Caine’s Arcade: Another Story About the Power Social Media

I first heard about Caine’s Arcade on Tuesday morning when I saw a friend post on Facebook and another on Twitter.  I watched the 10-minute film during lunch and enjoyed the well-made short documentary about a 9-year-old boy in East LA who made an entire arcade out of used auto parts boxes and other materials from his dad’s shop.  Turns out, this has become another great example of the power of social media.

Caine's Arcade

Filmmaker Nirvan Mullic and his crew at Interconnected made the film, apparently last fall.  The movie describes how Nirvan stumbled across Caine’s Arcade one day and asked if he could make a film about it.  Nirvan, one of Caine’s only customers, enjoyed playing the homemade games so much that he organized a flash mob using a Facebook event invitation.  Word spread quickly as the event invitation was picked up by Reddit and eventually the local news affiliates.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

It wasn’t clear exactly how many people showed up at the flash mob meeting at Caine’s Arcade, but it was certainly enough to make his day (as evidenced by his huge smile and comments during the film’s “outtakes”).

When I first saw the story on Tuesday around lunch time, Caine’s Arcade had about 5,000 likes on Facebook and he was just shy of his scholarship goal of $25,000.  By the time I went to bed, there was still plenty of buzz around the story, so I checked in and noticed that he had more than 15,000 likes.

As of this writing, his college scholarship fund has raised nearly $75,000, his story on Vimeo is quickly approaching a million views, and his Facebook count is near 25,000.

What’s more telling are the overwhelmingly positive comments surrounding Caine’s story:

Hundreds more can be found on the Vimeo page, including people wanting a Caine’s Arcade t-shirt, well wishers, and overall positive vibes.  It’s definitely contagious:  I kinda want my own fun pass.

Happy Wednesday – do something nice for someone today!

Photo and video credit:  cainesarcade.com

7 Facts About Content Sharing on the Web

It’s no secret that the American Marketing Association hosts great events to educate, support, and connect marketing professionals.  I’m continually blown away by the quality of the content I get at each of the events, and this past week was no exception.  [Disclaimer: I’ve been an AMA member since 2008 and currently serve as VP of Membership for 2011-2012]

Thursday’s event featured Kristin Kovner, Senior Director of Marketing, AOL Advertising.  Kristin’s presentation, “Is Content the Fuel of the Web?” included recent findings from a case study done by AOL and Nielsen on internet users’ habits and attitudes on the major social networks.  In a nutshell, she broke down what types of content people share, with whom they share it, and on which social networks this is all taking place.

Here are my top 7 takeaways from Kristin’s data-filled presentation:

  1. Email is not dead.  Despite what some people will tell you, email is still the most popular place that internet users share content.  66% of internet users share content by email, as compared with only 28% on our beloved social networks.
  2. Industry-specific conversations get the most love.  Research showed that 60% of social media posts (mainly Facebook and Twitter) that are industry specific include an explicit brand mention.  Tweets from industry-specific conversations contain a link to some type of content (usually product information) a remarkable 73% of the time (as compared with only 42% of the time for conversations not related to a specific industry).
  3. 99% of people sharing via social networks are sharing via multiple platforms.
  4. Social network sharers are 17% more likely to be femaleexcept on Google+ (which wasn’t included since this study was done in Q1 of 2011).
  5. People tend to share with their close networks of trusted friends – not publicly (despite Facebook’s continued efforts to make privacy settings so confusing you don’t know who you’re sharing with).  This one may be a little harder for power users on Twitter to understand, since they sometimes tend to broadcast everything to everyone.
  6. Only 4% of shared content links back to a company website.  This one is important.  Businesses have to realize that conversations about their brands are happening in places other than their site and most of it never sends consumers to a company URL.
  7. Marketers can capitalize on people’s sharing habits in two ways.  1). Produce branded, sharable content (think videos with your products in them that are easy for people to share – like the Coca-Cola happiness machine campaign); and 2).  Be present with display advertising when the conversations are taking place away from your website (think display ads on YouTube for viral videos not produced by your company/affiliates, but related to your product or industry).

All in all, it was a great presentation – a flurry of numbers, but great information for those of us looking to “engage” consumers where they interact most.  The full report (along with other great research presentations) can be found on the AOL Advertising site.

Does anything above surprise you about how content is shared on the web?

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.

The New Rules for Content

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?

2.

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.

Screen shot from Puma.com/golf

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?

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?

Facebook in Argentina

I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Buenos Aires with the most interesting professor in the world and several students from the University of San Diego’s MS in Global Leadership program.  They were studying business strategy in the global environment and I had the chance to tag along.

As a digital marketer, I like to pay attention to how businesses are using technology in their marketing mix.  In Buenos Aires I wasn’t surprised to find that traditional billboard advertising was very prevalent.  I also wasn’t surprised to see that most (if not all) contained some sort of URL.  It was extremely rare, however, to see a Facebook URL or icon – or any other mention of social media – in traditional advertising.  I also don’t recall seeing a single QR code.  Not much of this came as a surprise, since the country is still considered to have a ‘developing’ economy.

What did surprise me was the extensive use of Facebook pages by the local government (of all people!).  In fact, “el Gobierno de la Ciudad” does a great job with Facebook pages.  In nearly all of the public spaces, plazas, monuments, and parks, I saw signs like this one that directed visitors to a Facebook page that included a map of the area, photos, and lots of information.

As a first time visitor to the Facebook page, I was directed to a “Welcome” tab, which had a prominent call to action – “like us!”

Since returning home, I’ve done some digging and found at least 55 different pages created by the city of Buenos Aires.  Many of these pages have quite a bit of activity from different visitors – well wishes, comments, and questions.  What’s great is that the community administrator does a nice job of responding and really being part of the conversation.  They’ve actually created 55 different online communities for these public spaces.  It’s interesting to note that these aren’t all huge parks and major attractions, but rather small neighborhood public spaces.  Additionally, many of the Facebook pages include links to SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and other rich content.

So the city government in Buenos Aires has Facebook pages dialed in.  Maybe private industry will follow.  What overseas ‘best practices’ in social media have you noticed?

Three Creative Uses of Location Based Services

Over the past several months, I’ve gotten more interested in location-based apps (sometimes called location-based services, or LBS) and the incredible potential this idea has for businesses.  In my previous blog posts on the subject (regarding Foursquare’s downtime and the announcement of Facebook Places), I’ve maintained that these mobile apps have brought no real value to my life thus far – not because of the services themselves, but because of the lack of creativity in creating meaningful, valuable marketing campaigns that engage customers.  Lately, I’ve seen more progress and I’m happy to share a couple of the good ones.

Facebook Places – Southwest Airlines and Make-A-Wish Foundation team up for charity

I like this one because I volunteer with Make-A-Wish as an airport greeter, meeting “wish kids” and their families coming to San Diego from out of town.  When you check in with Facebook Places at a Southwest Airlines airport, they’ll donate a $1 to MAW Foundation.  Better yet, they walk you through the process in case you haven’t done much checking in.  The result is an easy, effective and charitable way to use location-based apps.  Make-A-Wish Foundation raises money, SWA gets more check-ins and earns some social capital.  Pat on the back to everyone who worked on this campaign.

Me with Wish Kid Arieus

Foursquare and the History Channel

You’ve got to hand it to the History Channel on this one.  They’ve actually added factual, historical content as a ‘tip’ at what appears to be hundreds of location pages on Foursquare.  Sure they cover the typical monuments, parks, & museums you’d expect, but I found tons of businesses and other attractions on their list.  Because the folks at the History Channel have their facts straight and include a little more information in their tips, many more people are inclined to check the “I’ve done this!” box, keeping their tips at the top.  Check out an example with the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.  The History Channel adds more than just, “go see the water show,” and in return gets much more action on their tips.  I’m curious to know if this has affected their viewer ratings on cable, increased web traffic, or raised any other performance metrics.  Anyone got any inside info?

Gowalla Giveaways

Gowalla has spent most of the month of December giving away stuff for people who check in – things like watches, backpacks, Southwest Airlines travel vouchers.  I haven’t signed up for Gowalla yet, but judging by some of these incentives, I might have to give it another look.

What examples have you seen of creative and valuable new uses of location based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places?

Why Netflix Streaming is Disappointing

I’ve been a fan of Netflix for quite some time now.  I started my first subscription a few years ago and I’ve watched a lot of movies since.  I get a lot of junk mail, so I still enjoy seeing that red Netflix envelope when it arrives.  I’ve even started streaming movies and TV shows at home since I recently won an iPad at a conference, and to be frank, I’m not that impressed.

First and foremost, the video quality just isn’t very good.  I’m sure there are some very technical explanations about streaming high definition content, bandwidth restrictions, and the like – but the bottom line is that the picture quality is lacking.  When I pop a DVD in the machine, it works great most of the time.  Why can’t I get that on my iPad?

Second, the streaming movie selection is still severely lacking.  The Netflix blog says, “The fact is that Netflix members are already watching more TV episodes and movies streamed instantly over the Internet than on DVDs, and we expect that trend to continue.”  Really?  I find that hard to believe.  Only 6 (yes, six) out of the Netlfix Top 100 movies are available for watching instantly (as of Dec 9, 2010).  A quick scan of the popular new releases (titles such as The Karate Kid (the new version), Iron Man 2, and Avatar) shows that none of these can be watched on my iPad.  Even movies that were previously available for streaming (e.g. Step Brothers) are no longer available.

Finally, and this may be related somewhat to my first point, I’ve experienced a lot of freezing or pauses in the playback while streaming.  This might have something to do with the strength of the wireless signal in my house – but it’s still worth mentioning.

All this and a rate hike too?  Yup, Netflix announced recently that they’ll be raising my monthly plan by $1.  Will that money go toward solving some of the technical issues?  We’ll see.

As an aside, I’ve gotten a kick out of the famous Netflix recommendation engine.  This might need a little tweaking too.  Here’s an example:  Netflix recommends the 1966 surf classic The Endless Summer for me, based on my interest in SNL: The Best of Chris Farley.  Huh?  Yeah, because nothing says summer, surfing and traveling around the world more than Farley trying to keep his pants pulled up and not giggle at David Spade during SNL sketches.

The real question is, why hasn’t Netflix gone social?  When I’m on Pandora and logged into Facebook, I can see all my friends who like the same weird songs I do.  Why doesn’t Netflix adopt a similar model?  Personally, I think they’re missing a huge opportunity.

Netflix, you still have a ways to go.  You can start by bringing Step Brothers back to the streaming catalog – along with most other good movies that are still DVD-only options.  At the same time, get some engineers to figure out how to stream a better quality product.

So what do you think, dear reader?  Am I way off base here?

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 WordPress.org 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!