Monday, March 26, 2012

Measuring Brand Personality: Why Customer Service, Social Marketing and Brandmaking Are Becoming Same Thing

Everything communicates. Everything. What our brands do, say, show, process or sell. My colleague, Nancy Goldstein, is a brand strategist who is especially passionate about this. And she’s right.

Lately, I’ve been studying the best behaviors of social brands. That’s why this infographic caught my eye. It reveals interesting insights into customer service and social commerce.

The more I probe, the more I’m convinced: holistic customer service in a digital culture is a critical expression of brand personality. More than any logo or tagline.

Francisco Rosales over at SocialMouths makes some assertions about the infographic below, asking why social platforms like Facebook have yet to live up to their potential as commercial powerhouses? He wonders, as I do, “how platforms like GetSatisfaction are performing in the customer service segment.”

The true issue is not whether social media can conjure the right alchemy of brand, user experience and customer service to generate direct sales. It’s more about when we will break through to a deeper understanding of user intent. People don’t use Facebook as a place to shop. It’s an illusion that they will. But it’s the illusion that’s propping things up for now. And sometimes the greatest loss is the loss of an illusion.

Here’s your eye candy:
(Click the image to enlarge it)

Created by Our Social Times

Friday, March 23, 2012

Join Me on a the Adventure of a Lifetime

As my newsletter subscribers know, I've been given an incredible opportunity. As a writer and blogger, I know how powerful the right photo can be. Last year, I bought a decent camera. And tried to teach myself. But I got disappointing results. Next, I shopped around for classes, but nothing quite clicked.

Then, something wonderful happened. 

I was contacted by Catherine Karnow, the award-winning National Geographic photographer.

In mid-May, I'm teaming up with Catherine for a photography workshop she's leading in Orvieto, Italy. During the evenings, I will be hosting a roundtable for the bloggers among us to process and implement what we've learned.

I can't express how excited I am to share this adventure with all of the bloggers and travelers in my network. Even better, I've been given carte blanche to extend the early bird discount to anyone in my tribe.

The whole experience is shaping up to be one of those astonishing trips--when it's possible to suspend time and soak in the countryside and culture of Umbria, led by a holy-grail kind of teacher. I've worked with Catherine on a variety of projects and she is both talented and generous of spirit. I made her swear to share her best secrets, like her knack for shooting and choosing prize-winning photos without using Photoshop.

If you are interested in joining us, just a few slots remain.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Digital Culture At-A-Glance

Feel like you can't keep up with Twitter, Facebook, and your RSS reader? Perhaps that's because we're producing content, and the gadgets to view it, at an unprecedented rate. This infographic from the fine folks at illustrates some astonishing facts about our digital culture.

A Day in the Internet
Created by:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Surprising moments at SXSW Interactive 2012

Photo by kk+
I’m still digging out from 9 days on the road, five of which were spent in Austin, TX for SXSW Interactive. I’ll be recapping all this week.

Let me start with these:

Did she just say that?
Lisa Ling from the daytime talk show The View always seems so perfect to me. So I was pleasantly surprised when she gave a revealing look at how social media has changed her self-concept. “Will they re-tweet me? What do they think of me? The more I share, the more insecure I feel about myself.” The poised Ling even dropped the f-bomb for emphasis!

Beep, beep…
The app Highlight was everywhere. During a packed panel on the State of Social, a quick show of smartphones proved that most people in the audience were using the handy app Highlight, which lights up your phone when you are in proximity to someone else with the app, displaying their profile.

What it Costs to Be Morgan Spurlock
People idealize creatives like Morgan Spurlock. But nervous silence fell over the audience when Spurlock admitted to racking up $250,000 in credit card debt ramping up to his documentary Super Size Me. He was there to talk about a new partnership with Hulu, as the rerun repository seeks to create original content.

Unique Gen-Y giveaway: A session with a notable mentor.
The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts uses mentorship sessions with alumni to motivate students in its interactive program for first-year students.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

SXSW Diary: My Facebook Folly-When Reality Undoes Strategy

Photo by salisasaki
I'm in a hotel room hanging out with my son who has flown here to Austin to work for RVIP Lounge and Idea Monkey during SXSW. He researches and writes custom social media content. We start talking about my social media strategy. I tell him I use Facebook primarily for my personal life. We toggle over to my Facebook account. He gasps. Mom, he says, why haven't you responded to 35 "friend" requests?

Oh, my. How do I explain myself? I lost track of Facebook friends and family because...oh, God...because it was not part of my strategy. How ridiculous! We both roll around laughing.

"Mom, he bellows, you NEED to friend these people. It's not a business strategy. It a reality strategy. People need friends!"

I take his point. Furious friending and deep mea culpa ensue.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Brand-new Keys to Success—See Things Differently

This week, I'm heading out to SXSW Interactive. There, I'll be interviewing some of the most ambitious, change-making, cliff-hanging, impassioned brandmakers I can find for a research project I'm working on with an intrepid librarian, Tony Tallent, under the auspices of the Urban Libraries Council.

Our research aim is to uncover the winning behaviors of new-economy brands.

Some days, I wonder if it's a fool's errand. After all, the subjects I will be interviewing don't run regular businesses. They are renegades out on the ramparts.

I begin to doubt myself.

I’ve begun to notice something. Every time I allow myself to fill up on self-doubt, I start feeling blue. As my conviction weakens, doubt turns into fear. Do you recall the scene from Alien when the monster gets right up next to Sigourney Weaver’s cheek and breathes on her? That’s what fear does to me. It’s a paralyzing monster.

So, I decided to kick the self-indulgent habit of doubt. I devised a way to stop worrying about failure. Face it, head on.

This might help you tame your monster, too:

Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page. On the left, list your top 5 goals (any more and you’re spinning your wheels). They can be professional, emotional, health- and fitness-related.

Now make a list on the other half of the page, alongside your goals. Write down everything that you fear will prevent you from achieving these goals. Be brutally honest. Write the most vexing barriers in your way.

Put it in a drawer, and move on with your day.

Before you retire for the night, consult your list. What patterns do you see?

Here’s what I found out from mine:

1) My second list is more elaborate, whereas my goals are more succinct. This means I devote a great deal of creative energy to telling myself stories intended to console me if I don’t succeed. Subtly, I’m gearing up to fail. Meanwhile, my goals don’t get nearly the same attention. I don’t lavish them with the same level of imagination by a long shot.

2) Many of my goals have repeated themes. Every January, I use different words to make my list of resolutions. But the nouns and verbs reveal little that’s new. My aspirations endure.

Here’s my take: The persistence of our goals is scaffolding that rests against the structure being built inside. They offer the platforms that help other people, influences, and experiences find their way inside to strengthen us brick by brick.

Here’s what else I learned: No matter how overwhelming the evidence that we are likely to fail, it doesn’t hold a candle to the thrill of improving our lives and the lives of others.

Over the years of attending SXSW, I’ve learned that it’s likely many of the start ups I encounter there will fail. They know it, too. So, in my own small way, I hope to lift them up by shining a light on what is good about their work that others might be inspired.

We are building a new economy. It’s time to change the way we see things and strike a balance between hope and fear.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Most Viral Video of the Week Has Women Roaring

I was sitting at my desk when AdAge’s Weekly Viral Video Chart popped into my inbox. After a long day, I launched it and laughed. Replayed it, and laughed harder. That’s my test. If it can elicit laughs in multiple replays, it’s a winner.

It’s Monday. Need a little boost? Then unleash "Double Impact," the hilarious :30 video spot that earned over a million views last week, debuting at No. 5 on AdAge’s most viral list.

Watch as a dowdy woman's grocery-store fantasy about clean pipes takes her away to a land where buff plumbers arrive at her home to tend to her clogged sink, plying her with soft-core innuendos such as, "I'm here to snake your drain." And the Barry White-like narrator puts the cherry on top of a perfect spot.