Dave Does Digital: A Morning Show and Social Media

How a Twin Cities morning mainstay, The Dave Ryan Show, is using social media.

I admit it, I listen to commercial radio quite a bit…yes, even Top 40. I know this is hard for many to admit. There is this pressure that if you don’t listen to NPR all the time you’re some how less of a person. I have my public radio favorites and still love to dig for new and more independent music, but I like hearing the “hits”. It’s the way I was brought up. Whether they be current or more from my formative years, I listen to rock, alternative, country and pop stations and the “hit” music they play. Besides, with a pre-teen and teen in the house and car it’s pretty much a given that I’ll be hearing my fair share of Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.

It’s for that reason that I noted and was impressed with how one of Minneapolis’ local shows was using interactive and social media tools. What was also impressive was how they were integrating it into their on-air presentation. They often noted that more and sometimes exclusive content could be had online…a practice all too often avoided by stations and personalities.

As I have commented here on RemainComm, commercial radio as a whole has  been slow in adopting and investing in the new forms of media that allow the growth of relationships with their listeners. OK, some just plain suck at it. KDWB’s Dave Ryan Show is an exception. Dave and his cast have done some interesting things and I had a chance to chat with him about his interactive pursuits. [Read more…]

Mel Reveals the “Magic”

Mel Karmazin. Mention that name to a broadcaster or business pundit and you’ll trigger a vast array of words, phrases, and emotions, many I won’t say here (mostly to avoid triggering of any parental controls on your browser). Brilliant, bastard, visionary, cheapskate, anger, respect, love, hate…are just a few of the words that might be associated with Mel. I myself arrived at CBS Radio just after Mel left and the “burn the furniture” era (supposedly) ended. The phrase that is probably the most consistent across the board would probably be “outspoken”.

In this December 30, 2009 interview with Charlie Rose, the former CEO of CBS and current CEO of XM Sirius Satellite Radio, as well as the man responsible for making Howard Stern (second only to Howard himself) insanely wealthy, commented on many issues that face the media business today. But, in his outspoken style, he also reveals the “magic” ingredient of the business model for what is now known as “traditional” media and why it no longer works.

You can see the full interview by clicking here and entering the word “Karmazin” in the search box. Sorry, but Charlie hasn’t made this video shareable as of this writing.) You can also get a copy of the transcript. [Read more…]

Apple iS late?

I guess it’s for sure. In a matter of weeks we will see the Apple Tablet. What isn’t for sure is the name, but the iSlate? Um…I think not. Really…Apple iS late. Nope not gonna happen. Apple is never late for anything…or at least they have always managed to position it that way.

Apple has been responsible for a lot of game-changing. The launch of so many of their products have gone on to alter the way we use technology though they haven’t really been first to the party. The Macintosh set a standard in the PC biz…well after the PC existed. The iPod made MP3 listening sexy and altered the music industry…while there were already plenty of MP3 players on the market. And, most recently, the iPhone forever changed the smartphone industry and remains the gold standard…after the Treo and Blackberry blazed the trail. But I’m not quite so sure the launch of the tablet will be as big a game changer.

I love Apple “stuff”. I prefer my Mac over my PC every time. I also think it’s great to see the anticipation build when a new product is imminent. My Apple fanboy friends are downright giddy when things are cookin’ at Apple. To see their expressions, to listen to them wax poetic, to get caught up in it all…it’s fun.

The earmarks are there, I guess. The small netbook thing is kinda “meh” with most consumers being cool with either a small screen that a smartphone provides or the larger screen that the laptop provides. And portable is where it’s at and we all know iPod Touch has been a huge success. In fact, this could easily be the next “stuff already exists to do everything this does…but it’s much cooler” product in Apple’s stable. But this time around, for some reason, I’m not as moved. Why is that?

Is it that this time, one of the biggest claims made by the industry is that the tablet could save the publishing industry? Will it do that?

I doubt the problem facing the newspaper and magazine business, figuring out how to make money from online content, is going to be magically fixed.

Perhaps the iTunes and iPhone app concept of delivering content to the tablet, allowing some sort of “micro payment” model, will emerge. But the producers/publishers of this content would be nuts not to offer that same content to the desktop or even mobile platforms.

The same thing goes for other obvious audio and video offerings online that will find themselves available
to the tablet. I can get it all the videos and music I want on my
laptop or phone.

Maybe the tablet will make it cooler to
watch and use…especially when other people see me doing it. And perhaps that’s the more likely outcome. The tablet will make viewing this stuff more sexy (and Apple knows sexy) and that might be cool enough.

Maybe that’s why I’m not as caught up in the excitement. I’m use to the good looking, easy to use, innovative Apple product, so it’s a bit anti-climatic. Maybe I need something more than a really big iPod touch. In addition, I may be harboring some deeper media concerns. I’d hate to think those in the print and broadcast media are waiting around for Apple to save their keisters.

We’ll find out what impact such a device will have in the months to come. In the meantime I’ll be impressed with how Apple can inspire all the hoopla…as well as innovation and raise awareness of technology, without ever seeming to be late.

Image courtesy of Disney

Here’s a Suprise…New Year Predictions!


It’s not really a surprise, but it is always fun to start off a new year looking into the crystal ball. I’m gearing up for the annual “prognostication podcast” with my colleagues at Minnov8 this Saturday and I thought I’d just share five that I’m offering.

Mobile, baby, mobile…laptop sales will remain high and though small screen netbook sales will hold steady in the short -term, they will begin to decline as the adoption of mobile platforms like Android proliferate. The mobile industry will see growth and opportunity in devising new ways of charging for services that are internet data driven not voice driven. Mobile providers may very well wake up and make it easier to switch devices, though I’m not sure how they will be able to address the subsidizing of handsets without a “minimum contract period”. The bottom line is that portable is where it’s at and consumers will be more open to accepting the screen size of a mobile device rather than purchasing a small netbook.

Twitter use by the masses will decline…though much of it wasn’t there to begin with. The amount of activity on accounts that aren’t associated with, and used by social media enthusiasts, online professionals, and junkies will fall even more dramatically as other services like Facebook, and mobile applications offer similar advantages. This is not to say that Twitter is over. It isn’t. Twitters core users, audience, and niche will become more defined. Twitter as an aggregation and sharing tool will continue to grow…perhaps endangering the future of services such as Digg and Delicious.

Marketers will (hopefully) begin to understand the difference between selling via social media and communicating with customers…Okay, maybe that won’t kick in completely in 2010 (in general, marketers tend to be bit slow in understanding intangibles), but we will see progress.  In addition, the future of more and more services (Foursquare, GoWalla, etc) is based on the need to deliver real value…not just ads…quickly to users. It’s too easy to drop a service, block an application, or ignore a campaign for marketers not to understand value to consumer. (Note: The heavy use of GPS and revealing one’s current location to the world will give mainstream users the heebie jeebies and hamper some adoption of this part of the service.) One more thing on this topic…Social Media and Social Media Marketing/Advertising are not the same thing. Ads are less effective than content that provides value. Those that provide value also gain trust and that confidence, both of which can be monetized if done effectively. [Read more…]

If Video Seems Daunting…

…relax. In fact, remain calm. As promised in my post on who’s using video (what I called the wind-up), I wanted to share a second interview, the pitch, with Steven Rosenbaum from Magnify.net.

In this discussion I asked Steven to review his presentation and outline ways to overcome the “three boogeymen” also known as the reasons many avoid using video in our personal or business brand online strategy.

  • Video is too expensive
  • Raw user generated content isn’t brand safe.
  • Filtering the web is too much work.


News Takes a Holiday

The cool thing about the “new journalism” appears to be…the hours don’t suck.

If you spend any time using, watching, or participating in “news” you are aware of the ongoing discussion of “the future of news”. Here in the lovely Twin Cities of Minnesota (Sunny and -6 as of this writing) the topic has even lead to more than our fair share of conferences addressing it. One hosted by Minnesota Public Radio and one of a more independent nature (that I regrettably had to miss at the last minute) organized by many and spear-headed by David Brauer of MinnPost.

The topics addressed by these gatherings and discussions include the death of newspapers, the state of broadcast news, credibility of citizen journalists, monetization and overall interest by news consumers. From blogs to video, online to mobile, the proliferation of “new” ways of covering current events is the centerpiece of the “future of news.”

One thing not discussed about this new form of news, at least that I’m aware of, is that the hours seem to be pretty sweet for those that produce it.

Today, December 29th, 2009, the middle of the infamous “holiday break” during which much slows to a crawl, I took a quick check of some of my favorite “new journalism” sites. Judging by them you would have to assume that news is taking time off as well.

On MinnPost I was greeted with a note at the top of the page. “Happy Holidays from MinnPost.com! We’ll be posting limited new content (including several end-of-year lists and Jim Klobuchar) until Jan. 4.” The most recent content, other than a story about the Vikings-Bears game appears to be from December 23rd.

Over at the UpTake, though there was no formal note, I found streaming video from past UpTake radio shows and events. In addition, there were plenty of links to their incredible coverage of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen…but nothing posted with today’s date.

Before I go any further, this is not meant to be merely a critique of these two sites and endeavors. In my eyes they have both been pioneers in new journalism. In fact, both clearly state, once you dig into the “about” sections of their site, that their scope is not necessarily daily news. MInnPost notes Monday-Friday coverage and the Uptake stressing a more broad scope emphasizing the training of citizen journalists. I know and have huge respect for many of the people involved at both. I also understand the concept of throwing stones. Hey, I’m not exactly Mr. Consistent Content myself.

But, I’m surprised. Perhaps I’m thinking old school, but my expectations weren’t met. I chose to look to these “new journalism” outlets for information and found less than timely, if not downright old news. Consider my expectations adjusted. But it does provide appoint of discussion doesn’t it?

I learned early on, and was reminded repeatedly, during my career in broadcast that news is a 24/7/365 deal. As much as I wanted to tell my staff that they could call it quits each weekend or on a holiday (during which real people got time off) that just wasn’t the gig. No doubt there is a slow down in many areas of our life over the holidays but does that mean journalists and news itself gets to slow down too?

The way we get news is changing. How we make it success in the future should include delivering it at least as often and as well as traditional outlets. Don’t you think that if the new journalism is to succeed, in all those areas that we discuss so intently, then these sites need to be there…all the time. Or is it just me?

Using “Unfriend” In a Sentence

The fine folks at the New Oxford American Dictionary, known world-wide a ‘Lord of the Word’, announced their 2009 Word of the Year. Ladies and gentlemen, the word of the year is…

unfriend, (un-friend), verb: To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

Yes, thanks to the internet and the rise of social networking, the language of online introduces another word into the mainstream. With any new word I hearken back to grade school and the days of the teacher saying, “Use it in a sentence.” The word unfriend can be used in many ways…

Oxford’s example: “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

Matter of fact: “I unfriended the guy.”

Threatening: “Keep up the spam buddy and I’ll unfriend you.”

Showing concern for one’s feelings: “I hate to unfriend her. Can I do it without her knowing?”

Longingly: “Wow, I wish I could have unfriended this guy in high school.”

Wouldn’t it be fun to add the “un” to other words?

Healing: “I just unstubbed my toe.”

Wishful thinking: “Hey boss, would you please unfire me?

Realistic: “I need to unwaste some time on Facebook.”

Do you have some you’d like to add?

Don’t Be a Billy: Staying Safe Online

I have fond memories of the Encyclopedia Britannica films back in school. It always meant completely outdated clothing and actors teaching us about everything from science to hygiene. Heck, it was only slightly more modern than a film-strip. (Ding!)

That's why this little number compliments of StaySafeOnline.org really struck home. One of my favorite film genres addressing an important topic.

It also got me in the mood for a little education a la Goofy.

What to Do With the Waste On the Way to Trillions

I found the video below interesting in the way it, and it's creators at MAYA Design, provide a perspective of scale in the 'computer age'.

It touches on many issues including the need to change the way we think and act as we pursue being part of the trillions of 'computers'. While I think it fails to really draw some solid conclusions in favor of ending with the concept of "Too much information!" (Hey, we passed that 'millions' ago.), perhaps there are more videos planned to better explore the concept.

However, I was intrigued with the concept of computing as an ecology and the comparison of the trillions of computers to the trillions of cells in the human body. I can't help but take that comparison to the human body a bit further.

As the video points out, nature has solved the problem of trillions. In the comparison, the body has atoms that make up molecules, that make up cells, that make up organs, and those make up systems, etc. What the video fails to point out is that, while the human body has solved it, the history of computing has failed to address the problem of waste.

The human body, when used up and ceases to function, is relatively easily disposable. The human body eventually decays and degrades into organic material that disappears into the natural world. In fact, the only trace of a the body's previous existence is that which we humans have manufactured to surround it…caskets, crypts, clothes…not to mention all the stuff we have left behind.

The waste of the computer age, and it's physical leftovers, is much more difficult to dispose of. In fact, that waste is more pronounced and there is more of it because we dispose of computer related material simply because it becomes 'obsolete', something we don't do with humans. 

CNN recently cited that, according to the United Nations Environment Program, around 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated worldwide each year…and that's at the current level. In 2008 a Greenpeace study, "Not in Our Backyard", found that in Europe
only 25 percent of the e-waste was recycled safely. In the U.S. it is
only 20 percent and in developing countries it is less than one
percent. They go on to estimate that 80 percent of e-waste generated worldwide is not properly recycled

Much of this waste is shipped to developing countries. While some of that waste can be repaired and re-purposed by local traders, most is dumped. In fact, a cottage industry and an associated organized crime element has sprung up around e-waste trading. Also, don't forget the impact on the human and environmental health of our planet. Much of this waste contains toxic materials.

While there has been progress in dealing with this waste, with companies using fewer toxic materials and establishing programs that oversee responsible disposal, there is still a long way to go to protect our natural 'trillions' from our computer 'trillions'. 

There is a responsibility that falls to all of us who use this technology to further our personal and professional gains to know where our "old" technology is going when we are done with it. While dumping our waste on other countries is nothing new, we interactive professionals, "geeks", continue to champion the building of communities connected by technology. We must all remember, as well as also champion the message, to help keep our world-wide community clean.

Who’s Into Online Video and What Are They Watching?

At recent gathering presented by Co-OperativeLabs here in Minneapolis the topic of online video was discussed. The two presenters, Bill Hague ofFrank N. Magid Associates and Steven Rosenbaum of Magnify.net, offered a sort of wind-up and pitch approach in their individual presentations. In this post I’ll concentrate on the wind-up, information shared from a Magid research project, and we’ll address the pitch, an approach to using video content from Steven, in a future post.

Bill offered some interesting insight on the topic of who is consuming online video and toward what types of video they are gravitating. Bill himself addresses the high points in this video. I’ll highlight some further info below.

Please note: The survey questions were asked of people who use the internet.

Beyond what Bill mentions in the video interview I found some of the perceptions of advertising in online video interesting. (Click the graphs to make them big enough to read.)

In general, the study indicates very strong growth in online video audience across all demographics with (surprise) the younger audience being the biggest fans. But from a marketing perspective, with great opportunity comes some risk. Especially when “traditional” advertising is looked at.

Though not highlighted in the Key Findings portion of the presentation I think it’s important to note that though 45% of respondents who view online video content find advertising “as acceptable” as TV ads, 20% say ads are “less acceptable” and 28% weren’t “sure”.  With nearly 50% of respondents that are either opposed or unsure about advertising there are some pretty high negative attitudes toward ads in this space. I would assert those negative ads have been precipitated by TV’s over saturation of commercials in programming. Too many ads is what the viewer is trying to get away from.

Further, when probing respondents about ad type and location, 43% prefer a short ad and 28% said no ads were acceptable. Also, take a look at the numbers as they pertain to where ads are placed. Thinking about interrupting their online viewing? I’d think again. In fact, you may need to think more about more unobtrusive types of marketing including product placement or other emerging ad vehicles.


By the way, what about those folks who don’t want to watch online video? The biggest barrier noted here is screen size…not technology or quality. We just loves our big screens, don’t we.

Finally, for those TV execs sweating hand grenades about losing viewers to online…yeah, it’s happening. 20% of online video viewers (extrapolated to 14% of total population) are spending less time on the tube. As the study points out “online cannibalization is small but significant.” It’s good to know that there are a fair amount of us that site in front of the TV with our laptops with over 50% go online while watching TV.

Based on this research, here’s what you should consider when including video in your online presence or marketing mix.

  • Make it short!
  • Be confident in reaching an audience beyond just “the kids”.
  • America’s screen time is increasing with watching TV and using the internet at the same time becoming more popular.
  • Watching TV is still top dog but it’s clear the pie is going to be cut differently.
  • Be careful how you handle ads. It’s time to think differently. With the huge amount of professionally generated and user generated content out there, it’s easy for your viewer to look for something else if you cram too many ads down there throat.

Download the slide deck of the presentation here and let me know what you think.


FTC Guidelines or Not…Check Your Ethics.

Whether you know it or not, much is being made of the updated FTC Guidelines governing endorsements and testimonial in the world of blogging and may other areas of social media. These FTC Guidelines as well as FCC rules and regulations stipulating the disclosure of “material consideration” involved have long been a part of everyday business in radio and TV. So it’s nothing new to me.

As you might expect, many that use the openness of the internet to freely express themselves fear any type of regulation. I would never fault anyone who seeks to be vigilant when it comes to any kind of control of one’s freedoms. However, I do scratch my head when some bloggers and social media types complain that something needs to be done about the many abuses of that openness, like pop-up advertising and spam, yet scream when they are asked to clearly disclose any compensation they may get for their opinions.

No matter where you fall on these guidelines, it’s really quite simple…be honest and be open. Then you won’t need worry about any of it.

With that in mind I thought I’d share this little excerpt from the BlogWell event I attended at General Mills not that long ago. Presented by the folks at GasPedal, the day long event showcased some interesting social media endeavors. It also gave Andy Sernovitz a chance to talk about ethics in the on line and interactive space.

My apologies for the audio quality. You’ll need to listen carefully, but I think it’s worth it.

Another Social Media Reality Check

Last year about this time I was preparing to lead a discussion at the newly founded UnSummit in Minneapolis. To inspire conversation about the realities of social media and it’s use I decided to send a brief survey to my social community. No, not the social media “crowd” I run with as part of RemainComm and other projects in which I’m involved. I mean my social circle. Those “real” people that live their lives much more off-line than on.

As the UnSummit became a year old and another event took shape this year, it seemed to make sense to revisit the topic. 2009, thanks to media coverage, saw the meteoric rise of Twitter and the domination of Facebook it seemed like a good idea to see if the everyday Joe had changed their habits. So, with a few modifications, I dutifully sent off the survey to the same group of friends, neighbors and acquaintances. I got darn near the same number of respondents (26 vs 27 last year) from which to crunch and analyze data. As I said last year. I’m sure my researcher friends could poke all sorts of holes in the methodology. The data should not to be construed as scientific. It isn’t meant to be. It is simply a vehicle to use to fuel discussion and I thought you might find it interesting. I’ll touch on some highlights here, but you can also download a PDF.

As I said, the age of my respondents was almost identical as last year with nearly 90% falling between 35 and 54 years old. Yep, still my peeps. There was also slight difference in computer access with a home some home computers being replaced by a laptop form year to year.

A more meaty graph shows the awareness and use of the many social media tools out there.

Note from year to year the increase in use of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Also note that while Twitter increases in awareness, it’s still not widely used. Of course, it had zero use last year, so it is making in-roads. I think we can chalk that one up to Oprah. Overall, these folks are starting to get involved but are not really enamored with the less literally social functions like bookmarking.

This year I decide to abandon the blog use analysis in favor of the mobile space. That is more a reflection of the audience I was sharing it with at UnSummit than any other reason.

I started with finding out what considerations people took into account when buying a mobile device. As an aside, I approached this question with the educated assumption that real people call them cell phones and are less hip to terms like Smartphone or hansdset. (See, not scientific) If it fits in my pocket and makes calls, it’s a cellphone. Text messaging, web access, email, etc. are features of that cellphone.

On a scale of one to five here is what was most important when it comes to buying cell phone.

Like me, you probably noticed that it’s all about the price and provider. In our discussion we came to the conclusion that “provider’ most likely implied coverage area. (Again, that non-scentific part.) You’ll also see that apps are not a deciding factor and video is the least of their concerns.

You can also see that this group is concerned about text messaging and that is confirmed in the amount of texting they do now. Those that send 20-50 texts a week more than doubled from year to year.

Finally, I was curious to see if my respondents knew their phone very well..like what kind it is. As an aside, less than a third knew the exact model of their phone.

You can see that though it seems like all you hear about is that the iPhone is sweeping the nation, ot everyone has popped for one.

So, as I said last year, it’s vital to remember that while you may be an adopter of social media and are watching episodes of Glee on your mobile device, most are texting on their cell phones.