Guy’s New Book – Enchantment

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine and former Chief evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawasaki sent me a copy of his new book “Enchantment” to read. I have to say, the book was tough to put down and right on when it comes to creating products and organizations that are not only “enchanting” but successful. In the book, Guy walks us through a step by step process on how to create an environment that will help create the next product or brand that people simply fall in love with.

Of the entire book, the portion about creating enchanted employees was my favorite. We all depend on people to assist us and this book cut right to the heart of motivation and creating an environment where everyone can grow and succeed. The book goes on sale to today, to this point in time I have never endorsed a book but I gladly endorse Guy’s new book “Enchantment.” *Nope, I am not being paid a cent and doing this only because I love the book!

The book is a can’t miss pick and you will simply be enchanted by it. :-)

Below is a video that summarized the book and a link where to pick up your copy.

Click here to pick up a copy >>> Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment”

Our Media Now On Boxee!

What is Boxee?

According to Wikipedia “Boxee is a cross-platform freeware home theater PC (HTPC) program with a 10-foot user interface and social networking features designed for the living-room TV. Boxee is initially a fork of the free and open source XBMC media center software which Boxee uses as an application framework for its GUI and media player core platform, together with some custom and proprietary additions.”

Ok…now rub your glazed over eyes and watch the short video below

Starting right now, three of our podcasts; Bedtime Stories My Kids Love, Bible Stories My Kids Love and Build the Church can all be found on Boxee! So if you have Boxee, just do a search for the podcast and enjoy!

What Website is the Stickiest One of All?

Sticky

Yesterday, The Nielsen Company released their “Topline U.S. Data Report for February 2009.”  The easy to read news release provides the Top 10 online Parent Companies and the Top 10 online Web Brands. To no surprise Google is the largest Parent Company (133,983,000 unique audience in February) and largest Web Brand (127,142,000 unique audience in February).  For those wondering what the difference is between the two categories Nielsen describes as follows;

  • Parent Company: consolidation of multiple domains and URL’s owned by a single company or division
  • Web Brand: consolidation of multiple domains and URL’s that has a consistent collection of branded content

The big winners for February, as far as audience is a line-up of “you could have guessed” companies and brands; Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.  So which company was fourth on the largest audience list? Apple? Facebook? eBay? Nope, AOL.  That’s right AOL.  The former king of the net and then fallen son was fourth in company audience and sixth in brand audience, still ahead of Facebook, FOX Interactive (MySpace) and Apple.

But the wins do not stop there for AOL. AOL was the stickiest place on the net with each person spending 3 hours 45 minutes on AOL in February.  More sticky than Yahoo (3 hours 27 minutes) and Facebook (2 hours 59 minutes).  It appears the AOL strategy to add more social and media features to their site. Features and applications such as Twitter apps and Lifestreaming seem to have AOL users staying on AOL longer than any other site user.

Surprised? I was.

So after a big win in the ratings today AOL announced a new CEO, Tim Armstrong; the Google veteran who help build Google into an online advertising behemouth.  So let’s take guess at the future of AOL.  Long user visits+better ad delivery=more revenue.  Could it be that simple?  I don’t know but it will be fun to watch.

Do Bad Times = More Downloads/Views?

A recent thread in a group I belong to was bemoaning the lack of interest in the association’s podcast. It appeared from the stats shared to show February to have the lowest number of downloads for the podcast since mid-2007. This got me thinking, does the economy have anything to do with the success or lack thereof in New Media?

Now let’s flip the coin and look at first hand experience for one of the podcasts I produce. The below chart represents one podcast, total monthly downloads (all episodes) from October 1, 2008 through the end of February 2009.

Download Requests Chart - One Podcast 10-1-08 thru 2-28-09

*source – Mevio Stats, MarkLinder

Now I have to be honest, I picked this particular podcast’s stats because they looked the best.  But results from all other productions, although not having a 99% increase in January over December, had substantial increases and were all up 35% or greater average per month over the same three month period.  This combined with the group thread caused me to consider a cause and effect for such dramatic differences in results.  Ok, there is no doubt the economy is in rough shape right now and the stock market is a great indicator of our current condition.

Market Down Since October

*Yahoo, 3/3/09

So back to our question, “Do Bad Times = More Downloads/Views?”  Going only on my first hand experience I would say “Yes.”  Going on the collective conversation of the group thread and the results of the association’s podcast I would have to say “No.”  So which is it?

The “Yeses” would argue that more people out of work means more people with more time on their hands thus more downloads.  The “Nos” would argue that tough economic times carries over to “free” New Media productions and that means less money for internet service and more people out doing what they have to do to find a job and listening to a podcast or viewing a videocast is way down on the overall priority list.  So which is right, the “Yes” or the “No?”

I say both.  Because at the end of the day, both are reasonable explanations (however hard to quantify) for seeing downloads go up or down.  Maybe the real question should be “why are some up and others down?”  It is almost impossible to say, without first hand knowledge and all the information, why some are up while others are down, but here is a quick checklist of basic questions you can ask yourself to help you gauge how well you are “executing”;

  • Do your listeners/viewers/readers “trust” you? Have you earned their trust by building relationships?
  • Is the quality of your productions going up, going down or staying the same.  Many would say if your are not always improving you are simply slowing dying.
  • Is your podcast/videocast/blog easy to find in search engines?  Have you done the most basic Search Engine Optimization?
  • Are you building a community of like minded people? Have you joined a community of those that have the interests of your podcast/videocast/blog?
  • Do you ask for feedback? Especially from your listeners/viewers/readers? Does the thought of honest feedback scare you a bit?
  • Is it easy to share your content? Can users share on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc… quickly and easily?
  • Are your comments turned on? If no, stop reading this and go turn them on pronto!
  • Are you an active participant in a social network? Are you a part of the conversation? Do you participate or just listen?
  • Have you approached someone who does similar work to get their insights and thoughts? Do you learn from your like minded community?
  • Are you discouraged? Feel like giving up? Take a break, a vacation, socialize, get out of the forest and regroup…come back energized and ready to go!

If you went through the list and found yourself (if you are really being honest) saying you needed to do this better or that better then you are well on your way to building your audience to new levels or getting your audience back to the levels you experienced in the past.  You see, this post is not just for you, it is also for me as many items on the list are items I can do a much much better job at.  So no matter if your numbers are up or down, whether the economy is up or down it comes down to this; those that execute the basics day in and day out over time experience the greatest success.  Luck hits us all, but never lasts.  Execution wins everytime over time.

Facebook Owns Me, Maybe…

circle-of-friends

OK, with the blogosphere going totally nuts about the new Facebook Terms of Service, I thought I would chime in.  First of all, let me catch everyone up.  Recently Facebook updated their Terms of Service (TOS) and here is the part of the new terms that is causing the rift;

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

So, what does all this mean.  The common interpretation is that Facebook owns whatever you post on their site.  Another wrinkle is they own it even after you leave Facebook.

This change in terms has cause numerous groups to be created with the purpose of demanding change, deleting accounts and more (please note to access the previous links you will need to log into Facebook and by doing so you will need to agree to their Terms of Service :) .)  That combined with the numerous blogs (including this one) talking about the subject has lead to an explosion of information and misinformation.

So what does the fearless leader of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg have to say about all this?  Yesterday he posted a lengthy blog post on the Facebook blog.  In order to be fair, I have included without edit, in it’s entirety, Mark’s blog post below;

On Facebook, People Own and Control Their Information

A couple of weeks ago, we updated our terms of use to clarify a few points for our users. A number of people have raised questions about our changes, so I’d like to address those here. I’ll also take the opportunity to explain how we think about people’s information.

Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they’ve asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn’t help people share that information.

One of the questions about our new terms of use is whether Facebook can use this information forever. When a person shares something like a message with a friend, two copies of that information are created—one in the person’s sent messages box and the other in their friend’s inbox. Even if the person deactivates their account, their friend still has a copy of that message. We think this is the right way for Facebook to work, and it is consistent with how other services like email work. One of the reasons we updated our terms was to make this more clear.

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment.

We still have work to do to communicate more clearly about these issues, and our terms are one example of this. Our philosophy that people own their information and control who they share it with has remained constant. A lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective of the rights we need to provide this service to you. Over time we will continue to clarify our positions and make the terms simpler.

Still, the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other. There is no system today that enables me to share my email address with you and then simultaneously lets me control who you share it with and also lets you control what services you share it with.

We’re at an interesting point in the development of the open online world where these issues are being worked out. It’s difficult terrain to navigate and we’re going to make some missteps, but as the leading service for sharing information we take these issues and our responsibility to help resolve them very seriously. This is a big focus for us this year, and I’ll post some more thoughts on openness and these other issues soon.

So there you have it.  The founder of Facebook says they need to own the material to share it properly and they need to own it forever, just in case there is a copy of it in an email or elsewhere on Facebook.  Ok so, the question is…do you buy it?

Every web site has its own Terms of Service and quite frankly, some you are probably using today are much more onerous than Facebook’s.  It’s just that Facebook is sooo big and sooo popular that it receives huge notoriety for each movement it makes.  But does that reasoning give Facebook a pass?  I don’t think so.  As one of the nets largest communities they have a responsibility to keep our information safe and secure, they never should take advantage of us and use caution as they exploit us (yes, exploit us…data mining at Facebook is huge biz in the ad world.)

I produce allot of new media; podcasts, videos, cartoons, audio books, etc… and allot of links to that new media are on Facebook.  Quite frankly, some of that may come down over time or not go up in the first place.  I will have to look at each thing I do and the purpose and decide what is best.  What is at issue is the fact that I have to do that.  I guess on some level I am offended that I need to think through the long term ramifications of placing the media on Facebook, yet at the same time, I understand the legal need for Terms of Service.  Can I have my cake and eat it too?  Is that even possible?

I guess the option of deleting an account is always there but to do so, you need to log into Facebook and by doing so you are agreeing to the Terms of Service and the terms do say that by agreeing to these terms you are granting a perpetual license to Facebook to use your materials…hmmm.  People used to say “do you have a MySpace?” and now the popular term is “do you have a Facebook?”, I wonder what the next catch phrase will be?  Somehow I am guessing it gets here soon.  Maybe it will be “do you still have a Facebook?”

Do Advertisers Miss the Real Opportunities?

against-the-flow

In June 2008, McKinsey & Company surveyed marketing executives around the planet to find out how they viewed digital media as a form of advertising and how to measure the impact.  Surprisingly, not much progress had been made from 2007 to 2008 in determining the metrics of online advertising, especially in the areas of social media or the offline impact of online advertising.   It seems that the majority of those surveyed used “subjective judgment” and repeated allot of what they did the year before.

Which raises the question regarding use of our new online social tools to reach people and the speed to which they become available.  How do you keep up?  I remember when Twitter appeared.  I looked at it and wondered “why?”  Soon thereafter I had an “aha!” moment and jumped into the micro-blogging realm and saw the opportunity to build relationships and see the vast amount of opportunities they “tweeted” about with enthusiasm.  In the end, I was able to also share my new media productions, insights, thoughts and opinions.  I also remember when YouTube arrived on the scene.  I thought to myself, “that’s cool” and saw it as a place to post short home made videos and to share experiences.  Then I had another “aha!” moment and realized the value of sharing video and the broad scope of applications the medium provided.  And even now, not a week goes by where another new way to share, communicate and socialize appears on the web.  So now the question becomes, if fast and faster change keeps coming…how will I ever keep up?

I guess the lesson learned from stumbling across new tools, widgets and gadgets that appear today is to stop and pause.  To get over the initial reaction of the medium cool factor and see the opportunities within that platform.  If a platform or tool is viewed from the perspective as another opportunity, then the mind will get to work and figure out ways to use the medium to send the message you want.  But is using tools for an end purpose really connecting?  Or is connecting with the hope of a positive outcome the way to go?

There’s the rub with trying to keep up with the digital world.  The challenge that marketing executives have is two-fold.  They sell results and they need to be able to measure.  The small business check book management approach or even simpler, the “business has picked up” view does not work.  I even heard a marketing person say recently (regarding the use of Social Media) “I made allot of friends, but I don’t think we sold anything.”  Marketing execs need to know what worked and why and how it impacted the overall goals of the campaign.  If they cannot measure the success, they can’t sell or know how to charge for it.  Again the question, build relationships first or sell first then build relationships?  In my opinion, the answer is easy.  Build relationships, for if you do a good job at this, results will come (most likely long term results.)

If you are a part of the “we need to do this crowd” let me give you some ideas on why use of the Social Media piece of online advertising is a must do.  Regardless of the metrics.

  • I remember back in the 80’s management gurus told us to “manage by wandering around” to “talk to your customer” and to get feedback.  Social Media is an amazing platform to do just that (if you really want to hear what your customer has to say.)  Social Media enables you to target communities of like minded people to engage.  It enables you to have a conversation and more importantly to build a relationship.  This micro-relationship may not take into account the millions of people who drink your soft-drink, buy your food product or wear your clothes, but if the community is selected carefully, you can get tremendous insights into what your users want and need.  And no amount of metrics can replace that knowledge.
  • The use of Social Media enables you to see and feel the pulse of the community.  I cannot tell you how many times I see a comment like, “I wish someone would come up with something that would do (fill in the blank).”  You may have that product in beta and you just found a great person to test the product and give you feedback.  Think about this, how often do you test a new product and find it very difficult to get real feedback.
  • If you still walk around the mall you will still see people with clipboards attempting to stop you and ask you a handful of survey questions.  You want a survey answered honestly with legitimate insights into the needs of your customer?  Go online into a community where you have developed a relationship and simply ask.  You will get  your answers.
  • Social Media is inexpensive.  Ok, before you jump down my throat and give me the cost of keywords, the expense of web-site maintenance and the price of click-through ads, please hear me out.  All those things will give you traffic and presence. But will they introduce me to you in some personal way?  Probably not.  Will the response to a Twitter or Facebook update that leads to a real conversation on how to improve the product and services you offer?  Yes, it will.  And the conversation did not incur the cost of the web banner, the ad or the MySpace video production.  How many products and services get launched around the world everyday and fail?  Allot.  How many could have survived if someone had a way to tap into the end user and find ways to help them more, serve them better or deliver a better product?  That question is rhetorical and I don’t know the answer.  But I am confident enough in the comment to say, “many more.”

So in the end what do we do?  We don’t have unlimited funds.  We have limited time, people, energy and resources.  Here are a few things that fall under the category “Food for Thought.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • What if every organization small and large had one person dedicated to using the web and its Social Media tools to try to connect with people?  What if that person was the CEO? Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com is legendary for reaching out to his customers and engaging them on Twitter, find him at http://twitter.com/zappos (oh, he has over 56K people that he follows and converses with as of this morning.)  Maybe he has something figured out.
  • What if the purpose of using Social Media to reach out was not one way, but two way.  Conversations are two way.  Is it possible for marketers to give before they try to take?  Can we build trust and relationships first?  Chris Brogan and Julien Smith call trust the new currency, if you don’t get it read their complementary e-book “Trust Economies.”
  • What if someone in every organization was in charge of finding “like minded” communities and engaging those communities?
  • What if the metric was the success we have in building relationships, not the immediate results.  Relationships are the ultimate long-tail.

As advertisers struggle with lower budgets and a soft economy maybe a drop of focus should go into connecting with people and building a plan to “wander around the Social Media space” and find out how close you can really get to your customers.

Then you have a new question, how long can you make your tail?

Junk Mail from Sarah Palin!

Ok, maybe with all in inauguration celebrations going on across the country, something that would normally not be noticed, got noticed.  My junk mail.

The day they swore in our new President, I received the following in my mailbox.

Junk Mail from Sarah!

Yes that’s right.  A letter from the Office of the Governor of Alaska asking me to take a trip to her great state.

Now at first I scoffed this letter off then I realized how brilliant this may be.  Now, please do not misunderstand what I am about to say.  This is not political commentary in any way, just some observations.

  • The timing of the letter to land in mail boxes (you may have received one) the day of the inauguration was brilliant.  In Marketing 101 we learned that certain marketing activities work because they have a “halo effect“.  In other words, when something positive is occurring then often people link that positive to another thing.  There is no question that our new President is very popular right now and receiving a solicitation from another popular political figure can in fact, make it more positive.
  • The letter took advantage of the sender’s new season of popularity.  A few month’s ago, many were hard pressed to even know the name of the Governor of Alaska, now like her or not, we all know her name.  The name recognition alone most likely gave the solicitation a very high “open and read” rate, probably far above the other junk mail in your box.
  • If you are a fan of Sarah, you probably welcomed the email.
  • The tactics of the email, the purpose and the timing was guerrilla like.  Great impact from a low cost piece of direct mail.

Now we all can’t be the Governor of Alaska and former candidate for Vice-President but there are some lessons we can learn here;

  • If you do direct mail, email campaigns or any other marketing, find a way to break through the clutter.
  • Take advantage of opportunities when they appear, look for great ways to time events and create a “halo effect.”
  • Free never hurts.  People historically respond better to free than anything.
  • Take advantage of your brand or name recognition whenever possible.

Yeah, as odd as it was to get my junk mail from Sarah, it did bring a smile to my face.

I could not resist this, had to post it…

Great video on Inbound Marketing from the gang at HubSpot.  Gets right to the heart on the use of technology and social media to build your business.  Kudo’s to  Rebecca Corliss of HubSpot for the great work they do.

Monetize Your Tweets? Hmmm…

A new service is creating allot of buzz in the Twitter world.  The service is called Magpie and the purpose of the service is inject ads into your “tweet stream” that in turn, go into the stream of your followers.  The hope of the service for the advertiser is to target your audience based on your posts and keywords and to send ads to those in your community that best match.  You can get all the details on how this works at http://be-a-magpie.com/how-it-works .  Take a look at the following pic to get an idea what this would look like in the Twitter stream.

#1 shows how Magpie randomly inserts ads promoting the service into your stream, and #2 shows what an actual ad looks like.  This pic was screenshot from someone I follow and as you can see, the self promotion and the actual ad occured only two “tweets” apart.

The idea of monetizing your work and leveraging your social network is not new, but this new service raises some interesting points of conversation and discussion;

  • Is monetizing your followers, a violation of the community aspect of Twitter?
  • Will followers be “turned off” by ad inserts? Will they care?
  • Can real money be made using this type of service?
  • Will use of this type of service cause followers to “unfollow”?

Twitter is the clearly the “micro-blog” of choice at this time.  It may not have the features of other services available but its has simplicity, elegance and a myriad of tools to make it work on phones and other devices.  Twitter is everything from a business communication outlet, a personal update space, a promotional tool, an instant news resource to a discovery of new things platform.  It is also a community where people converse, have bursts of dialog and share information.  So will a service such as Magpie cause an interruption of the conversation?  It seems the so far, the tweet stream is saying it will.

So lets say you are willing to risk followers in order to make some money on your Twitter stream.  What kind of money can you make?  According to Magpie, this is what my Twitter stream could be worth.

According to the site, I could collect up to 330.66 Euros per month (Euros x .7699 <current spot trade USD> = $254.58USD).  So my potential earnings on Magpie would be about $250 a month.  So the question now becomes; Is it worth it?

There are allot of reasons in today’s economy to try to make some money.  Many are out of work, many have taken pay cuts or benefit cost increases.  Others just need more money to pay the bills.  If that is the reason you choose an ad insertion service such as Magpie for your Twitter stream, then more power to you.  I cannot blame anyone for doing what it takes to put food on the table.  But for those who are not in that situation, consider carefully the possible effects, long and short term of using any ad insertion service into your social network before you do so.

In my case, Magpie just does not seem right for me.  The value of my followers is too precious to risk and the pressing need to generate the income is not there.  I would be anxious to hear what some of you have to say regarding this service and others like it and how it works or does not work for you?

I know you “tweet” but do you “magpie?”