Archives for May 2010

NOW I’m an Expert: I Was on FOX59 News Last Night

I had the opportunity and honor of being on Fox59 News at 10 last night, as a social media expert, to talk about how Generation Y is beginning to take their online reputation and privacy more seriously than they have in the past.

According to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Reputation Management and Social Media, young people have surpassed the Baby Boomers in taking care of their online reputation. They’re hiding their negative photos — the so-called “Spring Break” photos, untagging themselves when they do appear online, and even practicing reverse search engine optimization to push their negative content off Google’s front page.

I was particularly proud that they used one of my favorite lines, one that I use at all my talks about reputation management: If you don’t want skeletons in your closets, don’t put the bodies in there in the first place.

Big thanks to Kyle Lacy for referring me to Tisha Lewis. And big thanks to Tisha “actually it’s TEE-sha” Lewis, her intern Andy, and her shooter (cameraman), Adam, for making the trek all the way out to the hinterlands of Fishers, Indiana to do the interview.

(As soon as the video becomes available, I’ll link to it here.)

What Auto Racing Has Learned From Social Media

For the past week, I’ve been at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, covering the race for my Laughing Stalk blog as a media blogger. I’m one of the only, if not the only, non-race blogger here in the media center.

I’ve seen some pretty awesome stuff while I’ve been here. I met Rick Mears, interviewed Justin Wilson, but I think the coolest thing I’ve experienced is hearing that a race car designer has embraced social media and plans on making all their car designs and plans available to the public, a la open source.

I had a chance to talk with Ben Bowlby, the Chief Technology Officer for DeltaWing Racing about this impressive new car. While this model is only a wind tunnel model — the proposed version wouldn’t actually look like this, and it’s already 6 months out of date — a lot of people aren’t real wild about it. Of course, that’s because most of them haven’t understood the concept behind it.

What I was especially impressed by was that DeltaWing wants to make all of their designs available to the public, to students, to the media, and to the entire racing community. People are allowed to take the designs, copy them, modify them, incorporate bits of it into their own design, whatever they want.

If a student wants to make an improvement to the front wishbone, he can submit it back to DeltaWing, and if they approve it, the student gets royalties from any racing team that uses it.

The only other place I’ve seen this is in social media and open source software, Linux and Mozilla being the two biggest examples.

Whether you like the new design or not, you have to admit the open source concept is pretty cool.

The Number One Reason Companies Need to Blog About Their Products

We write a lot of product blogs for our clients. No matter what size, shape, color, or price of the product, we’ve written several hundred blog product posts.

But for all the hundreds of posts we’ve written, there’s only one reason we do it: to win search.

Chris Baggott of Compendium Blogware has long beat the “blogging wins search” drum. (And while I don’t agree about his “myth of the reader” — I believe you should try to get and keep regular, returning readers — he makes a great point about winning search.)

A product blog post is one of the easiest things to write. It’s just 200 – 300 words describing a particular product with a link back to the original catalog entry or product description. Each post equals a backlink back to your website, and the more backlinks you have to your website, the better you rank in a search.

Should I Keep My Blog Inside My Website, or Have a Separate Blog?

We’re fans of keeping a blog and a website together, but there’s no harm in keeping the two separate. After all, the search engines recognize it as a separate website that links back to your original one. However, you’re better off putting your blog on your static website and use internal backlinks to go from the blog to the static pages.

But if you want to boost your search engine rankings even further, create a second blog where you publish your blog posts, and keep it separate from your regular corporate blog where you’re publishing your authority posts, credibility posts, issues posts, and educational posts. This way you can improve search and find first time visitors with one blog, and gain returning readers with the other.

7 Ways to Use Blogging to Promote Events

We’ve often used blogging to promote special events for ourselves and our clients. I’m even a blogger for VisitIndiana, the website and blog for Indiana Tourism, our state government’s tourism department.

    1. Pre-event promotion: This is the one thing most people think of. But don’t limit yourself to a single blog post about the event coming up. Tie every blog post into your event. Blog about topics that tie into the event. For example, if you sell tradeshow displays, talk about the upcoming social media and tradeshow marketing panel discussion you’re going to host on June 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn. (By the way, I’m speaking at a panel discussion on social media and tradeshow marketing on June 9 for Skyline Exhibits – Indianapolis).

  1. Live blogging: This can be challenging, but it can also be fun, because it draws people into the energy of the event, especially if they’re not able to attend with you. I have live blogged at two sporting events. One was the 2009 Indianapolis 500. I had also spent several days in May on the track, blogging about different things I saw, which helped build up my readership for the big day. I also live-blogged from an Indiana Fever game, which I will never do again. As I was writing about a play, something cool would happen, and I would miss it. Now I just tweet the highlights and enjoy the game. The easiest way to do live blogging is to use the Email to Post feature on WordPress or Blogger, or set up a blog at I especially like Posterous, because I can attach photos and they’ll automatically be placed into each post.
  2. Post-event wrap-up: You want to remind people of the good time they had, or tell them about the good time they missed so they’ll be sure to come back next year. Use this time to talk about what worked well, what could have been better, funny stories, traditions you might start, and photos of the great time people had. Ask attendees for suggestions about what they would like to see changed or kept the same.
  3. Photo blogging: Set up some slideshows on Flickr or Picasa, and paste the embed code into a blog post. You can show photos you’ve already taken, or embed the code early, and then add photos as you take them, which will expand the slideshow. This is especially great for live blogging. Just use a photo uploader on your smart phone, get an EyeFi card for your digital camera, or make sure you have a way to quickly download photos from your camera and then upload them to your photo sharing site. You will need to do some tweaking on your account, but you can start sharing the photos right away.
  4. Video blogging: The same techniques and ideas that you can use for photo blogging work for video blogging. I’m not talking about producing pre-written and edited videos. Rather, take some videos and upload them via your smart phone’s uploader, or YouTube. Take some quick interviews of event attendees, show some speakers/music/events/games, and post them as quick as you can. I especially like for photo and video blogging, because you can set up your account to automatically forward all photos and videos to their respective services when you email them to Posterous.
  5. Get other bloggers: Ask other people to blog about your event in all three stages, pre, during, and post. Give them free admission or tickets to come to your event and write about it. You want to find bloggers in that niche or industry, but don’t limit yourself to only finding the most popular ones. The ones who don’t have a lot of readers can still be valuable. For one thing, they’re reaching a group of people that the bigger bloggers might not. For another, any links they make back to your website help your search engine optimization (see #7), which makes it easier for people to find your event for next year.
  6. It’s all for Search Engine Optimization: It doesn’t matter if you got a lot of people to read about your event this year, or if only a few dozen people were following your blog at the time of the event. All this blogging does one additional thing for you: it builds your content out for search engine placement. If you’re going to hold your event next year, all the work you did this year will help you rank higher on the search engines for next year. This is true whether you’re hosting your own event, or whether you’re participating in someone else’s event. For example, if you’re taking photos, videos, and blogging about your participating at an arts festival, you’ll be one of the first names to pop up when people start searching for it again for next year.

Just remember, blogging is for the long haul too, not a just quick burst of publicity. It’s the marathon, not the spring. But it doesn’t hurt to have a fast start to get out in front of your competition either.

Photo credit: MattIndy77 (Flickr)

New Social Media Revolution 2 Video from Erik Qualman

Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business (affiliate link) launched a new Social Media Revolution video a couple weeks ago, matching the same look, sound, and interesting ideas as his original Social Media Revolution video.

It’s a great video. It has a lot of interesting statistics, and you can really dance to it.

If you work with some social media non-believers, make sure they watch this new video, as well as the last one. I can tell you that Erik’s last video played a large part in helping us land a church as a client. They saw the video, said, “oh man, is it really growing this fast? We have to tap into this,” and called us. (So thanks, Erik, I owe you a beer. A really nice one too, not one of those beers whose names appear on the side of a race car.)

Why Designers Should Avoid Contests and Crowdsourcing

Chris Brogan got a bunch of people’s panties in a twist last week.

He blogged about a logo design project he created on a site called 99Designs to crowd source a new logo design.

99Designs is a godsend to businesspeople on a budget, but it’s an evil abomination to designers trying to make a fair wage for their skill and years of experience. Let’s say I need a logo. I create a project on the site (it’s called a “contest”), set my budget (the “prize”), and designers will submit their design concepts. Anyone who wants to submit a concept can do so. The project owner will then select the winning concept, and award the prize to the winner.

I saw a $795 for a learning portal redesign, an $888 contest for an eBay template design, and the highest project of $2,225 for a web redesign. But most of the prizes rolled in around $295 – $350.

$350 for a professionally made logo design.

Tell a real graphic designer about this, and she’s going to work herself up into a good frothing rant about the cheapness of business people and how hack designers cheapen the entire industry by shortchanging themselves.

“Any twit with Photoshop Elements and a weekend seminar under their belt thinks suddenly they’re a graphic designer,” she’ll shout, followed by the obligatory “you get what you pay for,” and rolling her eyes so far back in her head, she can see her entire third grade year.

Brogan’s post unearthed lovers and haters of 99Designs. The designers all hated it, except for the ones who were still learning the keyboard shortcuts for their copy of Elements. The businesspeople all loved it, because, hey, $350 logo.

Their argument falls along the lines of “if someone’s willing to accept a low bid, then I’m stupid for not taking it. No one is forcing them to accept these projects.”

I think 99Designs is dangerous, and urge any decent graphic designer to avoid it. (The sucky ones should stay with it though.) But since the businesspeople seem to think it’s an acceptable model, I wonder if they’re willing to try it out for themselves.

Using the Crowdsourcing Model For Business

  • My company needs a social media campaign. I would like you to write up a strategy, set up some social media accounts, build each of them out to about 5,000 people, and then let me see your work. If I like your strategy, and if I like the people you added to the accounts, I’ll pay you $500.You’ll be competing against other social media strategists, like Jason Falls, Tara Strong, and Scott Stratten. The winning bid will get $500, while the losing bids will go away empty handed, with nothing to show except some social networks they spent 7 – 10 hours to create and grow.
  • I want to hire a landscaping company to mow my lawn every week. I need each interested company to cut my lawn once, and whoever does the best job will get the winning contract for the rest of the summer, at $15 per week. I’m offering that much, because that’s how much the kid down the street offered.
  • I’d also like my house redecorated, but I need to do it on spec. Any interested designer should be willing to redecorate one room of my house. If I pick your design, you’ll get $1,000 to do the entire house. I figure, I’ve seen the home redecorating shows on HGTV, and it doesn’t seem that hard, I just don’t have the time to do it.

I get both sides of this argument. I really do. But my heart lies firmly in one camp: the creative side.

I’m a business owner, but I’m also a creative type. When I write something, I get paid for it. I don’t have the time to do anything on spec, because I’ve grown beyond the need for possibilities of payment and “exposure.” The time I spend writing on spec is the same time I could be using to write for pay.

I think asking designers to submit themselves to this kind of creative minimum wage is heinous, because we would never ask a businessperson to do it. You would never write a full-blown social media campaign and start executing it for the possibility of $500. You would never cut a lawn, decorate a room, or fix my car for free, just in the hopes that I might hire you. I would never ask a business owner to do this because they’re in business to make money.

Just like graphic designers.

If you don’t have a budget, that’s fine. Go hire a college student who’s still finishing his or her graphic design degree. Barter your product or services, or do it yourself for free. But don’t ask for spec work. It cheapens the industry, but it makes you look cheaper.

No One Likes My New Job Title

It was a brief spark of an idea, and one I got a little excited about: I wanted to change my job title.

I am currently the VP of Operations and Customer Service. It’s a little wordy, but accurately describes my position here. (I’m also a co-owner.)

“I know,” I said to myself. “I’ll change my title to Chief Blogging Evangelist. That’ll be cool.”

I asked Paul Lorinczi, my business partner, about it, and he said it sounded kind of buzzwordy.

“Bah!” I thought, and emailed Jason Falls whether he thought the title sounded “cool” or “eww.”

I’d say “content” evangelist to stay hip with on- and off-site services.
I don’t think it’s bad. Not necessarily “cool” but not bad.

So I threw it open to my Twitter network. We’re always preaching about using one’s network, so this was going to be my chance to do it. I was looking for confirmation that Chief Blogging Evangelist was a cool title, and that it would help me land more speaking gigs, and make me look really cool (I mean, cooler) when I go to my high school reunion next month.

I received 37 responses on my survey, and was stunned at the results.

Question #1: When I first saw the title “chief blogging evangelist,” my first reaction was:
Love it!
Don’t care for it.
That’s stupid.

Out of 37 responses, 1 person loved it.

(One person?! And I didn’t even vote! What the hell? This is cutting edge! This is Job Title 2.0. This is the epitome of social media coolness. And only one person liked it? If I didn’t know any better, I would think my mom had voted.)

It gets worse: 15 people thought it was “meh,” 11 people “didn’t care for it,” and 10 people thought it was “stupid.” In other words, 21 people either didn’t like it or downright hated it.

In question #4, (I think the title “Chief Blogging Evangelist:”), 36 people said it was either too buzzwordy or trendy (23), or it would scare off customers (13).

If I ever wanted proof that I can have some fairly dumb ideas, my Twitter followers and SurveyMonkey just showed it to me. (Except I didn’t want proof. I like being blissfully ignorant and thinking my ideas are awesome.)

So I asked for a few alternatives. And people were very helpful and creative. Some of my favorites were:

  • VP, Verbal Artistry
  • VP of Social Media
  • VP of Creative Services
  • Creative Vice President of Operational Services
  • Chief Social Media Evangelist
  • VP of Communications
  • Chief Blogging Atheist
  • Big Daddy Blogger

But my favorite response was:

  • It made me laugh, but then I said “seriously?”

So, I don’t know what my new job title will be, or if I even need one. But I know what it’s not going to be.

Of course, “Big Daddy Blogger” has a nice ring to it. I wonder what that would look like in a Garamond. . .