Archive for July, 2009
Up until about six weeks ago Twitter to me was like the unwelcome guest at a party. You really didn’t want them around and were waiting for them to leave. In fact, my favorite late night host, David Letterman, summed up my initial thoughts about Twitter perfectly in a recent interview with Kevin Spacey – found here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z1aZ7Gs46A
I really like many aspects of social media, but my initial thoughts on Twitter were, why would I want to read about people complaining that they have to mow the lawn? It turns out I do want to read about that kind of stuff…if it’s coming from my favorite celebs/thought leaders.
After a few weeks I soon realized that I was missing out on a whole new world of information, cool links, and conversation. Plus, I think the best thing about Twitter is its forced brevity. With its 140 character limit there’s no room for people to drone on and on.
In short, sign up for Twitter, if only to read Shaquille O’Neal’s Twitter bio that reads, “very quotatious, I perform random acts of Shaqness.” Oh, and also to follow @MattSalvatore for my updates.
If you checked out today’s New York Times Book Review section, you’ll see that FREE made the list in its first week of eligibility. It’s #12, tied for #11 (that’s what that little asterisk means).
We expect it to dip in its second week due to the free versions of the book cannibalizing sales, then stay strong longer than usual as the free offers expire and word of mouth from all the free readers turns into sales. So far in the first two weeks the book was downloaded, in one digital form or another between 200,000 and 300,000 times (we’re still compiling stats). That’s a lot. Now we’ll find out what it means.
1) What was the significance of the Global PR Blog Week for you?
It was the first time the nascent PR blogging community came together to work on educating our peers. Those of use who were early bloggers saw the potential of all the emerging conversational media, and were eager to share it, as well as frustrated by the huge amount of skepticism we were running into every day. Now, five years on, our enthusiasm has been vinidicated. But there is still lots of work to be done!
2) What were the lasting effects of the Global PR Blog Week?
Many fruitful collaborations were birthed as we all got to know each other and met new people. I think we made a read impact on the global PR community, and many of us continue to strive to educate, encourage, criticize our peers. The spirit of open collaboration and open learning continues.
3) How did the Global PR Blog week influence you and the industry?
I'd like to think it was successful in opening people's eyes to the possibilities of social media (before that term was widely used). As I review what was written, much of it remains valid today. Certainly we have seen changes, successes and failures, as well as a myriad of new tools, but many of the fundamental attributes — or perhaps I should say attitudes — of the online world haven't changed at all.
4) Reviewing the post(s) you wrote for the Global PR Blog week what has changed? What has not changed, since you wrote the post?
Certainly I think that people have become more sophisticated in their knowledge of how social media works, how to successfully use the various tools and so on. But I think the emphasis on a human-centric approach has not, and will not, change. That is the most important, and most difficult thing about communicating with people. We still have a long way to go in loosening control and changing our mindsets about our "audiences".
5) Give an update on what you've been doing in the last five years, and what you are doing now?
The biggest change for me has been becoming a mother. My daughter was born 2 1/2 years ago, and you can see the dramatic downturn in my blogging frequency since then! I use Twitter and Facebook to fill in the gaps, but time for the type of writing I do has been difficult to find. I miss it very much, but Ellora takes precedence. The other big change has been my becoming a teacher. I teach at two schools in Paris: ISCOM, which focuses on marketing and communications, and the Paris School of Business. I really love it and feel like I am making a positive impact on my students' lives. I keep a hand in by consulting, and I finished my master's degree and am working on my PhD. No wonder I don't blog as much these days!
At one point I blogged about “What it takes to Go Big.”
I’ve learned a lot since that post. Especially about bravery. By bravery, I mean, pulling away from the crowd to face serious danger or pain. It’s one of those things, like most, that’s easy to armchair quarterback from the pack, but until you’ve done it– professionally or personally– you can only pretend to know it.
New companies face this every hour. The rest of the market says, “stop. you will get eaten.” You must be crazy, you will fail, close, never make it. Sometimes other companies even try to attack, to try to stop you. The same thing can be said personally, when you pull yourself away from your group. They wonder what’s wrong with you, question you and try to pull you back to the norm.
You know those helicopter shots of herds of animals on the Discovery Channel?
As soon as you see one of those animals veer off, you think, “that’s the one that will die.” And you’re right. The company or person who veers off, risks everything. They’re a pinata for us to beat. And everyone loves candy. But breakthroughs come from ignoring that inner voice. The one that tells you to stay home on the couch. That tells you to lean back on your skis.
We’re stuck with some evolutionary baggage. We come from schools of fish and herds of animals for whom sameness is a survival skill and standing out from the crowd gets you eaten. So we have evolved a pleasure response to our own conformity. Fitting in to our peer group evokes a sense of comfort. Somewhere deep within our brains lies machinery that makes us really dig flocking.
Choosing to innovate requires overcoming the visceral desire to just sit down, shut up, and accept the status quo like everyone else.
Evolutionary disdain for radical behavior works outwardly too; we instinctively fear and loathe the behavior of our peers when it runs too far afield of the norm. And we have no qualms about letting them know it. This kinship-based weirdness suppressor is an evolutionary backup to keep us in line if we can’t self regulate as individuals. When people have too many different ideas, we think they’re crazy and we tell them so. Witness the very epithet “mad scientist.” Heck, witness how any group of teens treats a nonconforming peer. When Fulton proposed the steamboat, they called it Fulton’s Folly and they said it would never work. After all, why put a steam engine on boats when we’ve got reliable, centuries-old sails and oars? I have no doubt that when the first of our kind tried rubbing two sticks together in an effort to make fire, the rest of us stood around making fun of him and probably suggesting he was in league with Lucifer. We cannot conceive of our own place in a world that is marked by the change that innovations represent. Just ask the 19th century oarsmen that Fulton’s incredibly useful steam engine put out of work.
To innovate successfully, you’ve got to ignore the slings and arrows of critics. You’ve got to get yourself spending time around people who appreciate weirdness and smartness and who value new ideas because they are new. You’ve got to remember that pretty much everyone who ever said it couldn’t be done…about anything… was wrong.
My advice? Avoid lizardry. Yes, you’ve got this paleocortex in the back of your head insistently pumping out the signal that you are a fearful little ball of nerves just desperately trying to avoid getting eaten (because your paleocortex knows that you are crunchy and good with soy sauce). But for several hundred thousand years you and the rest of your kind have been toying with how to use this other rather nifty hunk of jelly right behind your forehead. The highly organized electrochemical potentials in your cerebral cortex have paved the way for all sorts of useful skills, such as choosing whether or not to supersize it, for example.
And also to decide whether or not to actually give voice to the signals coming out of your lizard brain or push through them to become the star you are, star.
Your evolutionary fears are but a subset of the whispering winds luffing through your sails. Choose to ignore them and boldly go.
In starting Blackbox Republic, I remember our PR Agency asking me if I was ready for all the personal and professional attacks I’d receive. They warned me that all the vocal nuts, from the Conservative Right to Joe Blow, would shake their evangelical sticks at me, call everyting I’m doing into question and yell foul. I told them what I’ll tell you. I believe, like they believe. Just in something different. I can’t think of anything better to do than to break through. To start something meaningful. To find your tribe-mates, your “company.” No matter how small or big. Eaten or not.
You can get FREE free on the Kindle (and Kindle iPhone app if you don’t have a Kindle) now. It’s been up for a few days and the free offer will end on Wed, Jul 22nd, so get it now. [UPDATE: the free offer is now over, and the book is now at the usual discount price of $9.99. It’s still available for free on Scribd, Google Books and Shortcovers, as well as in audiobook form on iTunes] As you can see from the above screenshot, it’s already the #1 Kindle book. (US only, I’m afraid.)
It’s also available for free on the Sony Reader, also for one week.
The book is also available for free (for one month) on Shortcovers, where you can link to individual chapters and pages.
For those of you outside the US, local free versions will be determined by the publisher in each region. Please stay tuned.
Since most of you know I suffer from Compulsive Domainer Syndrome (rarely see a domain name I can’t pass up) it will come as no surprise that I had to renew some domains via Godaddy recently. When I logged into my account and clicked on the domains I wanted to renew I was greeted with a popup message encouraging me to go to Twitter and register each of the domain names I already owned as user names on Twitter before someone else beats me to it.
When I saw the Twitter Username Popup I Immediately Thought…
- My first reaction was, "I can’t believe GoDaddy is actually recommending that I go to any site besides theirs since they are infamous for their horrible UI and love of making simple domain & website related tasks more complicated than necessary".
- After the shock wore off I was impressed that Godaddy actually offered some advice, in their checkout process mind you, that was quite helpful for the masses. You know, those that have a domain name or two but that probably don’t know anything about HTML or software but want to build a web site for their hobby or business.
I’ve been a Godaddy customer for several years now and I honestly can’t think of a single time, even when they were a tiny little company, where they willingly sent their customers to another site and didn’t get some form of compensation. Now I certaily could be misreading this seemingly altruistic move on Bob Parsons’ part for something its not but then again, I haven’t seen their name in the hacked Twitter docs as partners so I’m pretty sure Bob is looking out for his customers. Honestly I think this is pretty cool and something that will definitely get them more street cred with small businesses because its a move in the right direction. It is a sign that they’re going to keep you in the loop on the important marketing technology advancements and make sure you’re not left in the dark. I think the greatest marketing fear of the average small business owner today is that they’re missing out on something online but they don’t have time to figure out what that might be. With a marketing partner like Godaddy, they may not have to worry any more.
Social Nicheworking is the next big thing.
What’s a social nichework? It’s (a) choosing a target market and (b) building social software that’s tailored for them. “Social networking” is a technology meant for everyone. Social nicheworking software, isn’t. And there’s a pretty big chance that the first niche we’re building for, isn’t for you.
Blackbox Republic: Where do we (some of us) put our personal life?
Here comes the part where I lose some of you. Maybe even most of you.
Why? Because I’m going to say the word, “sex.” Worse, I’m going to keep talking about it. The #2 question: What’s Blackbox Republic? Easy. It’s a membership-based online/offline community for sex positive people to share their personal lives.
The #1 question is: What’s sex positive? No matter what I say at this point, a lot of you will hear “internet sex site.” Or porn. Or a hookup site. And I’m cool with that. Rock on with your giggly, bad self. You don’t need to get it.
For the rest of you open to the idea, “sex positive” means sexuality isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a big issue. By that I mean, you live your life being completely open about who you are. Even at the most intimate levels. And you like to connect with other people like that, too. If you’re sex positive, you’re a right-brained, creative person who doesn’t live life by someone else’s checklist. I think April’s post and video does a good job outlining the addressable market. The only thing I’d add to her post is that you can be happily married or 75yrs old or straight, bi, gay, poly, chocolate or mango and still be sex positive. Simply, sex positive is love positive.
So, why did I pick it? Simple answer: I believe in the sex positive community. I’m a part of it.
This is a picture taken the moment the company started.
This is the Temple at Burning Man. It’s an amazing structure covered in hand-written prayers. As April and I sat there, we watched people and talked about the event. We spent most of our time talking about relationships, and how different they were at the event compared to the daily world.
We realized that two big things were happening:
1. People made meaningful connections.
When people spend $200-$300 on a ticket, $2,000 on an RV, tons of money on food, clothes, and spend a ton of time getting there, they’re buying a journey. They are there for the experience. They know many things will happen. But they want to be around people like them, around the freedom of expression, and around the connected whole. You can’t tell who’s a CEO or Janitor, there is no materialism, or agendas. Besides Second Life (which was also inspired by Burning Man), we couldn’t think of another place online that was focused on having a journey vs focusing on the end-results.
2. The “Margarita Moment”
The other thing that was inspiring was just how much the giving mentality at Burning Man connected everyone. One day, April and I were on an art car in the middle of the hot, open desert and a man on a bicycle rode up and asked us if we’d like a frozen margarita. He poured us one and then drove off. It was the perfect gift at the perfect time and we didn’t ask or have to do anything for it to happen. We call it the “Margarita Moment.” We actually even took a picture of it.
The drive home was 17 hours. We talked about online relationships the whole time.
The big questions we asked was why couldn’t something like Burning Man be available for everyone all the time ? When we finally got back we looked at where meaningful relationships and gifting currently occurred. And we looked for a place that united the sex positive community.
1. The perpetual, public Facebook reunion
When I got back from the event, my friends began tagging pictures of me wearing a tutu and goofing off at Burning Man and I found them a while later all over my Facebook profile mixed in with my work pictures. I don’t know about you, but I barely know all my “friends” on Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and true story, this week, my electrician friended me on Facebook.
2. Dating sites: People as produce
Who would know how to develop online relationships better than the dating industry? That’s the next thing we looked at. Unfortunately, we found a market that was 15 years old and suffering from massive idea bankruptcy. The notion of whipping out your credit card to pay for a chemistry test, love, a date, sex is totally broken. Most of these sites (which I’ll show you soon), treat people like produce. You’re meat. And people are shopping you. The whole thing is a carry over from newspaper personals and needs to die.
3. Gifting at ‘ye old online vendors
What does eCommerce have to do with this, you ask? Well, it was the only thing to look at for online gifting. And in doing so, it struck us that it, too, is remnants of a 15 year old post online-gold rush era. To gift someone, you have to leave the online social situation, drive your computer over to an online store, get a username, password, verify email, find crap, add it to your cart, call your friend up, get their address (as if you’re not sending them something), etc etc. It’s very unlike the Margarita Moment. There’s nothing social or gift-like about it.
The Perfect storm
This “add to cart,” transactional online reality dominates the web and is need of a makeover. The fact that (1) there weren’t any Social Nicheworking software companies (2) there wasn’t a trusted place for sex-positive people to share their personal life and (3) the online relationship market was a mess made this the perfect storm for Blackbox Republic to be formed. We raised $1M from angels in the sex-positive community with very little effort.
So, now it’s time to go big in a completely different way.
Change your feed readers, this blog is no long about Enterprise 2.0. It’s now about creating a new category: Social Nicheworking. You can bet I’ll be talking about what we’re building solve all of this. I look forward to taking some of you on that journey and to opening up conversations with a completely new set of people as well.
- Facebook Connect though I’m not sure whether or not it worked for me, not even sure how to tell quite honestly. I don’t think the Facebook profile is getting much tractiont but haven’t seen any other virus spreaders say anything about it so who knows.
- Twitter: They created a frenziedwaters profile on Twitter and a lot of tweeps seem to think it’s pure genious but I dunno. I also noticed that the term "Discovery Channel" was in Twitter Trends yesterday but it was gone this am.
- YouTube: They have a user and channel set up with 4 well-produced videos that only lead to more mystery.
- Blog: As far as I can tell they’re only using Twitter and not a full-fledged blog, which makes sense due to the short term nature of the event they’re marketing.
- SEO: All of the bloggers are taking care of the seo for them with backlinks and tweets. I find it interesting that they are directing Google to not cache their homepage and that the homepage is all flash with no on-page seo value. One day an agency will step up that can do viral marketing with all the bells and whistles of streaming multimedia but also include on-page and on-site seo as part of their offerings but to date I have not seen any single firm do that yet, not even Camp Fire Media out of NYC (they did the campaign for Discovery Channel).
The cluing into geocaching, are they clued in or clueless?
I think the only reason I got one of the jars was because of my post on Monday about my recent geocaching experience. I think at the last minute the kind folks at Discovery Channel Shark Week thought it would be good to send me something since they put up all of those coordinates in their flash movie on frenziedwaters.com. The reason I am fairly certain this is the case is because I didn’t get one of those fake obituaries like the other bloggers which leads me to believe this was a last minute type of deal but who knows. Regardless, the jar is at home with my daughters and Piper and I tried on the shark attack swim shorts this morning as a joke and surprised Shannon when she came downstairs, it was pretty funny. In fact, I think I might wear the shorts they sent us to the beach this weekend when I go surfing because they actually fit, go figure.
Site construction for the viral campaign
I felt like the "send to friend" link was not visible enough and blended in too easily into the background of the site. It was also bothersome that there was no way for you to cut and paste the coordinates into google maps or copy them to the clipboard to facilitate looking up the locations faster. Like I said before, the site has zero on page seo other than the Title and meta-descriptions being properly constructed. It’s built entirely in flash and won’t have any lasting value after this year’s Shark Week is over. Which is no good for the Discovery Channel since they’ll want the sites they constructed for the past years to show up on the first page of Google for the term Shark Week but I don’t think that’s going to happen with frenziedwaters.com, oh well, live and learn I suppose. I guess it’s wait and see time now so let’s wait and see what kind of buzz this thing is going to generate.
As I was pulling out of the driveway this morning I nearly hit the FedEx delivery guy because I didn’t see him as I was backing up. He certainly saw me and waved me on and pointed to my house, because he had a delivery to make. I thought it was odd since I know we haven’t purchased anything online lately since we have started our new budget but I headed down the road anyway. About 2 minutes later I get a call from Shannon telling me that I got a next day air delivery from FedEx. I asked her if it was a book, I get a lot of books sent to me, but she said it wasn’t and that it was in a large box. So I told her I’d turn around and be there in two minutes.
I arrived at the house and picked up the box and was surprised at how large it was, 12 inches tall by 12 inches wide. I assumed it was a viral marketing pitch by this agency named "Campfire Media" but I had no idea what it was. The from address on the shipping label was:
FrenziedWaters.com Campfire Media 62 White Street, 3E New York, NY 10013
This certainly wasn’t an address (physical or website) that I recognized so I was even more intrigued. I was especially intrigued since the package said “fragile, handle with care” which is not the norm for most viral marketing deliveries.
What was in the box?
Interestingly enough there was a note (printed but with a handwriting font) and a sea glass jar (complete with faux rusted lid and glass that had been frosted by months at sea and it contained different items. Unlike some other people, the kind folks at the Discovery Channel responsible for Shark Week, did not send me an obituary like they did JoBlo. But he and I did get all of the other items. Here’s an inventory of what the rusted sea glass bottle contained:
- 1 rusted boat key with a keychain for Discovery Marina SW09 (get it? as in Discovery Channel Shark Week 2009?)
- One pair of baggies (swim trunks for the non surfers out there) with the left leg tattered and torn and bloodstained (obviously from a shark attack)
- A faux Great White shark tooth attached to a copper keychain with the www.frenziedwaters.com url stamped into it (I’m not sure where they had these made but this keychain is top notch, the copper is even oxidized (good job folks)
- A paper warning sign that reads "BEACH CLOSED SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK, FOR DETAILED CLOSURE INFO, CALL: (386) 675-0342 (the 386 area code includes the location in Florida where we see the largest number of shark attacks in the world, so the use of a 386 area code on this sign was quite nice. If you call this number you’ll get a well produced recording about shark attacks, I highly recommend calling 1 (386) 675-0342 and hearing the message.
- A note on frenziedwaters.com stationery in a hand written font. I included the note on the stationery below.
Hand Written (not really) Note From frenziedwaters.com SW09
This jar holds a story -, the story of a single tragic accident, the details of which need to be unlocked. Dive in, investigate the evidence, and uncover what lies beneath the surface at frenziedwaters.com, part of an online experience leading into Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
Now that we’ve gotten through all of the tedium of Shark Week 09′s viral marketing campaign, I’ll put up a follow up entry in an hour or so that breaks down the campaign and what works and doesn’t work and how well we should expect this to perform over the next 7 days.