Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The stars at night are big and bright ...

In case you've never noticed, Texans are fiercely proud of, well, being Texan. Nowhere is that more evident than in Austin, capital of the Lone Star state. While yes, you'll see signs that say "Don't Mess With Texas" or "Texan First" or "Keep Austin Weird", the lone star mentality is apparent on every piece of government owned or built property. Yes, the stars at night are big and bright in Austin, but let's be honest, sometimes they take things a bit too far.

My top 12 stars around Austin. What are some things you notice seem to pop up over and over again around your town?

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Eating my way through SXSW

Aside from the panel discussions, fantastic networking opportunities and multiple parties, SXSW is a foodie's heaven. Food truck events, free samples, bbq, tacos, breakfast burritos, bbq, tacos, free drinks, desserts, bbq, tacos and did I mention bbq and tacos?

Austin is a fantastic food town. Trucks with korean bbq tacos (see a theme?), cupcakes, Shiner Bock, Shiner Black, Guero's taco bar, Torchy's Tacos, Salt Lick BBQ, Frito Pie, Amy's Ice Cream, the home of Whole Foods, and much, much more.

So with that, here are my favorite eats from SXSW 2011. What do you crave now that you're back home?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Chrysler and New Media Strategies: How can we learn from their mistakes?

There has been a lot of navel-gazing in the industry around the New Media Strategies gaffe on the Chrysler Autos Twitter account, and whether the reaction by Chrysler to terminate its relationship with NMS was warranted. In fact, on the flight from Minneapolis to Austin for SXSW last week, I participated in a great Twitter discussion with a few agency folks, and even among them there was no consensus. Some felt that Chrysler acted too hastily in firing NMS, and that social media is a channel in which people should be allowed to make mistakes, and that in the end, Chrysler's brand was not negatively affected and in fact received more notice than they would have otherwise. Others felt that the role of an agency is to ensure that the brand receives positive sentiment, growth of community and that no matter the adage "all publicity is good publicity" there are limits, and NMS crossed them and was rightfully canned.

Personally, as someone on the client side of the relationship there are numerous factors in play here.

1. Chrysler should have never allowed someone else to speak on behalf of their brand.

I did not hold Chrysler responsible for NMS letting the F-bomb drop on their Twitter account, but my bigger issue with Chrysler is that they allowed NMS to tweet on their behalf. Strategy? Sure, there's no problem getting help there, but when it comes to the actual voice, nobody will love your brand like you do. Hopefully Chrysler takes the opportunity to learn from this and bring day-to-day management of their social presence in-house.

2. Scott Bartosiewicz made an astoundingly bad decision when he tweeted "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to ******* drive"

Ultimately the 28 year-old NMS employee is at fault. He showed poor judgment in tweeting what he did, even from his personal account. People know where he works. They know that NMS has a relationship with Chrysler and that Chrysler not only has a long-standing relationship with the city of Detroit, but that the city of Detroit is the backbone of the new brand strategy for Chrysler. Should he have really badmouthed the denizens of the Motor City when the connections can be made between him and Chrysler?

From the Star Tribune article, Chrysler contractor whose obscene tweet got him, agency fired is apologizing for 4-letter flub, "Bartosiewicz, a University of Michigan MBA student, blamed the mistake on a mix-up using a program that aims to help users juggle multiple Twitter accounts. "I've tweeted and posted on Facebook thousands of time before," he said."

Yeah, he screwed up using in how he used TweetDeck, but his mistake happened well before hitting send. Maybe he should read this article from Jeff Bullas - 30 things you should not share on social media.

3. New Media Strategies showed a major lapse in judgment with the way they handled the operational aspect of serving a massive brand in social media.

As Advertising Age pointed out, it ended up costing them a multi-million dollar contract - Chrysler Splits With New Media Strategies Over F-Bomb Tweet

Was Chrysler in the right? Did the agency deserve a second chance? How can NMS and other social media practitioners learn from their mistake?

My take, as a client, is that the biggest problem NMS has in not in their selection or training of employees. Their biggest problem is that they had no QA process. Sure, social media is a quick-fire channel. Things happen in real-time and as Ferris Bueller said "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." However, if you act too hastily, you may make a major mistake that can be easily avoided. So, QA in social. How can we solve the problem?

4. Why can't there be a QA process in place?

No tweet or Facebook update or blog post should ever go out in real time. There are so many programs and platforms that offer the ability to schedule posts and have workflows set up so that posts can be approved prior to publishing. Establish a process so that every tweet is scheduled for a minimum of 15 or 30 minutes from now and another employee approves the post. That person doesn't even need to be involved in the social channel or an approved social practitioner, but there needs to be another set of eyes on every post. Think about it this way: Social media is no less or more important to your business as email, web copy, print or broadcast ads. Do you let emails, print ads, radio or TV ads go out without having at least two people look at them for typos, message and brand standards? No? Well then why would you think less of the impact social can have on your brand? As an agency, is 15-30 minutes worth keeping a multi-million dollar contract?

To wrap up, there is no consensus on the Chrysler-NMS issue, but ultimately it doesn't matter, what's done is done. However, we can all learn from and build on what happened to Scott Bartosiewicz, Chrysler and New Media Strategies to make sure it doesn't happen to you and your company.

For a further dive into the aftermath, check out a great article from Advertising Age - Chrysler's Twitter Controversy Teaches Us 'Brand Journalism' Is a Lie.

  • Do you have a QA process in place?

  • Would you look down on a brand who doesn't tweet for themselves?

  • Would you have fired NMS?

Let me hear it in the comments!

Monday, March 14, 2011

SXSW Interactive 2011: Day 3 in review

Social media analytics. Twitter thinks they have one of the most open public APIs. Raj from ViralHeat disagrees that it is good enough at serving the needs of his clients. Jason Falls is a fabulously entertaining, engaging and informative speaker, if you are a newbie or small business owner. Every small business owner who is interested in getting involved in social media should be reading his work at social media explorer. But here begins my rant:

They have spent the first 20 minutes talking about tools. We still aren't talking about which KPIs are important.

It's frustrating that nobody seems to want to answer the question. They either don't have it or don't want to give up an edge. How long until people stop trying to avoid the ROI question by saying "it shouldn't matter"? My feedback on the panel: we understand that fans & followers isn't important. We want to talk about measuring cost per lead. Let's hear from someone who delivered a solid engagement & financial report. Sick of people avoiding it. Show us the numbers. It's nice to hear Raj from Viral Heat talk about cost per lead from social, but this is FAR too hypothetical. Get actionable folks!

The panel talks about how social is only a sliver of your marketing/branding budget, but here's where I massively disagree w/ panel. You wouldn't not track ROI of email or a print campaign. It's all part of the mix and should be measured accordingly.

I think it's time to have a real reporting & measurement conversation when we get back to the MSP. I'm annoyed by "panels"

swixhq.com has an interesting dashboard creation tool. I will be checking it out when I get back to the office on Wednesday.

Then I went to a core conversation session on getting social at regulated industries. The conversation leaders are from healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Interested to see if they talk about SOX at all, or just worry about HIPPA or FINRA. I'm so impressed, got right into it, that yes, we are all regulated in some way or another, it doesn't mean that you can't get involved in online conversation, just that you should be careful what you say!

My thought about alleviating the fears of legal & c-suite in regulated industries: create an FAQ and try to anticipate their fears and concerns, then come with answers. Work with legal on the answers to the concerns and have a policy pre-established. There are plenty of samples online that can act as a starter for you. Look at Facebook and blogs and twitter and YouTube accounts for competitors across the country and do a content audit. What are their high-level themes? How can you turn at into an editorial calendar? How do they respond to account questions? How do they approach the ethical wall? What happens if you do break the rules and get caught? Then, create a report mockup that will show the return and how you will measure success. Come prepared and get the approval.

Now one just for me. Hockey & music. Hells yeah.

Brian Jennings from the NHL is paired with  from Versus and folks from Interscope Records and an entertainment consulting firm talking about how the NHL worked with artists from Interscope on a strategic alliance to pair artists with sporting events. They focused on Eminem's releasing "Not Afraid" as the theme song to the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

My takeaways:

  • Highlight player playlists. Great idea. Now, package it to iTunes as a download special every week & push to NHL.com

  • Interscope/Aftermath uses Facebook & twitter comments re: artists & songs in staff meetings as focus group. That's ROI

  • NHL fans are richer and more educated than other sports. We're better looking too.

  • NHL gets 15-17 million unique people per month engaging with their brand and messaging.

  • Millions of dowoads of songs as a result of placement in NHL & Madden gaming franchises

  • Bands now want to do free shows and tour with Lord Stanley's Cup? Great concept for sponsorship.

  • NHL concentrated on developing their digital presence and get there first. Look at NHL social, awesome section of NHL.com

  • Goal is to get people to be fans of hockey instead of only their favorite team. Tactic was to concentrate on events

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SXSW: Day 2 - The Morning

After realizing that the left turn arrow from Cesar Chavez to Congress en route to the Hyatt was not working, and sitting through multiple cycles, then avoiding the confederate re-enactors on their horses and with their wagon pulled by donkeys we got in 15 minutes late and filled with road rage. First session of the day was "social media: the next generation of business engagement" and I found it to be yet more 101 level information on how to get buy in and really high level KPIs and the difference between KPI and ROI. There was a little discussion around how your metrics should be dependent upon your objectives, etc. Frankly, if you don't understand that by this point, you're facing a bigger problem than not having the right metrics.

Anyway, next session will be "seed & feed: cultivating self-organizing communities" or "to reply or not to reply? Facebook conversations". Everyone must attend at least one core conversation session. Wow. Get smart people in a room who are passionate about a concept and let them talk and share. Its a fabulous way to spend an hour. Discussion around community and the issues corporations face when involved in community, especially if it's not about the products, but rather about a concept that happens to deal with their customers base. Take PartnerUp for example: the community is not around Deluxe products or services. In fact, we don't want it to be the kind of place that is a group of people talking about how much they love us (I'd rather see that on Facebook & Twitter), but instead thank us for providing a place where small business owners can find people to answer their questions around starting, marketing, funding and running a small business. Even if we aren't the people who answer the question, we provided the place and brought folks together, we want to make small business owners happy. That's the key to community managers, we are a group of people who want to create happiness in the world. I like that idea. Do you buy it?

SXSW Interactive 2011: Day 1 in review (including video!)

For a "southby" virgin, the first day can be a little overwhelming. Daunting. Intimidating even, and that's without the trade show floor even being open! Day one was good. A mixture of enlightened conversation (does any brand really only need 100 "fans" if they're the right 100?) and disappointment in a logistical #fail (it shouldn't have been surprising that big brands talking about their marketing budgets were going to get a huge audience), culminating in a fabulous bbq dinner from the good folks at socialmedia.org and conversation around the Chrysler - NMS fiasco with other big brand social marketers (only one of whom wouldn't have fired NMS). Anyway, it was good day, and I'm looking forward to more today (though I definitely don't need to attend any more of the parties. I'm too old for the loud music and dancing buffoons).