June 2010 is shaping up to be a banner month for digital media-focused events here in the DC region....
First up, Digital Capital Week
(DCWEEK), a 10 day festival in Washington, DC focused on technology, innovation and all things digital in our nation's capital. DCWEEK kicks off June 11, and is the brain child of some of DC's finest digital minds, Peter Corbett
and the iStrategyLabs
team, and Frank Gruber
and Jen Consalvo
of Shiny Heart Ventures
. In case you missed it, the Washington Post
did a nice writeup on DCWEEK
a couple weeks back.
What I really like about DCWEEK is its collaborative nature
. There's still time to get involved by planning and hosting an event
, session or party that supports DCWEEK's mission, volunteer as a leader or team member for one of the many projects
that will be executed that week, or simply register
as an attendee (registration is free, but tickets have been going fast, so I'd recommend signing up soon if you plan on attending!).
The schedule is still coming together, but there are a number of projects I hope to get involved with and several events that caught my eye, including:
Beyond Digital Capital Week, the other local event I'm really looking forward to is Digital Media Wire's 7th Annual Digtal Media Conference
. The speakers are yet to be announced for the June 25 event, but they have 15 panels planned, including:
- Top Digital Media Trends
- Mobile Marketing - Is the Long Wait Over?
- Breaking down Social Media
- TV Anywhere, Anytime, On Any Device
- Mobile Apps: The Next Stage
- Social Media Marketing
- The Future of Online Video
- Trends in Mobile Video
- The Power of Twitter - Strategies for Success
- Digital Madmen - The Evolution of Online Advertising
- Opportunities for Social Networking and Mobile Devices
- Reinventing Advertising - New TV Ad Models
- Content in the Cloud
- The Convergence of the Internet & Television
- Legal Issues for Digital Media Companies
C-SPAN's "The Communicators" did a nice wrap-up of last year's Digital Media Conference:
Hope to see many of you at both events!
(Photo credits: DCWeek
; Digital Media Wire
Aprils been a busy month, so as I was slogging through my backlog of reading, I came across a great post by David Meerman Scott
, whose blog
I would greatly encourage you to read. The post in question
looked at how the public in public relations is evolving into meaning media. Rather than looking at the media as a way for us to reach our publics, PR professionals are trending to ONLY focus on the media, ignoring directly touching the public altogether.
As the title says, we cant see the forest for the trees.
Speaking as a media specialist, where my entire job focuses primarily on forming and maintaining relationships with the press, I couldnt agree more with Davids post. Theres such an emphasis on using social media to connect with journalists that we might forget about its importance to customers and partners. While getting quoted in the Wall Street Journal can do wonders for your positioning in the media, its not going to help your clients bottom line if theyre ignoring potential communities or customers on Twitter and other mediums.
Its okay to care about the media, just dont forget your public.
They may not be tech articles but they are for sure worth reading. Congratulations to: · Gene Weingarten (Feature Writing Category) for his article Fatal Distraction. Gene tells the heartbreaking tale of parents who forgot their child in the backseat of their car, discussing their loss and grief as well as the criminal nature of the act. This story is a little hard to read because it is so emotional however its powerful nature makes it worth the effort. · Sarah Kaufman (Criticism Category) for her dance criticism. The Pulitzer judges said that she has a refreshingly imaginative approach to dance criticism and has illuminated a range of issues and topics with her provocative comments and original insights. Here is her live chat on her articles and being honored with the Pulitzer. The Post staff was also considered a finalist in the National Reporting category for its coverage of the shooting at Ft. Hood and Contributing Editor David Hoffman won in the Letter, Drama and Music: General Nonfiction category for The Dead Hand, his book on the cold war arms race. I, for one, feel lucky to live in an area with such high caliber journalists working for our local newspaper.
Fridays Hear From Your Peers event, hosted by the Technology Marketing Alliance
, featured the dynamic duo -- Kelly Harman
of TriNet Systems
and Jim Ivers
. At the Hear From Your Peers series, TMA members lead an interactive discussion on topics such as SEO, social media best practices, marketing automation systems or measurement. Both of the presentations on Friday focused on building your online presence with a tight budget.
Kelly, a self-described word-press groupie shared her recent experience of revamping the TriNet Web site in under two weeks for less than $2K. She shared her money-saving tips such as using inexpensive WordPress plugins to enhance the sites functionality and crowd-sourcing the graphic design of various visual elements. (She used 99designs
; other attendees mentioned competitor GeniusRocket
Jim shared his practical approach to SEO. As a one-person SEO team, he spends a little time each day creating and sharing content to boost his companys rankings. Ive compiled a few of his best tips below:
1. Beware the shaman its often hard to evaluate who really knows what theyre talking about, especially in an industry that changes as quickly as SEO.
2. Make sure that SEO is a means to an end, not a goal itself.
3. Write with your keywords in mind. Post them by your desk and use them every day. Use your keywords as blog titles.
4. Know what youre going to do with a Google lead when you get one.
5. Break up pdfs that are longer than 3-4 pages to make them easier to index by search engines.
6. Dont try so hard at SEO that you overwhelm your sites design and content.
7. Build traffic to your blog by posting your content on relevant LinkedIn groups.
8. Take a dissenting view. Many initiatives are met with polite applause stand out by disagreeing.
Do you have any other practical SEO or brand building tips for companies on a budget? Please share.
- Katie Hanusik
As a society, we have grown to expect and appreciate choices. Go into your local Starbucks and you will learn that there are over 87,000 different drink combinations. 87,000! What ever happened to just plain coffee? Instead, we have the option to choose the variety of coffee, the number of espresso shots, the flavor of syrup, the type of milk, whip cream, foam, temperature, etc. With so many choices to make, its amazing that any of us actually leave with a coffee-in-hand. But luckily, there is a barista willing to help guide us to a decision that suits our ever-changing moods.
For those of you who feel the same way about ordering your coffee as you do about searching for social media daunted by the number choices - have no fear your social media barista is here. There are a plethora of tools available, much like a baristas advice, to help you choose which blogs to read and what people or companies to follow on Twitter.
TECHNORATI Search: Technoratis new search interface. Use it to find top blogs based upon inbound links. Technorati rates each blogs authority, the number of unique blogs linking to the blog over the previous six months. TECHNORATI Advanced: Technoratis advance search page allows you to search for blogs (rather than posts) based on tags. It also gives you the blogs authority, which is how the blog was received in the blogosphere. Google Blog Search: Googles index of blog posts. The advanced search tab allows you to search based on additional criteria such as date. Alltop: Provides categorized selections of feeds that make it easy to scan a lot of news on a particular subject. Twitter Search: Search keywords on Twitter, which self-refreshes. See what is happening in real-time. Hashtags Real-time tracking of twitter messages using the # symbol Twilert Twitter application that lets you receive regular email updates of tweets containing your brand, product, service. TweetMeme: View the most popular Twitter threads occurring right now. TwazzUp Real-time news platform that filters the news out of live internet content.
Hopefully next time you decide to search the web, you feel as confident as you do when you order your Grande, No foam, Skim Tuxedo Mocha!
- Carey Brezler
Happy Earth Day
! You may have heard this story before, but the results are impressive enough to warrant repeating. At last weeks Virtualization Forum, hosted by VMware
, I had the pleasure of listening to Steve Thamasset, U.S. House of Representatives, HIR Division, share his case study on the Green the Capitol
project. You may be familiar with the mission
of this program, which aims to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent over ten years; to use only electricity generated by renewable sources; and to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of the House of Representatives.
Not surprisingly, technology is playing a big role in this program. The House considered virtualization, consolidation and right-sizing of servers to reduce their energy consumption and their physical footprint, since space is at a premium in the Capitol.
After two years, the payoff is clear. With no additional funding beyond yearly lifecycle funds, the House decreased the number of Windows servers from 85 to 8 and the number of Unix servers from 35 to 12. The server huggers in the office agreed to give up 180 test servers and move to a single rack for testing. Energy consumption decreased 70%. Lastly, the IT office was able to offer virtualized servers to members, allowing each congressional office to save money on their IT program with enhanced backup and recovery services.
Now that sounds like something to celebrate.
- Katie Hanusik
Today, one of the email subject lines I was happiest to see in my Inbox was the following: "Twilert is back!"
Not familiar with Twilert
? It's a free service that sends you email updates whenever your brand or product - or any keyword you designate, actually - is mentioned on Twitter. Think Google Alerts for Twitter. I'd been using Twilert since my earliest days on Twitter, so when the alerts stopped coming last year, I was pretty bummed.
Where'd they go? Well, according to the email from Twilert today, here's what happened:
Last year Twilert was unfortunately a victim of its own success and hit issues scaling against the demand of the number of users we had. Sadly we had to switch the service off as the funds were not available to build it up at the time.
Since then Twilert has come under new management and the platform has been completely re-built to perform much better and scale efficiently against the Twitter API. We have also developed a more user friendly web interface to help you manage your Twilerts and add new ones really easily. Good news, and
welcome back, Twilert! I'm looking forward to getting my alerts set up again soon.
If you're not
currently receiving Twitter alerts delivered to your email when your brand or keywords are mentioned on Twitter (via Twilert, or one of the competing services like TweetBeep
, or NutshellMail
), you're missing a significant opportunity. (Note: I love TweetBeep for their hourly updates, which is as close to real-time as I'm aware of with alerts like this...). Nobody can be on Twitter all day, but everybody wants to know when their company name is mentioned, and in what context. By pushing this information to your email, you're certain to stay on top of these mentions, even on the busiest days.
So, if you're not currently signed up for any Twitter alert services, I highly recommend doing so. And if you are, what is your favorite service? Am I missing any?-Stephanie
Its official! Im famous! Well, me and the millions of other people who have ever Tweeted in their lifetime. The Library of Congress (@librarycongress) announced yesterday
that it plans to digitally archive every single Tweet that has crossed the wire. You heard me right all the billions of 140-charactered messages (equaling to be more than 50 million tweets per day according to the Library of Congress) will be saved on record forever.
When I read this news, I was initially taken back. Ill admit I had a stereotypical image of the Library in my head picturing it to be a dark, spider-web covered building filled with spineless books, over-played cassette tapes, rolled-up, musty newspapers and other (arguably) ancient material. But then I woke up and took a look around. Were in the digital age, and things arent slowing down!
Fast-forward twenty years could you imagine social media (like Twitter feeds) NOT being included in our nations historical records? There would be a lot of blank pages if that were the case! Twitter itself has changed our lives and the way we work. Instead of picking up the phone to pitch a reporter, sometimes a Tweet or direct message does the trick. Want to announce the availability of a new product? Tweet it. Looking for customer feedback? Request it directly. Twitter is intertwined into so many of our actions. The Library is smart to pick up on the trend and record it for years to come.
So the next time you Tweet your customers, colleagues and business partners (and yes, even your favorite bands, athletes, and celebrities), remember youre going down into history. Ill see you there!
As location-based social network services gain popularity by rewarding users for exploring new places and revisiting old ones, more and more businesses are taking a look at these applications as part of their social media marketing plan
but should they? For some businesses, it may seem difficult to take part in the game without a real world location, so what if the place you visited most was your software application at work instead of your neighborhood coffee shop or gym?
Last night, a friend of mine told me about his college years and how he was the biggest geek on campus. Apparently, he had an informal contest in the computer lab with his friends to see who would log the most hours on their image-processing cluster. The game soon escalated until one student sabotaged the cluster so that the others could not log time. But his story got me thinking - could this be an opportunity for something like Foursquare to expand into software applications and online platforms? People have already started checking into work so that they can be mayor of their office instead of the CEO. Why not become mayor of your companys software application by checking-in to a third-party affiliate like Foursquare to track your visits.
Many have argued that success of Foursquares success is their gaming strategy
. With the advent of Foursquares API
, developers are able to build applications that interact with Foursquares platform and provide an opportunity for all businesses to take part in the fun. Run a contest for your big clients to become the mayor of your software application at their company and increase utilization and customer interaction in the process. Never underestimate our competitive nature, or you may no longer be the mayor of your personal blog.
-- Carey Brezler
I recently attended the Annual Potomac Techwire Mobile Outlook 2010, and walked away very impressed with the caliber of speakers and what they provided the audience in the way of trends and opportunities in the mobile space.
- Kevin Bertram, CEO of Distributive Networks, the company known for, among other things, the powering of the Obama for America's campaign that began an entirely new way of communicating with publics.
- Matt Jones, Director of Mobile Strategy and Operations for Gannett Digital, who is responsible for all mobile and wireless initiatives of the Gannett properties, including USAToday.
- Dan Odio, a friend of mine, and entrepreneur extraordinairethe co-founder and COO of PointAbout, a company focused on mobilizes brands, allowing companies to connect with users through the phone.
- Maurice Mckenzie, founder and president of YadaHome, a social network designed to help you organize and plan your daily lives and coordinate activities with your friends and family.
- Michael Sanford, founder and president of Flipside5, a developer of applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The panel was moderated by Paul Sherman, Editor in Chief for Potomac Techwire. Paul knows how to pull a panel together and fill the room!
There were many takeaways, but these trends and insights were the most interesting to me:
When asked about trends they saw in the mobile space, these were key:
- Fragmentation will be a challenge for the foreseeable future: as there are 6 or 7 big mobile operating systems in the market, it poses the biggest challenge for developers. Dan Odio made the comment that even within individual operating systems there is fragmentation that we would live with for the next 36-48 months. Another comment was made that this is not new to developers, in the PC world, fragmentation has posed challenges for the past 30 years.
- Despite all the hype attached to the iPhone, the Android, etc., the majority of mobile traffic still exists in the SMS world (old fashioned text messaging). A comment was made that the number one phone base is still the RAZR, and the smartphones are still primarily found in upscale markets, not widely used. Distribution of SMS text messages is likely to stick around for the next 7-10 years.
- In working with Apple Computer: Michael Sanford claims that Apple Computer, for as big and rich as they are, still have a culture of small and intimate. They help developers, talk to you, and are very accessible to developers. Dan Odio compared Apple to a Facebook status of Its complicated. Maurice commented that when Apple featured his iPhone app, they witnessed an immediate slingshot to the top 10 of iPhone apps in the AppStore. Another speaker offered up that he offered to pay Apple to be featured, without realizing what blasphemy that was
- Pieces of advice offered by each speaker for developers/entrepreneurs in the mobile community:
o Be well funded!
o There is enormous opportunity for mobile applications inside the discussion about B2B (business-to-business) and cloud computing environments. Were just scratching the surface.
o Great products are hard to kill. Focus on making a great product and making it right the first time.
o Go for the emerging market: try to get in early. Itll pay off if youre first.
o Try to find a way to address fragmentation: the one who solves it wins.
o Do a lot of research. Premium markets are very different than SMS marketplaces. Know your customer.
o Realize that the development cycle for anything is always longer than expected. Advice: double the time estimate, and then add a week!
o On B2B applications: until the mobile platforms target interoperability and the enterprise requirements, we wont see as many applications in the workplace.
o Mobile security applications probably represent the best opportunity. There is a gaping hole here.
I can assure you I have only scratched the surface of the content covered here, but the great news is that where there is opportunity, there are great entrepreneurs!
Congratulations youve just set up your clients very first blog/Twitter account/Facebook page/insert-social-platform-of-the-month. After a careful creation and review process, the first content is posted and is immediately trashed by several anonymous posters. You try to engage these users in dialogue, striving to understand what about your client makes them so very hateful they respond only with profanity or silence.
Congratulations again. Youve just had your first brush with the underbelly of the Internet - trolls
Associated by the mainstream media with 4chans infamous /b/
, trolls abuse the anonymous nature of the Internet to, at a basic level, disrupt online communities. From a PR firms perspective, these disruptions translate into profanity-laden blog comments, misrepresenting facts against your client/firm or the use of unverifiable sources to back up their dubious claims.
Trolling presents a plethora of problems to a burgeoning social media program. First, its nearly impossible to tell who
a troll is angry customer, disgruntled employee or bored Internet user? Youll almost never know. Second, direct confrontation is rarely effective and, as stated above, is usually met with silence, more criticism or profanity, so you cant tweak your strategy accordingly. Finally, tightening the grips on your social presence often does more harm than good if you prevent comments, it can look like your client has something to hide.
So what can you do to combat your troll problem?
- Silence More often than not, trolls are just trying to get a rise out of your client or other, more moderate, posters. By not feeding the trolls, you keep them from achieving their end goal and only the most persistent will continue their attacks.
- Comment Screening Most blogging platforms allow for some kind of moderation to comments, giving you and your client some control over what user-generated content is posted. This can, however, become a huge timesink for the moderator, especially if you receive comments in bulk.
- Registration As above, many blogging platforms also allow you to require some form of registration for comments, removing the capacity for anonymous posters. This move, however, can easily backfire too much moderation, and youll make on-the-fly dialogues too difficult with posters. The abundance of throwaway e-mail addresses, like Gmail and Yahoo, make this an easy requirement for trolls to get around as well
But the best way to fight trolls? Build a positive, online community
, one that respects you or your client if theres no food for the trolls, theyll die off or pack up and move elsewhere on the Web.
If you take away the internet, social media, websites and the like youll see that The Grateful Dead were adept with the one thing we all strive for today creating a strong connection with their customers. The Grateful Dead were most definitely innovators in the music world. They had fans flocking to their music and the dead head lifestyle in droves. They followed their own path in making money from concerts instead of albums like most bands of their time, they allowed fans to record those concerts and trade those tapes freely, they let the parking lot of the concerts be almost as much of an experience as seeing the show itself, they cut out the middle man and sold tickets directly to fans, they made sure to treat long-time fans in a special way and they we always open to experimentation not only in their music... If you look at The Deads marketing style its not too different from what were working towards today
They offered their content at a freemuim. Allowing concert goers to tape and trade shows is not all that much different from letting yours customers in on the information. Providing useful information that customers can use and easily access will attract people to your site its as simple as that. If you give away your content, you will win through familiarity and trust.
They have a remarkable product. Obviously The Grateful Deads fusion of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country and jazz stood out in a time when The Beatles and The Stones ruled the airwaves. It used to be that companies could muscle their way into being known with advertising but now instead of focusing solely advertising companies are taking a more grassroots marketing approach and in order to stand out your company or product must be remarkable and willing to show off.
They created their own path. Every company (or band for that matter) can say they have competitors but would you want to be the same as them? No, its nice to look and see what theyre doing but stick to your own path. The Dead made money in a way that no other band did at the time through concert ticket sales. They saw that other bands used concerts as a way to promote albums, but with their own jam band style, they were able to attract bigger crowds (and make more money) by going about it differently. They were ok with losing control. Think about the parking lot of a Dead show, it captures the essence of the band right? Well that developed in an area that the band had no control over. Once they had fans, the fans were happy to tout their message. Your employees can do the same - dont be afraid to let them talk. If they work for the company, they should believe in the product and may speak the way management dictates but could be better ambassadors then youd realize. They werent afraid to experiment. Yes, you can take this as it sounds but the Dead also did a lot of their experimentation on stage. They were an original American jam band so of course they were improving and trying new things on stage, in front of all of their fans. Having a plan is great, dont get me wrong, I wouldnt expect any company to just wing it on any aspect of their business but a plan is only good as a shell. It has to take into account that the real world happens and has to be reacted to. They put long-time fans in the front row. The Dead made sure to treat faithful Deadheads to extras such as special seating. A lot of companies offer deals to new customers but forget about the people that have been keeping the lights on. Make sure to offer deals for current customers if youre also offering them to new ones. They cut out the middleman. The Grateful Dead handled their own ticket sales. They had fans send them money and would send back tickets, eliminating the upcharge from venues and ticket brokers. Not only did this simplify the process for fans but it also put them directly in touch with some of their favorite people. Your customers want to hear from you whether its company news, customer service, sales, etc. They look to communicate with the company they work with for information or to put their mind at ease. One other thing I learned Jerry Garcia was missing most of his right middle finger. Apparently, his older brother chopped it off with an axe while they were chopping wood. Gross. While their technique may have went against the grain at the time, the effect was dead on. In essence, The Dead created a community and can now be looked to by businesses to learn what to do to create a self-perpetuating marketing engine.
As many of you follow the awards circuit that recognizes some of the top companies in this region, here are the finalists recently announced for the SECAF 2nd Annual Awards Gala.
SECAF (the organization for the small and emerging government contractor) announced its finalists last week; over 90 applications were received, so competition was tough. Finalist companies include:
SECAF Contractor of the Year (under $6 million): · Berico Tailored Systems · Credence Management Solutions · Integrity Management Consulting, Inc. SECAF Contractor of the Year ($6 to $12 million): · Dozier Technologies, Inc. SECAF Contractor of the Year ($12 to $25 million): · Advanced Technology & Research Corp · Digital Management, Inc. · Morgan Borszcz Consulting · Technical & Project Engineering, LLC Small Business Partner (Privately-owned greater than $25 million): · Development Alternatives, Inc. Small Business Partner (Publicly-owned greater than $25M)
If you want to attend the gala, you can purchase tickets via SECAF. Please join me in congratulating these finalists!