Podcasting from SXSWi

While here at SXSWi to build interest in Localtone Systems, I’ve had the opportunity to do a little podcasting.

Saturday’s podcast with Albert Maruggi and the Marketing Edge gave me the chance to enjoy a cold beer at the UK Trade and Investment booth. (Only UK compatible plugs  so I couldn’t plug in my laptop. Charming and a pain in the ass at the same time.) Albert and I talked alot about the SXSW experience and what is going on. Sounds like I have a co-pilot for next year.

Sunday was the day we had chosen for the Minnov8 Gang podcast. The Pepsico Podcast Playground allowed me to have some privacy inside a tent/booth that made me feel like I was on the set of Sleeper. We spent the hour talking and laughing about the trip, the setting, and what some of our Minnesota companies are up to. 

With one podcast to go (with CC Chapman for the ADM) I’m looking forward to meeting more folks and bring crowdsourced music to the world via Localtone Systems! Afterall, there is plenty of action and more to do than look for power and solid wifi connection.

Arriving at SXSWi

Well, I made it. I rolled into SXSWi at about 11:00am today (Sat) got my badge and promptly headed out for some Mexican food at Chuy’s. Thanks to my host Carrie for taking the time to show me around and point out the free parking and free wi-fi spots. Free is good.

I spent good amount of time on the drive down shooting some video. I’ll do some editing and post a quick video recap of the trip early next week. (For a taste look for the uber professional “tease” at Minnov8.)

My first “official” SXSWi session is a keynote presentation from Tony Hsieh from Zappos.com. I’ll post some tweets and thoughts as we go this week, but everything will be post session. I can’t listen and tweet at the same time. Hey, you have to know your limitations. Time to get my “conference shoes” working!

Road trip! From MXMW to SXSW

I’ll be taking a break from the sunny climes of Minnesota (-4 as of this writing…sheesh!) to head to South By Southwest Interactive.

Through my involvement in radio I’ve known about the SXSW Music Festival for years, but never had the chance to “make the scene.” (Yep, channeling Linc form Mod Squad again.) Before the birth of RemainComm and the founding of Localtone Systems, I had never known there was an interactive festival as well. So the lure of interactive, a huge music scene, and some warmer weather, has inspired me to load up the laptop and head south.

Look for posts, pictures and video from the event throughout the coming week, both here and at Minnov8. I’l pass along some of the highlights and share what I find during my first full on trip into one of the epic events in geekdom (I say that lovingly.) and perhaps some fun along the way!

If you’re headed to SXSW yourself, let me know with a tweet to @philson.

Patience Is Relative or “Give it a second!”

I have often commented to friends (maybe you’re one of them) about my patience with the speed of the technology I use. I often catch myself in front of the computer, on my cell phone, or standing in line thinking, “C’mon already!” only to stop and think to myself, “Relax, remember the typewriter, pay phones, carbon paper, car trips for the love of Pete!”

Well, my friend Mark Swift forwarded me this vid from Conan featuring Louis CK, who brings it all into perspective. I knew I wasn’t the only one…

One Answer To “Radio, What Do We Do Now?”

(This post is a response to a call from Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.0 and Radio & Records magazine for ideas that can help secure radio’s future. See a pdf here. Note: RemainComm is referenced as “a Social Media consultancy.” Though Social Media represents one of our core competencies, RemainComm encompasses many media strategies, both interactive and traditional.)

As I pointed out in my Social Hour webinar of the same name, it is vital for radio to Join the Conversation online through a well thought out and executed social media strategy and the appointment of someone to oversee it.

For the sake of this discussion, compliments of Wikipedia, “Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings and most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio.”

In radio, too many times our presence on the internet is merely a stake in the ground, allowing us to proudly proclaim, “Yes, I am online!” Radio’s presence in the online space needs to be more than signing up for a MySpace page or Twitter account. It must be about using those tools to reach and build stronger relationships with your audience…to engage them in conversation. The use of social media will allow you to take this one way medium, radio, and turn it into a two-way conversation.

[Read more…]

Signal Strength and Culture Change

Over the past week I’ve had the chance to have a few conversation with Gary Koelling of Best Buy and founder of BlueShirtNation.com, Giftag.com on the subject of business and social media (he also likes the term social technology). In fact you can hear one of those conversations as part of our weekly Minnov8 Gang Podcast. I speak with Gary about alot of things, but I was particularly struck by his thoughts on two subjects.

First, was that of “signal strength”.
(Ok, now you’re talkin’ a radio guy’s language.) As Gary was
whiteboarding away on the topic of reaching customers and fans he noted
how easy social media makes it to leap over so many steps and
interactions to speak directly with the customer. His comment, “Your
signal strength is much higher.”

That of course had me visualizing the good ol’ communication model that
was drilled into me for years. Any time you can eliminate static
between the sender and the real receiver (in that “medium”) the better. both are winners
when you can increase your signal strength.

Of course getting a business to remove the static that impacts signal strength is a discussion of business culture and it’s impact on the acceptance of social media. I’ve mentioned more than a few times here that there needs to be a shift in the business models of many companies, including as it pertains to the long tail, broadcast, and big brands.

In conversations Gary has shared with me many of the accomplishments and a few frustrations he has experienced over the years as he as tried to overcome established business cultures. In a nutshell he emphasized the need to be patient. Business has a long history of not really allowing the customer to directly influence how they do things. It will take time and many attempts at getting business to both accept new ideas and avoid falling back on “the way we have always done things.”

Patience is the key to social media in so many ways, including the patience a company need to have when building relationships. That doesn’t happen quick enough to impact your financials by the end of this quarter, or next. That’s a big change for companies, especially those in crisis, as so many are right now.

Gary pointed to this video as what Best Buy is thinking in this regard.

Clearly, Best Buy is making a move toward changing it’s culture and increasing it’s signal strength. It’s very encouraging and should be inspiring to other companies and business categories. (I’m thinking media…especially radio, where it’s all about signal strength.)


A Speech To Leave You Speechless

There will be much said about the inaugural address delivered by President Obama in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. Much of it just plain left me speechless.

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.”

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and
begin again the work of remaking America.”

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

“…know that America is a friend of each nation and every man,
woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we
are ready to lead once more.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.
We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and
non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from
every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of
civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger
and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall
someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the
world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that
America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

“To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame
their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you
on what you can build, not what you destroy.”

“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a
recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to
ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly
accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is
nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than
giving our all to a difficult task.



“I Have A Dream”

On the Trail of Twitter’s Tipping Point

Elmer Fudd would say, “Be vewwy-vewwy quiet…I’m hunting Twitter’s tipping point.”   and as 2009 dawns I’m thinking the same thing. What is…was…Twitter’s tipping point?

In this case the “tipping point” I’m speaking of is that made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name. Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term: “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.”

Tipping points are tricky things to identify. Twitter has been all the buzz in the social media and geek circles since it’s debut, becoming so popular in such circles that it couldn’t keep up with itself. This perpetuated the continuous shouts from the online crow’s nest of “Avast you lubbers, fail whale dead ahead!” and the growth of alternative services like Plurk, identi.ca and the recently shuttered Pownce. The mere fact that the service was able to overcome, or at the very least minimize, these technical issues and continue to grow could be labeled as the tipping point.

There’s the tipping point highlighted by it’s increase in users in April of 08 noted by Nick O’Neill on his Social Times blog….though this is most likely just a result of a pyramid effect caused by the continued adoption by social media and the related industries.

In October of 08 Claudine Beaumont discussed the “celebrity” tipping point of Twitter. That discussion centered around the concept that celebrities were now establishing Twitter accounts. As she points out, when Britney Spears, William Shatner and John Cleese (Claudine writes for the Telegraph in the UK) start tweeting then their legion of fans can’t be far behind. This is likely more the publicists of celebrities posting for them but still…

Barrack Obama brought attention to the service, along with many social media platforms, with his aggressive use of the medium in his campaign. This was also fueled by the related coverage of that campaign on every news outlet and led to the adoption of Twitter by some of those news outlets. Was this the tipping point?

Or did the point come as recently as this week as a rash of “phishing” scams hit Twitter like a ton of bricks. Clearly, though some signal this as the end of the service, when a service is worthy of being targeted and hacked by the “black hats” of marketing, it means you have a very big audience and you’re doing something right. (Besides, this might be the only way I ever get an iPhone…What?)

Perhaps we can say that Twitter will have reached it’s tipping point when they roll out the monetization plans. Or will it be when they make money? I have no doubt we will see soon because Twitter must make money.

As I mentioned earlier, some have doubts about the long-term future of Twitter. I don’t. Many have heralded the imminent demise of the service, on many occasions. The fact is that they have continued to grow even in light of the problems and the highlighting of those problems by the influencers of the social media space. (Strangely, those same people that were early adopters of the service.) They were the first in and have already outlived some competitors that they spawned. Plus, according to Hubspot’s State of the Twittersphere, they have 4-5 million users and 5-10 thousand accounts are opened per day. That’s a 600% increase in traffic over the past 12 months. Numbers like that don’t just evaporate.

Yet, they still aren’t Facebook…so I continue to hunt.

Has Twitter’s “tipping point” already been reached? Is there only one? Is this the year that we’ll see it? I invite you to join me in this hunting expedition. Have you found it? Where should we look? What do we do with it once we find it? Let me know your thoughts. I look forward to your comments.

On Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men

Merry Christmas from RemainComm

I Won! I Won!

You know it’s gonna be a good week when you start your day with a win. No, I’m not talking about my fantasy football league. I’m talking about winning something much more useful…

Find more videos like this on Social Media Breakfast – Twin Cities

Julio’s book, Twitter Means Business, is a must for those wishing to look at Twitter’s growth and potential as a business tool. Grab it here, or here…it would make a great stocking stuffer! Look for more from Julio here soon!Thanks Julio…and Julio’s son…I’m honored that you included me in this project. Be sure and use the proceeds of the book to send that young man to college!



Brands vs. Fans

 Much has been made about “brand marketing” in the social media space. “Your brand has to be online!”, “My brand has a Facebook page!”, “Is your brand on Twitter?”. More and more I’m convinced this is short sighted.

Remember, the “media” part of social media is the channel by which communication occurs. The “social” is the people part, those that participate in the conversation. Neither of those parts say anything about a product or service. Why would someone want to follow Tide, Best Buy, Pepsi, etc on Facebook, Youtube or Twitter? Now, CEO Bob at Tide, Stephanie at Pepsi, or Barry at Best Buy? That’s another story! Those are people I can have a conversation with.

A recent quote in the this article really says it all, “Members of social networks want to spend time with friends, not brands.” Excuse me whilst I utter the proverbial “Duh!”

This again reinforces the overwhelming necessity of understanding the medium in which you are participating or working. Social media marketing follows a whole different set of rules than mass marketing. One of those rules is “It’s all about the relationship.” Brands in and of themselves can’t form relationships. Those people that are fans of the brand can and those that represent the brand can.

So, let’s amend the statements above: “A representative of your brand has to be online!”, “My brand’s community manager has a Facebook page!”, “Who evangelizes your brand on Twitter?”.

Bottom line: Brands in social media…no. People representing brands in social media…yes. (Of course, you need the right people or rather, fans!) As Ted McConnell, manager of interactive marketing and innovation at P.& G notes: “I don’t want to be best friends with a brand,” he said. “It’s just stuff.”