See the second half, more photos, and lots of comments at the full Storify page!
See the second half, more photos, and lots of comments at the full Storify page!
Last week marked my 1-year anniversary of starting my own personal blog. Since I’ve actually stuck with it and kept somewhat of a regular schedule, I now have a lot to look back on. Thanks to all of you who have read, commented, and linked to my blog this year.
When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:
As for the first goal, this one was easy. I find a lot of interesting things on the web and I like to stay current on the newest social media trends. I didn’t write much about music (besides recapping the concerts I’ve attended), but maybe I’ll do more with that in the next 12 months.
With 34 posts under my belt, goal number two was easily met.
So what were my favorite posts?
My personal favorite (mainly because it includes a strong reference to the movie Caddyshack) was my short blog on Klout, the new service that measures online “influence.”
My most visited post was written about what we can learn from the Chilean miner rescue from a leadership standpoint.
So where will the next year take me? Who knows. I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.
Morgan over at The Little Hen House was lamenting the fact that there was only one guy who participated in her celebrity look-alike blog hop this month. We’re still a couple of days away from the end of June, so I thought I’d give it a go.
I actually get the whole, “you look like someone famous” thing more often than I would expect. Many times they can’t put a name to it – only that I look like someone famous or someone they know.
Those who can give me a name usually come up with Seth Green. Yes, a taller version of Seth Green.
My wife maintains that in my younger days I looked like Green as Chuckie Miller in Can’t Buy Me Love. Hmmm.
What do you think?
My content is crap… sometimes. That’s what I learned this morning at the Social Media Breakfast San Diego (#SMBSD).
Local radio and creative professional Chris Cantore teamed up with Ryan Berman, founder and chief creative officer of Fishtank Brand Advertising to give us a no-fluff primer on creating content for the web. Here’s more of what I learned.
1. “Find your brand. And whatever you do, defend it.” — Ryan Berman. This is a good one for me to remember. If it doesn’t support your personal or company brand, why add to the digital clutter by re-posting, re-tweeting, or otherwise giving it time?
3. Cantore related the new ‘rules’ of social media to his early days in the San Diego radio scene: “It’s not about you, it’s about connecting with the fans. Stay authentic and true to your own personal brand.”
4. Berman highlighted an incredibly successful campaign that his company created for Puma Golf, where players and fans can actually ‘talk’ to the game of golf on the Puma website. This out-of-the box thinking recently helped Berman and Fishtank win “American Marketer of the Year” (AMY) Award from the local chapter of the American Marketing Association. Another great example of creating interactive content and a visual identity that speaks to the target consumer and bucks the traditional golf branding and advertising model.
5. A Flip cam with great content can be extremely effective for small businesses with little or no video budget. Create content that resonates with your audience and gives your brand life. [See my own epic Flip cam production]
6. Look at other industries who are doing great work with content creation. For great video integration, check out “digital storytellers” Emota Inc, today’s sponsor and brains behind some incredible visual content. Other shouts went out to the Foo Fighters, Conan O’brien — and locally to Smashburger, NBC San Diego, and the Fox 5 morning show as good examples.
I enjoyed meeting a few new folks and having the chance to chat with Berman and Cantore, both of whom are completely down-to-earth guys with whom you’d certainly enjoy having a beer and fish taco. I also enjoyed the fact that the focus was on the content – not the platforms/delivery.
Those were my take-aways – if you were there, what did I miss?
Some of you may have heard I’m working on a new project with Tree.com (parent company of LendingTree.com). More to follow on the project as it takes shape, but it’s already getting some buzz in the news…
Here’s the recent article in PDF form if you’d like to share with others.
Here’s the link on WSJ.com.
Prior to the recession, Tree.com Inc. the parent company of LendingTree, which matches mortgage shoppers with lenders, was growing at a fast pace, so much so that it sparked the interest of Barry Diller‘s InterActiveCorp. which bought the company in 2003. Valued at: $726 million
But once the recession took hold and the mortgage industry imploded, LendingTree’s business suffered as consumers largely stopped buying homes and banks cut down on lending. The company’s business declined, and IAC shed it in 2008.
“The feeling was that LendingTree with its mortgage challenges shouldn’t be a question mark on the new media IAC business,” says Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree.
After the sale, Mr. Lebda faced a predicament: How to make the company profitable again without the financial backing from IAC.
With no end in sight for the mortgage sector’s plight, Lebda’s strategy was to diversify LendingTree into new territories outside of home loans.
“Essentially we had to reinvent what LendingTree was,” says Mr. Lebda. After years of hearing companies calling themselves “The LendingTrees” of lawyers, doctors and other professions, Mr. Lebda decided the company should actually become the LendingTree of other industries, replicating the companies initial mortgage model for vertical sites covering healthcare, autos, education, home equity loans and insurance. For example, LendingTree’s auto site gives users access to local dealers, car values and financing options. While the company restructured–it shed over 3,000 employees, bringing the total number of employees down to just 700–it branched out into these other industries.
Sticking to the diversification plan with a quarter of the workforce and pressured resources proved challenging. “IAC spun us out with $100 million in cash, we had to work through a lot of restructuring,” says Mr. Lebda. “And the mortgage industry wasn’t coming back quickly,” he adds. At the same time, he explains, shareholders and investors were saying the company should remain focused on mortgages instead of investing millions in other verticals.
Limited resources were a hurdle: After the layoffs, LendingTree had just 700 employees to handle the mortgage side of the business plus launch the five new verticals.
“To do marketing on a single product is hard, to do marketing on five different products is exponentially harder,” says Mr. Lebda.
Still, Mr. Lebda stuck with his strategy, and it seems to be paying off. Today, 47% of LendingTree’s customers are non-mortgage, and that’s with minimal marketing for the new sites, he says. Over the course of the next year, he plans on having up to 25 verticals. “The new businesses have the opportunity to dwarf the mortgage business,” he says. Had it not been for the recession and the mortgage industry’s demise, Mr. Lebda says he would have never ventured outside of mortgages.
“Given limited capital, resources and time, a lot of people thought it was too long of a putt,” he says. “The recession forced us to reacquaint ourselves with [the company’s] core mission and culture; to reinvent our product and to diversify into new businesses that we would have never explored.”
Tree.com’s profits have been steadily improving since launching the vertical sites. In the third quarter, Tree.com posted a $5.5 million profit, up from a $3.5 million loss a year earlier.
Write to Dana Mattioli at firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a lot of buzz lately about Klout – the website that measures your level of influence on the web using a number of factors taken from your social media activities. Increasingly, people are realizing that engagement and influence are more important that fan/follower counts, and Klout offers a standard of measurement for people to demonstrate their own level of influence (or check on someone else’s influence). Today, Klout announced in a blog post that scores will be automatically refreshed and updated daily (previously, scores could only be calculated weekly and had to be initiated by the user).
Here’s how it works. You start by signing up for Klout using your Twitter login and password, which automatically connects your Twitter account. You can also add your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to give a little more depth to your score (great for people who are more active on those networks and use Twitter primarily as a listening tool).
Klout has developed their own influence matrix that includes 16 categories like “syndicator” or “networker.” Each category comes with a small description of positive traits. I’m listed as a “conversationalist”, so mine reads, “You love to connect and always have the inside scoop. Good conversation is not just a skill, it’s an art. You might not know it, but when you are witty, your followers hang on every word.” Ok, sure.
Klout scores are based not only on the number of followers/friends/fans you have, but also on their influence and reach. When I got a personal reply from Guy Kawasaki (Klout score = 85), I’m guessing that influenced my Klout score a lot more than a reply from others with less influence. Klout also takes into account the likelihood that your content will generate some sort of a response (clicks, retweet, reply, mention, etc). I didn’t find much on how Facebook and LinkedIn can influence your Klout score, but my guess is that it’s similar.
A couple more cool things about Klout: 1. you can enter someone else’s username in the search tool to quickly find out their true influence (at least in Klout terms), and 2. Klout gives you suggestions on influential people who follow you so you may return the favor and follow them back.
Klout also allows users to create a badge for their own website (which I haven’t been able to embed here, so I’ll use a screen shot instead), a hover card (java based), and they have a plug-in for WordPress.org users.
Some of this Klout talk reminds me of Cialdini and his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” There are interesting parallels between Dr. Cialdini’s time-tested theories and online influence.
While it’s interesting at the moment, I’m not sure people will be putting Klout scores on their resume anytime soon. What do you think? Do you have Klout?
This was super easy. I was able to add the Like button to the Rock Out Karaoke (San Diego’s first and best live band karaoke!) website within a matter of minutes following some easy steps.
*Please note that (as I understand it) you must have a hosted WordPress.org site, not the free WordPress.com version to use this, or any, plugins.
1. First, you must find the plugin you’d like to use. I found the “fblikeplugin” to be pretty easy, but to be honest, I didn’t do too much looking around after I saw the recommendation from Search Engine Land’s blog.
2. Next, download the application and save the file (hint: remember where your downloads go – or save it to your desktop). This is a .zip file, but don’t let that scare you – you won’t have to do anything with the actual file except upload into WP.
3. Go to your WP dashboard and click on “Plugins” on the left hand navigation. Click “Add new” and then “upload” along the top.
4. Select the .zip file you downloaded, and then click “Install Now.”
5. You should now have the plugin installed. Go take a look at your site and recent posts to verify. Pretty easy, huh?
One thing I noticed were the defaults put the button both above and below your content. You can edit the default settings and do some minor tweaking of the plugin by clicking on “Settings” and then finding “FBLikeButton” on the left hand navigation.
As far as plugins go, this is one of the easiest I found – and very likely one of the most useful. So do you “like” any of Rock Out Karaoke’s recent blog posts?