Tag Archives: lessons learned

Can You Help Me Use the Facenet Twitterverse Thang??

I remember someone asking me in 1995 when I was building my first web site and describing how cool this new technology was, “Hey can you help me get on the interweb?” Sure I said, just take a left on the Internet superhighway and look for the exit that starts with http://www and you’ll be there! Of course this request was better than the person telling me how AOL was the entire Internet as well as this new web thing he had heard about.

If you are active on social media sites today you may have people ask you for help much in the same way people needed assassinate first getting on the Internet. Tech savvy and web geeks have no trouble getting on a nice clean interface like Facebook. But some people out there need the helping hand to guide them through the process cleanly the first time versus them stumbling through it and not being satisfied with the outcome.

You have to be judicious in your efforts to assist those needing your help. I remember when Windows 95 came out and I offered my assistance to help a co-worker if he needed it. Next thing I knew his wife was calling me at 10 p.m. on a Friday night upset and wanting to know if I would guarantee that Windows would install on her computer correctly. After listening to her vent for awhile I told her in a cordial way, “You want a guarantee call Bill Gates.”

I was not being mean to this person, I merely wanted to let them know that I am but a simple marketing geek and she needed a titan. When asked for assistance now, I tell people to be prepared. I will make time to assist you but do some basic pre-work so we can get rolling and get results in an hour or less.

For starters they need to have a personal email address to use. If they are interested in blogging, YouTube and other Google sites I suggest using Google Gmail for easier single sign on. If they have another account and they are comfortable with it that’s good to but they may not want their corporate email so they can filter and track messages coming from social networks. I find that it clutters up your work inbox and can easily distract you when working.

Other pre-work can include digging up their resume, bio or any other material written about them to use as a base for writing their online profile. If they are getting on LinkedIn tell them to list any awards they received or honors bestowed on their company when they worked there. A nice photo or headshot if they have one is essential for creating the profile as well. No headless icons please! Any additional content they may have such as videos, music, documents, etc. is good but may not be required to get started.

Now that your new pupil has done their homework, you can jump right in and get started building their profile, finding friends and contacts and being a part of their new online community. Do you have any tips when people ask you to help them get online and learn how to use Web 2.0 technology?

Practice, Preparation and Speaking Tips from Ignite Raleigh

Last night I had the opportunity to have five minutes to pitch an idea on creating a grassroots network for Downtown Raleigh WiFi at Ignite Raleigh. This was the first time for the event in Raleigh and it was a great success. Good speakers, variety of topics, lots of socializing and great planning by Our Hashtag made it the event of Triangle Tech Week.

I have to admit that I was extremely nervous going up on stage. I had not given a speech on a stage to that many people since I was in college. The difference was that I did not have a set time limit, no slides and I had a podium to use for my notes. If you have not spoken in front of a large crowd and on a stage before, or it’s been awhile, it’s tough! The last time I was that nervous was the days leading up to my kids being born.

To prepare I did about a half dozen practices using my slides as a timer and recording my audio to review. I should have practiced in front of some actual people to get more feedback as doing the rehearsal by myself while viewing the slides. This was not the best strategy as I was comfortable sitting at my desk and telling my story.

I asked Wayne Sutton how he prepared because he killed it in my and many other attendees’ opinions. Wayne said that he watched several of the Ignite presenters on the web from other cities. I viewed only one or two of the videos but should have spent some more time seeing what Ignite presenters of the past had done. Check out Wayne’s presentation here on 30 Threads.

Another challenge of this format is that the timing and pace is crucial. I spoke faster than I should have and when practicing I had trouble breathing. I was a bit nervous leading up to my five minutes. Most people when getting ready to speak in public will have their heart rate jump due to nerves and I tried the three deep breaths trick that I learned in college but my blood was racing when I started. Thanks also to other presenters that I had a chance to speak with and sharing your thoughts and experiences of how it went.

Overall I give myself a B minus as I wanted to do better and with a little more practice and experience I would have been more pleased with my pitch. Also I needed more inflection in my voice as it tends to go flat. Maybe that’s part of the reason that I do my best work sitting at a keyboard and creating communication. Thanks to everyone that gave me feedback afterwards and enjoyed meeting some great people. I hope this posts helps future Ignite Raleigh presenters with their five minutes and 20 slides.

Click here to view video of my Ignite presentation.

Twenty Slides in Five Minutes-Ignite Raleigh!

I am busy preparing for my five minutes at Ignite Raleigh on Wednesday night at the Lincoln Theatre. The format is that each presenter gets five minutes to present their idea and their 20 slides will advance every 15 seconds. I finished my presentation yesterday and sent to the organizers after rehearsing my slides, timing and fine tuning my message.

I think this format should be adopted for every corporate presentation. We’ve all heard about never have more than ten slides. But how many times have you been in a presentation of ten slides that lasted over 30 minutes? Much worse is the person with 20 slides that last an hour or more! I get sleep creep just thinking about it!

The challenge of getting your message across in five minutes is one we should all adhere to. Ideally if you have more to explain you should have an executive summary or a detailed document for your audience to dig into on their own. The new rule should be you have exactly five minutes to present with ten minutes for question and answer session.

Another lesson I learned from preparing this presentation was that it’s not critical to explain every bullet point. Some items are self explanatory and do not need to be repeated. Also if there is time for questions and answers this can be accomplished then. My biggest challenge when presenting is staying focused, on topic and communicating clearly. Interruptions during presentations tend to get us off track and possibly turn the conversation away from the main topic, delving into specifics.

I want to thank the organizers of Ignite Raleigh for a fantastic job of getting over 500 people signed up and excited about this event. If you’re attending tomorrow night say thank you to the sponsors and organizers who have volunteered their time to make it happen (Wayne Sutton @waynesutton; Kipp Bodnar @kbodnar32; Jeff Cohen @dgtlpapercuts; Ryan Boyles @therab).

Five Blogging Lessons Learned

Today is day 10 of my 30 Day Blogger Challenge and so I decided to write about five lessons learned so far:
  1. Blogging every single day is a challenge to find the time and creative drive to publish a complete article. Also daily frequency may be too much for any single person to sustain without writing ahead of time or working with other writers to some degree. Also I did not think about weekends but decided to post 30 continuous days versus 30 business days.
  2. I wrote a list of 20 topics that I was interested in writing about before I started. This has been a lifesaver on hectic days or when I just don’t have a driving idea to write about.
  3. I need an editor or better edit my work. Some days I wanted to get the post out and the writing should have been revised.
  4. Getting comments is challenging and I have started to ask questions at the end of each post to engage reader more. Also I’m interested in what others think.
  5. Keeping a focus on marketing or any specific subject matter can be difficult. At times I have been challenge to ask myself, “is this post of interest to marketing professionals or am I just writing about what interest me outside of work?”
Writing everyday does spark your creativity to some degree. I have discovered that some ideas that have been hard to find a good creative message are popping up more frequently. Of course I have the terrible habit of getting the creative idea when I’m driving or doing something that makes documenting it difficult at the time.
I am glad that I did this challenge in that it has given me the opportunity to really learn what blogging is all about. No better way to learn than to just do it!
What blogging and writing challenges do you have and what lessons have you learned?*
*See there’s that comment probing question I mentioned!

Your Brand is Being Discussed: Are You Listening?

Blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook groups and MySpace pages, what does it all mean to today’s marketing professionals? Whether you’re plugged in to social networking or not, these new technologies are allowing consumers to communicate and discuss brands in all aspects to a global audience. You may not have a Facebook page or Blog, but you probably use the internet to research major product purchases like digital cameras or household appliances. Most likely, the user comments, product ratings and other consumer feedback have a strong impact on your purchasing decision.

During the November meeting, Triangle AMA members and guests were able to hear firsthand from Sean McDonald, Director of Communities and Conversations at Dell, about the strategies, viewpoints and initiatives Dell has undertaken to give both customers and employees a voice in the brand. Through the effective use of Web 2.0 technologies, Dell has enabled interactions that result in direct consumer feedback and decreased support costs.

The goal of marketing is to get people talking about your brand. Traditional advertising tells us to buy their brand because it’s better, faster, and cheaper or whatever superlative you can fill in here. Advertising and traditional marketing communications have no dialog. Humans want engagement and ignore one way messages.


The Break Up
Uploaded by geertdesager

McDonald demonstrated his point with a short video clip portraying advertising and the consumer as a young couple breaking up. The problem between the couples is that they don’t communicate between themselves as in a typical conversation, and this is true of traditional corporate communication.

With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies consumers can do what comes naturally to them…have conversations. But why should a company care? Several reasons:

  • Your company has an online presence
  • You sell or service customer
  • You spend money on advertising
  • You spend money on branding
  • You want customers to be your marketing force
  • Your customers know how to use web search engines like Google and Yahoo!

McDonald explained that we are at the dawn of the connected age. With only 20% of the approximately 6.7 billion people in the world online, more and more people are participating in the internet and going beyond basic web searches and surfing. Every second there are more computers and web-enabled phones being sold, new blogs and domains created, and thousands of messages being sent via email, text and instant messaging. So many that the number of text messages sent and received everyday exceeds the population of the planet!

In terms of the population of the “online” world, expect to see the population double in four to five years from 1billion to 2 billion users. More and more content is being loaded to the web everyday and citizens have become publishers and content providers. A single blog post can have as much power as major news stories reaching millions of eyeballs with a global reach.

Citizens are now creating and publishing online at an amazing rate. Content creating, information sharing and publishing have shifted to customers, employees and other stakeholders. With Web 2.0 technologies content moves faster then ever before and across languages as consumers have the ability to publish content anywhere and at anytime. The corporate enterprise is not longer in control of information and communication.

What has not changed is human behavior. The opinion of a friend or acquaintance that has used a product or service before still ranks as the most trusted source of information. Nielsen reports that 78% of those surveyed rank consumer recommendations as the most credible form of advertising.

What can your company do to address these changes? McDonald offered a basic four point strategy:

  1. Listen
  2. Join Conversations
  3. Tell YOUR Story
  4. Collaborate with Stakeholders

From here McDonald demonstrated how Dell listens and engages with its stakeholders. Noting that it’s more about people and processes than technology, McDonald also stated that great technology facilitates better processes and ways for humans to connect. The tools and technology are social network sites like Facebook and Dell-created user communities like Digital Nomads a community that discusses how to stay connected and productive wherever you work outside of the traditional office. The people and process involve having dedicated resource(s) in your organization to monitor and respond to the communication. Negative feedback needs to be welcomed as constructive criticism and managed.

Sounds simple, but developing new processes, acquiring resources and dedicating your time is a challenge. It’s important to determine metrics and return on investment (ROI) when planning. ROI can be measured in terms of frequency of brand mentions and driving traffic to your ecommerce site, but it should not stop there. Creating positive external validation of your brand and customer engagement is as valuable as advertising. Dell was recently named the SNCR Brand of the Year as the brand that has made the most significant advances in utilizing social media tools, technologies and practices.

In closing, McDonald ended his presentation with several questions that marketing professionals can ask themselves when developing Web 2.0 strategies along with a list of the partners and tools his team at Dell uses. His parting thought was to “smile more” as it “makes your customers happy and your competition worried.” Click here to view Sean McDonald’s presentation at triangleama.org.