What I'm Saying on Twitter

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Where Have All The Women Gone?

    It seems as though the debate over a lack of women in prominent media speaking engagements is raging. Daily, Twitter has been host to some pretty intense discussion around this topic, and the threads only deepen when venturing outside the arena of 140 characters. Blogs, forums, and even corporate sites have begun to delve into the debate as well. Strangely enough, we KNOW the women are out there, but when new media conferences are announced, the list of speakers are mainly men. So this begs the question - where have all the women gone?
    It's too easy to call this an example of sexism - or is it? And does discrimination run deep through the entire industry? While numerous women have worked their way to the top of the media heap, Network World reports that only 8% of management roles in IT are held by women. With this number in mind, the lack of female speakers begins to make sense. In fact, the lack of female speakers may be a symptom of a more serious issue - that of persistent inequality, even in a sector that's perceived as being progressive.
    Of course, organizations that promote the profile and ongoing success of women do exist - Wired Woman is an example, and I am a proud member. The organization is brimming with veteran talent, budding hopefuls, and everything in between. But considering it's 2009, the need for such an organization is astounding . While the new media industry demolished many barriers - the gender gap still exists, and women are feeling its cold shoulder.
    I have stopped attending many industry events - specifically because I'm not interested in seeing the same speakers again and again. New media talent pools run deep, yet we're recycling the same people (men) and the same points of view (male). If social media does nothing else, it must expand our professional networks. We need to look outside our cliques and continue to break barriers that will eventually make even the most creative circles stale. Women who have achieved success in this industry are thriving, and by not sharing their stories, tremendous insight is being lost.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Twitter - Why Do I Do It?

    I'll be the first to admit - I got on the Twitter bandwagon relatively late in the game. Ironically, what kept me from participating was actually their tag line, "What are you doing?". That turned me off because I couldn't find value in the concept - the thought of keeping people posted on the mundane just wasn't relevant. So, it was a good year that passed between hearing about Twitter and finally joining. Once I signed up, I realized I could write my own rules, so to speak, and make the tool work for me in a way that I found valuable.

    Now it's been nearly three months I can't stop Tweeting - I log on almost daily, but I use Twitter in a very specific way. Here are the three core elements of my personal Twitter strategy.

    - Educate and share: Because I like to share current information with my Tweeple, using Twitter forces me to keep up with all the latest happenings in the digital world. Each morning I check a few of my favorite sites (Ad Age, CBC, CNET, NY Times - the list goes on) and post the most interesting tidbits for my followers.

    - Get educated: Part of what I like most about Twitter is following the trends of conversation. What are other people talking about? Is there a new site, a new buzz word, a new person I should know about? Just like I like to keep my Tweeple informed, I look for the same from them. So much of my knowledge about current industry events comes from the information other Tweeple have shared with me.

    - Network: Twitter is a super way to connect with new people - people you may share interests or common work with. Or people who are just plain smart! I don't follow hundreds, and, in turn, I don't have a massive following, but that's partly because I'm very particular. I want to follow people who can teach me new things about the industry I work in. This is a core concept in my Twitter strategy.

    In my opinion, these are three darn good reasons to use Twitter. So many people are still asking why anyone would Tweet (I'm telling you, it's that tag line...). I think the trick is to make it work for you. Try it, identify what you like about it, and work it!

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    cluetrainplus10 :: #77 - You're too busy "doing business" to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we'll come back later. Maybe.

    In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto.

    It's happened to all of us. We try and make contact with a business via email, only to wait in futility, since we never receive a response. This is the online equivalent of waiting at a store counter, but the cashier leaves you standing there like you're invisible. How long would you wait? And if the cashier never came over, would you ever return? Not likely!

    In the mad dash to have some presence online, many businesses create websites just because. These businesses don't realize that when they launch their sites, they pledged an unspoken commitment to tend to them - to keep them updated, to make them relevant, to ensure they remain living, breathing extensions of their business. This means consumers should be able to use these sites the way they would a brick and mortar version. So, emails, like a customer standing at a service counter, should be addressed - and promptly!

    Email carries with it an expectation that someone is listening, and when customers send emails that go unanswered, the message is that their business isn't important enough to acknowledge. Ironically, responding to an email is one of the simplest ways a business can demonstrate professionalism, care, and respect for the customer-base. In fact, an email exchange is a rudimentary form of social media, since it can create a conversation from brand to consumer, building engagement and dialogue.

    The accessibility to business online has given consumers the upper-hand. They can be choosier, since comparison shopping has never been easier - your competitors are just a click away. If you own a business and you have a website, you've got to consider it an influential representation of your brand. Take it seriously, and demonstrate your respect to customers by always reading and responding the email messages they send.

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Will Coke Pioneer A New Agency Model?

    Advertising Age is reporting that Coke is pushing it's media agencies to adopt a new model, where what the agencies are paid is directly tied to the performance of the programs they roll out for Coke. This means in a worst case scenario, if a program bombs, the agency will have their costs covered, and nothing more. For agencies who have typically based project costs on time and materials, this is a huge shift, and puts much more risk on their shoulders.

    The problem this poses for the agencies is that financial projections can no longer be made accurately, since exact payment will never be guaranteed. Profit won't be measured until a program is completed. This means the financial health of agencies can fluctuate, and even top execs won't have a handle on their current status at any given moment. And when financial forecasts are used to plan business growth, this performance-based model will have a very big impact on how agencies are managed.

    Bottom line, with a slumping economy, Coke is sharing the risk of doing business with their media agencies. They're asking agencies to put their money with their mouth is, and take responsibility for delivering results. Conceiving and pitching a concept that's innovative and full of promise will be half the battle. Now, following-through and generating results will be equally important. And with payment being tied to performance, you can bet the level of monitoring and ongoing commitment on the agency side will increase.

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Pump Up The Brand - 5 Social Media Tips

    The evolution of the internet has created more consumer touch points than ever before, giving advertisers tremendous opportunity when it comes to engaging with their audience. And with the emergence of social media platforms, the messaging isn't limited to a one-way dialogue. Consumers are wielding the digital soap box like universal loudspeakers, and they're not shy about it, either. Savvy advertisers have realized, however, that engaging in the conversation is a powerful and cost effective means to improve their brand popularity and profile. Here are 5 tips for using social media to pump life into a brand's equity:

    1. Be there: No brand can afford to be absent from the social media circle. There is no excuse, given that the most prominent platforms are absolutely free to use, aside from the investment of time. Your customers are waiting.

    2. Use a real person: Simply creating a profile on a social media site doesn't cut it. An actual person has to be actively participating, posting comments and responding to conversation. The more senior the person, the more credibility and impact the posts will have.

    3. Listen: The real trick is for marketers to not only post on social media sites, but to listen to what consumers are saying. Think of the value! Forget focus groups - this is unadulterated conversation about your brand! There is no better insight, so monitor, monitor, monitor!

    4. Be real: If something is happening with you brand publicly (especially if it's problematic) address it! You're online to engage in conversations, not to ignore them. Consumers expect accountability and want your point of view.

    5. Show some leg: It's important that your posts show some personality. A good balance between corporate speak and human conversation will make your brand more personable. Your audience will find it easier to relate and feel a stronger affinity to your posts and your brand.

    Bottom line - social media demands a new level of honesty and commitment from brands who are brave enough to take the plunge. You just need to be willing to engage with your customers, listen to them, and learn from them. The connection can leave an indelible impression, and will breathe new life into your brand.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Worried About Online Identity Theft?

    Mashable published an article today about protecting online identity, and it touched on a very interesting form of identity theft that we rarely think about - brandjacking. In short, brandjacking is loosely defined as abusing, exploiting, or maliciously stealing a brand's identify for one's own notoriety. Example - the recent Amazon scandal resulted in a Live Journal blogger claiming responsibility for the hack, despite the fact that Amazon dismissed his claim, and admitted it was an internal error. The blogger brandjacked Amazon's ordeal for his own glory.

    When you consider the accessibility and simplicity of publishing via a number of social networking applications, the potential for brandjacking is huge. As the Mashable article suggests, a golden rule in controlling brand messaging and content is to have presence in the social media space. Own your brand name - create accounts on all major social media networks so that others will have more difficulty trying to claim your identity. More importantly, participate and moderate what's being said when it involves your brand! This is a basic service offered by social media agencies. If you don't have an agency in place, this task is still a critical one that needs to be completed.

    Bottom line - if your brand has no voice, but conversation is taking place, you will lose control of the discussion. This leaves a brand completely vulnerable, and places it's very reputation in the hands of consumers. Given the infinite reach of social media networks, every brand needs to get online and engage with their audience regularly. Things can happen very quickly online (just ask Domino's), and news spreads like wildfire, so don't try to set it and forget it. Create it, manage it, and monitor it - daily!

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    The Way To Win With Outsourcing

    With the web erasing any sense of geographic distance among people, globalization is becoming the norm. And with the current economic state, businesses are looking to other parts of the world to leverage talent, infrastructure, and agility. So it makes sense that outsourcing web and application development has become a hot topic for anyone looking to continue delivering good product with more efficiency. I've been involved in off-shore outsourcing for almost five years, and if planned and executed properly, it can generate tremendous success on a number of levels.

    Write a good RFP - Sadly, I can't count how many RFPs I've read cover to cover, only to wonder what the organization is actually seeking! Always include a brief overview of the project - could be a sentence, a paragraph, or a page, but you need to describe the engagement in simple terms before you delve into deeper details. Be clear about what you expect from your vendor. The RFP process shouldn't be a game of decryption.

    Demand a thorough service level agreement - At the end of the day, regardless of what you thought you were getting, or what the vendor thought you wanted, the only thing than really counts is what's in writing! The SLA must detail the guidelines of the entire working relationship. many good examples can be found through an online search. Go back and forth with your vendor if you have to, but make sure the SLA is comprehensive!

    Establish a contact strategy - How often will you speak with your vendor? On what days, and what is the purpose? Don't let the project get away from you. Stay in close contact with your vendor - participate in the project, and everyone will feel more of a responsibility to one another.

    Commit to it - One of the classic fatal errors any organization can make is not fully committing to a project. Own it - understand it - stay on top of it. If you don't have the time or know-how, hire a reputable, specialized outsource management group. Make sure they have experience and will stand behind the work of the vendor, if they bring them to the table.

    Learn from it - Whether the project is a smashing success, or left something to be desired, consider why. Discuss the project with your vendor and your colleagues to understand if you would change anything next time.

    Outsourcing has proven a very smart alternative for many, many global companies. Although the prospect may be intimidating, a bit of research, and perhaps partnering with a management firm, will ensure you're on the road to success.