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December 2008

The World's First Social War

45078448_a92cf65b9b_o In a war, everyone has a story to tell.  For the first time ever, we are witnessing the first true digital social war.

The Israeli Government and friends of Israel are working tirelessly to share, inform, converse, gather, socialize, advocate and persuade.  While diplomatic channels may be closed, the web is always open.

From a marketers perspective, war is the ultimate PR nightmare.

Israel the brand looks to be gearing up to face this head on.

Israel and Friend's Social Efforts

Citizen Activism

  • Help Us Win:
  • Nir Ofir's Netvibes Aggregation Page
  • The Town of Sderot has a fairly well design information and advocacy site

Israeli Government

This war is going to be different.
The world is watching. The world is talking.  The world is listening.

What do YOU have to say? #gaza #askisrael #sderot #israel

photo credit here

powerpoint addiction - thinking differently

Death by pptThere are four typical types of powerpoint presentations -

A) The Installation Manual - if you shrink the font you can fit more words on a page!
B) The Minesweeper - who doesn't understand a simple 30 by 30 grid?
C) The Subway Map - following the flowchart to hell
D) The Image Inspired - MoMA inspired guru creates artistic statements that show his/her brilliance rather than transmitting ideas.

We've all been there.  The colleague who asks for more charts, the manager who asks for more detail and the creative guy who demands that you utilize his icons and images, most likely stock photos we've all seen too many times, or Creative Commons images taken/stolen from Flickr.

But how many of these well intentioned contributors are thinking about powerpoint the platform and how many of thinking about the presentation dynamic?

Learning #1

A presentation is not a series of powerpoint slides.  It is a presentation.  Powerpoint is just a tool to help illustrate a story. 

Learning #2

Your presentation should have two purposes -

  1. Convey Information
  2. Inspire Insight and Understanding

If your slide doesn't serve one of these two purposes, rethink it.

Learning #3

Know your environment

Your grids may be brilliant.  Your images may be remarkable.  Your flowcharts may convey details we'd never considered.  And each of them have a place. 

Is that place in:

  • an executive boardroom? 
  • an office-wide lunch and learn? 
  • a printed leave behind?  

Each of these three environments should have their own tone, story and yes, presentation.  Choose your weapons wisely.

My Perspective

Think back to the days before you had powerpoint. Think back to your family get togethers when as a kid you were forced on "stage" to "perform" your latest skill - ballet, gymnastics, karate, piano, singing, dance... you didn't need powerpoint to tell your story.  You conveyed your information differently, creatively.  The boardroom expects powerpoint.  But that doesn't mean you have to be tied to convention either.

Advice From the Twitter Community

  • Heather Rast (@heatherrast) - Instead of staid descriptive slide titles, try conversational and pithy ones: not "5 Steps to Repair Rep" but "Pony Up" - People expect "Agenda" slide & read it as the list it is. But "The Gooey Center" instead is intriguing & says, "U better pay attn!"

  • Katie Konrath - (@katiekonrath) - Less=More, Create focal points, never forget focus should be on you, not the slides. Interesting, not distracting. Hope this helps!

 - - Key Takeaway - -

Don't look at power point as a format or a canvas.  Look at it as supporting media.  Your slides don't tell your story in a live presentation.  You do.  Keep your slide short, strong and punchy.

You cannot tell your story on your own terms in a printed handout.  Your slides may have to do the talking.  Build appropriately.

photo credit here

Thank YOU!

I could not have made this blog work without you.

Your clicks, comments, emails, subscriptions, links, conversations, tweets, all of it.

Without your support and feedback, this blog wouldn't be here today. 

My career would not be where it is today.

The opportunities presenting themselves would not be here.

So thank you!

And as always, never feel shy about commenting, tweeting or emailing me.  This is a new industry, this new media/emerging channels/innovation field we call "work".  Whether you're new to the game and looking for some introductions, a big time player looking for an introduction to someone I know on LinkedIn, or a brand, agency or consultant looking for some shared impressions regarding a vendor, I will help out however possible.

Thanks for a great 18 months!  Looking forward to many more!

Online Video Ad Growth in 2009?

Emarketer_video_ad_forecast_12_16_2008 So eMarketer has reported that digital video ad spend will grow.  Shocker, right?

But to say that online ad growth means good times ahead for YouTube, or that this is bad for TV ad sales is a mistake (CNet report here). 

The fastest growing, most advertiser friendly videos on the net are studio produced, often made-for-tv content.  Nevertheless, there are terabytes of UGC video waiting to be monetized.  This suggests that there are four potential avenues of online video advertising growth.

1. Hulu and YouTube's studio content explodes, bringing along ad revenues.
Will it be in professional video monetization in digital channels (ala Hulu)?  Will YouTube's efforts at professional studio-produced video pan out?  What video formats will YouTube run against true professional content? 

  • My Thoughts - this will grow, but largely as a cross platform or cross property media buy.  These won't be value adds, but these will become increasingly more bundled, consolidating and driving best value from budgets.  This is also require that agencies break down walls and work together.  This may present a real value to those digital shops with traditional agency counterparts (and vice versa).

2. We'll figure out how to advertise against UGC

Or could this growth be in UGC?  Will YouTube crank out a new technology that allows safe brand advertising over their massive virtually untapped UGC library? 

  • My Thoughts - unlikely. There may small incremental growth, but UGC may well remain a loss-leader for monetizable content - unless image/audio recognition technologies vastly improve, allowing users to click on items, billboards, an audio icon etc for direct sales.  This school of technology could present a sizeable lift in YouTube revenue, particularly given their search model.

3. Prosumer content explodes.

Complete with real, deep ad networks, unique integration opportunities and scalable relationhips with the long tail. 

  • My Thughts - This may very well happen as the economy forces resource consolidation.  However, I don't see this presenting massive industry growth.

4. Pirates will drive revenues
Sounds crazy, right?  If YouTube were to embrace piracy along the lines of MySpace, utilizing Auditude-type technologies to detect studio content and serve studio backed advertising against this content, YouTube would open up new worlds of revenue, introducing a viable channel for legal user uploads of copyrighted content.  Industry changing, right? 

  • My Thoughts - This could present incredible opportunity for all parties involved, but I don't know that Warner Brothers (for example) is really ready to release a streaming copy of the latest Harry Potter movie (which is all over YouTube) for the minimal ad buys against it.  Additionally, quality control will be near impossible.  While the studios have little to lose by tapping into this channel, I don't know that they would be comfortable allowing their content to be consumed via what was originally a pirated source.  Additionally, once studios are ready to open up complete libraries to online streaming, they may feel safer running the content in their own environment, on Hulu or on studio sites.
Sure online video ad spend is set to grow.  But where?  How?

10 Little Known Facts About Hanukkah... beyond chinese food

Menorah So it's Chanukkah. 

To some, this is a season of custom, of tradition. To others, it's a time to celebrate. To many, this is a time for chinese food.

To me, Chanukkah is an incredibly vibrant and inspirational holiday, all too often drowned out by the hype, the "tradition", and not the practice and the joy.

So in the interest of bringing some strong positivity, some living inspiration to this holiday, here are 10 little known facts about Chanukkah.

  1. The war of the Maccabees was the world's first ideological war.
  2. The Maccabees were not warriors by training.  They were academics and men of piety, stirred to action by their beliefs.
  3. This was the first war fought on the roads and not on organized battlefields. The Maccabees introduced the innovation of stealth warfare, attacking the enemy legions from caves and hilltops on the side of the road.  These caves are well known, and are situated just outside my parents home in Bet Shemesh.  If you're ever in the neighborhood, take along a tour guide and prepare to get dirty.  It's a lot of fun.
  4. The celebration of Chanukkah is a commemoration of the re-dedication of the Beit Hamikdash, the temple in Jerusalem.  Part of this rededication was the lighting of the primary menorah that had always resided in the Beit Hamikdash (there were several other minor menorahs throughout the complex).  In the interest of doing things right after the temple had been defiled, the priests wanted to use a sealed flask of oil, insuring that the oil was still pure and unused.  This is where the many traditions involving oil (latkes, donuts) come from. 
  5. The first miracle at the rededication of the Beit Hamikdash was that they found a flask of oil with it's initial tamper-proof seal intact.  The second miracle was that this one day supply lasted so long.
  6. The light of the menorah symbolizes the light of the soul, flames reaching for the sky while a physical "container" enables the flame to light up a room, to light of the world.
  7. The custom of playing "dreidel" dates back well before the BCE/AD changeover.  The original game of dreidel was used as a means of subterfuge by students illegally studying torah.  When the oppressive ruling soldiers would raid a study group, the students would gather around a spinning top, acting as if they were engaged in gambling.
  8. The core mitzvah of lighting the menorah is only one candle per night per household.  We light 8 candles, progressing each night as a hiddur, an extended celebration, bringing additional light into the world.
  9. Chanukah is a social holiday, a holiday of sharing.  This is very much a communal celebration.
    • If a person only has 8 candles, one for each night, and his friend has none, it is better to share with your friend for the first few days and not to light during the later days (assuming other candles cannot be procured).  
    • It is best to light menorah in a place where others can see it, and at a time where someone is available to hear you recite the blessings AND at a time where others can see it.
  10. The original menorah was made of a solid block of gold.  In an effort to recreate this incredible masterpiece, artists and scientists in Israel teamed up to create a menorah formed of solid gold.  I don't recall the exact process, but involved using electricity to instantly coat an entire menorah at one time.  This menorah currently stands in the old city of Jerusalem (pictured above) and is believed to have cost about 3 million US dollars.
  • As with all Jewish practice, the core theme of Channukah is utilizing our physical capabilities for spiritual means.  We do not eschew emotions, we celebrate with joy.  We marry the physical to the spiritual, utilizing our hearts, our minds, our actions and our prayers to perform tikun olam, to help better the world. 

Whether it be helping a stranger find a job, greeting everyone with a smile or lighting the menorah, this is the time of year when we rethink, re-evaluate, rekindle and re-inspire.  Special thanks to all of my friends, teachers, Rabbis and family for inspiring me with a love of Chanukkah, a love of torah, a love of life... beyond Chinese food. 

And if you're ever looking for some REALLY good kosher chinese food, please feel free to reach out.

newsweek declares twitter dumbest innovation...

 OK, so first off, I'll admit it. I read Time and Newsweek.  There are times when I find their articles intriguing, educational or provocative.

But this week, Newsweek was off the mark in a really grand way.

In their recent "The New Global Elite" issue (dated January 5th) they ran an article comparing Ink Versus Influence.  What struck me the hardest was their Twitter Versus Newspapers comparison.  To quote -

The dumbest innovation of the century? Memo to tweeters: we don't care what you think.

Yes, print is troubled and some urban dailys are doomed.  Still, on a screen or on dead trees, nothing shapes the conversation like facts.

Twitter_user_growth_q4-2008_hubspotFirstly, I searched, this article isn't even on the web.  Irony...

Secondly, I can't help but wonder what this factoid is hoping to convey? 

(a) That twitter is overhyped by people and/or bloggers? 
(b) That twitter is misunderstood? 
(c) That the mainstream news is overhyping or over-covering this growing platform?

A quick search of reveals no less than 52 results, 45 of them in the past year alone.  So I guess they were at least partially responsible for throwing Ink at this "dumb innovation".

Furthermore, their second is assertion is that Newspapers contain... facts, while Twitter contains... something else. 

Are newspapers factual? Non-partisan? Fair and balanced? 

During the recent Intifada, the NY Times ran a picture my neighbor from Long Island, a kid I went to school with, on their front cover, reporting that he was an Arab teen fleeing the Israeli Police who had beaten him bloody.  In reality, he was a Jewish American student studying abroad who was beaten beyond recognition by an Arab mob in the days before Yom Kippur.

Sure, newspapers are held to a higher standard than rumor-rich social media.  But twitter is not a fad anymore than speaking with one another.  Twitter may or may not be the next big thing (though the numbers do look promising).  But it is a rich platform, and one I wouldn't be as quick to dismiss.

So is Twitter an irrelevant, over-hyped fad?  Not today it isn't.  I'm content with the fact that millions of people are talking.  CNN and Fox News a regularly reporting on Twitter buzz and rumors (as is Newsweek).  Brands are turning profits, direct ROI, via Twitter.  I have met hundreds of interesting people on Twitter, and continue to do so on a regular basis.   I have been recruited through twitter, I have recruited others via Twitter, I communicate with friends, family, clients, partners, vendors and startups on Twitter.  This isn't to say that Twitter is an evergreen platform.  But I wouldn't label them the dumbest innovation of the century.

So Newsweek, even if you believe Twitter is over-hyped, why would you turn your back on an open marketing channel, on millions of conversationalists?  What do they stand to gain?

- - - - - -
disclaimer: I'm generaly a fan of Newsweek and will continue to read this publication. I agree that Twitter is overhyped and misunderstood, I'm just not ready to write it off.  And anyone who is, is clearly missing the core values of information flow in the digital dynamic.  Let's hope this was the lone view of one contributor and not representative of a broader company perspective.  On that note, the views represented in this post are solely my own and not of my employer or their parent company.

10 Rules for Corporate Twitter Activation

Corporation So everyone wants free media.  But twitter isn't free media, it's a tool/platform that can enable or enhance your marketing via earned relationships.  So what does it take to earn some relationship gold? 

What does it take to make your corporate twitter account a success?

  1. Make your account as personable and useful as possible.
    • Connect your twitter lead with your customer support and corporate communications.  You will get a lot of random questions, networking internally will be key.
    • Consider putting a picture of a human face in place of/next to your brand logo.  People know how to talk to people. Nobody talks to a soda bottle.
    • Fill out your bio. Consider including an email address.
    • Do not set up a twitter broadcast account before you have set up an interactive twitter account.
    • Man your account regularly.  Disasters and opportunities present 24/7.
    • Get legal out of the way now.  If legal needs to approve every conversation, you will not be successful.
  2. Commit to both (a) brand value and (b) flexibility.
    • The community will define how relevant your position is on Twitter.  Never forget who pays the bills.  You have two bosses - your brand and the community.  Ignore one or the other and you will fail.
  3. Grow a thick skin and get over the negativity. 
    • These conversations happened before you joined and they will continue when you leave.  If anything, learn. 
    • Do not yell.  Nobody likes to stand next to a screaming maniac (unless that's part of your brand image).
  4. Be very aware of personal space.  Don't be a close talker and don't look like a stalker.
    • Do not @message people who don't want to hear from you.
    • Do not follow more than 1/3rd more people than the total of those who follow you.  Uber-following makes you look like a spammer.
    • It is perfectly acceptable to follow people who aren't following you.
    • You don't have to follow everyone who is following you.
  5. Don't jump into twitter without a guide to the community.
    • The twitter community is constantly refining their expectations.  Keep learning, optimizing, reading and rethinking.
  6. Don't auto-reply.  Don't auto-anything (other than auto-following, maybe). 
  7. Don't ask what twitter can do for you, ask what you can do for the community.
    • Give, give, give.
    • Don't forget to measure what twitter is doing for you. See point 9 below.
  8. Don't worry about scale, think about relevance and influence.
  9. Establish your metrics for success
    • If you can't demonstrate ROI, you are nothing but a disposable test destined to be replaced by proven marketing channels that CAN demonstrate ROI.
  10. Get some perspective.
    • The twitter community thinks they are the be-all and end-all.  They aren't.  They are important, but they are not necessarily representative of society at large.  Just don't tell them that.  And this doesn't mean that they shouldn't be treated with respect.
    • Utilize social intel solutions, or even to alert you to brand relevance and positioning.
    • When appropriate, invite offline conversation continuity.  Take a brand advocate to lunch and pick their brain.  Ask questions to your community.
    photo credit here

- - - - - - -

Inspired By:
How to Use Twitter as a Twool
Looking for Mr Goodtweet, How to Pick Up Followers on Twitter
Great Examples of Corporate Twitter Use (Jennifer Laycock)
Corporate Twitter Entities - Yay or Nay?

Related Posts
10 Rules for Effective Corporate Blogging
Measuring Your Twitter Success
10 Ways to Make Money in Social Media

slapped by reality

Churchill Winston Churchill said it best: The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.

So what are the hard truths of social media?  I was going to write my own list.  Then I came across Matt J MacDonald's.  And his were far better than mine! Check them out below.

Simple Social Media Truths

  1. Everyone thinks they are a social media expert.
  2. Everyone is not a social media expert.
  3. Not every company should have social media initiatives.
  4. We’re all still figuring this out.
  5. Conversations are important, but not as important as some people will have you believe.
  6. Traditional advertising isn’t dead and won’t be for a while, if ever.
  7. Blogging is hard work.
  8. Twitter will not make or break you.
  9. Don’t always cave to the mob.
  10. The barriers to action are now so low that it’s incredible easy to act without thinking it through.
  11. If you speak your mind, you are going to piss someone off eventually.
  12. There’s no excuse to not be listening to the conversations online.
  13. If the words “unless we get caught” are part of your plan, quit now.
  14. Purists, Pessimists, and Doomsayers are almost always wrong.
  15. The wrong way to do things is always the easiest.
  16. There is still a ton of potential in this space.

Post originally featured here.  Photo credit here.