst, Mass+Logic and Social Media Marketer at The Coca Cola Company

This is only a twenty minute video so I highly encourage you to spend a few minutes listening in. If you have thoughts, comments or feedback that you'd like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below. I have my fellow panelists e-mails so I'm happy to ping them to try and get an answer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Authenticity is More Important Than Ever

This post originally ran in Mediapost's Marketing Daily on 2/18/2009

We live in an age where the Internet and the telephone have created enormous scale and opportunity for businesses large and small. For the most part, this has been a good thing, allowing companies to reach, acquire and serve more customers than ever before. While this reach and scale has helped to foster innovation at an unprecedented rate, it has also served to disintermediate companies from their customers. The end result has been a growing lack of trust on the part of the consumers. 

As a business owner or someone who works at a big company, you may think to yourself, "What does it really matter if my customers trust me? Obviously, it would be better if they did but what's the real harm? At the end of the day, they will end up turning their back on me for someone that can provide my same product or service 'faster, better and cheaper.'"

While this may be true, it's where many companies have lost their competitive edge. Where's my proof?

I'll start with Best Buy, a company you are likely familiar with. Not only is Best Buy listed as the second most valuable brand according to Interbrand Design Forum's latest rankings. It's also listed as number 24 in Vitrue's list of top 100 most social brands. Granted, "social" isn't the sole driver of their more important ranking of "most valuable" brand, but it does plays a key role behind the prestigious "most valuable brand" ranking.

The reason I chose Best Buy as the example to illustrate my point is that it is the epitome of a company that understands the importance of authenticity, and it comes from the top. From its well-documented employee community, Blue Shirt Nation, to its management team which is best exemplified by CMO Barry Judge, this is a company that conducts its business openly and honestly.

During a recent voluntary separation package offer that Best Buy made available to its employees to try and stave off having to do what so many other big and small businesses are doing, Judge openly discussed on his blog the pain that he felt about losing a large number of co-workers.

The comments on Judge's blog exude empathy and compassion in spite of the fact that Best Buy is a huge company and it needed to reduce headcount, which is not unique in the current economy. But on his blog, Judge's authentic and honest tone makes him, and his brand, human. And people have a much easier time trusting a human, especially one they can empathize with, instead of a cold and unfeeling corporation.

Additionally, Best Buys' current ad campaign features real store employees recounting stories of helping customers and the reward it provides to them personally and professionally. Taking this a step further, Judge has also openly discussed the genesis and evolution of this ad campaign on his blog, going so far as to welcome public feedback and asking for input on which creative executions are the right ones to put on air.

In this example, Judge and Best Buy are not only trying to put an "authentic" face on their brand by letting their employees do the talking, they are involving their customers in the process to ensure that they get it right. In doing so, they are garnering trust -- something the Enron's and the leaders of many of the large financial institutions have stolen from us over the last several years.

These examples of what Best Buy is doing demonstrate some of the essential qualities that are increasingly becoming competitive differentiators between brands like:

  • Blogging from the heart -- even if if feels a little too open and honest
  • Using customer feedback to drive upcoming marketing and advertising campaigns
  • Responding to customer comments in a human voice

After all, who would you rather do business with? A company that you know and trust? Or a company that offers the lowest price? Yes, price will always be important but in a highly commoditized world, it's things like authenticity that lead to trust that will truly make one company different from another.

How authentic is your company? If the answer is "not very," it may be time for a change. Just ask Best Buy. The results speak for themselves.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Quick-n-dirty Social Media Podcast: Episode 3 Recap

The third episode of Quick’n'Dirty Social Media Podcast (#qnd) was a little smoother than episodes one and two. For starters, I remembered to set the length of the show for 45 minutes vs. 15 so all the listeners could follow along for the duration. I was also able to play our new bumper music, Bring Back the Bass, at least at the tail end of the show (thanks to Brett Petersel for providing). Next week, I promised co-host, Jennifer Leggio, that our show would go off without a hitch... we'll just have to see!

If you missed this week's show, here’s what we discussed:
  1. Featured Social Network: Glue. They are doing some very cool things with social browsing. They also just released a press release that said that they are exposing some of their APIs so that developers can use Glue's functionality in their sites. Jen and I both like what Glue is doing a lot and will continue to keep my eye on them.
  2. Case Study: This week's focus was all about the small business. Ever see one of those mobile food carts floating around the city? Yeah, the ones that sell bagels or tacos or sausages? Well guess what. They are starting to use Twitter and the results are paying off. In regard to Korean BBQ purveyor, Kogi, Kate Krader, restaurant editor for Food & Wine magazine says in the background article "That [Kogi's recognizable brand name is] 90 percent thanks to Twitter."
  3. Special Guest: Mike Murray, CSIO of Foreground Security was kind enough to join us to discuss true social engineering in social networking / social media. Pretty powerful stuff. If you weren't a little wary about who you "friend" in the socialsphere before, you might be after listening to Mike speak.
  4. Executive on Twitter: Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO of Kodak. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffrey and hearing him speak at this week's 140 Character Conference. I was pleased to see that he was as funny and genuine in real life as he was on Twitter. Definitely worth the follow.
  5. Point / Counterpoint: This week was a little less of a "square off" and more of a recap of Jeff Pulver's recent 140 Character Conference. If you weren't lucky enough to attend, the videos from the event are up. I loved the conference and while Jen didn't exactly disagree with me, she decided that conference producers need to be careful to focus less on the tools and more on the goals of we business folk (think "lead gen" vs. "e-mail marketing" for instance). I agreed but my take was that we needed to ratchet it up a notch and apply that thinking to all social media events, not just those focused on Twitter.
  6. Special Bonus: one of our listeners encouraged us to talk a little about Twitter and it's role in the latest Iranian elections. We didn't have much time to cover such an important topic but did manage to spend a couple of minutes opining on the subject.
Jennifer and I are in the process of working on next week's show but we promise it won't dissapoint. At a minimum, Jennifer has a special announcement that should get folks excited. If I say more than that, Jen may disown me as a co-host.

What, this recap wasn't enough? Well go and listen live or download archived podcasts here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Live Blogging the 140 Character Conference

Photo credit: Jill Hanner

Sorry, I never gave context for this post. I'm at Jeff Pulver's 140 Character Conference in New York City and am trying to provide some running notes from this action
packed event. Today I'm keeping up. Tomorrow might be tricky (speaking at 9:20 AM and then in meetings on and off after that).

Link to conference agenda is here.

Link to the #140conf hashtag is here.

Tim O'Reilly CEO/founder, O'Reilly Media
  • realized that at times he was tweeting too much so started capturing/formatting his tweets in a text document. Later he would decide whether or not to tweet those updates.

Fred Wilson (venture capitalist/blogger)
  • Links are the currency of the internet.
  • Talking about how to make money from Twitter.
  • Links to blog coming from Facebook and Twitter are starting to eat into Google referrals.
  • One business model for Twitter would mimic the way Overture introduced "paid search"
  • Google currently spends a lot of time on environmental remediation i.e. addressing spam, phishing, etc. Twitter is going need to do the same.
  • Passed links on FB and Twitter are more "trusted" because they come from someone you know - as a result, they have a higher likihood to convert
  • (recap by E Schoenfeld)
John Borthwick - Founder of Twitter Search

General thoughts from Liz Strauss and panel with Brian Solis, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6 and Brook Lundy of Some eCards

Maegan Carburry - Political Blogger for Huffington Post
  • Recommends reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
  • Asks, "are we contributing original thoughts to socialsphere?"

UBER Panel on Twitter as News Gathering Tool
Moderator: Robert Scoble
Ann Curry - anchor of NBC
Rick Sanchez - Host of 3PM Newsroom on CNN
Ryan Osborn - Producer NBC's Today Show

  • Scoble is hammering Rick Sanchez, CNN and press in general for not giving more Iran coverage this weekend.
  • Scoble also asks if we are evolving the coverage mainstream news gives foreign topics because we now "know" some of the people in these countries and they are more human/touchable to us.
  • Rick Sanchez says that social media is pushing CNN to validate whether or not elections were real or not
  • Ann Curry (beautiful voice in real life btw, very melodic and soothing) talks VERY passionately about covering Iran. Said that people there were talking to reporters and people were 1) risking their lives to talk to them and 2) were asking if all Americans thought that they were terrorists. Ann also stressed the importances of reporters now treating people in countries like Darfur, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. like they are your mother, sister, brother.
  • Rick Sanchez/Ryan Osborn said it is tricky because trad'l news is held to standard of "it's got to be right." They are required to do more fact checking.
  • Ann Curry - was doing some real time reporting on Twitter recently because main stream news was covering. Had to be VERY careful to make sure she wasn't passing along any information that was wrong.
  • Audience questions - frustration around mainstream media covering "fluff" pieces vs. hard hitting stuff. [NOTE: in theory, this is great but it's not what most people want to watch]
  • Rick Sanchez says that it's imperative to use Twitter to have conversations with watchers - not to use it as a gimmick.
  • Rick Sanchez notes that if CNN or other news disappears, it takes away a lot of the content that social content creators can talk about.
  • Scoble retorts to Rick, "you DID disappear on Saturday and we got along just fine."
[Side note: had a fantastic conversation with Scoble, Jim Stone (camera man for
NBC) and Ryan Osborn after the panel. They agreed that this is a seminal moment in the history of social media and traditional media.]

Moeed Ahmad - Head of New Media Technology and Future Media Department Technology Division, Al Jazeera Network
  • First off, Moeed notes that he traveled 16 hours to get here. WOW! I will never complain
  • "If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space"
  • "If it doesn't fit in 140 characters, it's not worth saying" - @riy
  • Now talking about Twitter's roll in War 2.0 - cites hashtag use of "#gaza"
  • Interesting because Al Jazeera team was skeptical about use of Twitter at first. Then @Ev tweeted a link to their site and traffic went through the roof. Now they get it. ;)
  • Able to run a page with live tweets with a column next to it that tells whether the news has been verified or not [brilliant idea]
  • Challenges: covering a party that is not popular on Twitter who wins an election (when party that lost IS popular on Twitter)
  • "Telling the truth is hard. Not telling it is even harder." (see poster below)

Jeremy Epstein - Marketing Navigator, Never Stop Marketing
  • Interesting approach to Twitter. Only follows 140 people. Looks for:
    - Experts
    - High signal to noise ratio
    - Constantly looking to earn right to spend more time with people he wants to network with
Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO of Kodak
  • Twitter is changing Kodak (not your father's Kodak anymore)
  • 60% of people at company are new
  • Looking for new ways to make connections with people
  • Worst thing you could say about Kodak is absolutely nothing.
  • Said people come on their blog and say "your product is f*cking, f*cking, f*cking, f*cking, f*cking not good" is okay because it's feedback.
  • They are listening to their customers - want to make ink cartridges much more interchangeable.
  • Jeff is showing his humorous side - he is currently trying to figure out term for someone that is malicious on Twitter. Crowd consensus is "twanker."
  • Right now, he's calling out a particular competitor that was anonomously posting and taking shots at Kodak. Also expressing desire for Financial Times to be at 140 Character Conference
  • Jeff answers/triages tweets that people send when problems or questions arise. Said that this wasn't possible even a year ago.
  • Big moment for Kodak/Jeff - one of Barack Obama's daughters used a Kodak camera. People started tweeting Jeff like crazy. It trended and made the NY Times.
  • Interesting thought, what is the "cost of ignoring."
For more live tweets from people beyond me during Jeff's session, go here:


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm now a Texan (humorous)

As any of you that follow me on Twitter or read my blog regularly now know, I've officially settled in the great republic of Texas -- Austin, TX to be exact. To that end, I'm working on acclimating myself and my family as fast as possible. Fortunately, I have co-workers like Mary Lemons who was kind enough to share a list with me via e-mail titled, "To Help with your Texas-ifying." It was a list of 40 items -- all humorous -- that I'm sure has been amassed through blog posts and e-mail forwards over the years.

Knowing my proclivity for sharing, I couldn't resist posting the "best of" this list below. Apologies to the original source of this list -- if anyone knows who owns it, let me know and I'll be sure to provide proper attribution.

You know you’re a Texan if:
  1. You know it’s a given that the true value of a parking place lies in the shade, not the distance to the door.
  2. You see just as many Texan flags as American flags.
  3. You end a lot of words without the letter “g.”
  4. You can drive all day (and more) and never leave the state
  5. You’ve actually burned your hand opening your car door. (or front door for that matter)
  6. You know all 4 seasons: Almost summer, Summer, Still summer, and Deer season.
  7. You choose a brand of salsa with the same care that another might use to select a bottle of fine wine.
  8. You know that “Fixinto” is one word.
  9. You have owned at least one belt buckle bigger than your fist.
  10. You aren’t surprised to find movie rental, ammunition, and bait all in the same store.  
  11. You know there are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 of them live in Texas.
  12. Your biggest bicycle wreak fear is, “What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?”
  13. You know everything goes better with BBQ sauce.
  14. You don’t consider people from Austin to be real Texans.
  15. You can fix anything with Duct Tape.
Image credit:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Quick’n'Dirty Social Media Podcast Launches Today

qnd_logoThe Quick’n'Dirty Social Media Podcast kicks off today at 3 p.m. PT / 6 p.m. ET. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, this project is a joint one withAaron Strout, and it came about after a dinner debate in San Francisco. We’ll be doing all kinds of fun stuff — point / counterpoint, case studies, highlighting lesser known social networks, spotlighting cool members of the social media community, and we’ll even have regular guests. Our first show is going to be a little less formal since we want a chance to play with the format and get some feedback, so we won’t have a guest this week. But we will have other fun stuff.

Speaking of fun stuff, we’d also hosted a two-week long logo design contest. Well, you see the logo above. We love it! Big thanks to Kenneth Lim who designed the winning logo. He went above and beyond and gave us several options, and the design was so clean and fun that we had to go with it. Kenneth has won the following:

I am sure we will do other giveaways and prize incentives in the future, so be sure to listen to the podcast. The BlogTalkRadio link is here. Will you join us?

Cross-posted from

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yet Another Boston to Austin Trip Update

Mobile post sent by astrout using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3