February 27, 2009

Connecting the Connections

Keith Burtis gave a great presentation at PodCamp Toronto last weekend. It’s especially engaging when the entire room gets involved and Keith let the discussion run wild. It was fantastic! I love Keith’s story too. Eighteen months ago he was working in a warehouse and now he is helping others around the world embrace social media.

These Are The Days Of Our Lives...

Keith compared traditional business models (the funnel) to social media models (the hour glass).

Traditional business shoves as many through the pipe on the hopes to be left with a handful of paying customers. While in social media, you may start with a larger group of people but each one represents the chance to develop a deeper personal relationship.

The funnel starts with a large group and ends with a small group. But the hourglass starts with a large group, develops into small one-on-one connections with people who have their own network, and can result in a larger group.

Traditional model is transactional
Social media model is relational

It was amazing how much chatter ensued after getting back to the office. There were people who reached out to say they wish we had had a conversation at PodCamp and I did the same. Perhaps you experienced this as well.

I have started applying Keith’s suggestion even more to develop stronger one-on-one connections past the follower/friend relationship. After all, we are all just people. Extend a hand or an email, perhaps a call or even a meeting and break through traditional circles.

One-To-One Across The World

Proximity is the single biggest way to meet people: you work together, you’re in the same industry, you are blood related, or you know someone who knows someone. But with social media you can meet people from all walks of life, all over the world, and expand not only your scope of relationships but your knowledge base.

Hop into the conversation. Dig a little deeper. See if you can learn more about someone.

What do you have to lose except the chance to meet someone you otherwise would never would have met?


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February 26, 2009

E-Books: Free For The Learning

One of my true passions is music. I fought for artists and publishers in the music industry for more than a decade. This was not some clueless struggle against technology or progress but rather a discovery of how the music industry could remain healthy while giving music fans what they want - and were now taking for free.

At the core of any venture is the need to be good at it. Music downloading did not create better musicians and not everyone in the industry is out to steal from artists. But if you let people know the food on the menu is free every Thursday, the line-up will be quite a bit shorter on Friday.

I have all the data from the "I only download some music" group and the "they already make enough money" group but we can save that for another time.

Download Books for Free?

One of the coolest trends lately is e-books. These are tightly packed 30-40 page manuals jammed with information that can help you. E-books offer practical information for your business, industry and career.

E-books are easy to read and re-read and re-read again. If you want to write your own, you can!

Books Are Cool

While the publishing industry evolves, the web has allowed anyone to self-publish. You won’t make money from writing an e-book but it allows you the opportunity to share some information and most importantly give readers a better chance to get to know you.

Plus, writing an e-book can lead to business for your company in the future. But, like with music downloading your e-book must actually have substance and something people want to read.

Can You Be Trusted?

Trust is one of the biggest topics these days so if you can gain trust through sharing information, the chances of building better business relationships will increase.

As one who has a renewed interest in the publishing industry, we must look at the changes in the music industry throughout the last decade. It is imperative that the creators are compensated and protected.

Some samples

If you travel in the world of media, social networking, marketing, publishing or entertainment, here are some gems that may help you.

Download, digest and do.

Blink: A Social Media Guide from The Edge
Todd Defren
It is refreshing to read Todd’s work. Defren is a principal with Shift Communications – a PR agency with offices in San Francisco and Boston.

Blink is crammed with nothing but meat. Todd mentions in the opening that he is not going to waste a lot of time getting to real useable information and he keeps that promise. I would say there is a lot of common sense here but as I’ve previously posted, that too is rare. You may find yourself nodding your head a lot but your next step is to create action in your own life with this information. This is a fantastic book.

Unleashing The Ideavirus
Seth Godin
This is a classic! Seth wrote this in 2000 and it’s still ahead of it’s time today. If you are even marginally in the marketing industry, you have heard of Seth. His work, his energy, his mind, and his contribution to the industry is well documented.

If you haven’t read “Unleashing The Ideavirus” or it’s been a while – it’s worth a re-read. Congrats to Seth for publishing his 3,000th blog post this week. And check out his TEDTalk on sliced bread.

Fish Where The Fish Are
Using The Social Web to Find Work
Branding for the Business Professional

Chris Brogan
If you are even a casual social media participant, you have heard of Chris. He is the president of New Marketing Labs with partners Justin Levy and Colin Browning. Chris travels the world giving presentations to businesses that include practical applications for marketing and social networking. I had the pleasure of spending some time with him at PodCamp Toronto. If you did the same, you know he is the real deal.

Word of Mouth Manual
Dave Balter
With all the tools and tricks and data at our disposal, word of mouth still holds true as an extremely powerful way for people to find out about you and your business. It can work in your favor or work against you. Building positive word of mouth can take time but negative news travels quickly. Dave is the founder and CEO of BzzAgents – a word of mouth marketing and media network so he knows of what he writes.

Trust Economies
Julien Smith & Chris Brogan
Julien Smith was an early adopter to the social space through In Over Your Head which began in November 2004. He is a writer, designer and entrepreneur. He is also one of six contributors to a new initiative called Media Hacks hosted by Mitch Joel with Hugh McGuire, Brogan, CC Chapman, and Christopher S. Penn.

Along with Brogan, Smith has co-authored “Trust Agents” which will be released in August. He is wicked smart and very funny. He has more energy than an NFL franchise and a warning: he will in fact tell you the truth.

Have you written or have you ever thought about writing an e-book?


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February 25, 2009

Meetings Morsels Moments and Money

The relationship comes before the sale. It's about people buying in to you, not your business. Be transparent and talk like a real person. #pcto09

PodCamp Toronto began last Saturday morning and everyone was saying their goodbyes Sunday afternoon.

In thirty-six short hours, a lot was said, done and discussed. But more importantly, connections were made and strengthened.

About 500 people converged on Ryerson University to discuss social networking. If you were to assume everyone who attended was from Toronto - which they were not - that represents just .0001% of the city's population.

Anyone who may think this space has reached maturity needs to look closer. Our need to connect and belong has been around since we have, but this new wave of communication is still in its infancy.

You will scale faster by building deeper relationships with fewer people.

Be interesting and engaging. Re-humanize your company, service or personal brand.

Toronto was the first city on earth to have more than a million Facebook users, so this is not about convergence.

This is more about a small percentage of the population who want to take social media to the next level.

To most, it is a way to stay in touch with their friends – which it is – but to some it has become a powerful way to build business relationships through deeper human relationships.

Be a community gardener. Keep them entertained and make their day. It’s has nothing to do with your offering and everything to do with you. Balance the deal flow with the cash flow and figure out your place in the flow. #pcto09

The event was filled with great presentations which were followed by conversation about the content that was covered. I asked someone if they were enjoying the weekend and they said the best part was the one-on-one chats to dig deeper into the information. The theory is great, but the actual application is key.

The highlight for me was to talk to people I have met through social networking about them and their interests and projects.

PodCamp Toronto was not only enlightening but very social – which is the point. Another hightlight was the reminder that social media is an even playing field and there is no one way to do it. There are many tools at your disposal and it’s how you apply the ones that you need for your particular situation.

Gain trust and don't break it. We are in an era of mass customization. Create a relationship - a rapport on a human level. Be one of them because we are all one of them.

How do you monetize social media?

It's no different than any other venture or industry. There are no get rich quick schemes - in fact, you need to be very real or others will see your pitch before you arrive. Only a small handful get to win the lottery, the rest of us have to work hard.

Put your business cards away, lose the slick sales' pitch and just get to know someone. People will buy in to you long before they buy in to what you do.

How are you using social media to connect on a more human level?


photo credits | eva blue | lexnger

February 24, 2009

Not-So-Common Sense Revolution

"The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next."
Henry Ward Beecher

As we all take a long look at all that we do, it has made us realize our strengths. If you haven't done this yet, it a worthy exercise.

Many media and entertainment colleagues are hanging on - in some cases - for dear life. And in other cases, there is a bright future.

But it got me thinking about common sense and status quo. We put things in boxes, we over analyze lowest common denominator and seek averages to keep us all happy. We don't rock any boats and if we step out there is a fear that our lack of conformity will get us into trouble. And we certainly wouldn't want to run the risk that someone may not like what we do, would we? Yawn.

"It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense."
Robert Green Ingersol

The music industry was rested on many pillars that were deemed true for far too long. The genie has crushed the bottle.

The publishing industry is going through radical change and consumers are driving this bus as well.

Newspaper outlets will survive and thrive again but a completely new mind set must occur or they can blame no one but themselves.

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
Albert Einstein

The phrase "common sense" should be stricken from our vernacular. It has caused mediocrity, laziness, assumption, arrogance and many other deadly sins. What is common and makes sense to you is where it stops.

"Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done."
Harriet Beecher Stowe

This is not to say you and I may agree on virtually everything but we must look at the massive changes media is a going through to realize this can play in to your advantage.

So perhaps have another look your experience and your abilities with a fresh perspective. Don't throw anything away or assume what you know or what you have done is "common sense".

What are your thoughts?
What are your stories?
What is your common sense?


February 20, 2009

PodCamp Toronto

If you haven't immersed yourself in the social network, jump in!

The price of admission is contribution. There are no rules of how much or how often you should contribute just join the conversation.

Free to Join. Free to Join In.

You don’t have to do a podcast or a blog, you don’t have to have 30,000 followers on Twitter, your friend list on Facebook doesn't have to be in the thousands; you can just come in and grab a seat.

This weekend marks the third annual PodCamp Toronto and it will be busier than ever. There are almost 900 people signed up and the schedule is jammed with tips and pointers no how to navigate the digital space, how to interact better and perhaps even monetize the experience.

No salespeople wanted

That last part is tricky. If you think you can apply scam tactics to social media, you will find out very quickly that is not a wise approach. At the core of social media is the social aspect. People need to buy-in to people before they buy from people. Never has that been more crucial than right now.

PodCamp Toronto is an unconference which means admission, ideas and sharing is free. You are encouraged to share in the sessions and in the hallway, just get to know each other. The playing field is even.

Nice to meet you

The cool thing about this event is that you will meet people from all walks of life, experiences and professions. If you go to a marketing convention to watch marketing experts talk about marketing, it's can be too one-dimensional.

If you’re going to PodCamp Toronto, perhaps we’ll run in to each other.


February 19, 2009

The Work Begins Now

"Change doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington."
Barack Obama - Aug 2008

President Obama is in Ottawa today to meet with Prime Minister Harper and other Canadian leaders. It is a whirlwind tour of the Nation’s capital. There will be a brief press conference later this afternoon and the rest of the time will be spent working on serious topics.

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
Barack Obama - Feb 2008

In the wake of the global economic situation it is interesting that the chatter about this trip has circled around seeing the President in the flesh. The entire downtown core is blocked off and Secret Service officials are blanketing the city like a fresh snowfall. But the bigger question is – do we need to see him or do we need him to lead some of the solutions facing all of us?

Fame and Fascination

"We live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principle goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained."
Barack Obama - Jul 2006

We are enthralled by celebrity. Obama is the most famous person on earth and it’s only natural that people would want to see him in action.

Despite the most historic Presidential election of all time won by one of the most charismatic political leaders in a decades, Obama himself has repeatedly reminded all of us that there is much work to do by all of us. This is not a U.S. situation, it is a worldwide situation. There is no time for pomp and circumstance.

Leaders and Laggards

"What Washington needs is adult supervision."
Barack Obama - Oct 2006

Strong leadership is enjoyed by most and some are meant to lead. It is not about a title or job description or education – it is about motivating others to work together on solutions.

It was amazing to watch the Obama camp embrace social media and empower millions of new voters to enjoy the freedom of having their voice heard and to make a difference.

Once the final morsels of confetti fell to the floor, the work began. Red carpets have been rolled way and sleeves are now rolled up.

Hope and Hard Work

"Faith is not just something you have, it's something you do."
Barack Obama - Dec 2006

I think it’s fairly safe to say that Canadians hope the President can inspire our leadership to work together across party lines and discard nick picky politics toward resolution. Perhaps the rest of us could do our part by getting to work rather than being concerned about a celebrity sighting?

Would you rather meet someone famous or be inspired by them?



February 18, 2009

From Cave Walls to FriendFeed

How old is social media?

At the core of social networking is connection. It has been going on for about the last 100,000 years or so.

People used to write stories about their lives through pictures on cave walls.

Juan Pablo Bonet first introduced a new way of communication for the deaf and today millions converse through sign language.

Can you hear me now?

In 1836, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail developed an electronic telegraph machine that sent a series of electric currents which made markings on tape. An alphabet was devised and long distance two-way communication was made possible with basic equipment.

Ancient Greece is the place where the earliest form of shorthand was documented. As early as 400BC, shortened versions of full words were carved on to marble using mostly vowels with slight variations to indicate consonants.

Rocket ships and email

In the late fifties during the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. This event caused the Americans to quickly get to work on the Advanced Research Projects Agency or ARPA which later became ARPA Network or ARPANET. Today, you and I know it as The Internet.

Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the mid 1400’s. His creation revolutionized communication. A&E named him the most influential person of the 20th century.

Shawn Fanning turned the music industry on its head with his invention of computer code and later Napster which allowed people to electronically share songs.

What does all of this have to do with Social Media?

In short, everything.

This is not about LinkedIn or Facebook, MySpace or Bebo, Twitter or FriendFeed.

Morse code, the Internet, hieroglyphs, the printing press, mp3s, shorthand and many other magnificent inventions have immeasurably helped us better connect with each other while sharing stories, knowledge and experiences.

But can any of this ever replace in-person interaction?


February 16, 2009

Being Social Through Social Media

What is the first thing you would do if you won $5 Million?

Yesterday was a fun day on Twitter. It was one of those moments where I wanted a naysayer to be around so they could see what social media is all about.

In light of the current economic situation, I thought I'd pose an age-old question. Perhaps the answers have changed. My question was: what would be the first thing you would do if you won $5 Million? The amount wasn't important, but I felt it needed to be significant enough to get a reaction.

Some responses…

@DellaSiemens Pay off student loan debt
@CamilleJ buy my own flat! :)
@LifeLdrshpCoach Pay off my mortgage & credit cards, help my family members get in the black, put a BUNCH under the mattress, and then DONATE.
@cynthiayoung Buy expensive ketchup! (Barenaked Ladies' reference)
@chrisbrogan I’d bank 2, donate 1, and burn through 2 "fixing" things.
@Zoeyjane I'd buy new clothes. And a skateboard. And a tattoo. Prolly some furniture. Eventually I'd make it to a charity or two.
@myogis Call in rich! (nah...I'd probably call in sick before telling anyone)
@marcpsummers save $2 million and buy property with rest after paying every bill I had in my whole lifetime.

Science Meets Reality

A discussion ensued over a question we have asked, been asked and asked ourselves our entire lives - what to do if we won a bunch of money. Most lists didn't simply include buying fivolous stuff - though fancy ketchup is a good one. More importantly the lists included many ways to help others.

It is my suspicious that if we did a more scientific and detailed piece of research the responses would still fall under these main categories:

1. Pay off debt
2. Help others
3. Make a difference

Now let’s change the question slightly...

What would you first do to make $5 Million - so you could help others and make a difference?


February 14, 2009

Are We Still Trading Up?

"Middle-market consumers around the world are trading up to New Luxury products and services that deliver higher levels of quality, taste, and aspiration than conventional items."
Trading Up: The New American Luxury (2003)
Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske

As the economic asteroid field whizzes by our ears, do we still have money for luxuries and trading up?

Smaller numbers. Bigger bucks.

Of all goods and services, new luxury items account for 20% of sales, 40% of revenue and 60% of profit.

We seem to find a way to get the stuff we want by spending less on the stuff feel is unimportant. For example, we may shell out five bucks for a latte and buy no name brand bathroom tissue. The earliest example for me was when I bought my first new car while renting a basement apartment. Great car, horrible apartment.

Instant Starbucks.

People can put down their picket signs. The company is about to introduce Via - a water soluble coffee. Yes, it's instant coffee and some may say the end of life as we know it but at least it's in their wheelhouse. CNN Money is calling it a "gamble".

Starbucks has been a brand many of us have used to illustrate the 'trading up' or 'living large' lifestyle.

"Because New Luxury goods sell for 20 to 200 percent more than standard mid-price goods, they deliver higher profits. They also can sell in much higher volumes than super premium products, and thus have greater potential for growth."
Trading Up: The New American Luxury (2003)

A colleague's wife and her purse.

She loves the purse but the zipper broke. Instead of tossing it and buying a new purse, she bought a new zipper. Sounds logical but more to the point, perhaps we've all contributed to this crisis because we've become too familiar with the concept of throwing out the broken one and buying a new one. Too often on credit.

Repair. Recycle. Reuse.

I got an email this week from someone who wondered if this downturn will cause the return of more repair shops. Good point. Let's stimulate the economy by employing more talented people who can make our stuff last longer. Plus, it makes for less landfill which in-turn helps the environment.

This is not about doing without, but the collective 'we' has been racking up the bill for too long and we simply can't trade up indefinitely.

We want companies to thrive, we want them to keep making stuff to turn a profit and we want to create jobs not lose them. Part of the correction may need to come from our collective reduction in tossing stuff away too quickly. And in the process, we could still find a way to treat ourselves once in a while.

How are you Trading Up?


February 12, 2009

Your Comments Are Welcome

You can tell more about a person by what they say about others than you can by what others say about them.
Leo Aikman

There have been many posts lately that have addressed the issue of comments on blogs. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to make a comment - here or via email - on my musings! It’s great that someone reads this stuff then takes the time to contribute to the conversation. I appreciate anyone taking a few moments to read this stuff and make a comment.

One issue that has been brought up often is that if you want someone to contribute to your conversation, you must do your part and contribute to their conversation. Feel free to scroll down to my "connections" section and click on all the people I read on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts on that?

When you spend many years in media, you get used to producing content that goes into the ether to an unnamed listener-reader-viewer with virtually no feedback. Once in a while, you get a complaint email or call if you do something that irks someone but rarely do they even contact you – they usually just stop listening-watching-reading.

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
John E. Southard

It’s always been my perception that Canadians are especially bad with confrontation. We have half a mind to complain, but the other half doesn’t want to offend anyone. But it works in our favor when we travel because we are known around the world as a polite people. That's okay, right?

How are you, today?

We are built for interaction and confirmation. This isn’t a media or social media thing, it’s a human thing. In all my years doing behavioral and perceptual research, ranked in the top three responses were always things like; ‘respect in the workplace’, ‘acknowledgement of a job well done’, ‘being appreciated by the boss’ or ‘ability to advance'.

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.
Oscar Wilde

We aren’t good at asking for feedback and awful at taking it. We do love feedback ...as long it’s positive, of course ;-)

What did you think of my presentation?

I asked a highly successful blogger whether his Technorati ranking was important to him and he couldn’t answer fast enough – yes! He explained that it’s not about a chart position but rather a measurement of how his information is resonating with readers. But the confirmation of a job well done is okay too.

To escape criticism - do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
Elbert Hubbard

We seem to spend a great deal of time hiding the fact that we enjoy positive feedback. We spend even more time failing to take the opportunity to give someone the same. Paint me cynical but most people have barely enough time to feed their own ego and very little time left to feed yours.

How was your meal?

You won’t have to wait long today before you hear the phrase “I’m so busy” – perhaps you’ll be the one saying it. “My life is busy. I am alone in a wind tunnel of busyness fighting the faceless foe known as ‘work load’. No one else is busier. How important I am to be so busy.”

When you start treating people like people, they become people.
Paul Vitale

Give it a shot - take the time to compliment him on his presentation or on her promotion. There is no such thing as a selfless act, so enjoy how you feel when you make someone feel good. Perhaps next time you feel the urge to huffily mention “no one appreciates me around here” someone will rush to your rescue.


February 11, 2009

Sleeping Satellites

Is this the beginning of the end?

This is not news, this is not even shocking, and this has been on the way long before the economic downturn that is being used as the reason for all faltering businesses these days.

Bad business plans, crushing expenditures and time constraints will affect any company during any economic climate.

Satellite radio – as we know it – may be on the way out

This is bad news for investors and customers. Sirius and XM have spent millions attempting to beat terrestrial radio at their own game. They have done countless radio and television campaigns, purchased major sponsorship affiliations; hired Howard Stern for $100M U.S. a year, while offering hundreds of crystal clear “commercial free” radio choices.

The now merged venture is drowning in debt.

It was announced yesterday that Sirius XM is going to file for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday. The fingers are pointing in all directions on this mess.

This was not a newsflash for company officials this week. They have known the costs and timeline since inception. The price tag on a satellite is $1.5 to 2 Billion and building hundreds of audio entertainment choices then market them is an enormously costly endeavor.

To believe that Sirius XM management wasn’t aware is like saying that the people running AIG didn’t know about the problems until they were 80 Billion in debt. Wouldn't alarms go off at around (say) the 10-15 Billion mark?

A quote here from Business Week:
The few poor souls who still hold Sirius XM (SIRI) stock may get poorer still. "I'll lose $1 million," says Michael Hartleib, a longtime activist shareholder. "They completely destroyed a perfectly viable company." Shares of the company closed at 11.39¢ on Feb. 10 after The New York Times said the company is preparing for a possible filing for Chapter 11 protection from creditors. Sirius declined to comment on the report.

I have given the radio industry over two decades of my life, and it is one of my true loves. Radio can be immediate, can react quickly and can create magic.

But if you start a business with no money, convince a bank to lend you some, then rack up your line of credit miles past your company’s ability to see the top of the pile, it is doubtful that you will be able to build quickly enough to write black ink.

Sirius XM have balloon payments due this year in the millions - and there just isn't the money to pay them.

Subscription based radio remains a foreign idea to most people and the offering has to be sweeter. Tell me why I need to buy gear and pay a monthly fee. Apple seems to have found a way to do that.

Add to that, the troubles in the auto industry which is where a significant number of pre-installed units were giving listeners an introduction to the services. Less cars sold, less new listeners.

Other issues for radio include: dwindling younger demos listening to satellite or terrestrial radio as well as consistent and better content. A morning show and music all day isn't enough. And there is a large percentage of people under 20 whose lives don't include radio. Younger becomes older and older becomes the target audience very quickly.

More from the Business Week article:
A bankruptcy filing by Sirius XM would have widespread implications not just for holders of the satellite radio company's debt and shares, but also for millions of listeners and for the celebrities like Howard Stern whose fat paychecks have made it harder for the company to pay its other bills.

A lot has been said about the Stern contract and the price of satellites in the atmosphere and the debt load. At the core of the issue are the discussions that took place at that first meeting when the idea began.

Too often companies attempt to retro blame some unforeseen factor. Satellite radio is a cool idea, but not an overnight fix or quick money grab. Anyone who claims they didn’t know that is not being completely honest with themselves.

What are your thoughts about satellite radio? Tried it? Like it?

Do you want Sirius XM to survive?


February 10, 2009

C’mon - I Don’t Have All Minute!

How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young? - Paul Sweeney

Are you impatient?

We are spoiled and we want it all now. Companies are searching for bailouts, our need to own stuff we can't afford has caused credit card debt to reach into the billions. And we can't seem to help ourselves.

Whenever I talk about social media to my non-geek friends their eyes begin to flutter, shaking ensues, there’s usually a panicked look in their face as they search for a reason to end the conversation. You may have experienced similar reactions.

Patience is a virtue not a business plan

If LinkedIn and Twitter are mentioned in the same sentence, paramedics may be required. Any mention of blogs or podcasts may as well be spoken in Japanese.

If I can hold their attention for a few moments longer, I can usually explain that it’s not about websites or software, it is about connectivity. If there is a “suit” in the room, I can usually prey on their need for a better bottom line.

But then what?

We all want instant results. We go to the gym twice and give up because the six-pack abs seem insurmountable, we toss a salad down our throats and call that health eating, we leave ourselves way little time to get there and expect every traffic light to turn in our favor.

We want it now and we’ll go to any lengths to avoid hard work. Instant rebates, no money down, exercise short-cuts, finance everything, the list goes on and on and on.

We have ourselves to blame

A buddy asked me yesterday “What does Twitter do?” My immediate response was “Nothing, it's a website”. He then quipped “I knew it! Why does everyone waste so much time on there?”

First of all, not everyone is on Twitter and it doesn’t do anything. I explained that it was about the connection and what the people do on Twitter.

My question to him was “What does ESPN do?” Along came a spirited explanation at which point I reminded him that the network doesn’t do anything – the people who work at the network are the ones doing stuff.

ESPN and Twitter are merely conduits.

Old school meets reality

A colleague has approached me to explain social media to one of their clients. This client represents a former politician who is trying to expand his reach and set himself up for a comeback. The tactic has been to focus on "mature voters" - the 45-60yr-old demographic.

If he wants to expand, he needs to reach new people and younger demos. I thought it was a pretty easy sell to explain how President Obama brought millions of younger voters to the polls through social media. However, this may take a bit more explaining.

now Now NOW

There is no shortage of data to explain human behavior and our lack of patience. There is increasing data to explain that social media is not some potion to cure all company ills.

Eating a piece of broccoli each day isn’t enough. Posting a few comments on Twitter isn’t either. No matter how much we jump up and down, popcorn still takes about three and a half minutes in the microwave.

How do you curb your impatience and need for instant results?

How do you teach others to have more patience?


February 9, 2009

Putting On A Brave Face

A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is but often prompts us to rearrange the past.
Eric Hoffer

A few years ago, I was having lunch with a friend who was experiencing a stalled career and some trouble in his marriage. We met at a packed food court at a mall – not the most private of locales for such conversation – but it gave me the chance to make a vivid comparison.

I asked him to look around the busy food court and find people who were late on their credit card payments, those who were deep in debt, the ones who were having trouble with their relationships or jobs. He saw a group of people who all seemed to have it figured out.

Stiff Upper Lip
The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

We all seem to have it figured out. We keep a smile on for the masses and our best foot forward. I was not suggesting we all walk around with our head in our hands, but I was pointing out that everyone goes through tough stuff.

Possible Good News
A people that values privileges above principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

If there is a silver lining in the world economic crisis, it would be that we are now allowed to be honest and there is a desire for others to reciprocate. History tells us that we will turn this around. History also teaches us that unless we learn from this experience, it will repeat.

The solution to the crisis is not for us to throw our hands in the air or run through the streets crying, but a little honesty wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Never Let Them See You Sweat
Journalism is literature in a hurry.
Matthew Arnold

I’ve been in the media, writing, entertainment, marketing and promotion industries my entire career. We have to work hard so it seems we haven’t made an effort.

If you've ever been inside a radio station or been on a film set, you may have an idea of how much panic may go on behind-the-scenes so the final product is right.

Not All The Kids Like Honesty
Honesty is the rarest wealth anyone can possess, and yet all the honesty in the world ain't lawful tender for a loaf of bread.
Josh Billings

There was a scary report on Dateline NBC last night featuring Elizabeth Warren. She is a law professor at Harvard and has been hired by President Obama as the head of the congressional oversight panel for the U.S. government bailout program.

When asked how the government has been tracking the money, she said that before she was hired, the Bush Administration had not been tracking it at all. Companies have been receiving lumps of cash and haven’t been forced to account for where it goes past the front door. That is idiotic and dangerous. But don't look too deep for a soul inside the CEO of a company that was just given several billion in government handouts.

Some have taken the brave face a little too far and honesty not far enough.

Could we benefit from a little more honesty?



February 8, 2009

The Cell Phone Turns A Page

Have we lost the passion for reading books?

One of the rising categories in electronics over the last few years has been portable e-readers. If you’re not familiar, you can buy a device that will download full-length books. Then you can have a bunch of books all stored in one handy handheld device. You can buy one in the $250-$400 range.

There are a few models on the market. Read Gizmodo's take on all the models if you're not sure which one to buy. Amazon got a nice bump from Oprah last year and sold out of the Kindle - twice. The company is expected to announce the Kindle 2.0 for the U.S. market tomorrow.

Check Your Lane!

A spokesperson for the company said that their cell-ready device is coming too. You will be soon be able to download a book on to your phone or PDA.

And you thought people were distracted sending emails in traffic!

Just imagine some guy in front of you at a stoplight getting distracted because he's reading a novel. Of course if you're sitting on a long flight, these can be very handy.

Those Were The Days, My Friend

The newspaper industry was wildly successful for generations. Many have booked the funeral in the last couple of years.

Pardon the pun, but stop the presses!

Is this an issue about newspapers and books or our desire for news and content? Is this about holding a paper or book in our hands or the content itself?

Has our quest for information decreased?

This is about the ability for each of us to control our environment.

Our demand for instantly delivered content seems to increase every day. We want it now and we want it fast. We don't want to wait until tomorrow to read yesterday's news.

You know times are changing when The Huffington Post hosts its own inaugural ball for President Obama.

Now What?

The publishing industry needs to have a good look at the music industry’s reaction to downloading. The challenges may be similar, they may be different, but one thing is certain - change is here to stay.

If you’re in the area, join the free discussion on June 6th at BookCamp Toronto where some possible solutions for the publishing industry may arise.

Do you want books on your cell phone?

What does the future hold for the publishing industry?


February 5, 2009

How Does It Make You Feel?

We are inundated by information, pitches, news, content, blogs, offers, podcasts, emails, phone calls and the question remains: are we getting any further?

The blogosphere is fraught with economic news and predictions while we all try and stay focused. The 800lb gorilla is stomping on our collective skulls while we attempt to stay positive.

Help Wanted

We are looking at each other for guidance and answers but in the process forgetting that others are doing the same to us.

Some estimates say that we sift through thousands of images and pieces of content every day. We have become masters at weeding out what we don’t need and getting to what we do need.

Research Isn't Always The Answer

When I was buying my current car, I did my homework. I test drove 12 different vehicles, performed in depth price comparisons, examined options, pros and cons, and ended up buying the car that I wanted from the start. I had over thought it.

It wasn’t my homework that sold me; it was what my best friend said as we stood in the dealership parking lot one summer evening. He turned to me as we looked at three different models of the same car and said; “Dude, get the one that will make you smile”.

No Hoops | No Games

The best radio promotion I have ever been a part of was entitled “24 Hours In Vegas”. Unlike most radio contests, we did not ask listeners to wait for the sound of the clown horn or be placed on a waiting list or answer a skill testing question, we just gave away seats on our chartered plane all the time. I had 180 seats to fill and it was a blast. We kept our focus on how it feels to be told without notice that you are going to Las Vegas.

Winners received two plane tickets, that’s it. No hotel, no spending money, no rental car, no taxi chits, a plane ticket. We took off at 10am on Wednesday and left Vegas at 10am on Thursday. Listeners were left to fend for themselves and live large.

People Are People

There were grown men crying, women screaming in disbelief, and the morning we took off we had a plane full of excited people. It wasn’t about ratings, or the radio station, it was about connection.

There were no complaints or whining about extras. The plane ride home was full of tired but excited people sharing stories of their adventure. New friendships were formed, some stayed up all night, some grabbed a hotel, two couples renewed their vows, and not one person missed Thursday’s flight.

It was a team of people sharing an experience.

It's Not About The Bottom Line

In a time when companies are making cuts and trying to find the message that will cut through, perhaps it's time to find out how your message or product or service will make them feel.

With radio promotions, it was important to stay within four main prize categories: money, trips, cars and things people don't have access to experience on their own. No one would turn away the first three, but it is the last one that will last a lifetime.

The iPod isn’t about high quality audio, it’s about freedom. TED2009 on right now is not just about smart people talking, it's about showing others they can dream and think big. Social media is not about collecting friends, it’s about sharing with others.

How do you make others feel?


February 3, 2009

Newsflash: Social Media Is Not A Fad

Let’s take a quick trip back to a simpler time when laptops were rocks and Facebook was a cave. It was a time when grunts meant complex sentences and networking was done around campfires after the beast was conquered.

It was discovered then that humans enjoyed the contact of other humans. Similarly it was revealed that humans enjoyed multiple visits from those they knew and called them “friends”. Experiences shared, stories told.

From 2,000,000 BC to Today

Fast-forward several million years and a new study by Cision – a media research company out of Chicago has discovered that social media is in fact on the rise in Canada. The sites with the biggest growth are globeandmail.com and cbc.ca

If you aren’t in Canada – The Globe And Mail is a national newspaper which has recently stepped up their online content in the wake of that industry’s crumble and CBC is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – the national government funded television, radio and content company.

Content Content Content

Jay Krall from Cision says that social media and online content channels are the future. Not a big revelation but content still must be worthy of people’s time and people must know where it is and how to find it.

Not So Fast!

It’s dangerous to tell those not versed in the space to simply start a blog or sign up at social media sites or post their messages and content on a website. It’s like age-old issue in the music industry – bad music slammed over people’s heads will still not make it good.

Try It You'll Like It

Like with any piece of research, there are flaws. In this case, Cision measured online success by blog comments and mentions on “the social web” – love that term. It sounds like my dad talking about Nine Inch Nails as “that music you kids listen to”.

Reality and Media

Online is not the future, it is the present. As stated several times here and many more times to friends and colleagues – this isn't new media or new reality – this is media and reality.

How will you best harness the power of social media to help your business?


February 2, 2009

Google Glitch and Human Nature

By now, you may have had a good laugh at the “human error” that happened in front of the world over the weekend or as it's affectionately called - The Google Glitch. Their explanation here

Hmmm That's Weird

If you were online Sunday 9:30-10:30am and used the search engine at all, you noticed that under every result was an additional note: this site may harm your computer.

If you were like me, you thought something was wrong with YOUR computer. But the story is that something got messed up a piece of code which caused everyone on the planet to get this warning with every search result around the world for an hour.

Imagine The Power

To most, Goggle is a space where they begin their online journey. But as you probably know, that is just the beginning of the Google Empire.

Search engine marketing and affiliate marketing are multi-billion industries. Some of the world’s largest corporations use Google Analytics to research customer behavior. There is Google Maps, Google Reader, Google Earth, and tons more.

No Sales Person Will Call

No one from Google will call your house for money or hound you for additional services; that is all done behind the scenes. The furniture store that comes up on the first page of your search isn’t there by accident. The furniture store is likely paying for that “rack space”. When was the last time you sifted through twenty pages in a search result?

This could have been a much more serious issue. At the most basic level, it shows our blind trust that stuff will just work for us every time. It is also a reflection of the trust we give others with our personal information.

Companies Are Human Too

No one enjoys mistakes, we all make them, often. But don't beat yourself up too much. The people running one of the largest companies in the world make them too.


February 1, 2009

Size Doesn’t Matter

The chatter over Super Bowl commercials today is deafening. It has become a marketing campaign on to itself. There were good spots, bad spots, okay spots and horrible spots. It was like every other day on television.

Feel free to watch again if you want - click here.

Cost is Irrelevant

The size of your budget has nothing to do with the strength of your message. In fact, one could argue that some rely on big budgets to rest bad ideas in hopes they will become good.


Even if you had no experience in advertising, production, writing, creative, or marketing, you can still waste $2+ Million on a Super Bowl ad placement. That’s the easy part.

Eye on the Prize

The difficult part is to create recall, action and move consumers to actually purchase what you’re shilling once the confetti has landed.

Whether you have a dollar or several million, if the idea sucks – the idea sucks. Conversely, well crafted sharp campaigns that deliver results don't necessarily break the bank.

It's Not How You Play The Game

Super Bowl XLIII was a pretty good game. It appeared that Arizona woke up just at the right time and had a chance to steal it until Ben’s big rush to seal the victory with seconds to go.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are Champions. Time will quickly tell how many advertisers can make the same claim.


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