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Jun 30, 2010, 11:03 CDT
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Friday, June 24, 2011, 2:14 PM
This week’s Interesting Expert of the Week is Omékongo Dibinga, director of UPstander International and author of “G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness! 10 Steps to Living Your Best Life.”
Dibinga uses his skills as a speaker, poet, and musician to inspire positive change across the globe. His work has been televised in over 150 countries, and he was selected one of five people out of 750,000 to receive the "CNN iReport Spirit Award" for his vlogging. He also hosts the cable TV talk show "Real Talk," which deals with issues facing youth.
I caught up with Dibinga to find out more about his work and the issues facing youth in America.
Omékongo, your profile is very impressive! Can you tell me a little bit about what you're working on now?
“This week I am releasing my eighth album, called ‘Bootleg 3.’ It's a hip-hop mix tape. Some of my CDs are poetry and others motivational. You see, Maria, wherever I speak across the globe, I encounter youth who love rap music. The problem I have seen is that whether I'm in a private school, a prison, or anywhere in between, most people believe rap music is only about vulgarities, homophobia, violence and misogyny. They have never been exposed to another form of rap music. The goal of my ‘Bootleg’ series is to show young people that they can sound like their favorite artists but they don't have to swear or disrespect women. More importantly, the goal is to show them that they can rap about the beautiful things in their lives and still be considered cool and still be successful. It's amazing, Maria. Whenever I share this work with students (and adults), the majority of them say they never thought positive rap was possible. Furthermore, since people say they want positive music but never buy it, I make the music available for free. You can listen to some full samples right here: Tribute to Michael Jackson (set to "Human Nature"); remix of a 50 Cent song; remix of Jay-Z's "DOA”; remix of Kanye West's "Good Life" (a tribute to student UPstanders).
You can hear more by seeing the other tracks on the right side of the page. It's really sad, Maria. I've taken this work to record companies and big names in media. I ask them: Rather than talking about the music you're against, why not talk about what you're for? No response. I've learned that people can build their careers talking about what they're against, as opposed to what they're for.
What's an UPstander, and what's the book about?
An UPstander is someone who sees an issue take place, and responds to it. She is called an UPstander and not a BYstander because she doesn't watch injustice take place. Whether it's bullying, racism, homophobia or mass atrocities taking place like genocides in places like Sudan, an UPstander is someone who says, "I will do what I can with what I have, where I'm at to put an end to this crisis." An UPstander realizes that silence is compliance.
I am writing the book for students who are experiencing burnout in their lives as being UPstanders. As you may have seen, I started the 1,000,000 Youth Campaign in order to motivate 1 million youth across the globe to live their best lives. Whether I am at Stanford or a school in Zambia (where I was two weeks ago), I encounter students who are burned out. They can't even go to a party and dance without thinking about their cause. They stop exercising and doing other things they love in their pursuit of changing the world. The goal of the book is to show UPstanders how they can still be committed to their mission and still have a quality lifestyle. Dr. King was assassinated at age 39 but had the heart of a 69-year-old when they cut him open. Part of it was from smoking, but the other part was his grueling work schedule. This book will show my fellow UPstanders that they must have a quality balance of life, which will actually make them more successful in their life's cause.
What do you see as the biggest issue facing today's youth?
The biggest issue facing youth today is adult apathy. So many youth believe that no one cares about them. They feel like they are being neglected. Just look at the situation: Our public education system is in a shambles, so students are not excited about school. Art and language programs are being cut left and right in school and even in prisons, so students don't have the same opportunities to discover other career paths, maybe in music or non-academic programs. Every single day, they're bombarded with images of what they don't have through TV and the Internet. They see the millionaire athletes, singers who look like supermodels, etc. A young person today feels they have better chances of becoming successful by getting popular on YouTube (a la Justin Bieber, Antoine Dodson, Susan Boyle) than going to school. If not, they become depressed because when (if) the TV goes off, they look around at their lives and become miserable. Some turn to robbery to try to get what they want (which is celebrated in our music); some take their anger out on a significant other who also feels undervalued; some turn to drugs and alcohol; some even commit suicide.
As adults, we need to make sure we are really investing in our youth. They are more than 50 percent of the population but 100 percent of our future. They are the messages we send to a future we do not know. Parents need to be more involved. Schools need to really have programs for youth, as well as city government. We are throwing an entire generation away because we are so caught up in trying to get ours. That is why I started the 1,000,000 Youth Campaign.
Psychologically, it has been proven that if you hear a negative comment one time, you have to hear the positive opposite 17 times before you believe the positive to be true. A young person can go an entire day, week, or month and not hear a positive comment but tons of negative ones. My mission is to be at least the one voice of positivity that a young person may hear throughout their challenging day.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 1:21 PM
While green marketing involves many of the same principles as any other marketing discipline, there are specific things businesses should consider when marketing to the green consumer.
That was the focus of our recent #ConnectChat featuring Shel Horowitz, copywriter, blogger, award-winning author, and environmental and social justice activist.
Following is a transcript of the Twitter-based chat:
ProfNet: Welcome to #ConnectChat! Our topic today is “Marketing to the Green Consumer.” Our featured guest today is Shel Horowitz (@shelhorowitz). Since 1972, Shel has used his marketing skills for a number of environmental and social change organizations. Shel also founded the Business Ethics Pledge, a moral code of business ethics based on honesty, integrity and quality. He is the author of eight books, including 2010’s “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green,” co-authored by @LocalGuerrilla. I’ll start off w/ a few questions for Shel. If you’ve got a question for him, make sure to use #connectchat so we see your question. Welcome, Shel! I’m so glad you could join us today!
Shel: Great to be here. Looking forward to seeing my book-cover picture in Times Square.
ProfNet: Me, too! Ok, let’s jump right in. How big is the green consumer market?
Shel: Growing about 29 percent a year. It’s much more mainstream than just a few years ago.
ProfNet: What are some of the main differences between green and "regular" marketing?
Shel: Green customers are very sensitive to hype, and they want to make sure you walk your talk as an advertiser. If they see a disconnect between your messages and your behavior, you lose them FAST. They want specific, verifiable claims.
ProfNet: So if you’re going to make a claim that you’re a green company, you better follow through...
Shel: Not just follow through -- you have to really walk your talk!
@Cstratinc: "Green" is such a broad term. How do you efficiently market to a more specific "green" and "natural" audience?
Shel: You can sub-segment ad infinitum. For instance, people who have dietary issues, protecting their kids, concern for future generations, social justice -- you market differently to each. You can also sub-segment by other factors, such as demographic. Wal-Mart will sell organic food differently than Whole Foods.
ProfNet: What’s the biggest mistake companies make when marketing to green consumers?
Shel: Greenwashing: Speaking in generalities, platitudes or unverified/demonstrably false claims … either something that isn’t really green, or isn’t really true. In the book, I discuss how Nestle got hauled into court for failing to understand this, and how a few simple wording changes would have kept them out of trouble.
ProfNet: So this ties back to what you were saying about walking the talk...
Shel: Absolutely! And the good news is that it’s actually pretty easy to do. For instance, you don’t say you’ve achieved complete eco-compliance. You note that you’re on the path, making progress, but still have farther to go.
@elysepetroni: What are the primary motivators for consumers to go green?
Shel: Primary motivators will vary. For some, health. For others, their kids. For others, doing the right thing. For others, saving the planet, e.g., reversing climate change. For others, profit motive.
ProfNet: In your book, “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green,” you say market share is the wrong metric. What metric is better?
Shel: Profitability. If my business is at its capacity, what does it matter to me that you also have customers? Often, the pie is big enough, but revenue has to exceed expenses.
ProfNet: You also say competitors can be among your best allies. Can you explain?
Shel: This is a really cool and wonderful thing. When you get out of the market-share mindset and into what I call the “abundance mentality,” you open up worlds of possibility to collaborate. Example: How is it that USPS guarantees Express Mail? Answer: They have a partnership with FedEx. FedEx understands how to move and track packages. Thus, USPS doesn’t have to offer thousands of refunds, because FedEx will get it safely to the destination airport. Another example: IBM, Motorola, Apple joined forces to create the PowerPC chip of the 1990s. Everyone wins. Locally in my area, 11 florists joined forces on a huge Mother’s Day ad in the local paper. None could have afforded it alone.
ProfNet: Ahh, those are great examples!
@Cstratinc: What advice do you have on pitching green medical alternatives to the green community?
Shel: How to make the green community aware of alternative methodologies will vary to some extent based on what we’re actually talking about. For instance, homeopathy can be marketed as harnessing the body’s natural defenses, while chiropractic would be more about therapeutic approaches that don’t involve medicine.
@Cstratinc: Thanks for your insightful answers on green #marketing.
@PKECreative: How do you feel about recent reports that say consumers are too concerned with the economy to care about the environment?
Shel: This is a huge opportunity for green marketers who can position themselves as price leaders. Example: Marcal, 100 percent recycled household paper products, price competitive with any brand. In fact, you’ve hit on one of my favorite themes: When you combine personal benefit with greater social good, you win.
ProfNet: OK, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. What are some strategies for green marketing?
Shel: Well, since I just mentioned Marcal (are you listening, @marcalsmallstep?), they dubbed themselves the official sponsor of fall foliage. And they ran a photo contest. That took some chutzpah but they got lots of press. It’s important to remember that just being green isn’t news any more, just like publishing a book isn’t news anymore. So we, as marketers, have to be creative. Instead of talking about going green, we can talk about such things as how much fuel we help save, how many thousands of gallons of water are not polluted, how we put money back into people’s pockets.
@PKECreative: Very helpful, thank you!
@MarcalSmallStep: @shelhorowitz Always listening to you Shel!! Hope all is well.
ProfNet: So I’m with a company that has a green product, or some kind of green news. What’s my first step?
Shel: The first step is to identify what aspect of your product/service is green, what core benefits you provide -- and then create upbeat, sexy marketing messages focused on this benefit (or downer ones focused on problem, but I recommend the former). Most press release writers don’t understand this. They use a 1950s AP-type headline that’s all about them, and wonder why they get no media coverage.
ProfNet: I just looked at my chocolate wrapper to see if it’s green. You don’t mind if I eat chocolate while I type, do you?
Shel: As long as it’s organic and fair trade, not a problem. Chocolate is a great example of the need to be systemically green. We need to be aware of the impact our choices have on others and on the planet. Several years ago, I found out how much child slavery was involved in the traditional chocolate industry. I didn’t want to be a party to that, so I immediately switched to fair trade, which guarantees fair treatment of the harvesters and other good stuff. The market has greatly expanded in the intervening years, and now it’s easy to find high-quality fair trade chocolate. And most of that is also organic, which then has health benefits for we who eat it, for the growers and for the earth. For a chocoholic like me, I can rest easily knowing that the large amount I consume is good for the harvesters and the planet.
ProfNet: So as long as it’s fair-trade, I can eat as much as I want, right?
Shel: Yup! Con mucho gusto.
ProfNet: With so many companies in the green market, are consumers getting overwhelmed? Is “green” losing its value?
Shel: Green is GAINING value, but the landscape has shifted. Pretty soon, if you’re NOT green, you simply won’t be a credible player. People will stop doing business with you, because the green bar is being raised constantly. Also, consumers are justifiably confused by the welter of competing claims, certifications, etc. They are bewildered. Thus, the most successful green marketers will be able to differentiate themselves with comprehensible and verifiable claims. But as to the bar going higher, think about the water industry. Ten years ago, people thought they were going green if they brought in bottled water. Then we began to hear about how much water and plastic and oil that wastes, the effect on the
watershed from too much drawdown by large-scale bottling, and a bunch of other issues. Now, a green meeting planner makes a point of bringing in filtered tap water!
ProfNet: What kinds of companies benefit from using a positive message vs. a "downer" message focusing on the problem?
Shel: Negative messages are crucial to bring attention to an issue -- but then, unless accompanied by positive steps, leaves people feeling disempowered and helpless. So yes, we need awareness about climate change, about the problems of nuclear power, etc. -- but then what do we DO about it? So, for instance, when I talk about climate change, I talk about the fantastic work of people like Amory Lovins. When you can show how he saved the Empire State Building $4 million a year in energy costs, people are a lot more willing to hear that they can have a role in solving the problems. Similarly, I’ve been blogging a lot at GreenAndProfitable.com about the problems with nuclear power, especially since Fukushima. But if you read today’s post, you won’t just see doom and gloom. You’ll see a call to action to shut down the nukes, and a promise that in the coming days I will be posting some specific things people can do.
ProfNet: So what I’m getting from that is that it’s not enough to say you’re green, but also have a call to action.
Shel: Yes. People want to feel like they’re part of the solution. They WANT to be asked to help. Maybe this is another area where the green market is different. That might be less true in, say, the sale of 60-inch TVs. :-) The problem-solution formula is way more empowering than problem, problem, problem.
ProfNet: As a marketer, do you reach out mainly to environmental publications, or general-interest ones?
Shel: I reach to both camps, but with different messaging. Right now, for instance, my syndicated Green And Profitable column runs in a local newspaper here in Massachusetts. My query to them was about the need for their readers to be more informed on the green aspects of business. But it also runs in a green trade magazine in Malaysia, and an environment/politics website in Australia. To them, I focused more on the business aspects of being green instead of the reverse. In my book, “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green,” I talk quite a bit about this kind of segmentation.
ProfNet: How did you get into green marketing?
Shel: The environment and marketing have been two strands of my life all the way back to the 1970s. In 1999, I spearheaded a local campaign to block a monstrous inappropriate development on our local mountain abutting a state park. We won, BTW. That campaign used everything I knew about both marketing and community organizing, and harnessed my (and a lot of other people’s) knowledge of both the business world and the environmental world. I think that’s when I realized I could braid the two strands of my life together and actually forge a career on that intersection. It’s very exciting and fulfilling! It’s also an expansion of the work I’ve been doing on #bizethics. I think you cannot be an ethical company without paying attention to the environment.
@editorev: Great chat. One question: What are some regulatory/legal challenges for green marketers?
Shel: Of course, green marketers, like all marketers, are bound by the new FTC rules. Fortunately, telling the truth eliminates that as an issue. :-) Again, the big caution is not to claim things you can’t document, to see yourself as progressing rather than achieving the goal (and to position your company that way in marketing messages).
ProfNet: One last question, if you don’t mind answering: Do you have any regrets? Anything you’d do differently now?
Shel: I wish I had really understood on a deep level much earlier how much power there is in harnessing the energies of people from very diverse viewpoints. That was one of my real takeaways from Save the Mountain -- that we can reach outside our own constituency and build consensus society-wide, and momentum for change.
ProfNet: Sadly, Shel, we’re out of time. How can people find out more about your great work?
Shel: Please visit greenandprofitable.com – it has info on my consulting, speaking, the book, my blog, and my syndicated column, as well as the upper right-hand corner where you can sign up for my monthly newsletter. My phone is 413-586-2388 – that’s 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time.
ProfNet: Great! Thanks for being with us, and for the great info. And thanks to everyone who listened, RT’d and chimed in.
Shel: Maria, thanks so much for having me as the featured guest on #connectchat. Both you and the audience asked great questions.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 10:17 AM
In November 2010, we launched a series of Twitter-based chats, called #ConnectChat, that explore key issues in the PR and media industries.
Since then, we’ve covered issues such as how to increase visibility and showcase expertise; promoting clients and content via social media; communicating during a crisis; publicity tips for small businesses; a day in the life of a freelancer; what the new SEO landscape means for PR pros and marketers; how to craft a pitch that gets attention; tech tools for Web journalists and more.
The chats have been so well-received, we have moved from a monthly to biweekly schedule.
We’re preparing our #ConnectChat schedule for the second half of the year, and would love to know what you would like to see covered. What PR/media issues are of interest to you? What should we focus on for future chats? Please leave your suggestion below.
Friday, June 17, 2011, 11:07 AM
Back in May, we announced a contest for PR and media professionals. Entering was easy and the prizes were pretty cool: a one-year ProfNet subscription for the PR winner, and an iPad 2 for the media winner.
Well, the results are in, and the winners are…
- Jill Scoggins, senior public relations specialist, University of Louisville, is the lucky winner of the free, one-year ProfNet subscription. Congratulations, Jill!
- Kimberly Pierce, television blogger for Examiner.com, is the lucky winner of the iPad 2. Congratulations, Kimberly!
I’ll be in touch with both of you with further details.
And a big thanks to everyone who participated in the contest!
Friday, June 17, 2011, 10:17 AM
What do drooling in your sleep, tattooing, and co-working arrangements have in common? They all made my list of favorite queries this week:
Drooling During Sleep. That’s what I get for watching this video before going to sleep.
Product Reviews by Teenage Girls. “It was, like, totally awesome. You should, like, totally buy it.”
Is Tattooing Art? Yes, but so is this.
Comfortable Heels. You can find them in the aisle right next to the jumbo shrimp and boneless ribs.
Math Gene. Yet another thing for which I can blame my parents.
Looking Slim Using Bronzers or Self-Tanners. I’m going to need a second job to pay for it.
Shorts at Work? In some places, it would be considered over-dressing.
Co-Working Arrangements. I thought one of the benefits of entrepreneurship was not having to work with other people.
Horrible Bosses. What is this you speak of? Horrible bosses? I don’t know what that phrase means. On a related note…
How to Negotiate for a Raise.
* Publication names have been omitted to protect the innocent.
What were some of your favorite queries this week? Are they on this list?
Thursday, June 16, 2011, 2:21 PM
This is the last in a series of six recaps from RealTime NY (formerly TWTRCON). The one-day conference, held at B.B. King Blues Club in New York, was jam-packed with sessions, workshops, and case studies on mobile, social and real-time Web.
You can view the previous recaps here: Curating Content on Twitter for Thought Leadership, Twitter for Business, Listen up! Turning Conversations into Business Opportunities, Right Time, Right Place: Getting Customers to Check in and How to Manage Twitter as a Solopreneur.
This workshop was presented by Perri Gorman, director, Options Group, a full service executive search firm. Following are some key points from Gorman on how to network effectively using real-time tools:
The networking cycle involves six parts, said Gorman:
- Watch and Listen
- Take it offline
- Follow through
Research, Watch and Listen
“There are so many online tools,” said Gorman. “[They] are just an extension of what we’re already doing,” she added.
Google people. Read their blogs. On TweetDeck, create a list and watch it -- what are they saying?
Gorman shared a few good tools for watching and listening:
- Bettween: Lets you easily track and share Twitter conversations.
- Hashable: A Twitter networking app that is good for research and finding people. “You can pull someone up and see all their activity in one place,” said Gorman. “You can also track all your interactions in one place.”
- Rapportive: A Gmail plug-in that shows you everything about your contacts (recent tweets, how to link on Facebook, LinkedIn/Skype profiles) right inside your Gmail inbox.
- Umagram: Allows you to send a direct message (DM) to someone via Twitter even if they are not following you.
- Plancast: Helps you discover events and share plans with friends. “If you’re going to an event,” said Gorman, “go to Plancast to see who else is attending. You can see their online profiles (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.)”
- Meetup: Lets you know what events are happening in your area, and who is going.
If you’re going to approach someone online, “make sure you approach them with something that’s actually going to engage them,” said Gorman. “Keep it light and nonthreatening.”
“Connect to people on a personal level,” said Gorman.
Take it Offline
Go to a conference and meet your Twitter friends, said Gorman. “Or take it deeper, like working on a project together.”
Real connections are hard to make. Once you’ve made one, follow through. Keep the connection alive.
Other tips from Gorman:
Know what networking hat you’re wearing. Are you networking for yourself, your company, etc.?
Always know what value you can add to others. Figure out where you can add value so you always know what you can offer when you’re networking.
Everyone has their own personal style. Find yours and develop it. But also maintain consistency and discipline.
Don’t build your network when you need it. It takes time to develop relationships. You should be building your network and talking to people every day. Don’t wait until you need a job to start networking to find a job.
“Do it every day,” she said, “not just when you need it.”
Thursday, June 16, 2011, 9:36 AM
While green marketing involves many of the same principles as any other marketing discipline, there are specific things businesses should consider when marketing to the green consumer.
That will be the focus of our next #ConnectChat, Tuesday, June 21, featuring Shel Horowitz, copywriter, blogger, and award-winning author.
As an environmental and social justice activist since 1972, Shel has used his marketing skills for a number of environmental and social change organizations. He founded a group called Save the Mountain, which mobilized thousands of people in a rural county and rapidly beat back an “unstoppable” poorly planned development on a mountain abutting a state park.
Following the success of this campaign, Shel founded the Business Ethics Pledge to make future Enron and Madoff scandals unthinkable. So far, he has signers in more than 30 countries.
In addition to offering copywriting and strategic marketing planning based in green principles, Shel also helps unpublished writers become published authors. Five of his eight books have won awards and/or been republished in other countries, including his most recent, “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet” (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, co-authored with Mr. Guerrilla Marketing himself, Jay Conrad Levinson).
This new book states that honesty, integrity and a commitment to environmental sustainability are important, but market share is often the wrong metric entirely. Long-term relationships are better than a one-time sale, and competitors can be among your best allies.
The book provides dozens of examples of companies, large and small, that have succeeded by putting people first: familiar names like Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Southwest Airlines, as well as numerous entrepreneurs who are successful in their own niches, even if not widely known.
Please join us for our chat with Shel, which will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. To participate, just follow the #ConnectChat hashtag to view all updates from @shelhorowitz, @ProfNet and the rest of the chat participants. We'll start off the chat with a few questions for Shel to get the conversation going, but feel free to ask away!
If you do not have a Twitter account or won’t be able to make it to the chat, you can find a recap on ProfNet Connect the following day.
To view past #ConnectChat recaps, click here.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 10:56 AM
This is the fifth in a series of recaps from RealTime NY (formerly TWTRCON). The one-day conference, held at B.B. King Blues Club in New York, was jam-packed with sessions, workshops, and case studies on mobile, social and real-time Web.
You can view the previous recaps here: Curating Content on Twitter for Thought Leadership, Twitter for Business, Listen up! Turning Conversations into Business Opportunities and Right Time, Right Place: Getting Customers to Check in.
This workshop was presented by Ginny Cooper, founder of The Cooper Group, a marketing and public relations firm specializing in social media management. Cooper shared the lessons she has learned in managing her and her clients’ Twitter presence.
Following are highlights from her presentation:
Is Twitter Right for You?
While Cooper believes all businesses should have a presence on Twitter and other real-time platforms -- “ROI now means return on influence, in addition to return on investment” -- it’s up to you to decide whether Twitter is right for you.
First, conduct research. Read case studies, white papers, general industry papers, general marketing papers. What are other businesses doing on Twitter?
Also, use logic to determine if Twitter is relevant for your business. Is Twitter used by your target market? Will garnering publicity grow your business? Can your product or service only be marketed to a specific market? If you answered yes to any of the above, then Twitter can be effective for your business.
However, Twitter is not the “end all, be all,” said Cooper. It’s just one part of your online marketing strategy. You should also have a blog or website that’s content-rich and search-engine optimized.
You’re on Twitter. Now What?
Cooper offered the following tips to those who have decided to take the plunge and join Twitter:
Employ good business practices:
- Don’t disclose information that might give your competitors a business advantage.
- Be careful what you’re saying on social media.
- Don’t talk negatively about competitors or clients.
- On Foursquare, check in to places when you’re leaving, for safety reasons (and especially if you’re traveling alone).
- Avoid tweeting personal info or statements you wouldn’t want your clients to see.
- Don’t curse.
- Steer clear of politics and religion.
Keep your objectives in mind:
- Become a subject-matter expert. “Be the first in your category – and if you can’t be first, then create another category,” said Cooper. “That will help differentiate you from your competition.”
- Vet your accounts on a regular basis. If someone follows you, visit their feed and read their tweets.
- Follow back those who you fit in with your objectives. “Valuable contacts may not follow you if you’re following a lot of unsavory accounts,” said Cooper.
- Think ahead and develop a crisis communications plan. Don’t jump in without a plan.
- Take polls to gather intelligence.
- If you see a negative tweet, evaluate whether the source has a legitimate claim.
- Use Twitter Favorites to create a list of tweets that offer positive feedback of you and your business. You can gather those testimonials and send the Favorites URL to prospects, business contacts, etc.
- Thank anyone who follows you (but don’t use an auto DM). When thanking them, mention something personal you saw in their feed.
- Ignore Twitter rankings, Klout. “Don’t follow someone because an impersonal algorithm tells you to,” said Cooper. “Don’t allow a third party to decide who is important to your business.”
- Provide answers to questions. If you can’t solve the problem and you know someone who can, be helpful and connect them. “Remember, nobody cares about your products, service, company,” she said. “All they care about is whether you can solve their problems.”
- Attend tweetups in your area.
- Scratch a few backs, whether on #FollowFriday or as a standalone. If you do recommend someone on #FollowFriday, list a reason why, or group them by interests/subject matter.
That said, everyone should make the rules of engagement their own rules, said Cooper. “If it works for you, it works – period. Don’t get caught up on what’s the ‘right’ way to do something.”
Tuesday, June 14, 2011, 10:56 AM
This is the fourth in a series of recaps from RealTime NY (formerly TWTRCON). The one-day conference, held at B.B. King Blues Club in New York, was jam-packed with sessions, workshops, and case studies on mobile, social and real-time Web.
You can view the first three recaps here: Curating Content on Twitter for Thought Leadership, Twitter for Business and Listen up! Turning Conversations into Business Opportunities.
Last August, Foursquare had 3 million users. It’s now up to 10 million, and counting. Back then, we were all looking at apps like Foursquare and Gowalla as just a way of “checking in” with our friends. Now, we’re seeing a whole new generation of location-based apps – Groupon, LivingSocial, Facebook Places – that businesses are using in new and unique ways to not only keep in touch with current customers but to also attract new ones.
The panelists who addressed this topic were:
Quinn spearheaded the launch of Foursquare’s Specials platform, which provides companies with two ways to build their businesses: 1) provide deals that get new customers in the store, and 2) reward existing customers by offering them deals for frequent checkins.
For RadioShack, that platform has been extremely successful, with RadioShack’s Foursquare users spending 3.5 times more in purchases than the brand’s average customers.
“We’ve really used it as a proximity tool to get people to rediscover RadioShack,” said Parker. “The hardest thing to control with consumers is where and when you buy, and the location-based apps have helped us monitor and make us a little smarter.”
When Parker joined RadioShack as its director of social media, he had two tasks: to give consumers a reason to care and a reason to share.
Parker said he has seen a shift in how location-based apps are viewed.
“It used to be I couldn’t get anyone to take my call about Foursquare,” he said. “Now, I’m with the VP of marketing and the questions are, ‘How are we doing on Foursquare?’ and ‘How many checkins?’”
The Corcoran Group uses Foursquare a little differently. Instead of listing locations (people’s homes) on location-based services, they instead provide location tips.
“We put in about 25-30 new tips every week,” said Shadbolt. “What makes a great tip is something only a real local would know.”
In addition to posting their own tips, they also look at others’ tips to reach out on Twitter and thank them – and make a connection. “It allows us to stay top of mind and be helpful.”
It also allows them to mine other’s tips for data, which “can be really insightful,” said Shadbolt.
Parker agreed, saying they can view every Foursquare transaction to see what customers bought, when they bought it, what they spent.
“We can get a transactional point of view, what the price point was, etc.,” said Parker. They can also use that information for future campaigns or to explore brand loyalty.
Quinn shared the story of Safeway, which experimented by integrating their loyalty card with Foursquare. When a user went to Safeway, they would get a coupon that fit in with their lifestyle. The user never actually had to check in to Foursquare or get a physical coupon; it was all integrated with their Safeway card.
Foursquare had a similar partnership with American Express, where a user who checked in to a certain location a certain number of times would get $5 off. The discount went right on their bill, so they never even had to mention it to staff. It was all done automatically.
“These companies can get a lot of information from their users,” said Quinn, allowing them to make their specials and campaigns more targeted.
Location-based campaigns such as these must have the same focus as a direct marketing campaign, said Parker. “They have to have the same talking points. They have to train the staff and have retail managers buy in, so they honor the discounts.”
“We know there are going to be hiccups,” he added. “Now it’s in our DNA of how we’re treating customers.”
Friday, June 10, 2011, 9:58 AM
NASA’s final shuttle launch, scheduled for July 8, will mark the end of an era for millions of space enthusiasts, but probably for none more than our Interesting Expert of the Week, Ron DiIulio.
DiIulio, director of the University of North Texas Astronomy Laboratory Program and planetarium, has chronicled the progress of the space program through his collection of autographed, commemorative envelopes and stamps for nearly half a century.
The collection, which has been featured in museums across the country, documents most of the space program’s “firsts,” including NASA’s first landing tests, the first time Americans entered space, the Kennedy Space Center groundbreaking, the first flight of a female astronaut and much more. DiIulio even has stamps commemorating America’s space program from places like Colombia, Geneva and the Ajmer region of India. He also maintains an extensive collection of meteorites, many of which are on display in the lobby of the Sky Theater at UNT.
I asked DiIulio to tell us more about his collection and to share a few of his favorite artifacts.
How did you get started? Did you go into it thinking you'd start a collection? Did you imagine it would ever be so big?
DiIulio: I can recall as a young teenager that I had a fascination for stamps, not just the designs and colors, but for what was "behind" the designs and colors. I started going to the encyclopedia (remember those?), and tried to learn about the people who were on the stamps, as well as the scenes depicted on those stamps. As I continued to collect stamps, I had an older friend that introduced me to "First Day Covers," which are envelopes postmarked on the first day of the stamp’s availability. Additionally, the cachet included a postmark from a place that was related to the stamp in some way. It was then that I realized that acquiring envelopes from sites where the components of the Shuttle program was developed would tell a very interesting story of ingenuity and scientific teamwork. So, about 10 years after collecting my first stamps, I began the search for contacts who might be able to get my envelopes postmarked on the day, and related site, of a specific test or event.
Where do you find the artifacts? Do you seek them out, do people send them to you?
DiIulio: For almost 50 years, I have always actively researched and located contacts through which I could receive covers and autographs. While the last decade has been relatively inactive for me, I reluctantly resign myself to trying to get covers and autographs that will close the book on the Space Shuttle program. From there, I’m not sure who I’ll target in the future, as NASA’s Manned Space Program seems to be quickly decelerating to a halt.
Do you have a favorite envelope or stamp?
DiIulio: Actually, I have several that are very special. One was signed by the Apollo 11 crew as they were walking towards the capsule for their historic first moon landing. It is currently on display at the University of North Texas.
Here are two that are special to me for personal reasons:
The first, a Mercury Stamp First-Day Cover, is autographed by the first seven astronauts:
It is special because after sending the cover around for months to the offices of the astronauts in Houston, I was only able to get six of the astronauts’ autographs. It was 15 years later, in the late ‘70s, that I had set up a meeting with Deke Slayton, who was the astronaut spokesperson for the Shuttle program. At that time, I was the assistant director of the Fort Museum of Science and History, and was designing an exhibit on the early Shuttle program. After our meeting, I presented the cover for his examination and asked if he would honor me with his autograph, as his signature would complete the set!
He replied by telling me that he wished he could keep it as he didn’t even have one of these covers! He then neatly signed his name, overlapping the edge of the stamp, which “ties” the autograph to the stamp -- a special, little-known feature that increases its historic value.
The second cover is one that, quite frankly, illustrates the creative humor that Dr. Karl Henize possessed:
I knew him through stamp-collecting ventures. He supported stamp collecting, and often assisted folks like me in getting unusual cover requests filled.
Because I was interested in the scientific experiments that were planned for the Shuttle program, Dr. Henize provided me with covers for all of the experiments and tests he was involved with. This cover, on which he created a humorous logo of the "Ass-ess" mission, is a one-of-a-kind cover. You might say it’s "priceless"!
Unfortunately, Dr. Henize died during a climb to the summit of Mount Everest. I miss his humor!
Thank you, Ron, for such a fascinating look into both the Space Shuttle program and your collection!