Oscar Wilde Knows a Thing or Two About Branding

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. — Oscar Wilde

It’s a big fear of the corporate attorneys that people are going to say bad things about them. That’s why they don’t do blogging and social media.

“We don’t want people to leave negative comments about us on our blog,” they say. (The solution, of course, is to solve the problem the people are complaining about, and then post the response that you fixed it, but that’s for another post.)

The thing is, people are talking about you already. Do a quick check on Google, Twitter, and even on Facebook to see if people are talking about your brand. If you’re a large company or nonprofit, you’ll find people talking about you online, whether you have a blog or not.

But what if you’re a small or medium sized company or nonprofit and nobody is talking about you? That’s a good thing, right?

Wrong.

It means nobody is talking about you. They’re not saying how great you are. They’re not talking about how much they love your product. They’re not saying a single thing about you.

In other words, they think you’re rather unremarkable.

And unremarkable companies don’t make money. Unremarkable nonprofits don’t get volunteers or donations. Unremarkable companies and nonprofits go out of business.

But you’re not unremarkable. You’re awesome! You do some amazing stuff. In fact, I was talking to John and Kara about you. You remember John and Kara, right? They were telling me about that time you were hanging out with them at that place, and that guy came up and did the thing. Don’t you remember? Well, they love you.

So why aren’t John and Kara talking about you online? Why aren’t John and Kara telling all their friends about you? Maybe it’s because you’re not on there to talk with them, which will remind them to mention that time at the place with the guy who did the thing.

But if you did, if you did take the plunge, and start using a social media tool — just one — they’ll start talking about you. They’ll leave reviews about you on places like Yelp.com and Google Local. They’ll mention you in tweets, and refer people to your website.

And you’ll be able to talk back to them. You’ll thank them for the reviews. You’ll answer their questions. You’ll solve their problems when they’re upset with you. Then everyone else will notice, and they’ll start talking about — and to — you too.

That way, you’ll start attracting more attention, which will lead to more customers, which means more revenue from new sales channels.

So if you want to increase your reputation, increase your customers, and increase your sales, just try it. Just a little. Pick a social media tool (we like Twitter), and start using it.

Because the only thing worse than not being talked about is being talked about in the past tense.

The Fishers Gaga for Google Fiber Video is Done

This past Sunday, I joined 199 of my fellow Fishers residents and we shot a video, singing about the virtues of the Google Fiber network, to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” Mercifully, we weren’t in the video very long, and you can barely see me, and only if you know where to look (hint: I’m NOT the guy at the beginning of the video. That’s Caleb, and that really is him singing.)

You can read more about Fishers’ quest to get some of that Google Fast Fiber at the Professional Blog Service blog.

Help Fishers, Indiana Get Google Fiber

One-Mississippi.

One second. It’s how we counted when we were kids playing flag football or hide-and-seek. One-Mississippi is how long it takes you to download a 3MB song to your computer.

Five-Mississippi, six-Mississippi, seven-Mississippi.

That’s how long it actually takes at my house. I have high speed Internet, and we usually average 3 – 5MB per second. At least it’s supposed to.

But if you’ve ever tried to get online between 3:00 – 5:00 (when the kids come home from school), your Internet speed drops like a rock. It’s bad again on Saturday afternoons, and again on Sunday nights.

But what if you could get 1GB (yes, one gigabyte) of speed in your house?

1GB equals 1,000MB (actually, 1024MB). At that speed, you could download 333 songs in One-Mississippi. That’s not a typo. Three hundred and thirty-three songs in a single second. That’s how fast 1GB is.

One-Mississippi. We just downloaded almost the entire Beatles catalog (It took two more seconds to finish “Hey Jude.”)

This is the exciting part: Google said they plan to build and test ultra-high speed fiber networks in a select number of communities across the United States.

The Town of Fishers and the Fishers Chamber of Commerce are working on a submission to get Google Fiber run throughout the entire town of Fishers.

We’re competing with cities and towns all over the United States. Even our friends up in Anderson, IN are in the running.

But we want it here in Fishers. Call me selfish, but since I live there, I would love to see it in my hometown. It would be great, not only for the homes and schools in Fishers, but for the businesses.

Imagine the possibilities: Video production companies can upload their videos in seconds, not minutes. Video conferencing will be a snap. Software companies can collaborate around the office or around the world. Movies on demand will be just as fast as watching regular TV. And yes, you can download your MP3s in a fraction of a second.

Think about what 1GB per second can do for the technology industry here in central Indiana. Many of us are fond of calling this region “Silicorn Alley.” But with speeds like this, Fishers can quickly become the entire hub of Silicorn Alley. (Or would that be the stalk?)

Think of the jobs it will create for Central Indiana if many software companies started relocating here. Think of what it can do for home sales and the surrounding economy, and even the state’s brain drain if companies began locating to Fishers, just for 1GB per second.

So, please, even if you don’t live in Fishers, take a few minutes to stop by the FastFishers.com website and nominate our not-so-little town for Google’s Fiber.

Video Proof of Our Craving for Fast Internet

This past Sunday, about 200 Fishers residents gathered to produce a community video to show Google how badly we want Google Fiber in our town. My friend, Alison Moore, of the Fishers Chamber wrote lyrics to a Lady Gaga song, and we sang. We sang our hearts out, and sang about our love for Google and the promise of Google Fiber.

Yes, I even sang. That’s how bad I want this. I sang a freaking Lady Gaga song! Now, if I can sing a Lady Gaga song, you can certainly take just 3 minutes to show Google why our town deserves the new network they’re going to give to a few lucky cities or towns in the United States.

And when you’re done, and if we get it, you’re more than welcome to come up here and try it out. We’d love to have you.

What Stylebook Should Bloggers Use?

If you ever want to see writers argue loudly (and who doesn’t?), ask them which writing style guide is the best. The opinions will be varied, the disagreements will be vocal, and the slap fights will be, well, slappy.

Nothing gets the ire of a writer up higher than someone slamming on their beloved style guide. A stylebook is really just a preference guide for how you want people to punctuate, and spell and capitalize certain words.

Bloggers often get caught in the cross-fire, because we don’t know which style guide we should use. This is a question I’m often asked, and I always say the same thing:

Bloggers should use the Associated Press Stylebook

I like the Associated Press Stylebook (affiliate link) because it’s a book for journalists by journalists. And since bloggers are really citizen journalists, we might as well use the book the journalists use. Although it was really written for writers who work for the Associated Press, it has been adopted by every journalist except for the New York Times.

While there are no major differences between most of the stylebooks, except on some small ticky-tack stuff, like whether you should use the Oxford comma or whether or not to hyphenate certain words.

I realize there are many style guides you can choose from: MLA (Modern Language Association for English), Turabian (history), and APA (American Psychological Association; social sciences) for the academic world. The Chicago Manual of Style for book publishers, Strunk and White’s Element of Style for general writing, and The Bluebook for lawyers.

While there is the Columbia Guide to Online Style (COS), I prefer the AP Stylebook. The COS is used for citing online sources, and is a style guide for “creating documents electronically for submission for print or electronic publication,” but from what I can see, it’s used more for academic purposes, rather than the real world.

The Era of Calling Things “Dead” Is Dead. Or Should Be.

Oh God, I am sick to death of this “sky is falling” mentality that I keep seeing more and more. Everyone thinks they’re either cool or a 21st century Nostradamus by saying something is dead. “Twitter killed blogging.” “Google Buzz killed Twitter.” Blah blah blah.

Here are just a tiny few articles I found declaring something to be dead (something that is still widely in use):

Sorry, my crystal ball must be broken, because all I see are more and more customers using Twitter, email, Facebook, blogging. I don’t like Buzz and have never tried the Wave, but I see plenty of people telling me they’re still using it, so they’re not dead.

Basically, until someone like Google, Twitter, or Facebook declares they’re shutting down, everyone else should just shut up about things being “dead.”

After Newsweek pundit Clifford Stoll famously declared that the Internet would not replace newspapers, that Nicholas Negroponte was an idiot for saying we would buy books and newspapers straight from the Internet, and that you couldn’t “tote that laptop to the beach,” I would think that most people would hesitate before putting themselves out like that without any evidence to back it up. (In fact, Stoll’s piece has been generating such big laughs these past few weeks, that Newsweek’s own blog said, “Decca Records didn’t get this much heat for passing on the Beatles.”)

There are very few people whose predictions I absolutely trust. If one of them says, “this technology is dead,” I’ll check it out for myself to make sure. Anyone else who says it just looks like a poseur (that’s the real spelling of “poser.” It rhymes with “hoser.”) Everyone else seems to be killing technology because they don’t use it anymore (if they ever did), or they read a story somewhere that said overall use was down, or it had peaked, or some shiny new thing came along.

If you’re declaring something to be dead as a way to generate buzz and bring in some readers, start writing things with substance. Scott Scheper just did it with his blog post, Twitter, As We Knew It, is Dead. And while his qualifying phrase, “as we knew it,” keeps him from flying too close to my whole nose-wrinkling disdain of “is dead,” I do have to say his article is filled with enough actual useful information that he gets a free pass this time.

Basically, if all you can do is declare something to be dead because you can’t think of a catchy headline, then just don’t say anything until you can. Talk about how the thing has changed, talk about how you think it can be saved, or talk about its replacement. Just stop killing things for everyone else just because you quit using them.

Help Name Our Next Book

Kyle Lacy and I are working on another social media book geared toward someone who is entering the “Second Phase” of their career.

(I helped him write Twitter Marketing for Dummies).

Our new book is not for the recent college graduate, or the social media newbie. This is for someone who is proficient on a computer, and is even aware of social media. They may even have a Facebook account.

Problem is, we don’t like the name “Second Phase.”

So we need your help. We’re turning to all of our friends and social media buddies, and asking for your suggestion on what to call the book.

Here is a blurb from our book proposal to give you an idea of what we’re doing.

(T)here is a Second Phase of personal branding when a person leaves the corporate workforce to find their passion, something that moves them, that gives them a reason for getting out of bed in the morning. They’ll look for a new job, a new industry, or even launch an entire new career.

Creating this Second Phase needs to happen both online and off. It’s a rebirth and a redefinition. The Second Phase means people are starting anew, learning how to take lessons learned in the corporate infrastructure, and rekindle their sense of purpose, their personal mission.

The point of our book is to show people how to kickstart the Second Phase, to rebrand themselves into how they want to be seen, not how they need to be seen to be hired, a decidedly First Phase way of thinking.

Thanks to today’s social media tools, this redefinition is not only becoming easier, it’s crucial to personal and professional success. It’s more about working YOUR network, adding value, and thinking and acting like an authority, even when you might not feel like one.

We used “Second Phase” in the proposal, but we’re trying to find something cooler, something that sounds more modern, and — dare we say it? — a little trendy.

So we’re looking for suggestions. Give us an idea, any idea. Leave it in the comments section, and if we use it, we’ll give you credit inside the acknowledgments. And if it’s possible, we’ll even use you in the book. (I’m not promising anything; if we can get it in, it will go in. If not, c’est la vie.)

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3 Reasons Why Sports Marketers Need Social Media

Tomas Scheckter

Sponsoring a sports team or event is not just about signing a check. It’s more than just getting your name on the side of a car or a sign in the stadium.

Basically, if you want your sponsorship dollars to be an effective marketing tool, you need to double your total sponsorship budget just to promote the fact that you have a sponsorship deal. If your sponsorship is for $100,000, spend another $100,000 to promote it.

If you’re sponsoring a racing team, you need to tell your customers about it, and get them to cheer for “your” team. If you’re sponsoring a football team, you need to get your best customers into the luxury suite to see and hear the game. Even if you’re sponsoring a Little League baseball team, you need to find a way to bring the parents into your store or restaurant after a game.

Tomas Scheckter

I’ve been thinking about how sports marketing professionals can use social media to their benefit over the last several months. Last year, we brought a some Indy Lights team owners and sponsorship brokers — Gary Sallee, Roger Brummett, and Tyce Carlson — to talk about sports marketing at a Confluence networking event.

That month, I also had a chance to talk to Mike Micheli, PR director of Dale Coyne Racing, who was also a great guide and mentor when I became one of the first ever race bloggers at last year’s Indianapolis 500. (He also hooked me up with Tomas Scheckter for a quick interview.)

The Problem: You Just Can’t Effectively Measure Traditional Marketing

One thing both the team owners and Mike Micheli explained is that sports marketing is no longer just about soliciting checks from big companies. Now, team owners have to be able to demonstrate the ROI of a sponsorship.

I can’t imagine anything harder in the measurement and analytics world. It’s just as hard as measuring regular marketing outlets. You don’t know which TV commercials increased sales, and which ones lost money. You don’t know which billboards brought visitors to your website.

And good luck trying to figure out which logo placement or interview plug was responsible for the bump in sales. You’re trying to figure out which made money and which lost you money, whether it was the car sponsorship, or the special event tent. Or the t-shirts. Or the ad in the race program. Or the — you get the picture.

But social media can do all of that, and then some. Here are three things social media can do for sports marketers.

1. Social Media Can Prove ROI in Sports Marketing

The great thing about social media is that it’s easy to demonstrate the ROI. Thanks to simple tools like Google Analytics and bit.ly, it’s possible to come up with a basic system to see how many people found your website, requested additional information, or bought something. With a paid solution like Yahoo Analytics, you can actually get more specific information, as well as deeper stats and real-time results.

You can measure a campaign’s success and figure out which variables, messages, and even time of day brought the best results. See if you get spikes in traffic before, during, or after an event. And whether the spikes are taking place in the event’s city, or if they’re spread out. You can even set up different URLs and landing pages, and do A/B testing to see which variables brought the best results.

Take it a step further and use products like Radian6, ScoutLabs, or even Vocus to monitor the social media discussion about your brand and your team. Now you can pay attention to who’s talking about your brand, and interact with the ones who are the most vocal, whether positive or negative. You just can’t do that with a billboard or a TV spot.

2. Social Media Can Grow a Sports Marketing Audience

There are more social media tools than you can shake a stick at. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of ways to connect with your customers online. For a good start, get Twitter Marketing for Dummies (affiliate link). (Full disclosure: I helped Kyle Lacy write this book. Shameless plug: We’re working on another one.)

Use tools like Twitterment, NearbyTweets, and even Twitter’s own search function to find people who are interested in your team. Use Twitterfall or TweetDeck’s search feature to watch for dicsussions about your team or the event.

Connect with those people, and discuss the team, the players/drivers/crew, and the event itself. Don’t sell them anything or talk about your company. if you have to, hold a special contest or make a special offer. “If our team finishes in a certain place or higher, the first 500 people to tweet us gets a coupon for a free widget.” But other than that, talk about the thing that interests the fans (hint: it’s not you).

3. Social Media Can Deepen Relationships With Fans and Customers

Enhance your customers’ experience on race day by live blogging, tweeting, and video streaming from the stands, the sponsor’s tent, or even Victory Lane.

  • Get some behind-the-scenes looks (assuming you get permission from the team) at what it looks like in a garage or locker room.
  • Hold a special Twitter chat with a driver or crew member.
  • Have a player give a special video greeting or tour for fans.
  • Ask different team members to blog about their experiences over the season, complete with photos and videos.

Social media lets fans see the things they might be missing, but help them feel like they’re part of the experience. By doing this, you help them feel more like a part of the team. They’re insiders, with special knowledge about the team, the athletes, and the event. By feeling like they’re connected, they’ll become more of a fan, not only of the team, but of the organization or brand that helped them get there.

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