April 25, 2008
I've often said, "The last thing the world needs is another social network." And while I stand by that statement from a broad perspective (think Facebook, MySpace or Bebo), I think my advice can be ignored when it comes to an integrated, vertical approach to online communities. And I've got a perfect example.
Segway Social - the social network current and future Segway scooter owners.
The revolutionary two-wheel self-balancing vehicle was introduced in 2001 by inventor Dean Kamen to much acclaim. Since that time, there have been numerous ways that customers have either created their own or requested customized versions. So what better way to find out about some of these than to connect users with each other, so see what they're up to and how they use their Segways? There are some nice features on the site, including a wall for news, an interactive map, the ability to create groups, and a photo section. While it was initially launched with photos from Segway's Flickr photostream, there's the ability for users to add their own photos in as well. One of my favorite features is the ability for users to add their own "Glides," or Segway routes that they've discovered or created. These can be displayed on that map feature.
There are also sections that allow Segway users to share tips & tricks with each other in a wiki-like platform, and a calculator to see how you're saving the environment by not using a gas-powered vehicle. Naturally, you can create your own profile and participate in the message boards/forums as well.
The site has a really clean and fresh design and a logo that I really like. If you had to compare it to the product itself, I'd say it's a great fit - balanced, intuitive, and very cool.
My friends & colleagues at Plaid - the interactive agency that did such a stellar job with the My ooVoo Day With... site (ooVoo being a client of crayon, my employer) - designed the site for Segway. An interesting side note is how they actually got the business.
Last year, they took an appropriately designed van on tour across the eastern U.S. and called it Plaid Nation, stopping in at various locations, sometimes announced, sometimes unannounced. The stop at Segway headquarters in New Hampshire was not announced in advance, but the cold call, coupled with Plaid's ability to understand and navigate the social media space, was significantly impressive enough to convince the marketing team at Segway that Plaid was worth bringing on board. Wanna see how fun it is to work at Plaid? Check this out. This year, Plaid Nation '08 kicks off on July 21 and is based on the west coast. I'm sure there are going to be some great tales from the road that they'll chronicle as they fulfill their mission of "spreading social media, one cheap motel at a time."
Hmm. I wonder if they'll be packing their office Segway in that van...
April 19, 2008
A number of bloggers write entries about the anniversary of their blogs, or note some milestone achievement. But this post is a little different. Keeping in what I suppose you've come to know me for, this is more personal.
Yesterday was my birthday. Now, I'm not someone who makes a big deal out of his day (a former colleague used to celebrate his "birthday month," to stretch out the fun), but I'm not one to shy away from admitting when I have one, either.
But this year, I have more of a reason to celebrate. It's because of you - my community, my social network. This is the first birthday I've had since I've truly been an active and recognized member of the social media field, so when I have my birthday listed on my Facebook profile, it should have been no surprise that many people would come out of the woodwork to wish me a happy birthday via Twitter, Facebook, emails and direct messages.
I tried to respond to everyone personally, but it was tough to keep up with. I apologize if I missed you. But I'd like to publicly thank everyone here by pulling an Amanda Gravel - a very savvy and community-minded acknowledgment that you mean a great deal to me and that you should try to connect to each other, if you aren't already connected.
To wit, here are the Twitter handles of everyone who reached out to me today. Start following!
April 18, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I said that conversation was like the weather. It's ubiquitous, and marketers seem to be the only ones interested in talking or doing anything about it (while everyone else just HAS conversations).
But it got me to thinking about something we probably all take for granted, but rarely have a reason to talk about: the weather forecast itself. You probably can't count the number of times you turned on the TV in the morning to catch a glimpse of the 5-day forecast, or dialed TellMe (1-800-555-TELL) and asked for "weather," or clicked on Accuweather.com or Weather.com for your local forecast.
Local matters In weather and in social media, local content and connections are part of what make them relevant to us. People care about the communities in which they live and invest a great deal of time, energy and money there. To wit: the Newspaper Association of America just announced that over $2 billion was spent last year on local advertising on newspaper web sites. Why? Because it's targeted, it's relevant, and it connects people to the world immediately around them. If content is king, local content is the emperor.
Now think about how you interact with some social media connections. You're likely to have a network from around the globe - whether you're an individual or a business. But the relationships that you build based on repeated interactions and sharing of content, information and insights - those are brought to the next level when you meet face to face. A sales call, a Tweetup, or a social event in your locality make the interaction even more relevant and create the opportunity for deepening the relationship.
What's the weather got to do with it? When it comes to the weather, you're really only interested in the conditions where you live or where you're traveling. And you generally don't care how you get your information, as long as it's accurate. Sure, you may develop a one-sided "trusted" relationship with a particular weatherman, but I'll wager you don't think much about the actual presentation of the forecast - seemingly a commodity.
Well, I've got to tell you that every day in various markets on Accuweather.com, there is a remarkable weather forecast. If you haven't had the chance to see Jim Kosek in action, here's your chance. He's bringing passion and creativity to his job and in the process is taking something the boring and making it truly engaging.
What I like the most about this story is that Jim's employers have given him the license to be as crazy as he wants to be. He still does the basics of his job, but he incites viewers - for good or bad - which in turn gives Accuweather a sense of its viewership. More companies should embrace this kind of creativity - not as a gimmick, but as a natural extension of their employees' personalities - to boost morale, productivity, and marketing gold.
Have you got a story about how something mundane and ordinary has sprung to life because of a different approach? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
The IMCNE is a professional organization that has been around for 40 years, and if you know management consultants, many of them are veterans of the corporate world who are making a good living consulting on organizational, operations, and leadership consulting. It's no surprise they may be a little light on social media, so here's our opportunity to give them something a little different.
I'm excited about being part of this discussion for a few reasons:
Lewis is using the principles of social media to build the panel discussion - he's involving his audience. Over on his blog, Lewis has asked "What would you ask?"
Keeping in mind that the panel is about how to use social media to make your company stand out, I find it fascinating that the concept is being batted around. Less than a year ago, a number of companies were simply starting to hear about some aspects social media. When you consider the quick adoption of a number of tactics, it's not surprising that companies are seeing this as a competitive advantage.
But are they missing a larger takeaway? It's not enough to stand apart from your competition. You need to think about what you're doing to build relationships with your customers to make them the most loyal advocates for you. Over time, as you get to know them, you'll be able to better serve them and give them a better experience every time.
See if you can drop over to Lewis' blog and give him a comment or two about what you would ask if you were part of the presentation. While you're at it, leave a comment here too.
How would you recommend using social media to separate your company from the pack?
April 15, 2008
April 15, a date that Americans typically dread - because income taxes are due - seems like a perfect time to write about the intersection of social media and taxes. But not from the angle you'd expect.
I'd like to share a story with you about impatience. I know, I can hear you asking, "But what does that have to do with social media and taxes?" I'll get to it. Just bear with me.
Like many marketing bloggers, I receive my fair share of bad pitches. I suppose that makes me hypersensitive to emails in which writers indicate that they've been reading my blog and think there's a fit for their pitch. Usually the fact that they haven't commented or that they only make reference to the last two or three posts is what tips me off to their insincerity.
But let's be honest. Blogger outreach is a hard job. Unless you're already embedded in the community, you have to get up to speed with your target audience very quickly - and usually with many of them. It's incredibly labor-intensive. I really empathize with the people that are doing this, especially with experienced marketing bloggers on the receiving end. We can be harsh critics, maybe simply because we're pressed for time. Impatient, one might say.
And I can be pretty harsh. Most of the time, with good reason. But recently, I let a pitch slip by that I should have spent a longer time considering.
I received an email titled "Do Taxes and Social Media Mix?" I thought it was an odd combination, and when I looked at the body of the email, I noted that the author of the note referenced some recent posts I had made on the blog here. Rather than being encouraged that she was taking an interest in my work, I assumed it was a form email with recent topics plugged in and "social media" as the topic of my blog simply inserted into the title "Do Taxes and _____ Mix?" I immediately hit the Delete key as I thought it was a contrived effort.
I made a mistake.
It turns out that it was part of a pretty well thought out campaign for H&R Block from 360i, the agency where my fellow author David Berkowitz works. Evidently, H&R Block has a pretty sharp VP of marketing for their digital tax solutions, and she's really savvy about social media.
April 11, 2008
Last week on Media Bullseye, Connie Reece wrote about the overnight success of the Frozen Pea Fund, a charity that sprang to life in response to the cancer diagnosis of fellow blogger and Twitter community member Susan Reynolds. If you haven't done so, please take a look at Connie's article, to get the full story - I couldn't possibly do it justice here.
She concluded her post by alluding to ooVoo (a client of my employer, crayon) and the promotion that we called My ooVoo Day With... In short, we asked two dozen bloggers, podcasters and authors to use ooVoo to connect with their respective communities to talk about anything they wanted to. And as a way to thank them for their valuable time, ooVoo generously agreed to give $1,500 in their names primarily to the Frozen Pea Fund (or to any charity they felt passionate about).
The event was a major success, with over 450 seats filled over the course of 10 days, resulting in some 187 blog posts about the program in the month of February, as well as 1,600 mentions of ooVoo on Twitter. Many of the posts and mentions were from participants on the chats, so our idea of using the technology to influence other influencers was borne out.
Susan Reynolds' husband Bill and daughter Kate were on hand to accept the check, as well as Connie Reece and Cathleen Rittereiser, two of the board members of the Fund, which now officially a 501(c)3 corporation. To say that this money has made a difference in the future of the Frozen Pea Fund is an understatement. I join ooVoo and crayon in taking great pride knowing that this gift will make a difference in the lives of many people suffering from cancer.
One final note. In his absence from the dinner (he was under the weather), Joseph Jaffe had been lampooned all night on Twitter by the attendees. I decided that, rather than be taken in vain, Joe's name should be used for good, so directly after the check presentation, I held an impromptu auction of his name badge. After some pretty aggressive bidding, Geoff Livingston went home as Joseph Jaffe for the sum of $500, payable to the Frozen Pea Fund.
April 9, 2008
So much of what we experience in online communities today is driven by real-time sharing of ideas, links and news - things that change on a daily basis. It can be pretty exhausting trying to keep up with the pace. Recently, crayon (my employer) took on a client that is focused on something entirely different: connecting people through the past.
Linkory is a site that allows members to post memories of any sort and share them with anyone. For example, you can put up some personal family members - maybe even a video of a grandparent reminiscing about their early life and struggles - and make it viewable only to your family. Or you could post your perspective on a historical event - say 9/11 or the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004 - and see how other people viewed that same event.
Over time, I think there could be a use for the site by sociologists and psychologists, who might be able to make certain conclusions about demographics, behavior, or human nature based on various responses to a single event. With the rise of citizen journalism going on right now, it's fascinating to think that this might be a platform for citizen history.
One of Seth Godin's mantras is that marketing should be about storytelling because great stories capture the imagination, can be trusted, and are emotional. And really, when you're sharing a memory, you're telling a personal story.
Their site is fairly new and at crayon we're helping them test it out. I'd appreciate it if you checked out Linkory yourself and gave it a try. Let me know what you think of the concept or of anything related to the site.
In the meantime, enjoy this old Volkswagen commercial, backed with an entirely appropriate song for this post: "Memories" by Andre de Villiers.
I remember the days of my life I recall the faces – mostly yours Magic moments – life was a mystery There’s no place on earth that – we’d rather be
Moving up – going through some changes Storing up the memories Can you give me the light of my life? I always gave the best I could give
Sometimes it never seemed like enough Though we never quit when- the going got tough Do you remember the way it used to be? Never counting cost – was a matter of trust Covenant cut – were lovers for life I still bear the scar – you used to carry the knife
I remember the days of my life I recall the faces- mostly yours Magic moments – life still a mystery There’s no place on the earth that- we’d rather be
April 2, 2008
The more time I spend in the digital world, the more I realize that it's real-life connections that matter. Sure, it's amazing how easy it is to connect with people on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., but to me, what matters is building relationships in person. There's just no substitute for a face-to-face meeting.
When I was at SXSW recently, I noted that I was meeting people for the first time, but I felt like I had been part of their lives for a long time. With presence applications and frequent blog posts, we end up sharing so much of our lives with our online communities. The result is that we're forming what I like to call prelationships - meaningful interactions with people before we ever meet them. Then of course, when we do meet, it's a preunion.
So as you can imagine, I'm really looking forward to heading to New York City this weekend for Blogger Social. Among the 80+ attendees will be many of my co-authors from The Age of Conversation (Volume 1), not to mention fellow Twitterers, bloggers and podcasters. There's a harbor cruise on Saturday afternoon, a nice dinner on Saturday evening, and plenty of meetups in between. I can't wait to meet so many of these people that I've admired and respected for quite some time. If you're interested in seeing what kinds of people participate in this kind of activity (maybe to convince you to attend something similar some time), take a look at the list of profiles that Steve Woodruff has compiled. Not only are the participants impressive, but Steve's effort is worthy of admiration as well.
And if you're more into the visual arts, you can check out the video that Mark Goren created:
I suppose this is a great reminder that, no matter what business you're in, it's important to get up from behind the desk, get out of the office and meet with your clients, customers, prospects and fans. Business is inherently a social business. Are you making it so?
Out of the nearly 60 interviews, he selected the top 12 based on the following qualities: creativity, originality, depth and relevance. If you haven't had the time to read my interview with Rohit, here are the questions that I asked him:
Why a book? Why now? After all, the lightning speed with which our industry is evolving would seem to preclude anything with a 8-month lead time.
What would you say to someone who requested, "Teach me to be authentic." (That's not a joke. Someone asked me that once.)
Who designed the dust jacket, and why is the one on your blog & Facebook group different from the one on Amazon? Which is the "real" version?
When you think about yourself, what do you consider yourself first: author? speaker? marketer? guru? blogger? something else? Why?
American Idol: which are you - Simon, Randy or Paula?
And if you'd like to see how he responded, the entire interview is here.
Now, here's where I could use your help: if you could vote for my interview (or, in all fairness for the one you really like the most), I'd really appreciate it. You can vote here AND here (if you go to both links, you can vote for me twice!).
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at ScottMonty.com and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on business, technology, communications, marketing and the vast changes in the industry that impact leadership. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.