Videos With the Personal Touch

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is an online startup-funding site. The official description is “a funding platform for creative projects.” It’s a chance to invest in projects and products for regular folks. You don’t need a ton of dough to participate and there are some very unique opportunities. Paticipants are given a chance to showcase their project or product and are allowed a certain amount time to reach their funding target goal.

One such project is Spark. The device they are looking to manufacture provides the ability to control lights via the internet. Think turning lights on and off with your smartphone or a light flashing when you receive a text message. While I had chance to meet the founder of this company, Zach Supalla, and was immediately impressed with him, what drew me to the project was the video they made.

Think about this, your company is given a short amount of time to convince someone, most likely someone who has know idea who you are, to invest money in your project. How are you going to find a way to tell your story…convincingly…quickly.

I think Zach pulled it off by putting together a video that accomplished many things in a short amount of time:

  • He showed his enthusiasm, knowledge and sincerity without doing anything fancy. No stunts, no comedy, just him talking to the camera.
  • He created a connection with the viewer by sharing a very personal story about his deaf father and the important role light played in everyday communication.
  • He didn’t get bogged down in the tech and spent his time more in the experience.

Zach also has a compelling demo set up to serve as s next step in using his device. It started with a lighting a light in their office via Twitter and now, controlling the holiday display at his house.

The next time you do a video in hopes of convincing someone…whether it’s to invest money, buy a product, or give you a call…think about keeping it real, personal and sincere. You’ll see some great results.

There’s Content and Then There’s the Right Content.

I was scrolling though my Facebook feed this morning…as many of us do…and noticed an update from a radio station that I use to program in Des Moines. It was what I consider a pointless status update, more of a commercial than an update really. I’m sure most would just scroll by or delete it. Being in the content building business, I headed to their page. Oh boy…

A quick bit of  background here: 95 KGGO is a Rock station that, over the past 35+ years has evolved into a Classic Rocker. They’ve always been a monster in the market and set the tone for rock in central Iowa for years. Personally, my 13 years there as Promotions and Program Director generate some of the best memories I have of my days “in radio.” Like many stations it has become less local and live staff has become scarce. I’m sure a favorite station of yours “isn’t what it use to be.” But this is not about whining about the “good ol’ days” of radio. The fact is, the way the business of broadcasting is done has changed. However, the need to build audience and create fans has not.

That brings me back to their page. It does little if anything to make anyone care about KGGO. It does little to tell me about what and who they are. It does little to make me love them. It does EVERYTHING to sell me something. And that is exactly why they are failing in taking advantage of Facebook as a way to create passionate, lasting fans.

I’ve noted the problem areas in the screenshot on the left. (Click on it to open a larger version)

  1. The ‘About Us’ doesn’t tell me about them. It offers a phone number that, when called, went unanswered. This station has heritage (note 35+ years of it above), is there really nothing you can tell me about?
  2. The “Listen Live” image/link takes me to a page that has no audio and no information listed. If you’re going to have a “listen” link there, I really ought to hear something.
  3. There is soooooo much content dedicated to “pimping” the station and contesting. For years, the effectiveness of “caller number nine” contests on radio has proven to be nil. Why would anyone think it would be great to promote it on Facebook?
  4. Holy crap! Some actual personality content. I love the South Park version of on-air guy, Clutch. There’s an actual attempt at interaction with fans. Sadly, it goes no further than one question. There’s no conclusion. The photo of the guy with the hat (on larger version) is hilarious. While I’m sure the first reaction by the station brass is that they would not like this guy to show up at a client. However, the thing to do is embrace him. Make this guy the Fan of the Week. Too much fun is possible here.

What kind of content creator would I be if I didn’t offer some additional ideas on what to post that someone would really care about, keep them coming back and (shocker) actually listen to the station. Okay, along with what I’ve already mentioned, here you go:

  1. Involve your fans. Why not check out some of the pages of your fans and share something they are sharing. Keep it light-hearted and don’t get personal. If their sharing a link to something the station is known for, share it. Don’t share personal tragedy or hardship. You want them to like you…
  2. More photos of events…with fans.
  3. Snippets of on air audio.
  4. Comments from the staff. In this case Bob and Tom, a syndicated show, isn’t in house and can’t comment on every affiliate’s page. But, they are commenting on their own page. Share it.
  5. Video, video, video! Create your own, share music videos, comment on Youtube.

So, who’s’ going to do all this? Start with the person that seems to have plenty of time to post ads and promos for contests now, but also involve everyone of the people at the station. They’ve probably got more ideas! By the way, have they all “Liked” your page?

Sadly, KGGO is not alone here. It’s a challenge each and every day with each and every project to keep fresh and compelling content coming. It’s not easy and it’s really not free but, it is worth it. so, Do it for the fans!

A Twitter Tale…From the Riverbank

No too long ago I was talking with Sean, at one of RemainComm’s great clients, about how to manage updates to Twitter. One of the strategies with this particular client revolves around thought leadership marketing. I wanted to share this analogy I used to explain how best to feed the stream with our relevant tweets.*

When thinking about how most use Twitter, consider this; A single tweet floats along the endless Twitter river while the follower sits calmly on the bank (at their desk or on the phone). Imagine if that follower happens to close their eyes for a short nap (works or takes a call). If you’ve posted three tweets in a short period of time, those three tweets floated by as they are blissfully slumbering. Of course, when they wake they can run down the bank (scroll through their feed) and look for what has already gone down stream, but they’re only going to run (scroll) so far. I believe there is a better chance of reaching them if one of those tweets floats by after they wake up (gets back to their feed). Then another floats by when they walk down the bank for home.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. For example, if you’re live tweeting an event or participating in a conversation. On those occasions the follower is sitting on the bank or standing on a bridge for the purpose of watching the river.
Bottom line: Spread out your tweets or use a scheduling function available on many management systems (Hootsuite, etc) to spread out the tweets. You spend the same amount of time posting but you get better results.

*This story inspired by Hammy and Tales of the River Bank

Mind the Gap: Back To the Blog

Many have asked, “Why haven’t you been blogging at RemainComm?” I guess it has been a while…ok… a  long while. There really isn’t much of an excuse. It’s not like I don’t have anything to say.

But here’s the thing: I have been blogging…and producing audio and video…a lot. Just not here. When I decided to narrow the scope of what I do at RemainComm to content creation, I found it more important to concentrate on what I was doing for clients. I have spent most of my time blogging, updating Facebook pages and tweeting for a myriad of different businesses or people and frankly, I believed they deserve the attention. So, with a desire to not be totally engulfed in screen, mic or camera time I decided to let the RemainComm blog slide.

Let me clarify, I haven’t been ghost writing for anyone. I’m not a big believer in that, especially in social media. I have been providing, and will continue to provide premium content, to those looking to use it in whatever medium works for the message. (For example, you can see some of my posts on mobile for a Twin Cities based software firm here.) I’ve also been educating others in communicating in this ever changing landscape.

So, why am I back to it now? For many reasons, including: sharing what I have learned, expressing more opinions about the current state of media and communication and, like the people and companies I work with, I want to increase my own business.

So, as they say in the London Underground, “mind the gap” between this post and many others. And look for more posts more often…here and elsewhere. And if you’d like to talk about bringing premium content to your online, on-air or mobile efforts…well, just contact RemainComm.

Will “Social Network” Play In Peoria?

The new Facebook movie is time well spent but will the non-geek enjoy it?

Thanks to Columbia Pictures and Social Media Breakfast MSP, I was able to check out an advance screening of the soon to be released “The Social Network”. The movie is based on the 2009 book “Accidental Billionaires”, the story of the rise of Facebook and it’s founder Mark Zuckerburg. (Leave it to a movie about a social network to get me blogging again after a long absence.)

What lured me to this movie, beyond of course my ongoing interest in Social Media, was the writing and cast. I’m a fan of Aaron Sorkin, known by most as the writer for TV’s “The West Wing”, and I was anxious to see this latest offering. I was also interested in the young cast, many of whom you may have never seen or known you’ve seen. I was particularly interested in seeing Justin Timberlake. From N’Sync to SNL and everything in between, this cat has proven himself to be very talented.

Since many in the audience secured seats through SMBMSP, this was a group of social media enthusiasts and expectations were high. We in this space tend to share everything that we do while we do it via Twitter and photo sharing. Since this was an advanced screening where the studio didn’t want anything to get out, we were asked to surrender our mobile phones. So the entertainment began early as many in the theater showed visible signs of social media withdrawal. Heck, many couldn’t even tell the time with out it. (One word: wristwatch.)

The Review

Both cast and writing did not disappoint. Jesse Eisenberg brought a real complexity to Zuckerburg. Between his handling of Zuckerburg’s anti-hero persona and the need to convey his almost autistic like behavior, he managed to portray a passionate asshole. Someone you can’t help but like and despise at the same time.

Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin provided a great counterpoint to Eisenberg’s Zuckerburg as a ‘brilliant in his own right’ room-mate that provided the root of what Facebook becomes. He is lovable and naive as one of the many jilted participants in the founder’s rise to brilliance.

I’m also happy to say that Timberlake impressed as the founder of Napster. He is the one who hypnotizes Zuckerburg with his confidence, arrogance, and vision of what the Silicon Valley lifestyle could be; an endless whirlwind of coding, drugs, coding, booze, coding, and babes. Oh yeah..and money.

“The internet’s not written in pencil Mark, it’s written in ink.”

I think you’ll also dig the performances of: Armie Hammer in his dual role as the Winklevos twins and Rooney Mara as the girl who pushes Zuckerburg to spend the night coding his revenge for her dumping of him over beers. Those parents of young kids will be happy to see Disney Channel star Brenda Song make the leap to the big screen as Facebook “groupie”. An though the plot twist is somewhat unnecessary, she becomes less than wholesome as she proves to be a bit whacked as Eduardo’s girlfriend.

Sorkin’s writing shines as his face-paced, sarcastic, and caustic wit works well in the telling of a story that is itself all of those things. He provides great lines for Zuckerburg that are funny and sad and cutting…all at the same time. He also brings out the telling traits of the Winklevoss twins as they establish themselves as a coders nemesis; the “suits” that are the business of the web. Oh…the music from Trent Reznor also seriously does not suck.

Hello Peoria

Speaking of that business of the internet…My question is, as the saying goes, “Will it play in Peoria?” The audience, with whom I shared the theater, were of the business or at the very least a participant in it, clearly enjoyed the film. I’m sure most would give it thumbs up, 5 stars, 5 tweets, or whatever. Will the average person enjoy it? Is Joe six-pack interested in the rapid rise of Harvard internet geek with a hoodie obsession to billionaire with access to an infinite number of bytes of information…with a hoodie obsession?

Obviously, time will tell once the movie is released October 1st. I find it difficult to detach myself from my own workings within the space. Being part of media makes it difficult to not critique it. (I    still turn up the radio when the music stops.) But, if you are into some fast-paced writing, clever dialogue, good character development and a dash of Animal House this is a movie for you.

Of course, if you are a fan of the lure of Silicon Valley millions, all night computer coding, actually believe that “the babes” love a successful geek, or are even a rabid Facebooker and tweeter, with a taste for Animal House, this is also for you…whether you live in Peoria or not.

EVO Woos Me Into Early Adoption

Unlike Angelina Jolie, it takes me awhile to decide to adopt something…and it’s no easy task for me to make a commitment to the first generation of anything. However, I did just that. I am the proud owner of a new HTC EVO. Yep, it’s true. I got up early stood in line, endured the slow computers at my Sprint store, plunked down my $299 (accepting the hassle of the mail-in rebate) and walked out on the cutting edge of mobile…at least until Monday afternoon when Steve Jobs rolled out iPhone 4.

Why the EVO? Well, in fact, my experience with the HTC Incredible, which I reviewed here a view weeks back, paved the way for my decision. Rather than list all of the features that this Android device offers, I’ll just highlight those that were more appealing about the EVO.

First, size was a consideration for me…go ahead, I’ll wait patiently while you make the compulsory “size matters” jokes…done?..OK. As I noted, the Incredible was just a bit too streamlined for me and the EVO is substantially larger in over all size to accommodate the 4.3″ screen. I like the feel of this phone in my rather long hands. Though it might be just a bit too big, I can deal with that in light of the larger screen. And while the display as Breon Nagy points out, isn’t quite as crisp as the smaller device, it’s still light years ahead of my coal-fired Treo 755p.

Another plus for the EVO is the front facing camera. With a Qik app and a Skype app on the way, I like the ability to do some video conferencing wherever I am. I know, Mr. Jobs rolled out Facetime for the iPhone 4 just days after the EVO launch. But that’s still on the less than stellar AT&T network. By the way, the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera still comes in higher than Apple’s 5 megapixel version.

What really sealed the deal for me was much more simple than all of this combined-Sprint service. As I mentioned more than once, I am a long-time Sprint customer and the pricing made it easy for me to add the EVO to my other three phones. Even with some poor past history and the extra $10.00 a month for the increased data, it was much cheaper to stay rather than jump to Verizon..even with there superior (or so people say)  network. Add to that the kick-butt service I got from Evan (props) at the Sprint store in Apple Valley on past upgrades and the pending launch of 4G here in the Twin Cities and hopping on the train to EVO-land was a no-brainer.

Though I never suspected I would be “one of those guys” who waited in line for the first gadget (in my daughter’s words, “nerd alert”) I had a great time on launch day. Check out the video of the morning’s events below. And look for the top of this early-adopters head at the next conference as I tweet, surf and snap on my state-of-the-art (for now) smartphone.

Now, That’s Incredible Mobile

Some time back I shared that I would be leaping from my steam driven and coal fired Palm Treo to the then brand spanking new Palm Pre. I was met with a price plan that prohibited me from making that commitment. Thank God! I was thankfully spared from investing in what my friend Lisa Foote now calls “a dead phone walking.”

Since that time I have been patiently waiting for a phone that fulfilled my mobile needs. One that offered all the utility I seek (fast web, good service, access to apps, plenty of power) while still having a look and feel that didn’t say, “I’m sensible..not sexy.” I have a Volvo wagon that handles that just fine, thanks.

Last week the fine folks at Verizon offered me a chance to take the HTC Incredible, officially labeled the Droid Incredible, for a spin. The Incredible is on my short list of phones to which to commit, along with the iPhone (on anything but AT&T), or the HTC EVO and I was anxious to put the phone and it’s Android platform through it’s paces.

Disclaimer: This won’t be an overly “techie” review. Those who develop and program for the smartphone market are far more qualified to do that. In fact, Breon Nagy does a stellar job in his latest review. Mine will be from a more hands on “do all the bells and whistles really work for me” viewpoint. Yes, there will be a bit of spec verbiage, but I’ll try and answer the “Yeah, but what does that mean.” questions. Should you crave a little geek speak, you can see the full specs here.

Let’s get started. When unboxing this phone I distinctly heard a distant chorus of angels. Now hold up…this isn’t an all sunshine and rainbows review…there are some things that bother me about this phone, but Verizon’s Incredible delivers a damn good looking phone, so I was visually impressed right away. It’s a look and feel is sleek and sexy, something the flagship Droid, with it’s hard edges and multi-layer design, failed to deliver. The front slick black design with only a small, well recessed track-ball and the slightly rounded edges of the device feel good in the hand. The “topographical” back puzzles me a bit but it’s flat black finish does make it easier to hold on to what looks as slippery as a buttered newt.

I’m not thrilled by the narrowness of the phone in my rather long hands, nor am I crazy about how the camera lens of the hefty 8 megapixel camera protrudes so much, but the features and benefits of both make it easy to get past this. My guess is that a protective case will alleviate both issues should you decide to use one.

The Incredible is currently “state of the art” in the Android arena. Running on Android 2.1 (the latest version) and offering 3G connectivity this bad boy is plenty powerful. Upon turning the phone on with the top mounted power button the 3.7 inch screen jumped to life. It’s clear, colorful and easy to read. I even found it so in direct sunlight.

The phone offers good-looking wallpaper choices including “Live” wallpaper. The moving colorful wallpaper would have kept me entertained for hours back in the partying’ days of college. Kinda like your own little Who concert light show. The ability to customize the desktop to your liking is available in seven different screens. These screens are part of the Sense user interface and allow you to divide up the content the way you want as well as offering established themes (Travel, Social, etc.) with a host of available widgets.

Being a big fan of a real keyboard I was concerned about adapting to the virtual keyboard the Incredible sports. I was pleasantly surprised. The “keys” are quite large in landscape but even in portrait view, I had little to complain about. The web browsing and access was lightning quick (relatively speaking) thanks to the Snapdragon processor.

I was able to take advantage of some of those apps and widgets I mentioned during the short time I had the phone. I navigated to a few destinations with the turn by turn directions offered as part of Android Google maps app and tried a host of Twitter apps (ultimately settling on HootSuite Lite). I was looking forward to using the the FM radio app, which requires you to plug in earbuds for an antenna. In a word, the FM radio blows. Reception was poor even with strong city-grade signals. Consumers always name the FM tuner as a feature they want included in their MP3 device. It’s too bad this doesn’t deliver more than the look of FM and not the sound.

My MP3 library sounded fine and allowed me the appropriate amount of crankage for individual tracks. The hefty amount of on-board memory and the SD card slot offers plenty of room for even the heftiest of libraries. App-wise, I found easy access to most of what I was looking for in the Marketplace and the phone offered no hiccups or problems as I added and deleted applications.

Of note is that third party applications available for the phone will require that SD card to run them. The card easily plugs into the side of the phone under that back cover and Verizon will give you a free 2GB card if you purchase an Incredible before May 31st. This is a memory management thing that I’m sure will be fixed in later versions. But for now the extra space you get with the card doesn’t hurt!

The camera quality is a real standout for the phone…OK, it kicks ass. The 8 megapixel camera delivered great photos and video recording. My iPhone lovin’, 3 megapixel camera slave colleagues were quite impressed. The dual LED flash is a nice addition for indoor shooting though it can leave subjects a bit washed out if you’re too close.

With a device such as this battery life is always a concern. Though I gave the Incredible quite a work out, I didn’t find myself cursing a low battery. I spent the entire day live blogging and Tweeting from the Minnesota High Tech Association conference and had no issues. I used up about 3/4 of the battery but the ability to charge the phone via it’s USB cable (and included wall adapter) made it easy to get a little bump when needed.

A quick note about coverage area. Being one who is currently a free agent when it comes to cell service (I’m out of contract on all three of the phones in my account) I was anxious to get a taste of the Verizon network. While I never dropped a call, the “one bar” of service I get at my home south of Minneapolis is not better than my Sprint coverage. In downtown Minneapolis, I wallowed in four screaming bars and 3G…but I don’t live there. Kind of disappointing…but not a deal-breaker.

Why? Because this phone is all that and a bag of chips. I think the whole quest of the “iPhone killer” is pointless (though incredibly flattering to Mr. Jobs and company) but you would have to consider the Incredible on par with it. Maybe it’s the iPhone “wounder”.  The phone delivers ease of use, plenty of power, all the apps you’ll really need and access to a rabid Android community. That community is so into the platform they will gladly step out and help any “noob” who needs some assistance.

Pre-orders are being taken now online and the phone itself hits stores on April 29th. The cost is set at $199.00 including a 2-year commitment and after an instant rebate. You’ll need the voice and text plan data plan as well as the data plan to use the Incredible. If you go with an individual plan, you’ can get into this bad boy for about $80 a month.

(Photo courtesy of Pixar and Phandroid)

You Are a Publisher

I recently attended MinneWebCon at the University of Minnesota as part of Minnov8’s coverage and live blogging of the event.

One of the real highlights was the morning keynote from Brain Traffic’s CEO, Kristina Halvorson. In her relaxed and lively presentation she was able to convey the importance of content on your company, or even personal, website. In this clip from her presentation she talks about who the content publishers are (everyone who has anything to do with the site) and how they should approach creating and maintaining a site.

Her views on an uncluttered and focused content strategy, as well as who is responsible for it, emphasizes the need for attention to that strategy early on in the process.

I’d love to know your thoughts!

Google At a Glance

The folks over at Pingdom, with a bit of time on their hands, put together this cool infographic of all stuff Google. Love ’em or not, you can’t help but be impressed by “the internet company.”

Catching Up With Chris

On his recent visit to the Twin Cities I grabbed lunch with Chris Brogan. Chris, President of New Marketing Labs and a Social Media Rock star, enjoyed a Juicy Lucy and brought me up to date with his latest adventures.

There are a growing list of Social Media Experts out there, but Chris is the real deal when it comes to listening, learning, and doing. He also goes further than most in sharing and teaching and he remains very accessible and approachable.

Chris, thanks for clogging my arteries and filling my brain.

What Do You Expect From a Name Badge?

No matter what you or I do for a living there is always a convention, summit, conference, or workshop… or better yet…a heap of them, that will “better equip us” to do our job. Such is the case in my media, marketing and communication world. My question to you is: When you check in at the event registration, are they handing you a name badge that will get you access to what you expect or even want?

On my mind is a recent event inside the always buzzy world of Social Media here in the Twin Cities…but it could be any industry focused event.

Following an event to kick off a Reputations program featuring Social Media rock star Chris Brogan I noted a few comments in the social media stream (Twitter and Youtube) expressing a level of frustration with the event. No, I did not attend the event…though I know many who did.

The nature of the comments revolved around hearing the same message and seeing the same people at every event.

A blog post noted “the local social media faithful arrived to hear from one of its titans”, “social media is having a hard time growing up” and “There were few if any major company executives in the room yesterday. This is the non-existent elephant in the room.” The point being that there were plenty of people who believe and “get” the social media opportunities in attendance, but few if any who need to “get” it.

I also came across a video posted on YouTube a notes seeing “a lot of the same faces”, “I knew 50-60% of the people here already” as well as “it’s the same group of people getting recycled information.”

I’ve heard this from others too. Heck, I even noted an “echo chamber” existing here myself some months back.

Whether an echo chamber exists or not, my question is: What are you expecting when you go to an event? If someone wants to evangelize social media to non-social media actives, events like this one may not necessarily be the place to do it. The term “preaching to the choir” comes to mind.

If you’re in the social media biz, you know Chris Brogan. In this case, I’m sure the event delivered what was billed: “gather leaders and experts on the topic of building, managing and protecting reputations.” and “to bring local and national thought leaders together to discuss the intangibles around reputation.” Perhaps they fell short on delivering enough of those “business owners and key decision-makers in Minnesota-based companies” event organizers hoped “to inform, educate and inspire”. But don’t complain about the message.

I’m sure information about social media, social media marketing, case studies and everything else associated with it was delivered by a successful, likable, and sincere authority with the added cache of people knowing who he is.

Perhaps, Social Media “faithful”, you were in the wrong place! The many events that continue to deliver this social media message are doing just that, many quite well. You could approach it like Robyn pointed out in her comments on the YouTube video, “I still learn alot from my peers here, and almost always walk away having gained some value or new contact.” or not…but don’t expect these events to whip potential clients into a frenzy so you can swoop in at the post event cocktail party and sell them your or your company’s services. I’m pretty sure it’s more work than that.

If it’s your expectation is to spread the word to those that haven’t heard it, don’t go to an event that has people like you. Hunt where the ducks are and concentrate on choosing events that deliver who you want to reach. Or if you go to an event that appeals to you, maybe bring your own ducks! In this case how about taking those potential clients to the event.

In any business, profession or practice, there is plenty of opportunity to hear the same message again and again. Your choices will always be listen, don’t listen, or say something new!

Take a look at the next event. Why are you going? Will you hear something new? Can you add something new? Does it have a chance to meet your expectations?

You are only operating in an echo chamber if you choose to enter it.

The FTC Guides Explained…By the FTC

Recently I was invited to join IP Attorney Ernest Grumbles for an edition of his BP/G Radio Intellectual Property Podcast. Along with his co-host Joe Bennett-Paris we had the chance to talk with Mary K. Engle, Associate Director, FTC Division of Advertising Practices about the infamous Guides for the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

As I pointed out in a prior post, these guides are nothing new in the broadcast world, but seem to have a few bloggers and online marketers a bit twitchy.

I was happy to have the chance to talk with Ms. Engle and get a very clear explanation of the guides. Thanks to Ernest for allowing me to join in.

Be sure and keep Ernest’s blog and podcast on your radar. He offers plenty of great info on IP law on a regular basis.