As I write this, NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis is sitting on the runway at Kennedy Space Center, still venting steam after landing the final shuttle mission ever. The space shuttle program has concluded. The budget and personnel in the aerospace industry is now directed towards new endeavors and projects. Currently America does not have any other manned space vehicles that can take us out of Earth’s atmosphere and into space.
I’m a bit of a ‘space geekâ€ and with my professional career in web marketing (aka ‘web geekâ€), I have participated in a number of NASA tweetups and my friends consider me the person who knows the latest news in space exploration and technology. With the conclusion of the space shuttle program while we still have Americans in space, living on the space station – people are asking me: ‘What’s Next? What’s next for NASA and for space exploration? What’s next for the astronauts on the station? What’s next in commercial aerospace with the new government mandates and funding?â€
Interestingly, I’m asked the same question from clients and prospects around web marketing, mobile and cloud applications and social media: ‘What’s Next? What’s the next social networking site our business should be using? What’s the next big smartphone or mobile platform to get? What’s the next big online tool that I should be learning to use?â€
Although I’m asked ‘What’s Next?â€ almost daily – I rarely answer the question directly. Predicting what’s next in web is a bit like fortune telling. Who would have guessed twitter would even exist a few years ago? 5 years later’ twitter celebrated its 5 year birthday with an estimated value of about $7.8 billion and an estimated 175 million registered accounts. I didn’t predict this 5 years ago.
I did manage to avoid having a Myspace account, I’m a strong promoter of LinkedIn, and I’ve used Match.com (probably the oldest social networking site around after Listservs) off and on for years. So I guessed a few correctly too.
This morning while I am feeling optimistic and a bit awe-struck watching the ‘final fourâ€ astronauts walking away from the landing strip – I’m going to “peer into my crystal ball” and try to answer “What’s Next?” for you.
For space exploration, my top 3 predictions are:
1. U.S. commercial contractors in partnership with NASA will have a manned space vehicle ready within the next year.
2. Americans will realize that we need to establish a better off-planet ‘baseâ€ (moon maybe, or larger space station) before we are truly able to accomplish deeper space missions like trips to Mars.
3. There will be some amazing new technologies and products that result from American’s resurgence in space exploration and I predict biosciences and medical will be the recipient of a large majority of these.
My predictions for web technology:
1. Augmented reality integration with our social networking sites will become mainstream in the next 1-2 years. The things I’m seeing and hearing about with augmented reality is scary’ cool.
2. Mobile will be how we access everything. Anyone who doesn’t have mobile web access will pretty much have no friends. Businesses that don’t have mobile will lose to their web-friendly competition.
3. Local search will integrate social search and people will search based on what’s nearby AND where their friends are going.
I am probably wrong about most of these, and that’s ok with me. I have always been more interested in how people are able to find surprising and innovative ways to use technology and to accomplish things that we initially say is impossible. Like going into space’ initially we said that was never going to happen. And now we have American men and women living in space on the International Space Station. Instead of asking simply “What’s Next” – I find myself asking the question: “What will We accomplish next?”
With recent Congressional hearings and proposed legislation for more stringent online privacy laws, there is a lot of eye-opening going around consumers. If asked to estimate/guess, I would suggest that probably 85% or more of the people who are using the internet daily are unaware of all the different ways they are being tracked and what data is being collected about them online.
Facebook is the most notable violator – constantly changing privacy settings with little to no notice to its members. Recently, Google and Apple started making headlines for their geolocation tracking software in iPhones and Android smartphones. These devices were sharing the owners’ locations without the owner being made aware in many situations.
If these privacy issues have you feeling a bit icky – you aren’t alone. Ernie Manouse’s recent PBS episode invited his guests to explain just how concerned you should be and what to watch out for to better manage the information that both goes out on the internet about you as well as the information that you and your children are receiving online.
There were some really great debates and thought-provoking questions asked during the social media security and technology discussion. You can watch the recorded episode and hear Ed, Tom, and Christopher debate three major topics Ernie asks around online privacy in today’s digital world.
Ernie poses 3 questions to his guests:
1) What information is being tracked online without your knowledge and why is that information being tracked?
2) How does the younger generation view these privacy issues – do they even consider them invasions of their privacy?
3) Are we spending too much time trying to find ways to limit the information being shared and collected online and should we instead be focusing on education and teaching people, and more importantly children, how to handle the different situations they may encounter?
Tell us how you would answer the questions in the comments below, and watch the episode to hear how Ed, Tom and Christopher suggest you can better manage your online privacy to protect yourself and your kids. And you can check out photos from the taping inside the studio at Houston PBS on our Schipul Photo Gallery.
The web is buzzing right now about Google+ and Facebook’s new video calling feature. Both offer different features and draw backs. Some people are raving fans, others can’t stand one platform or another. One way or another, it’s my opinion that video chat will become much more prevalent and common so I’m excited to see the big guys innovating. I’ve put together a brief comparison below so you can see what each platform offers and if it will suit your needs.
Last week Schipul was a proud sponsor of the 2011 AllFacebook Conference in San Francisco. Two days full of awesome brain-candy, all centered around the number one social platform, and how groups and businesses can better use it. The overwhelming theme was “Quality versus Quantity”.
More important than the number of fans you have for your page is how much those fans interact with you. More important than how often you update your page is the kinds of things you’re sharing and questions you’re asking. A few tips to help you get the most from your Facebook page:
Give people a reason to like and engage with you. Contests, coupons, earn rewards, etc. Social media is an escape, you’ve got to make people smile and make them want to share. People share because it expresses something about who they are. They share if they believe it to be beneficial to their friends. In contrast, people who enter a contest on your page aren’t likely to tell their friends they did so. We’re gamers at heart and we don’t want the competition! Instead, find a social reason for people to share your content. Keep contests simple – let people use content they already have. If you’re making folks create a video or take a photo, that’s a barrier to participation. The easier it is the more engaging it is.
It’s too early in the social media spectrum to have a guaranteed recipe for what works. You’ve got to watch what others are doing and learn from them. You have to be willing to try things out and make mistakes. Make sure you’re documenting the things you do try, so you’re able to gauge the response and know what your audience responds to.
Think of Facebook as a cocktail party. You’re not looking to meet someone and have them sign a contract on the spot; you’re looking to start a relationship. A great way to do that is with social context ads. Those are the ads that you’ll see in the sidebar which indicate which of your friends are already fans of the product or service. They improve your ad recall by 68%, and make you 4 times as likely to buy. Crazy stat time: If you’ve got 350,000 fans on your page, you’re then able to reach the entire U.S. population via those social connections. Start those conversations now!
Social media often gets the leftovers from other campaigns. It’s the “behind the scenes” access and leftover footage. That doesn’t sell the dream of your product. Whether you are marketing to individuals or businesses, your product has a dream to offer; that idea that if I use your service my life will be more glamorous, or that I can accomplish all my goals. Your company needs to become the enabler that allows me to achieve the dream. Your task is to define that dream for your product and make sure that your social media platforms are effectively selling it.
Get your fans engaged every time. Easier said than done, right? A simple way is to make a very strong statement and then ask for a response. Think along the lines of “Houston is the best city in the entire world, don’t you agree?” Remember that you’re competing with your fan’s friends in their timeline. Your message has to be engaging enough to stand out amongst the talk of new babys, boyfriend drama, and cute bunny photos. Once you get a conversation going, never leave a question unanswered on your wall. It’s the whole point of social. But be careful to not run over the conversation either – you don’t have to comment on every comment made.
It may seem a little surprising to have two full days of nothing but talking about Facebook, but I think it’s a great example of just how much this social platform has become a core part of our lives. The challenge for businesses is to find a spot in the system that is ultimately built for social connections. The best way to do that is for page owners to talk to fans like they are friends. Authenticity and transparency are super important when building these relationships. Facebook isn’t going away, so it’s key for businesses to claim their spot now and start listening to consumers.
Facebook announces group and video chat
This morning in Palo Alto, Facebook announced several new features rolling out today – group chat, a new chat design, and video chat (aka: ‘video calling‘). These are features that you likely already take advantage of using different platforms, but now it’s possible to take part in them via the Facebook application you’re using every day. In his announcement speech, Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly hit on the theme that the next 5 years in tech will be new applications and programs that use existing platforms.
Now that we’re all connected, the future will be about the cool stuff we can build to take advantage of that. He also stated that users are sharing at an exponential rate. And it’s not just a Facebook phenomenon, it’s an internet phenomenon. Users are no longer the metric to watch; it’s the amount of sharing each person is doing. Now go back and re-read the above points on how to make that content that people want to share. And of course, call us at Schipul if you need some help!
4 billion things are shared every day on Facebook, and now you have some new tools to do it. Group chat you’ll use for coordinating a dinner out or movie time with friends. Start a chat with your best friend, then easily add another. The new chat design makes this easier; instead of a small chat window at the bottom of your Facebook window, the new chat design will scale with your browser. You’re also able to easily send a message to anyone offline; you can even include them in a group chat and a full transcript will be sent to them. (So no talking bad about the people who aren’t there!)
Video chat is by far the most powerful new feature. Powered by Skype, you’re now able to start a chat with someone just by clicking a button on their profile or via a chat window. If they don’t have the application already, it will download for them in just 10-20 seconds. There’s no need to open a new program, add a new contact, and schedule a time to talk. It’s all on Facebook, where you already are. As the lead engineer for the product stated “If it was any easier than that one click, it would be reading your mind.” I think this has huge implications for how we communicate, because now even the most non-technical person can be up on video chat in no time. This might be a good time to evaluate having your parents as friends on Facebook!
The one-on-one intimacy is incredibly powerful. No matter how tech-savvy I consider myself, there’s something about being able to see and speak with a friend or loved one across the country that brings an emotional response. Seeing the demo this morning where that connection was made in a matter of seconds was amazing. I’ve got a few friends that I have connected with on Skype already, but now I’m able to chat with ALL of my friends, without having to do anything new. It’s amazing, and really solidifies Facebook’s place in the social spectrum.
So what about Google+?
As expected, there were a few questions about Google+ directed at Zuckerberg, specifically asking if the Facebook video chat would be expanded to allow for group chats, similar to the Hangout feature in Google+. Zuckerberg said that nothing is ruled out, but right now they’re focusing on the one-to-one experience. Personally speaking, I’m excited to see how this develops. And really excited to be able to easily connect with my friends.
Your customers just got a few more reasons to hang out on Facebook all day – make sure you’re there with them! Fortunately, Schipul is here to help.
Last night, I received my coveted invite to join Google + and I immediately started playing with it while Dexter played in the background. Like so many social media nerds, I was excited to finally get my hands dirty with what some are calling a ‘Facebook killer.â€
So what is Google +?
Google + is Google’s new social network service and is currently in limited field trial. Unlike Google Wave and Buzz, Google + immediately seems more promising due to its slick design which users will love.
At first glance, the minimalist interface is very similar to Facebook.
However unlike the debacle with Buzz, Google + puts privacy in the forefront, making the service innovative and fun to use. Here at Schipul, everyone has been geeking out over it and Google + is truly, as PC Mag’s Mark Hachman states, ‘a social network for geeks.â€
The new social network service is ripped with some really cool features as well which I will discuss next.
So What about these Google + Features?
So it seems Google really thought about these features and realized that life is a little more dynamic than just the Public / Private dichotomy that Facebook and Twitter has created. Instead Google + provides a granular and exciting way to share our lives with the people we know.
This will be a basic overview of Google + features. In the coming days we will blog more in-depth reviews of each feature but for now, let’s see what’s inside Google +.
Social networking is about connecting with people and sharing information. With Google Circles, it’s really easy to do this. Google Circles is basically like Facebook friends lists and groups or Twitter lists but with more control and visualization.
Here’s an example of how they look:
Basically, you can drag-and-drop people in the circles you create. For example, I created a Schipulites circle for my coworkers. With Google +, you now have more control with who you share with at a granular level.
Google + Stream
The stream is very similar to the Facebook home feed which users will appreciate. Here is the Facebook home feed:
Here is the stream for Google +:
This is where you will enter a status update, share photos and videos, etc. As you can see the design is slick and sexy, typical of Google.
Google Sparks is a great feature that helps you find things to share. Think of it like Google Alerts that allows you to follow topics you’re interested in. Here’s an example of how it looks when I search for topics on SEO.
Google Sparks makes it easy to browse suggested topics or you can set your interests using keyword-based searches. Most importantly, it’s really easy to share content.
Hangouts: Group Video Chat
This feature is pretty neat. With Hangouts, you can video chat up to 10 people at a time. Here’s an example of how it looks from Search Engine Land.
This feature looks like it’s going to be useful especially for business meetings. The way it works is when someone initiates a Hangout, it shows up on your feed and notifies your friends. There is however a 10 person limit.
Huddle: Mass Texting and Group Chat
This is the feature, besides Google Circles, I’m most excited about. Huddles is a mass texting and group chat service that turns your different conversations into one simple group chat. Can you imagine? Bar hopping with friends will no longer be an ordeal. It will be simple and painless to get everyone on the same page or update people on where to meet for another crazy night of Red Stripes and darts.
Like Facebook’s ‘Likeâ€ button, the +1 share button makes it easy to identify content that you approve or think is cool. It’s a great way to recommend awesome content to your friends, coworkers and family. This is how it looks in the search results when I do a search for ‘Houston Coffee Spotsâ€ and +1’d the result.
The content you +1 will show up on your Google Profile. Just like in the way that anything you like on Facebook can be liked with Facebook ‘Likeâ€ buttons.
So, you might have also noticed Google +1 buttons starting to appear in search results and publishers adding the button to their sites. If you want to install the Google +1 button on your site be sure to check out our ‘HOWTO: Install Google +1 Share Button on Your Siteâ€ blog post on our SEM blog.
Currently however, the content you +1’d does not feed into Google +. It doesn’t really make sense but I suspect Google will fix this before the service becomes available to everyone. The only way you can see what people have +1’d is if you remember to go to a person’s Google profile. For example:
So that is Google + in a nutshell. In the coming days, we will post more in-depth articles on how to use Google + for your business, so be sure to keep a lookout.
If you got an invite to join Google +, we would love to hear what you think about it. Let us know in the comments below. For now, I’m going to continue getting my Google + on.
Need help getting Google+ on your website?
Check out our handy how to install Google+ button help file’HOWTO: Install Google +1 Share Button on Your Siteâ€ blog post and if you’re brain is still hungry, we’ve got some great social media and online technology help files to help you take it to the next level.
Yesterday was the annual Launch Silicon Valley event, hosted by the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs. The event took place in Mountain View at the Microsoft campus, and had several big names in tech and startups speaking. At Schipul, we love building websites for entrepreneurs – we are one! – and we get totally geeky and excited about new technologies; so this was a must-attend for us. I took one for the team and made the trip to Mountain View (about five miles from our Sunnyvale office) and braved the 65 degree and sunny weather to check it out. Before you hate on me too much, please note that at one point there was no coffee available. NO. COFFEE.
In the morning, the agenda focused largely on panel discussions on the future of venture capital and entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, as well as the rest of the world. You’ve likely heard it suggested that we’re currently in another “tech bubble”; based off of the recent LinkedIn IPO and a coming IPO from Groupon. While most everyone agreed that yes, we are seeing a bubble again, they felt that things would be different this time since the overall world economy is still struggling. That factor would keep the stock market in check; since no matter how excited you may have personally been to hear about these IPOs it’s highly unlikely that the average American is in a position to wager a big bet on them. For that matter, few companies would be able to either. There’s not a huge worry about throwing the breaks on this bubble, and the overall hope is that entrepreneurs who get large valuations will cash out quick and then reinvest back into the venture capital arena.
The economic talk continued with California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom appearing at the conference to chat about development in Silicon Valley and California as a whole. Newsom mentioned that he had recently been visiting several states to see how the others work with their businesses, and mentioned Texas as one of those stops. Newsom stated that in California, 33% of residents have been unemployed for over a year. 33%. It’s a mindboggling figure, and one that many of us in Silicon Valley are isolated from, as unemployment numbers have actually been decreasing in this area. It speaks to the importance of entrepreneurship and strong technical education; as those new startups who develop new technologies need folks to hire. Newsom’s talk is available on YouTube; I highly recommend you checking it out. He’s a great speaker and I’m excited to see what’s in store with him as Lt. Governor.
But on to the good stuff. The afternoon was full of startup pitches; companies who had been around for a year or more and those that just started last month – all presenting on their product, idea, technology. Presentations were limited to 6 minutes and then a panel was allowed to ask questions. Viewers in the audience then voted on the idea they think has the best chance of making it. You can view a full list of the companies who presented at the SVASE website (bottom of the page). Here’s five companies that I think you should keep an eye on:
1. Steelhouse – Steelhouse combines two things a Schipulite loves – web analytics and eCommerce solutions. Steelhouse enables a eCommerce company to get real data on their customers and then better target their promotions to them. As a company, you’ve got to love the idea of being able to really drill-down on the activity going on in your shopping cart. Who’s buying? What time? What made them click? Where did they travel to on the site? How long were they there? Do they come back late at night? How many people looked at this campaign in the last 30 days? How about the last 30 seconds? Think of it like Google Analytics on steroids. Better yet, check out the site! The President of Steelhouse is Mark Douglas, who used to work for a little website called eHarmony.com. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s okay if you don’t want to tell us how.
2. Take The Interview – The former Operations Manager in me loved this one. Take The Interview is a cloud-based platform that enables employers to better screen job applicants. It’s hard to tell what someone is really like from just a resume. It’s hard for a jobseeker to stand out from all the other resumes, unless you use Comic Sans 16-point font in hot pink. [Please don’t ever do that.] Wouldn’t it be great if you could have applicants submit a little video of themselves answering some of your core interview questions? Wouldn’t you as an applicant love the chance to get your bright smile across right away? This platform makes it possible. I’m excited to see this one develop, and especially curious to see how some of our Tendenci job board users might be able to incorporate it in to their processes.
3. Innovalley – Did you ever see a video about a guy with a hoodie that had the controls for his iPod built right into the sleeve? Yea, that was these guys. They call it “smart apparel” and it can be anything from the aforementioned hoodie to a laptop bag that charges your laptop and sneakers with built-in GPS. I want it all.
4. Oomba – These guys? Well these guys are having some naming troubles, so the name was changed from Waba to Oomba literally the day before Launch 2011. The website doesn’t tell you much; but imagine a company that allowed you to trade those virtual objects you collect in games like FarmVille and World of Warcraft, or even auction them off to the highest bidder. Since you, of course, don’t play FarmVille you may not know much about these items (at least not that you’ll admit, but don’t worry, your secret is safe with us. On the Internet.)
In many games though, you can earn or capture rare items like a sword or talking cow. Maybe you earn two talking cows and decide it’s too much, because they’re arguing all the time. So you want to sell one, because it would be virtually mean to just let one go wander in a virtual field. eBay however banned you from doing that, so where do you go? Oomba is your place. The company is headed up by Michael Williams, a guy who has written many computer games himself and who gave the best presentation I saw. Also on board with him is Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. [No, really. And I was totally in the room with that guy.] And cause that wasn’t enough, they also brought on the guy who created Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon. I think it’s safe to say this is a team that knows a bit about gaming and collecting. I’m excited about this one.
5. Trutag Technologies – You know that medicine your doctor just prescribed for you? There’s a 10% chance that it is counterfeit. On the surface, 10% isn’t a lot, right? But we’re talking about something that you’re taking to get better, something that if you take the wrong thing, could do you real harm. Now 10% is a massively large number, isn’t it? Trutag looks to fix that with a edible bar code that will authenticate medicine at the dosage level. While they primarily focused on the medical applications at Launch 2011, they detail other possible uses on their website. While I think it’s kinda weird to think that your medicine has been tagged with something that can be read by a scanner but is edible; the technology behind it all is amazing.
Steelhouse, TruTags, and Innovalley were all voted as “Most Likely to Succeed”, along with Sylvatex Biofuels, Warranty Life, and Flyvie (which I know our own Katie Laird will be interested in). It was so interesting to hear from these entrepreneurs and get an idea of some of the technologies being developed today. Innovation is still alive and well! If you’re interested in learning more about the start up culture in Silicon Valley, check out the SVASE website. The group is a great resource for those looking for venture capital funding, and for tips on how to navigate the many challenges of a startup. Maybe we’ll see you at Launch 2012!
Last week SugarCon 2011 was held in San Francisco, and Schipul was out in full force! SugarCRM is the customer relationship management system that Schipul uses to track all of our client activity. If you’ve ever talked with us or have a site with us right now, we’ve got you “in the system” where we can keep tabs on all the projects going on and make sure you’re getting the client love! SugarCon is a great way for us to interact with others using the system and learn about the cool things they’ve done, as well as learn about new enhancements for the system and hear from technology partners. It also gave the crew some time to hang out with me!
I asked everyone for their thoughts on what was their favorite part of the conference, and two common threads emerged – one, we all loved hearing from HubSpot’s Brian Halligan and Capgemini’s Laurence Buchanan on “Marketing in the Age of Social“. It may be the only time that Comic Sans actually worked for a slide presentation. Additionally, it was exciting to see how different users and companies are customizing the software and expanding the functionality. Here at Schipul, we’ve worked with our SugarCRM provider Epicom to create some custom reports and functionality, like our client portal – but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of all that is possible. One of the great things about SugarCRM is that as an open-source solution it can be extremely powerful as folks create new mods and plugins, versus trying to bend a rigid system to do what they want. A lot of “a-ha” moments were reported by the group. As geeks we are totally fascinated by tech and code!
We were also treated to a special private performance of Beach Blanket Babylon, which is the longest running musical revue in history! Pretty cool to get an intimate performance by the cast, and even more cool was the custom songs they created for the Sugar crowd! The cast came out as everyone from Snow White to Elvis Presley, and had the vocals to match. We sat up front to be close to the action and took as many photos as we could until Aaron’s cell phone died. (Then we moved on to mine)
All in all it was an educational and fun week for the group, and was a nice visit with the folks back home for me. Y’all come back soon now, ya hear?
Everything isn’t a Facebook Like or Share. Everything isn’t a retweet. Everything isn’t how many times you’ve checked in on Gowalla or Foursquare or bought a Groupon or Dugg something. These ideas aren’t revolutionary.1
But it’s easy, isn’t it? It really easy. You don’t have to leave your computer. You have an infinite number of shots. You can throw as many notecards at the wallâ€”when you have an unlimited number of notecards, you just know eventually something will stick.
To use a military metaphor, there is no substitute for on the ground intelligence. To not use a metaphor at all: There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. For phone calls over e-mails. There is no substitute for getting out of your chair and attending a conference, or speaking at a luncheon, or for taking a client out for lunch.
This is what I call Analog Marketing. It’s you being youâ€”all your awkward mannerisms, all your beautiful eyes, all your suits that fit slightly off your shoulder, all your quirks and the cadence of the way you speak. It’s getting on the ground and doing the tangible work that will support your digital marketing. And for that, there is no substitute.
Like and Share everything you can. Go viral. Ask for retweets. Do the best you can.2 But in reality, companies don’t have an infinite number of notecards to throw. Companies have to be selective in what they do. They have to make profitable decisions. And the most profitable, sustainable decision a company can make is to put their people on the ground.
Part I: DrupalCon and the birth of the #drupalmonster
I recently had the pleasure of giving a guest lecture at a Public Relations class with co-worker Albert Hughes at his alma mater Prairie View A&M. It was the impetus for writing this piece.
Our company Schipul solves problems. Painting with a broad brush, we solve client problems related to the Internet. For example, a potential client will come to us with one concept: They need a website and they have no idea how to do it. They trust us to not only:
Be honest with them and give them an honest quote3,
but also provide them with the best technology to solve their problem.
One of the solutions our company employs is the content management system Drupal4. We believe in its infinite flexibility, its community, and it is often times the perfect solution to a potential client’s website that needs to be extremely custom.
We realized three things about Drupal as a company:
The community is fiercely loyal;
a lot of people talk about Drupal as a solution, but there aren’t a lot of people “doing it”;
the Drupal community is definitely doing it.
Albert effectively “brought” Drupal to our company as a solution. He had been messing around with it in his personal time, and when a client approached us about a website, he immediately knew Drupal could solve the client’s problem. It did.
At that point, Schipul went full force with Drupal. We learned it and memorized it and taught it and began to take part in the community. We even loved it so much, that at one point, Albert (a rapper by night) produced a quick music video based on a flow of his. Watch this:
Rapping about Drupal is a pretty absurd concept, but it worked. Founder and creator of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, saw it and put it on his blog. The plays on the video sky-rocketed. Albert and I went to DrupalCon that year, and because of the video, people recognized him. He began to cultivate relationships based off his non-Web-based talent. It established him as part of the Drupal community, albeit in a weird way. It showed a love for the product, and the people responded.
Fast forward to a year later, and Albert and myself were attending DrupalCon again. We knew the power of last year’s rap video, and we wanted to do it again. We had just hired a video specialist on our staff, and with his help, Al and I created a remix to Kanye West’s Monster, effectively creating the #drupalmonster. Watch:
Since we had met Dries, we e-mailed him again and asked him to watch the video figuring he would enjoy it. To our intense thanks, he loved it so much he posted it on his blog again. This was two days before DrupalCon.
Here’s where Analog Marketing comes in. We didn’t want the initial push and hype of a mere blog post to stop people from watching the video. We wanted to be a part of the Drupal Community, and we wanted to give backâ€”as I said earlierâ€”albeit in a weird way.
Our idea was this: Print a bunch of moocards (half-sized business cards, halved hot dog not hamburger) with a bit.ly link that pointed to the video. That was it. The only thing on it was this: bit.ly/drupalmonster. When we got to DrupalCon, we had 1,500 printed out at a local Kinko’s, and old-school guerilla-style, handed them out to everything and everyone. We put them on tables. We gave them to Drupal fanatics, we gave them to concierges at our hotel, we gave them to people we’d meet eating lunch at a local pub.
But as we gave them out, we talked to them about Drupal. What they loved, what they didn’t. Some had more to say than others, but we tried to connect with them on some level. Given a captive Drupal audience, this was somewhat easy. (“Hey, we wrote and produced a Drupal rap music video” said to someone who uses Drupal raises an eyebrowâ€”it doesn’t make a lot of sense.) It was a little harder when trying to convince a hostess at the hotel it was worth her time.
But I saw that same hostess the next day and she called me over and said that not only did she watch it, but she pulled her co-workers aside and they watched it. Eventually, her boss saw it too. And as she was telling me this, her boss came over and complimented us on the video, and I got to compliment the hostess for being a good sport and actually taking the moocard back and watching the video.
Warning: Nerdy Business ROI Stuff Coming: A lot of people ask me how to quantify ROI on social media… blah blah blah. This is exactly how: That boss then said to me: “I’m not in control of who does our website, but if I were, I would go with you.” It’s the best compliment you could give not only myself and Albert, but our company. Asking our company to do your website is an honor to us; it’s like asking us to babysit or be invited to your wedding. And because of the work we did on the ground, in the trenches, talking to the people and going to where they were, we would get their business. We would get that honor.5
Part II: SXSW
If there was ever any epic display of Analog Marketing, it exists on the corner of Trinity and 4th St. during the Interactive portion of SXSW. I had the pleasure of attending for the third year in a row, and each year, it seems this spot between the Austin Convention Center and Champions Bar gets busier and busier.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending, at this spot and immediately entering the convention center, there are literally hundreds of people handing out any number of things: party invites, QR codes, half-clad women giving you a card with a free trial code on it. It’s Analog Marketing, for sure, but it’s the “Facebook” equivalent of the concept. You have an infinite targeted audience and, most likely, and infinite number of notecards to throw at a wall. So you start throwing.
Companies know SXSWi is an important cornerstone in networking. The sessions are always hit-and-miss, but there’s always one thing you can rely on: People. People are the cornerstone of any business. If you have no buyers, there is no company. The only thing this version of Analog Marketing lacks is the connection. Most of the time, the people are in a hurry. They’re trying to get from Point A to Point B in as quick a time as possibleâ€”the marketer barely has time to hand them a card (one of many they’ve gotten in the past 30 seconds), let alone have a conversation with them about their needs and how the marketer’s product could possibly solve their problems.
We tried the Analog Marketing moocard approach to our video at SXSWi as well, and it was significantly less successful, for two reasons:
We did not have the captive audience. (When you’re at DrupalCon and you’re handing out a video about Drupal, it’s like going to a comic book convention and asking someone to watch an interview with Stan Lee.)
We did not have time to cultivate a relationship with the person receiving the card. (See next.)
Part III: Cultivating the relationship
Our Business Development Director Aaron Long once told our company in a full company meeting:
It’s a lot harder to get mad and permanently leave your best friend.
His intent is this: When we talk to clients, we try to be their friends. They literally pay our paychecks. Being honest, ethical, and doing good are cornerstones of our company’s foundation, so when a new client comes in, we get the blessing of helping their business not only survive, but thrive. That’s our job; it’s why people hire us. In return, they pay our paycheck which allows us to do all the things we love to do when we’re not working. It’s a win/win6.
When you have a good rapport with a client, they’re less likely to leave you. You can be absolutely honest with them, speak with candorâ€”and with those two combinedâ€”have real conversations about what they need their website to do and how we need to accomplish it.
Along the way, you become their friend. You begin to respect each other. You begin to bring in the client’s business as your own; when they succeed, we succeeded. And as they grow and trust you more, they’re less likely to leave. You’ve established a level of trust that has absolutely nothing to do with Digital Marketing. Something you could never buy and something you could never “Like” or “Share” on Facebook. Those things are all part of it, but at the end of the day, you need Analog Marketers to cultivate your relationship with your consumers.
Part IV: What you should be doing now
Laozi (known by any number of variations of his name, such as Lao Tzu) was a record-keeper for the Zhou Dynasty court. He is credited with the following, translated into any number of languages, written 3,000 years ago in one of the most famous texts of all-time, Tao Te Ching7:
Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say, “We have done this ourselves.”
This is the definition of Analog Marketing.
I spoke in Houston once about The Next Generation Website at the Social Media Breakfast Houston. A man was there whom I had never met, nor had the chance to meet after my talk, but called our office later that same day. Our top sales-person, Courtney Pemberton, fielded the call and fell in love with them; it wasn’t even about “selling” to them in the conventional sense. They were Girouard’s General Store, who have the claim of the oldest general store in Texas. Due to my public speaking and Courtney’s expertise, they signed on as a client in an incredibly short amount of time. At the time of writing, their site is still in development, but Courtney has gone out of her way, having fun with the client, because she likes them. Both the project manager and Courtney went to their store and took pictures of everything they could find because it’s such a cool place. She brought the pictures back and in design meetings, the designers fell in love with the place as well, experiencing it through the pictures they took, but also the excitement in the employees’ voices.
And when their designs are approved, and their content is added, and their site goes live, our tasks accomplished, I know they’ll look back and say, “We did this together.” And at that point, Digital Marketing can take over and run its course. I’ll be sure to Like it and Share it on Facebook, but I have confidence knowing it all started with Analog Marketing.
1 Although I am still amazed at how many “public relations” companies just try to convince their clients to get on Facebook or Twitter because it’s like some sort of mandate. News flash: You don’t have to be on Twitter. A better question to ask: Is that where your people are?
2 Recognize that these are still good things and that this statement is not tongue-in-cheek. Just don’t start here. Don’t put your cart in front of your horse.
3 If someone’s quoted you over $100,000 for a website, pleaseâ€”call us. You’re most likely being lied to.
4 For the curious, we use three content management systems at our company: WordPress, Tendenci, and Drupal. The first and last are open-source CMSs that have created and cultivated wildly successful communities. We rely heavily on said communities and are infinitely grateful for the hard work these people do. The second in that list is a currently proprietary CMS our CEO wrote in the early 2000s to keep the company afloat after September 11. It’s currently in its fifth iteration and is still bread and butter to our business model.
5 Even more “ROI”-y stuff: The video had an initial push of around 1,500 plays. As we handed out the cards throughout the conference, the plays continually went up each day: 123, 141, 148, 154, culminating the last day of the conference, topping 200 plays at 202.
To this day, we continually get double-digit plays from the video as it takes on a life of its own. We also continually get sales calls solely because they saw the video, liked it, and thought to themselves, “If they love Drupal this much to make a video, they must have a passion for it.” And passion breeds greatness.
At the time of this writing, the video has over 4,600 plays and 33,400 loads.
6 Also a cornerstone of the business. A card is handed out to every new employee (and to a number of clients/potential clients) that not only lists the cornerstones of the business, but also our Mission and Vision and Schipul Honor Code.
7 I don’t intend to cheapen any form of Taoism or religion by comparing the concepts of Analog Marketing to a sacred text. I take the quote literally at its face-value: Go to where the people are first. It will literally support everything you do after that.
This year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) was one for the record books. CiviCRM was a buzz, making open-source software the hero for a multitude of constituent management woes. Speaking of CRMs, have you ever heard of a SocialCRM, yep…it’s coming people! And of course there was Google, never one to show up empty handed, launching “Google for Nonprofits” with the most adorable chocolate bars in tow. There were so many new, and often misspelled, online fund-raising technologies being discussed that many might have walked away a tad overwhelmed.
So what’s an organization to do? What is the best way to raise money online?
One word – VIDEO. And let me tell you why…
While meandering around NTC, a session caught my eye called, “Videos that Raise Money” (See3 Communications). I like videos, and I like helping our nonprofit clients raise money so I figured this would be a win/win situation. Then BAM…statistics were thrown right in my face:
“In December 2010 ComScore reported that 85% of US internet users watched online video, 88.6 million people watched online video on an average single day and the average American spent more than 14 hours watching online video (ComScore, February 2011)”
Geez, whatever happened to playing outside, but I digress…
This data cannot be ignored, and with all of the inexpensive ways to produce videos, nonprofits need to utilize this growing audience to increase awareness and of course, increase online donations.
Ok, so where should an organization begin? According to the guys over at See3, fund-raising has a life cycle and video becomes increasingly relevant during each stage.
Video Fund-raising Life Cycle
Awareness & Identification
Get people to think about the problem and how your organization is dealing with it; and remember, simplicity can force someone to listen.
The Houston Technology Center is known for affording education, insight and more to entrepreneurs needing to climb the ropes to commercialization. The topic of the day, presented by Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, was “Strategic Implications for Houston as a Center for Innovation.”
“The most grand commodity of all is information” – Steve Ballmer
High Tech Talk
Highlights included the path that technology has taken in the last decade and where it’s going in the next. Hand-held devices, resources technology and virtual worlds where business takes place with Avatars were all topics of discussion. The forum mainly, however, focused on informations technology and the important and continuing role it will play on business development in the years to come.
Steve Ballmer also spiced things up wit ha sneak peak of some great Avatar based programs for X-Box360 even giving away an X-Box to a lucky attendee at the end of the program.
Hugs to Houston Technology Center
Sheila Whanger did a great job organizing the event and it was wonderful to see Walter Ulrich, President & CEO of Houston Technology Center up on the stage as well. Let’s not also forget the welcoming faces of Downey Bridgwater, Chairman of the Board – HTC and Larry Kellner, Chairman of the Board – Greater Houston Partnership.