My Blog: A Year in Review

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.

My Family at Grand Canyon - Sometime in the 80s

When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:

  1. Write about subjects that interest me, such as marketing, technology, social media, travel, music
  2. Write at least one post per month.

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?

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

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.

I also enjoyed writing (and re-reading this week) all my posts about my family and travel.  Honorable mention goes to my posts on marketing and related events I’ve attended.

So where will the next year take me?  Who knows.  I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.


I’m Famous! Or at Least I Look Like Someone Famous…

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.

I'm on the right. Duh.

What do you think?

Crowdsourcing: Teaching Social Media for Business

I’ve recently been asked by a University of San Diego marketing professor to guest lecture on social media for business in her MBA class.  While other institutions dedicate an entire semester to teaching social media, I’ll be working with a little less time than that:  I’ve got one hour.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

I could probably start by showing Erik Qualman’s “Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh),” but I think they may have already seen that.  I could start with some mind-blowing statistics about the growth of social media.  I could “borrow” some great ideas from presentations from notable gurus, ninjas, authors, and experts I’ve seen over the past three years.  I could even dig up some Harvard Business School case studies on social media for business.  I could do a lot of things, but I have only one hour.

So I thought I’d reach out to you, my regular readers and random guests who stumble upon my humble offerings for some help.

Crowdsourcing:  a term that Wikipedia claims came about in 2006.  A term so new that WordPress throws the spell-check flag (am I spelling it right?).  A term that means asking all of you what I should do with my one hour in front of MBA students who perhaps know more about social media than I assume.

So what do you think?  What should I cover in a marketing class with MBA students in one short hour on social media for business?  Who knows, my best responses might even get a mention in class.

I’d like to be able to point to this blog post as an example of building a social network (that has been cultivated online, as well as in person), asking said network for a little help, and receiving tons of thoughtful, engaging and inspiring feedback.  Is that so much to ask?

Do you have Klout?

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 measures your influence on the social web

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 users.

As for me, I’m listed at a surprisingly high 52.  My alter-ego (@rockoutkaraoke) is listed at 51.

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?

Lessons and Links: 3 Takeaways from 3 Days at a Marketing Conference

After spending 2.5 days at the Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education organized by the American Marketing Association, I’ve definitely come away with a ton of new ideas, energy, and renewed focus.  Below is a quick summary and my top 3 takeaways from the great event.

Attendees included folks from higher education from around the country (and a few I met from other countries).   From what I could gather, most of the participants were from the east coast (as shown by the big map displayed at the readMedia booth.  Note: the map continued to fill up and most of the biz cards were pinned to the wrong coast).

Credit: Amy Mengel, readMedia

First, my top 3 takeaways from the week:

  1. Measuring your efforts is key. At the symposium I attended in Chigago in 2008, measuring social media efforts was still a bit of a mystery to most people. Some argued it could be done, but few believed it could be done with any accuracy. Obviously, many things have changed and there are more ways to measure than ever. I heard it said best this week: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  2. Mobile is one of the highest potential segments for higher ed. Read below for some impressive examples of mobile apps on campus.
  3. You’re not alone. I heard lots of people all expressing similar frustrations regarding centralized control of marketing functions, getting faculty buy-in, branding, logo policing, and more. Incremental progress is the way to go. Many of the presenters talked about 2007/2008 as the year they started some of these initiatives – they’re just now presenting results at a conference. Be patient, be realistic.

Ok, so on to my summary of the experiences I had at the conference.  Day 1 started with an “interesting” keynote from Marita Wesley, director of creative strategy development for Hallmark Cards.  Many people didn’t get her presentation style, as she blew through about 200 slides in a 45 minute talk, often spending no more than 2-3 seconds on a particular slide.  Still, I grabbed a few nuggets from her presentation on trends in 2010 and beyond – including a few interesting books to check out.

The breakout sessions that followed were great for me (we had 4 great choices for breakouts, so it was sometimes difficult to prioritized and decide which to visit).  First up was a session on mobile apps on campus with Lisa Lapin and Tim Flood from Standford University.  The school embraced mobile technology early on, and as a result, they’re pretty far out ahead with their iStanford application (12,000 registered users).  Follow the link for a great look at the features of the app.

Rounding out the morning, I sat in on the presentation by Michigan State and their branding company, 160over90.  I had a chance to talk with the folks from 160over90 and was really impressed with their work (not to mention the college-themed party they threw on Monday night, complete with foosball tables and a movie reel of college movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Rudy)!

The lunch keynote was Spencer Frasher from Google, who mainly talked about the importance of search in all types of marketing (surprise).

Day 2 of the conference was again very valuable, starting with a presentation by Teri Thompson, VP marketing for Purdue University.  Since Teri came from industry, her stories and examples were a bit different from the others we had heard throughout the week – and they were all great.

Tuesday’s lunchtime keynote, Macalester College President Brian Rosenburg, was also very engaging, and quite possibly created the most buzz from those on Twitter.  Just take a look at the video and you’ll see what I mean.  Over 60,000 hits on a low-budget masterpiece that has inspired some great conversations and press for a college of only 2,000 students.  Definitely a social media win!

Tuesday afternoon, Joe Hice from NC State stole the show, again talking about location-based services on campus.  Everyone was floored by this one, since they’re light years ahead of most for-profit businesses (at least from what I’ve seen) regarding their adoption of mobile apps and the full integration of mobile in their entire strategy.  Well done, NC State!

Tuesday ended with more networking and all those drawings that I never seem to win.  You know, drop your business card for a chance at a $100 iTunes gift card – that kind of stuff.  This time,  I actually won something… big… like a 32G iPad from PlattForm Advertising!  I mean, I never even win the $25 bag raffle at Trader Joe’s, so this was a complete surprise.  Thanks again, PlattForm!

So, yeah, I actually won two grand prizes.  Did I mention the $200 Apple Store gift card I picked up from Zone 5?  I actually won by scanning a business card with a QR code – pretty neat idea and had people talking.  Now I can actually go buy a few accessories for the new iPad!

Day 3 started with a great presentation by Dave Kissel from Zocalo Group, a “sustainable word of mouth marketing” company.  Dave focused on the use of social media and provided stories from outside higher ed to show how the fundamentals are still the same.  Finally, we wrapped up the conference with what was more of a conversation between everyone in the room about their best practices, burning questions, and predictions led by Rachel Reuben, Michael Stoner (great blog, by the way, which he used to help create the content of his presentation), and Fritz McDonald.

Some conference attendees wishing they could stay in SD a little longer!

Shout outs are in order to tons of other people I met this week, but the list is pretty long (and so is this blog post).  Amy Mengel created a killer Twitter list of AMA attendees who tweeted using the #amahighered hashtag.  Some of my favorite tweets came from Michael Perrone, Ray Witkowski, Amy Mengel, Rachel Reuben, Michael Stoner, and so many others!  Thanks again to everyone for sharing great ideas and stories.  I hope you all enjoyed our fair city and had some time to get out and see the sights.  See you in Chicago in 2011!

More on Facebook Places vs Foursquare

Facebook made another big announcement yesterday regarding its Facebook Places application. They’re now giving businesses the chance to offer several different types of deals for people who check in using their smartphone. As usual, Mashable did the best job of summarizing the announcement and what it means for consumers and businesses.  Read the Facebook blog post to see some interesting comments.

A Fast Company article this morning asked the obvious questions: does this mean the end for Groupon and Foursquare?  I asked the same question about Foursquare in my blog post from about a month ago when the popular location-based application went down for several hours over a couple of different days.  I argued that no one really cared, despite the amount of press and endless discussion created by the outage.

Photo credit: Tony Avelar/AP

As a consumer, I think there is a great opportunity for businesses to use location-based deals.  For some reason, though, I still don’t see many businesses taking advantage of Foursquare deals.  Perhaps it’s a lack of familiarity with Foursquare and its capabilities?  Maybe they don’t recognize the potential for offering deals?  In an effort to educate businesses, Facebook has created a video to help them their own deals.

Regarding the question on Foursquare’s future… I typed “foursquare” into my Google search bar today and the first suggestion was “foursquare down.”  Is Google trying to tell us something?  Is Foursquare going down?

How to Add the Facebook “Like” Button to your WordPress Blog

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 site, not the free 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?