June 13, 2012
Fotobabble for Websites, Facebook Timeline & New iPhone App Release
Fotobabble announced three new updates this week: Fotobabble for Websites, Fotobabble for Timeline and a new iPhone App release.
Fotobabble for Websites is a new application that for the first time lets an organization run photo and audio-driven campaigns and promotions directly from any website. Through the visual impact of photos, the emotion of voice and the power of social media, brands and businesses can increase web traffic and audience engagement.
Everloop.com, the leading online social site for kids and tweens, selected Fotobabble for Websites to power its INSPIRE contest with international pop star Greyson Chance. Kids were invited to take a photo of what inspires them, add their voice, and enter to win an iPad and autographed posters.
Fotobabble for Timeline is the only Facebook application that engages fans with the visual impact of photos and emotion of voice. Easy to install, brand and customize, the app lets organizations launch creative Facebook marketing contests and campaigns.
Fotobabble features such as photo contests and voting; "like-gating" with Talking Photos; customized photo galleries; and more are now fully Timeline compatible.
Creating Talking Photos with Fotobabble’s iPhone App allows you to make iPhone photos bolder and more beautiful with just a couple of simple clicks. Powerful effects, filters, cropping tools and more help you create Talking Photos that you’ll want to share with everyone.
- Effects – Choose from ten gorgeous effects ranging from vivid color to washed-out retro.
- Filters – Enhance, adjust, and perfect your photos with one-click editing tools.
- Cropping and rotate tools – Flip, crop, and rotate your photos to position them however you want to.
- More – Fix red-eye, brighten or saturate your photos and more.
May 12, 2012
Facebook & Twitter: Lonelier Beings For Using Them?
The Atlantic Validates Our Prediction: Social Media May Make Us Lonelier In this year's edition of our annual predictions of top media stories, one of our prediction was: "We may be immersed in social media, but we’ll spend less time with actual people."
Back in Jan., we wrote, "So many people use social media sites – from Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn, to and more -- that people have less time to spend with their friends and family. We’re not sure if this will get much media coverage..." Well The Atlantic Monthly has validated our prediction in its May 2012 issue.
It's article, "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" makes the point that: "Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill."
Written by Stephen Marche, a novelist who writes a monthly column for Esquire, the article reports on "what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society." It's well worth reading. And today's Boston Globe validated our prediction that "
The desire to be connected 24/7 may change in 2012." Op-ed columnist Joanna Weiss wrote, "Giving screens -- and ago -- a week off," in favor of unplugging from 24/7 and a Screen Free-Week. Check that out, too.
Late-in-the-Day Update: Just got around to reading Jane E. Brody's column in today's Times. She's a must-read health columnist, and her current column, "Making Progress Against Clutter," went beyond thinking of clutter as physical objects. She spent about half the column talking about how much she enjoyed a recent trip to Antarctica because she and her two sons did not spend hours monitoring email and world news.
Instead, We read books and missed not one excursion, lecture, vista or conversation with an interesting shipmate. As I watched others buried in their iPads, laptops and smartphones, I wondered what people did on vacation before we had this plethora of electronic equipment keeping us “in touch” 24/7.
Perhaps they telephoned now and then to see how the dog was faring. Not knowing about problems back home or at work surely meant vacations were more relaxing, a real break from daily stress. Makes a pretty strong case for unplugging.
Reposted from Norman Birnbach's fabulous blog: PR Back Talk. Original link and post here.
See an earlier blog post I wrote on digital life overload last year.
April 12, 2012
Relevenz: Your Mobile Calendar Marries Relevant & Hyper Local Promos
Finding things that matter to you amidst the clutter (bring on smart and interesting curators please) is like finding a needle in a haystack. And truth be told, while the content needs to be interesting, it also needs to be relevant.
Relevenz is banking on the fact that people are starving for more and more relevance in a world where so much of what comes our way either doesn't spark our interest or has nothing to do with who we are or what we care about.
Relevenz is a downloadable app (they're starting with iPhone and Android with other mobile support coming later this year) that focuses on relevance within your social calendar. The idea is simple: share relevant plans with people who matter to you (Plancast has demonstrated that sharing events with friends is something people will spend their time doing), and within the parameters of that shared information, you can be informed of local offers, products and services that are most relevant to your world.
Additionally, you can make requests for products and services you want. Who would want to use this? Says co-founder Stephen Oman, "we're targeting people who have extremely busy schedules, such as husband wife teams with children who have a hard time synching up their schedules."
Obviously small business owners and consultants make logical targets as well. If you're a retailer or a vendor, you could use Relevenz to reach your customers in a very targeted way, get notified what your customers might be looking for and with the knowledge, allow you to make useful decisions to best bid for their business.
If you're a business, you can create targeted hyper-local offers in a simple self-service mode.
They have integrated with Google apps to give content "context." For example, if you put Austin Texas in your calendar, Relevenz knows your location so it can push relevant information to you within a few miles of your current destination.
When the merchant wants to throw up a specific offer, that offer will show up under a special "offers" tab to ensure your inbox or calendar doesn't get cluttered with promotions...yet, it's there under a customized tab if you're interested in exploring. Obviously the offer is hyper local adding to the relevancy. The vendor gets charged not the consumer - it's almost like a reverse Groupon.
As far as expansion and business model? They plan to open up their API so developers can build once there's more data. Check out their site for more information as well as links to download their app.
April 10, 2012
LocalSocial: The Bridge Between Mobile, Proximity Marketing & Great Deals
LocalSocial is all about the bridge between mobile and proximity marketing. Targeting business owners, retailers, merchants and venue owners, they're trying to make it easy to create offers and loyalty points rewards that can only be unlocked on the premises.
The goal of course is to drive footfall, repeat visits, and provides deep insight and social context for new and existing existing visitors. It turns anonymous walk-ins in to real people, enabling merchants to better engage with your customers in a way that's convenient and fun for them.
What they're doing is not new, but it is relevant and it is tapping into a massive market, one which a ton of players are banking on the fact that the power of proximity and location mapped with interests and culture will be a goldmine for brands.
LocalSocial's proximity framework uses Bluetooth and other technologies to detect physical proximity to other people and devices to enrich user experiences using multi-player games and marketing apps, presumably useful ones that will provide value to consumers not detract.
Here's How it Works:
Say you run a pizza takeout restaurant, a hair salon, coffee shop, pub or convenience store, LocalSocial allows you to create custom special marketing offers, ads and deals customers can 'grab' on their phones in real-time, so you can better engage with new and existing customers nearby.
The business model is pretty simple and makes sense. There's obviously inherent value in customer data, particularly data on a customer when they're close to your shop. Data this 'targeted' and 'relevant' can increase your customer base and turn existing ones into extremely loyal and "sticky" fans.
Essentially, businesses pay a monthly fee to participate in the network and a little extra for premium analytics.
Brands and Advertisers are already paying for this kind of data and analytics yet may not have the most accurate "proximity" and "behavior" figures. LocalSocial has a compelling "GridView" so you can see deals arranged by shop. What's most useful here however is that "proximity" is flagged, so that as a user, you know which shops are “right here, right now” and have offers of interest and value to you precisely at the time you're nearby.
If you're a retailer or small business, the service seems like a no brainer to check out, particularly if you have locations in various regions. are simply trying to drive more traffic to one of them or your only one.
If you're a Foursquare user or a "social media app" addict, it seems like you could just get hooked. After all, deals just might be more interesting and lucrative than what is being offered in the "fluff" pipeline today. If you're not an early adopter but just thrive on a good deal, it's also an interesting concept.
Remember that the company is still small and hasn't yet expanded to global cities, so give them time to expand their network before you get frustrated that they're not yet available in your country or city yet. The idea however holds a great deal of promise so keep an eye out for their updates and 'new market announcements.' LocalSocial is a very promising start-up with a mobile solution that offers something of value to both customers and small business.
April 10, 2012 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Europe, On Branding, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On Technology, PR & Marketing, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
April 09, 2012
UCLA's Social Media Business Course on April 27-28
There's a fascinating social media "business" course coming up in LA April 27-28, 2012 at UCLA. Entitled the UCLA Social Business Course, the course is designed for executives and professionals who want to go beyond the basics and learn how to apply social media to get concrete business results.
Led by industry veteran Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, she'll explore real-world examples using case studies and explore how social media affects each functional department (PR, marketing, customer service, product development, etc.). The course will also dive into ways to calculate the return on investment (ROI) for each.
Social media monitoring will be part of the curriculum, along with an assessment to benchmark the "as is" state of your social media initiatives and compare them to "could be" via best practices geared toward social media and digital programs with higher monetizations of social media investments.
With this insight, business leaders can assess their next steps; create executable strategies and tactical plans that make sense to traditional organizations (even those not familiar with social media); and make the approval process for initiatives and implementation simpler, more efficient, and effective because they are grounded in business fundamentals that maximize the ROI in social media.
If interested, you can find out more and register here.
Entrepreneurs: Look Outside Silicon Valley for Innovation, Talent & Money
In the states, Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Portland and Seattle are all making strides.
Just this week, I was informed of a few start-ups out of Montana which just closed small rounds.
Outside the states, many entreprenuers and VCs alike know about the flood of activity coming out of Israel, the UK and mobile apps from developers in Eastern Europe, Asia and South Africa (Memeburn is a growing social media and start-up blog for the developing world and a hot new Cape Town-based start-up conference is unveiling in the fourth quarter).
Paris-based LeWeb is one of the hottest start-up and technology conferences around and given its growth and diversity, it's not just focused on Europe anymore. In the last six months alone, I've met 6 French entrepreneurs who are moving from Paris to the Bay Area to increase their likelihood of getting funded and hiring the "right" names. Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore too are all sprouting up new initiatives and innovations.
I talked to the Singapore folks at SXSW who fed me fabulous chicken wings at their booth. They have a presence in Silicon Valley and are hoping to grow it in the coming months and years, as is Ireland with Enterprise Ireland, who is responsible for the funding, development and international growth of start-up companies in Ireland.
The popularity of the Dublin Web Summit and the F.ounders conference are both strong indicators that the number of entrepreneurs and smart ideas coming out of Dublin and other pockets of the country is on the rise.
Ireland also had a strong presence at SXSW with 30 companies on-site under the Enterprise Ireland umbrella. Part of their pitch to the social media and technology world was not just of their own talent, but to encourage others to bring their businesses to Ireland.
Ireland has a E10 million fund for international start-ups. While it may not be brand new, many may not be aware of it. Why Ireland, besides the natural reasons of it being a gorgeous country with landscape to die for and a country loaded with smart, witty storytellers?
What many may not realize is that Ireland has the most business friendly tax regime of any country in Europe or the Americas, which is pretty attractive when your budgets are small and you're trying to raise early capital.
It is obviously English-speaking as well, which makes it easy for Canadians and Americans to migrate east and Ireland's geographic position and EU membership provides easy access to money flow on the continent. The World Bank's 'Doing Business' report rates Ireland as the easiest EU location to start a business. And, the Irish Government has an assertive pro-business economic policy, offering a 12.5% corporate tax rate and 25% R&D tax credit.
For those soley focused in Silicon Valley, perhaps it's time to think a little more global. With more expansive thinking will come additional resources, capital and creativity not to mention interesting culture, social benefits and economic development outside of what northern California has to offer.
April 03, 2012
Zartis Leverages Social Media & Existing Employees to Mine the Best Talent
There are still plenty of opportunities to create a lucrative business in the "job" and "talent" market. Not only was LinkedIn's entry into the public market a hit last year (its IPO brought the company $352.8 million), but this BusinessWeek article (a GigaOm re-post) from last May touts numerous potential acquisition targets that might complement their business. Among those targets include Hashable, Socialware, Yammer, Indeed and BranchOut.
Sprouting from Ireland, Zartis is a new player in this space, who see the growing difficulty in hiring, particularly technical talent. Jobs boards aren’t returning great or even relevant candidates and recruitment agencies are expensive and can be time consuming.
Unemployment and economic recession issues aside, the growth of new technologies, mergers and acquisitions and start-ups with great ideas around the globe, offer tremendous new employment opportunities, but finding the right person for a position is often like finding a needle in a haystack, a very high and dense haystack.
Zartis, which is part of Enterprise Ireland, who had a major presence at SXSW last month, is an online service designed to help companies with between 5 and 500 employees to “look within” to find the talent they need through employee referrals.
They have taken a clever angle to recruit people, giving perks and incentives to those within an organization who can tap into their own networks to bring fresh new talent to the pool. The service allows a company to add a job, allocate a reward and invite its employees to promote the role to their contacts.
What's very cool about their offering is that an employee can actually tap into their personal social networks by publishing the "vacant" role to their Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook timeline. And, then they in turn get rewarded for successful outcomes.
How Employees Win:
When an employee logs into Zartis, they see the positions available and the rewards that are connected to the position. They can select a job and with one click have the message broadcast to their LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook connections.
They can also make recommendations within LinkedIn for a role based on keyword matching. The employee can then send their contact a private message telling them about the job.
When a job is distributed by an employee there is always a unique code embedded in the message which allows the company to track a job applicant back to the employee. This ensures that the referral reward is always paid to the employee.
Referral hires ensure that people work with people they like. Letting employees source new hires ensures they only recommend people that they actually like to work with which equates to longer term satisfaction for the employee and the "mate" they've brought into the company.
How Companies Win:
According to historical stats, companies already generate roughly 20% of new hires from existing employees, which is pretty good considering how much effort goes into finding new talent who isn't just a fit from a skillset perspective, but from a cultural perspective as well. Referrals from employees only increases the number of like-minded candidates, which is also a win-win from a corporate perspective.
Using Zartis, companies could actually get that employee referral number up to above 50%, which any good headhunter or HR exec will tell you, is significant. Bottom line, great people know other great people. Reliable. Honest. Ethical. Sustainable. And, existing employees are more likely to recruit others with like-minded in thinking, which means that they're more likely to be aligned with the corporate culture. Just look at how great Zappos is at recruiting and keeping people who fit within their corporate culture.
Zartis is designed to work within organizations but it also taps into the power of social media and sites that already do recruitment magic, such as LinkedIn. With the growth of employees using social media inside and outside the organization, it makes it that much easier to get a message out quickly to a wide audience.
If employees are already using social media in some capacity, throwing an incentive their way to go the extra mile to help fill positions only makes logical sense.
A company with 300 employees has theoretically 45,000 first degree connections. There will be overlap in these connections but even if you halved that number, imagine the leverage and power of all of these combined networks from all of your employees.
Another great feature from Zartis is their ability to help companies create their own careers site with a list of all their job openings and a professional application process that even works from a mobile phone. Says CEO John Dennehy, "with no knowledge of HTML, you can have an instant web page with all of your job listings. We also have it set up for mobile optimization."
Job seekers can submit their resume or LinkedIn profile which is sent to the company that is hiring. The careers site can be embedded in any website, WordPress site, or Facebook page.
Jobs can also be pushed to free job boards like Indeed.com and Twitter with one click. It's very simple to get up and running (no programming required) and they're obviously thinking about opportunities worldwide, as it can already be automatically translated into any of 11 languages.
When somebody applies for a job the hiring manager logs in to their secure site and can review all of the candidates in one place. They can add notes, send template rejection or call to interview emails, and share interview notes with colleagues.
Getting Started & Pricing:
If you want to "taste" the power of what Zartis can do, you can test it out for free. (one job posting is free and you can also get a month for free with all of their existing plans). For companies wanting more horsepower, their service is still incredibly reasonable.
To publish up to three job postings, it's only $9.95 a month and for 10 a month, it's $29.95 a month. For high growth enterprise companies with ongoing recruitment needs, it's a one time fee of $499.95 a year. When you consider what you pay a professional headhunter and other online services (often upwards of 15% of an annual salary), it's a very cost effective way to recruit new talent. Employee referrals are charged separately based on the number of employees added to the system.
Investors include AIB Seed Capital, Enterprise Ireland and SOS Ventures. Clients are global; companies using their service are based as far away as Cape Town and Kuala Lumpur, in Europe (Dublin and London) and in the U.S. with more and more customers being added every month. You can find out more about their service on their site and follow them on Twitter @zartis.
March 19, 2012
Austin's Scene & #SXSW in a Nutshell: My Summary of Sorts...
SXSW aka South-by-Southwest, the event that takes a week of my time every year in Austin, Texas, seems to get bigger and bigger every March, not to mention more global.
Refer to my blog write-up on its international diversity here.
For example, Ireland had the most number of start-ups they've ever had at SXSW (30 in total representing film and interactive).
Also in my international blog post, I covered the sheer volume of brands who had tents (Nokia, Microsoft and others), threw parties (HP, Pepsico and others...I lost track) or carted folks around town (Chevy).
On the interactive side, there was so much activity between the dozens and dozens of panels to the after parties, all of which I couldn't keep up with despite my social media apps buzzing me every ten seconds to tell me what was happening and where. Foursquare remained a popular app for check-ins and to see where your buds were - that said, the private parties were off the grid and frankly, had to be, for the intimacy of the "old SXSW" to prevail, a necessary for those of us who have been going for a decade (or more).
Speaking of Foursquare, they had a private bash where the security was so intense that a friend of mine got 'bounced' before he even made it up the stairs despite the fact that he was buds with 80% of the attendees. "Kids" (early 20-something year old geeks, marketers and wanna-bes) seemed to be clamoring to get elbow time with Dennis Crowley and get into events like this all over town and frankly, it was just not worth the fight, even the ones where I was on the VIP list, because VIP list or not, the lines and wall-to-wall rooms were still maddening.
Some late nights, I retreated to The Driskell which has become a little too crowded as well, but at the very least, you're likely to run into some industry buds who are more in the mood for a quiet drink amidst moose and deer on the wall and antiquated brass and iron statues that mesh the culture of Texas with England somewhere along the way.
The below was taken on my iPhone at some random 3 am hour in the Driskell lobby.
Other nights, after the official invitations of music, film and interactive wore me out, taking in a dive bar where you could take in some off-the-beaten path music was the way to go.
TED decided to have a 'showing' at SXSW this year (aka TED@SXSW) and blocked off a couple of hours two evenings in a row for speakers in a private room at The Driskell. The line-up included folks like TED Fellow Jose Gomez-Marquez, JP Rangaswami, Ayah Bdeir, Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky), Ping Fu, Baratunde Thurston (who always has me in stiches), Steve Daniels and others.
Film...so many great ones! I wrote about a number of them earlier in the week, which you can scroll through in the Arts/Austin section here. So many worth listing but since I tend to cover things from a global and international perspective, a few call-outs worth noting include: Sunset Strip, The Taiwan Oyster, Bay of All Saints, Eden, The Black Balloon, Trash Dance, Wonder Women and a handful of others. (see the list of winners for 2012 here). Also see our Scottish Films overview here and Israel at SXSW here.
Songster from Mowgli, the first music-creation social fame on Facebook launched at SXSW this year. CEO Marshall Seese, Jr. came to the table with a recording artist background and says their design is with "everyone’s inner rockstar in mind."
Players follow the compelling storyline of a fledging musician working their way up through the ranks of the music industry. From playing gigs at frat houses and proms, to launching a worldwide arena tour, players can make great music, while allowing their creativity to take them through all levels of the game.
I tweeted up a storm about the on-stage love for Google+ with Vic Gundotra, which was more of an informercial than it was a fireside chat. If he used the word "amazing" one more time, I thought, even the newbies who are eating this up, would have to see through Google's sugar coating. Hey, I'm a Google+ user, not a prolific one, but I'm on the system and giving them tons of my data and creative energy just like I am to Facebook without a whole lotta benefit (yet).
I'm not saying what they're trying to do isn't useful or great online canvas for photographers to share their work or industry celebs like Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble to up their social status without even trying to, but for mainstream folks, it's just not there yet. (not in this cats humble opinion anyway). Just saying - I had enuf with "amazing this and amazing that" after the first 15 minutes.
Kelly Carlin performed again in a breakout room in the main convention hall and although I've seen her before and like her energy (I totally resonated with the 1970s family TV and dysfunctional family of the 1960s jokes), there was something that put me off slightly about her stint and I couldn't figure it out until near the end.
For those of you who don't know the Carlin name, she's the daughter of iconoclastic comedian George Carlin. As a one woman show, she uses storytelling, classic video footage, and family memorabilia, to chronicle over forty years of her life with her famous father.
While she's amusing and gives us countless insights into George, it f-g feels like its all about George. I'm thinking as someone who's only slightly younger than Kelly and had a lot of the same reference points, what about YOU? I'd love to hear more about YOU!
I walked away still not knowing and it was the second time I saw her perform. I just felt that using her dad as a vehicle for her 'show' and 'persona' may have perhaps run its course and what I really wanted to hear was her voice without Dad in the background (or at the very least so prevalent) so I could better learn who SHE was as an artist and more importantly, as a person.
Who didn't have an event? On the music front, B and C listers were all there, Bruce was there, Gary Vee called all wine afficiandos to a so called 'private' venue immediately next to another so called 'private' party I was at and the line was ten miles long by the time I walked outside. Really? Is that really the way to engage with folks? A great way to get SXSW publicity so from that perspective, stints like that really work, but they're far from "real" or intimate. I just wanted to say 'hey' without a thousand pushes and shoves. For the record.
The XPrize folks also held an event and it was invite only and really felt like "invite only." Not a publicity 'stunt' in any way, everyone I met was top notch and showed up because they had a vested interest or cared about the kinds of things they cared about. Quality conversations where people weren't looking at their watch or Foursquare check-ins to see where the coolest cats were hanging next next. A welcome relief.
If you're not famliar with their work, go here: their mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Below, an XPrize team shot: (I love these guys and btw, Peter Diamandis has a new book out entitled Abundance).
My favorite part of SXSW of course is the randomness of meetings at film and music more than interactive, for at the former, there still seems to be more spontenaity, largely I think because of mutual passions rather than a race for check-ins or being 'seen' at the right party and telling the whole world about it on Foursquare, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, yadda yadda yadda.
I'm not saying that politics and social klout doesn't run rampant in the film and music world, but passion for the 'art' still stands tall.....maybe not dominant in Hollywood, but at SXSW.
As for the social bit...of course I tweet at these events. I'm in the biz - who doesn't, but the feeds at SXSW are so much about where I'm at and who I'm hanging out with than providing value. It's hard to tell the difference anymore, and sometimes I even get confused by why I do what I do on social media even when my intensions are pure. The addictive nature of it all just 'ain't all that healthy' in my opinion. I have talked about this before but can't emphasize it enough.
The blogger lounge is on the top floor where it always is, around the corner from the press lounge, which had massages this year. The blogger lounge has occasional 'acts' and social media gurus of sorts popping in and out. (a little red badge gets you into it if you're a blogger).
This was more of a 'center' in previous years, but today, less so. It doesn't mean you can't still show up and meet up with old buds, converse with folks in the biz you haven't seen in awhile or folks you still haven't met, but things are so spread out and there's so much 'more' grabbing our attention that "hanging out" in the blogger lounge seem to be few and far between.
Below: Renee Blodgett, Angel Djambazov, Liz Strauss, Hugh MacLeod
Then there are a hundred or so other folks I'll keep under the radar, except for of course Jeff Pulver & crew who co-hosted a great 140Conf party (if you haven't been to their events, check 'em out), with the textPlus folks. (never enuf time Mademoiselle Heather Meeker).
Below is a snap from the Nokia Innovation Lab, a massive tent set up a few blocks from the convention center, that housed more than fake snow as you entered.
While travel wasn't a big representation at SXSW and I was struggling to find serious foodies, some of the usual suspects were hanging about. American Airlines had a down-to-earth event with fabulous peeps (closer to town or IN town next time PLEASE :-).
To the left (lighting wasn't great) is American's head of Mobile products Phil Easter talking about their latest and demoing some nifty stuff on an iPad that we can't quite talk about yet. Exciting stuff! Other call-outs worth mentioning are Stacey Frantz (corp comm), Dawn Turner (Entertainment Marketing), and Jonathan Pierce & Jon Bird (social media & video), among a handful of others.
The photo to the right has a combination of woven yarn, paint, and wire among other materials.
While the booth was creative and the Canadians fed us French toast, strawberries and homemade maple syrup, the Irish shamrock tattoos that Enterprise Ireland dished out had to be my favorite giveaway. (Sure, I'm biased but it's the truth). A lot more fun than pens, pads, stickers, drives and balloons.
The Cool Sculping guys who were parading around town for days, tried to demonstrate that 'getting naked' can be a positive thing if you own one of their "suits."
The below very 'blurry" image of pianist Eric Lewis, a favorite 'musical' experience by TEDsters who saw him perform a few years back in Long Beach, was taken at a Mashery Party at Sandra Bullock's Austin restaurant. The "blurr" gives you an idea of his energy and personality, therefore is untouched. It's "Eric" in every way. The party was of the classier events held at SXSW this year. Well done Oren!
As always, Blumberg Capital held an incredible meet-up for their start-up companies & friends. Flow, drinks, conversation, networking was top notch. Well done to David and his team.
The below is a l'il local bar and street scene music action, albeit blurry...blurry is in some ways more 'suitable' for SXSW, despite the fact that I had my Canon 7D and 2 good lenses with me.
Two fun 'street scenes' very late at night. Or morning. Or whatever.
There was also an interesting demo on the show floor of Vinyl Recorder T-560 -- analog stereo recording on 5", 7", 10" and 12". A pricey option but for serious audiofiles, an option? The 7-560 starter set includes a stereo clutterhead fuse, heated diamond stylus, 19" main unit with RIAA encoder, groove controller and stylus heating regulation mono microscope, a lamp and all cables and adapters. The price? E3,200 (yes, that's Euros).
The week can be a bit exhausting (okay, very) even when you're not trying to race from event to event. Below is a taste of just a day and a half and a few of these bands fell off. And, all the film stuff was equally thick hanging around my neck.
As a complete aside and for kicks, refer to my insanely hard-to-follow post on "how to stay healthy" in Austin during SXSW if you have the strength to avoid all the free beer and Texas ribs.
March 19, 2012 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Books, Client Announcements, Conference Highlights, Events, On Blogging, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Spirituality, On Technology, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
March 16, 2012
10 Ways to F-K Up Marketing Yourself at #SXSW
Truth be told, I go to a lot of conferences and events throughout the year and have been a regular attendee at SXSW (South-by-Southwest Festival) for about a decade. One of my favorite things to do at conferences is observe what vendors do well (rarely are my socks knocked off) and of course, where they make obvious marketing faux pas (more often than not).
Many of the things on my list will apply to pretty much any show, however the below incidents actually happened during my trip to SXSW this past week. And I couldn’t help but think: It is 2012 isn’t it? There are some basics. What Not To Do:
1. Throw an Event and Target the Wrong People:
Let’s call it a B-Brand, aka, not a Ford, Pepsi Co or Kodak but let’s say a company in between Instagram and Adobe as far as name recognition goes.
Targeting early social media adopters, musicians and music “lovers” would have been the right way to go. Upon arrival, I was escorted to the VIP section (nearly every event I went to had one of these yet it surprised me how little the venue cared since they certainly didn’t go out of their way to cater to that section, which btw, housed the sponsors who actually paid for the event).
After meandering around for a couple of hours and asking people why they were there and how they knew about the ‘brand,’ I was amazed at how unaware they were, not to mention it simply wasn’t their target audience. The other half? Too drunk to carry on a conversation. I had to ask to find out who the key ‘sponsors’ were as well as the Twitter ‘handle’ and hashtag which no one seemed to know. Marketing 101 folks. It’s a social media event.
On another note, sometimes you can invite ‘cool cats’ to your bash but they won’t actually move the revenue needle or bring you customers. And, while you may think they’ll bring you ‘brand’ klout, ask yourself how they will do that exactly before you add them to your list.
2. Shake Hands While You’re Meeting Someone Without Actually Looking at Them:
I’ve been noticing this pattern more frequently in the past year, especially in Silicon Valley with yeah, okay, I’ll say it, the generation behind me. Call me old guard if you will, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with meeting and greeting someone while you’re looking somewhere else. This happened to me five times at SXSW, it was during the day and each one of them was sober.
An industry friend had the same thing happen to him and he was dumbfounded, but he spends his time between New York and Europe more often than he does on the west coast. Welcome to unaware living in the technology world I said. Imagine shaking someone’s hand and saying great to meet you while your eyes are darting elsewhere to see who’s around and who’s not.
Even if you’re not trying to “market” yourself, every exchange is you selling yourself, even if it’s a ‘soft sell’ of who you are, what you represent in the world and how much you care about someone else other than yourself.
3. Meet Someone New and Then Look Down at Your iPhone:
This is related to #2 and quite honestly, has been an increasing occurrence. This btw, isn’t necessarily a generation thing, but moreso an “attention overload” thing related to all the things that grab our attention while we’re on the move. On our devices, we are hit with social media networks, check-in services, addictive online games, email, Twitter, Facebook updates, yadda yadda yadda. This theft (it’s a good word because that’s how I feel about it) of our time and of our attention results in a depletion of our energy, our overall awareness and how much time we give to a human vis a vis a device.
If you haven’t seen a group of people sit down for a meal at a restaurant and then take out their phones, zoning out of the human component around them in order to zone into the digital world one in their hand, then you’re not paying enough attention.
I even sadly saw this at 5 star restaurants in Paris, Dublin and Prague over the past year. So, it ain’t just the yanks although it does seem to be more prevalent the further west I travel.
If you’re more interested in a device than our exchange while I’m talking to you, why on earth would I want to work with you, or trust buying products from you? Disingenuine comes across as disingenuine and bottom line, it just doesn’t “feel good” to be on the other side. It makes me quickly want to move on and talk to someone else. My time is valuable too.
4. Spend A Whole Lotta Money on Hiring Our Cute Girls & Boys To Wear Your Product But Don’t Tell Them Anything ABOUT the Product:
There was a really creative marketing stint at SXSW this year from the Cool Sculpting folks. They even had a hash tag for it - #letsgetnaked. A group of young and pretty well sculpted early twenty year old guys & gals in skin-tight suits which were flesh-colored, paraded around Austin shouting “Let’s Get Naked.”
Their energy was enthusiastic, their smiles electric and they seemed to be having a good time. Simply put, it was hard not to engage with them. I remembered the “lets get naked” slogan afterwards but not their brand name and when I asked about the product itself, I didn’t get a clear idea of what it was other than a ‘suit’ to reduce the number of visible bumps your body displays to the outside world.
Perhaps that’s enough of a selling point, but I would have liked to learn more. When I asked if they were on Twitter, they weren’t sure and no one knew the Twitter name so I had to look it up.
Same goes for the Chevy drivers with their #catchachevy campaign. The marketing team they hired was from an agency that represents Chevy. As an aside, the group was professional, friendly, fun and trained in great customer service, but they didn’t know a whole lot about Chevy cars or whether they had a social media presence. I had to once again look it up.
That said, the fact that their marketing folks were so amazing and having cars available for attendees more than made up for it. The latter is a brilliant marketing stunt and they absolutely executed again, their third year doing it.
5. Have an Event FAR Out of Town When There’s Limited Taxis & Pedi-Taxi Drivers Won’t Take People Up Hills:
There were a few companies that held their events too far out of town, including one of my favorite airlines. I was thinking: why not team up with Chevy or another car company (co-brand it) and bring folks out to your event, at the very least press and VIPs. We called a cab to get back into town and after an hour of a ‘no show,’ I ended up having to walk back into the city with a heavy bag on my already sore shoulder.
Once we were there of course, they had it nailed. Fun demos, great food, casual atmosphere and plenty of knowledgeable and engaging in-house and agency folks to interact with and ask questions. Customer engagement & Hospitality gets an A+.
A few companies did the Salt Lick Barbeque van trips, which I’ve done myself with a client in the past. It’s great on one hand because it celebrates something local and is unique, but on the other hand, the transportation out and back eats into other events that guests may want to attend so it presents an extra reason not to show up.
Make your venue easily accessible, easy to find (signage) and whenever possible, avoid other major event conflicts so you don’t force your guests to choose.
Don’t even get me started with the traffic jams and pedi-cab incidents you have to deal with SXSW week. An Irish bud was literally thrown out of a pedi-cab because the ‘kid’ had never driven one before and it was his first day. Unfortunately, he spent the rest of SXSW limping around and popping strong pain pills.
6. Spend a Whole Lotta Money on a Booth Gimmick & Have the Wrong People Work the Booth:
There were a few creative ‘gimmicks’ at various booths yet while their booths had passion and all the trimmings, the people working the book didn’t. If you’re spending a fortune on a booth, design, collateral and more, make sure you bring people who not only live and breathe your product, but have the kind of energy that will get others to climb on board as well.
In a few cases, it seemed like they couldn’t wait for the day to end so they could begin party hopping. It’s not that I don’t resonate with it – it’s exhausting working a booth for 8 hours a day, having done it more times than I’d care to remember. That said, there are people who dig talking to people and pitching over and over AND over again. Find them, nurture them, educate them DEEPLY on your product or service and do whatever you can to keep them so they don’t go elsewhere.
7. Get So Drunk That You Can No Longer Talk Effectively About Your Product OR Yourself:
I realize that SXSW is more like a summer camp for social media afficiandos, geeks, film makers and musicians than it is a traditional conference, but let’s face it, it’s not as if the whiskey, beer and wine served are top shelf at 95% of the events, even in the VIP sections.
Aside from your product or service, I may actually want to learn more about you as a person, whether that is because I might be interested in partnering with you at some point in the future, hiring you, buying something from you or who knows, even writing a book together. Amazing collaborations can come out of SXSW (and have), so realize that you’re always marketing yourself, even between midnight and 3 am. You’re always selling at SXSW even when you think you’re not.
8. TWEET While You’re As Drunk (See #7):
Those of us who are online often will likely all admit that they’ve sent something out, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere that they’re embarrassed about or was inappropriate.
The same applies to video btw. People can shoot you somewhere and in days if not minutes, your mug, your voice, and your drunken self is public for the world, your employer, your business colleagues and your family to see.
9. Carry Cluttered Business Cards That Make It Hard to Find You:
Ever notice how “cool” it is now to carry a business card with only your name and a website on it. The logic of course is that if you’re really interested in them, you’ll go to their website for all the data that you need, which of course drives traffic to their site. For those with too much time on their hands or those you do end up having a meaningful or long conversation with, then that may in fact work.
Most of the people I end up wanting to talk to longer than ten minutes at a cocktail reception tend to be extremely overbooked, busy people. Sometimes I attend 3-4 events a week, which adds up to a whole lotta cards. Imagine how many I end up with after a week at SXSW covering not just Interactive, but Film and Music? I don’t even try at this event and end up with 100 by the time I get home.
Sometimes I’ll tweet out a ‘cool’ thing about a company or person in that moment if I was ‘moved’ by something, a task I’m 99% less likely to do the next day or the next week. The industry simply moves too fast and the always on, social media culture has only accelerated things.
The majority of cards I got at SXSW didn’t have a Facebook or Twitter handle listed…at a conference where Twitter exploded, at a conference full of bloggers, tweeters and social media consultants, at a conference where “in-the-moment” tools like Foursquare are used hourly. Yadda Yadda Yadda you get the idea.
And so, most of those companies didn’t get a call out because I was too busy to take to pull up their site and even for a few sites I did go to, it was difficult to find their Twitter handles. Marketing 101 folks. It’s a social media event.
10. Have No Cards At All:
Every time someone doesn’t have a card at an event, the response is: “I ran out of cards or forgot them or if someone wants to find me, they will.” Fair enough, you don’t want to be found and you really don’t want people to contact you.
If you’re at a level in your career where you’re either an ‘industry celebrity’ and simply don’t want to be bothered or think you are an ‘industry celebrity’ and just too arrogant to be courteous, then fine – be mysterious or too important to carry them.
To be fair, I get it. When I dish out a card, I worry that I’ll be thrown onto some inappropriate mailing list or onto a media list that isn’t targeted to what I write about (I ended up on an enterprise software company’s mailing list in the last year and one of their sales reps actually called my house at 8 am in the morning trying to sell me a 3K solution for my business), or someone will follow up asking for free consulting it disguising it as a simple question to get my unique perspective or insights.
That said, I always feel I can learn something from someone new and often I learn something new about myself and how to handle complex situations from the people I least expect. Sometimes when I think I’m the teacher, I end up becoming the student and vice versa.
Bottom line, I think it’s disrespectful not to carry a card and I wasn’t born in Asia. Sure it’s a game, but in the networking game, it’s part of the protocol.
Sometimes people say, “I just came here to meet up with a few friends.” My thought is: cool, then why did you come to a networking event in the first place? Why not go to a private bar where you’re not surrounded by new people and catch up with old friends? It’s like playing golf on a South African golf course and not wearing the ‘socks.’
And, for those who live in a digital-only world and that’s your excuse, remember that not everyone else does. If your response to that is: if they’re not playing in the digital world and can’t Bump me their data, then they’re not relevant, then you shouldn’t be in a role that IS marketing-driven. You never know where your customer is going to come from or when. Protocol 101. Be respectful. Carry a card, even if you decide later on to never talk to them again.
March 09, 2012
30 Irish Start-Ups to Make Splash at #SXSW This Year: #IrelandSXSW
Representatives from 30 Irish companies unite in Austin Texas to participate in South by Southwest (SXSW), the world’s premier film, music and interactive conference.
With the Irish delegation is Ireland’s Minister for Innovation, Mr. Sean Sherlock. The delegation is supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI), the government agency responsible for the growth and development of Irish companies in international markets. Collectively, the Irish will stage their presence at booth #1307 in Exhibit Hall 4 at the Austin Convention Center. Enterprise Ireland is joined at SXSW this year again by IDA Ireland and the Irish Film Board.
Ireland’s web, gaming, digital media and film ingenuity will shine in myriad ways throughout the event. For Storyful which uses social networks to create an authentic and socially useful journalism, SXSW is the latest stop on its US market roll-out campaign. This week the company named Erica Berger, who previously reported for The Economist, as head of its new Americas operation. At Storyful, she will manage relationships with publications like the New York Times and The Economist, and tech companies like Google and YouTube. Also this week, the new Storyful Direct app landed in Apple’s App store, which helps citizens connect their content with news organizations.
Other Irish standouts at the show include:
- Relevenz which will launch its plan-sharing social app for the Android smart phone.
- VendorShop, a provider of Facebook shopping cart solutions recently scored a seed round which it will use to expand its presence beyond the 15 countries where it’s currently entrenched. With the VendorShop solution, merchants can promote and sell products from their Facebook page without redirecting customers to another website.
- Volta makes its first foray to SXSW. The provider of video-on-demand services specializes in Irish and international indie films. The company is collaborating with its European partners on a feature that will enable users to watch and share films from their Facebook accounts. For producers and distributors, this broadens the market for their films and facilitates social interaction with a wider audience.
- OnePageCRM is launching their Version 2.0, a simple sales management tool for small businesses. They also boosted their global sales team by partnering with a New England-based reseller.
- Zartis hit a 2000 WordPress installation milestone for its user-friendly recruitment software and signed a partnership with SiliconRepublic, Ireland’s leading tech industry news site. The company just added a feature that enables firms to launch employee referral programs with a unique social media integration flavor.
Ireland’s presence will also be felt in film. Five Irish movies are slated for screening with several marking their North American debut at SXSW. They include feature films “Citadel” and “Dollhouse”, and the documentary, “Dreams of a Life”. Two short films, “Foxes” and “Joy” complete the Irish line-up.
Take a meander over to their site to see a list of Irish companies attending SXSW.