CONVOSPARK BLOG

How Rec.fm Can Change the World

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Rec.fm Superman

A little over a month ago I began a stint as a consultant with Rec.fm, a new startup out of the valley that is dedicated to merging social commerce with cause donations.  A month later I am becoming more and more aware of the Non-Profit landscape and the themes of creativity and innovation.  The majority of the charities I talked to sparked from a possibility, an idea that would make the world a better place…most got to where they are today through innovation and ingenuity.  Rec.fm is based on an idea that we direct a slice of the billions of dollars moving by way of social commerce to causes that better our world!  The vehicle of product recommendations is the innovation needed to gain a slice of the bigger pie.  Just the type of innovation these NPO’s spawned from.

How it works:

Go to Rec.fm and start recommending products you love and find product recommendations from your friends and other people.  You can also ask the community for specific recommendations on product types.  For most people, the real exciting part is choosing a cause to give back to.  You can browse from our partner charities to find a cause you care most about and contribute to that cause with every rec you make.  In my eyes much of the beauty of Rec.fm is that it gives people an alternative way to give back.  Forget digging into your pockets to support entrepreneurs in a third world country (I contribute to Kiva.org), instead do actions you do on a weekly basis anyways (chat about a movie, talk about your Mac Book, etc.) and through that…give to those entrenrpeurs in third world countries.

How it can change the world:

Success stories like the Facebook app Causes and Charity Water are proving that many people want to and can change the world with the use of social media.  Bring social commerce and an individual’s social equity together and you have something powerful.  Rec.fm facilitates social powered buying based on recommendations from trusted sources…THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW!   With 90% of consumers participating in peer recommendations, (stat from Nielsen) we look to our friends for product recs than we do Google.  Now allow those people recomending products to their social circle to give back to causes they care about and you have a natural behavior followed by an altruistic motive.

If we as consumers began to consume intelligently and recommend product for a purpose we can make a huge difference in the world.  With Rec.fm donating over half of all site earning to the causes of a user’s choice, just a few recs from you can make a large impact.  One tweet and one shared link on Facebook can bring in hundreds or potential thousands of dollars to an important cause.

There are infinite possibilities.  Rec.fm can be a clear and simple way you and your friends connect when it comes to recommending products, it can be a source in searching for what celebrities buy (all in support of the charities of those celebrities).  It’s a powerful tool to use you “social equity” to do good!

I encourage everyone to use Rec.fm in 2011 (and beyond for that matter).  Start sharing with friends…ask your friends what they recommend and give back to causes you are passionate about.  I would love to hear back from you with any feedback you may have on how Rec.fm can better change the world!

The Genius of “Manly”..Old Spice Video Brilliance

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

old-spice-man

I’m guessing the camaraderie of rugged sophistication that Chuck Norris and The Most interesting Man in the World share got a bit stale.   They need to add a third counterpart to firm up a mantastic trio….thus…we have the Old Spice Man.

The “Old Spice Man”…the wildly tallented and a bit obscure Isaiah Mustafa hit us with a new Old Spice commercial where he is effortlessly landing on top of the most manly moving objects all will speaking at 200 words a minuet (making perfect sense).  Needless to say this commercial is ridiculously funny and going to extend the Old Spice Man Meme beyond a one hit wonder.

But to launch this meme into iconic status and to earn its seat in the Chuck Norris, Most Interesting Man round tabel…it took one of the most incredibly creative and bold social media campaign a large brand has executed!

A team of tech geeks, writers, social media folk, media mavens, film makers and Isaiah Mustafa committed to an organic video response campaign that would be written, acted and produced in real time (brilliant!).  The goal was to allow the Old Spice Man to spread his infection charm and wisdom across the web, responding to real life people’s responses to Old Spice videos.  Web developers created a program that fed all related video comments throughout the social web to their team and categorized those responses by user influence, time and the quality of content.  Then the writing began…the social media folk and the writers began creating ridiculously awesome content.  Like this…

After the writing, the magician himself sprinkles his Old Spice goodness across the set…and a You Tube video was created!  This was done over 80 times in one day!  Short 20-60 second videos directed at one person who engaged Old Spice on the social web in some way.  From online icons like Kevin Rose and Perez Hilton to people like… anonymous.  They touched all different levels of influence, demographics and types of sediment…all while exuding that unique Old Spice grandeur.

Why Old Spice’s Video Campaign is the Most Genius Ever!

1. They involve everyone!

From the big timers to normal folk, the Old Spice Man does not discriminate.

Everyday internet users who have at most 17 Twitter followers were able to comment on an Old Spice You Tube video, their Facebook Page and other social profiles they have on the web and get a personalized response from the man himself.  The genius behind this is, one, it took a big brand down to a real personal level, taking an icon you see on TV and having them interact with everyday people can only be a favorable PR move.  Two, it made everyone think…”Hey, I should comment on this video…maybe he’ll talk to me”.  This notion allowed these videos to spread through the social web like wildfire.  Can you imagine how many @ tweets the Old Spice handle received yesterday?

By creating personalized messages for some of the authorities on the web Old Spice proved two things.  One, they understand who the influencers are, which gives them credibility among other influences (possibly with large networks to share cool stuff with).  Two, they won the hearts of those influencers by giving them attention beyond a typical praise email they read everyday…making it highly likely for the influencers to spread their message across their large network.

2. Long terms brand building

Remember when everyone spoke with that Ron Burgundy intonation and eyebrow raise (maybe it’s just me)?  Well, I have a feeling the Old Spice man has now became the new age Ron Burgundy.  Beyond the credibility the brand has gained in the media world for trying something extremely creative and at the same time risky, they have built the foundation for a long term branded figure. I have a feeling that Kyle Rutty will be digging deep in his diaphragm to produce the manliness of sounds and witticism for a long time.

3. Pure Humor

Not to be overlooked, these videos were some of the funniest internet content ever to grace the cloud.  From large silver fish, to the very appropriate eye brow raise, every single video hit the mark.  The writers of these skits should win a Webby and Isaiah Mustafa deserves to be forever released from his “struggling actor” tag.  I still cannot stop laughing…

From one gentleman to another, I solute you Old Spice…while wearing a gentleman like top hat.  Well done!!


The 4 Pillars of Personal Branding

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

To many, personal branding is a buzz word that has been over extended throughout the social space.  You can categorize it as a “buzz term” or “fad trend” but you will most likely be neglecting the power that shaping your online persona can have on the rest of your life.

The video below dives into 4 absolutely vital principles to adopt when building your personal brand online.

Build a platform

We’re not talking about building your own Facebook or a massive blog.  Instead we are talking about a more figurative platform.  Build a platform by leveraging all the cool stuff you are doing right now.  If you work for a big company let people know what you’re doing (it got Scoble pretty far).  If you own a company…associate yourself with your company and the company with yourself.  If you have passions, shout it from a mountain top and see who you will connect with!

Don’t be bashful

I love that word…bashful.  In this case we’re going to treat it as a bad word.  For some people, such as myself, it can be quite difficult to talk about yourself.  Especially if you don’t feel like you have accomplished anything worthwhile.  At that point, you must think from this perspective: “there is always someone who wants to be where you are and wants to know how you got there”…cater to these people now and expand your audience as you grow.  Don’t be bashful, talk about your accomplishments, build up your credibility but please always put humility first.

Build up others

Focus on others before yourself.  When you connect two people that will benefit from each other you are building up your own importance indirectly.  When you showcase someone’s good work by tweeting it out to the world, you are validating their efforts.  When you focus on others, new possibilities open up, paths to new people emerge and you can now identify more opportunities and how it relates not just to you but to everyone else you are connected with.

Add value to the community

Have something uniquely valuable to say.  What you do online should be governed by the question “how am I adding value?”.  You can talk about yourself, your accomplishment but if it doesn’t help anyone else…no one will care about what you have to say.  Find ways to differentiate yourself and find new perspectives that not many have.  If you focus on adding value first, you will be moving in the right direction.

The Emergance of The Titans of Social Media

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Google-Facebook-Twitter-Apple

Social media seems to be in a consolidation phase. Although social media is built on the principle of open collaboration between many parts creating a stronger whole, I can’t help but to feel that social media is beginning to resemble any other fast growing industry; with some of the tech heavy weights racing to become the super power of the social space. The battle to become the preferred social platform is becoming more and more interesting as days pass (yes…the pulse of the industry changes daily). If it’s not becoming the default social platform that these tech Titians covet, it is becoming the most powerful social ad platform, creating a universal social currency, or the most use app platform. Whatever it is, companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple are widening the reach of social media all while making barriers to entry for startups much higher.

Facebook has launched the ambitious Open Graph protocol in efforts to create the semantic web. This will increase the web’s dependence on the largest social network in the world.

Google launched Buzz a few months back in attempts to begin indexing all socially driven data while giving users the utility of updating people on all their happenings throughout the social web (excluding Facebook). The Buzz began to fizzle as it was a duplication of what many Twitter clients can do with a less appealing interface.

Twitter’s open model is now proving to be beneficial to not just users but them as a company as they are beginning to push out their powerful ad platform, Promoted Tweets.

Apple launched another hardware product that is proving to carve out another new product niche. The iPad also indirectly is positioning Apple as a front runner to take over the social gaming space.

Each company seems to have a different point of entry as they move towards domination of the social space. Others seem to be progressing better than others. As these companies continue to tinker with new ideas and products, the users begin to benefit more and more. This means more quality products, stronger communication platforms etc. However there is someone that suffers and that is the entrepreneur.

With the larger companies looking to expand their reach in the social media space, it makes it harder for startups with limited resources to compete. Startups are forced to do something incredibly novel, piggy back off a larger platform or deeply niche themselves. Doing something cool and different is always admirable, but will people use it? Developing with an API is savvy but you are at the mercy of the platform that servers the API. Niching yourself can allow you to compete but can also make you lose revenue potential due to the shrinking of your market.

Forgive me for sounding overtly pessimistic because that is not typically in my nature. On the contrary I am very excited to see what takes place in the upcoming months. We live during a time where the very way we communicate is ever changing. With change and shifts in power comes opportunity…I am just not exactly sure where yet.

Where do you think the next big opportunity for web based startups will be?

Which company do you think will take the crown and become the king of the social space?

Social Media Gets Real in 2010

Friday, January 8th, 2010
This Time ROI is for Real

2010 is here and with a new year comes new expectations, especially when it comes to social media.  Anyone who has been immersed in social media for the past few years have witnessed social media’s transformation from a richer form of harmless online chatter to one of the most powerful marketing channels today!  Marketers are seeing the masses spend less time on traditional media and more time playing Farmville on Facebook (I’m referring to the black sheep on your Newsfeed  phenomenon).  So if 2009 was there year where social media social media got some double takes from the the usual critics than 2010 is the year social media reels in that critic and seals the deal (whatever that means to you).

Here are some of the emerging trends in 2010 (according to the top influencers in the space…and myself :) )

Top Trends For Individuals

  • Mobile is everything and everything will be mobile.
  • Social media will be integrated more and more within more traditional media outlets –> video game systems, TV??, etc.
  • There will be more exclusive communities popping up separating the authentic from the fakers.
  • High adoption of Augmented Reality services.
  • You will be more exposed than ever before.

Top Trends for Businesses

  • The most apprehensive and most traditional companies will start dipping their toes in the water (cause everyone else will have already dove in).
  • Each business will begin to set metrics for measuring ROI instead of measuring obscure levels of engagement.
  • Companies will begin enforce social  media policies (like the NBA).
  • Small business will begin to emerge in the space (via apps like FourSquare).
  • Media agencies will begin to expand their offering or partner-up with others who got the skill set they need.

New Technology to Expect

  • More location based services.
  • More exclusive social networks.
  • More focus on branded mobile apps.
  • Facebook currency?
  • New micro-blogging interfaces. 

Don’t just take my word for it…check out what the experts have to say!

25 Reasons to Love Social Media

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

love social media

  1. It doesn’t take a Harvard MBA to figure it out.
  2. New era of authentic celebrities (Biz Stone, Kina Granis, Gary Vaynerchuk)
  3. With enough creativity and ingenuity a startup with no resources can out play a large company.
  4. Consumers have the power!
  5. The world is flat.
  6. Social media gurus…watch this video
  7. Finding you boyfriend/ girlfriend on Facebook.
  8. Collaboration fuels success.
  9. The phrase “what have you been up to?” is now irrelevant when you run into someone you know…thanks to Facebook.
  10. Formerly unimaginable revenue streams.
  11. The mobile lifestyle revolution!
  12. Transparency-Fakers are exposed and the authentic rise to the top.
  13. Your heroes are more accessible to you.
  14. Openness…
  15. @Tweet one minute, coffee shop the next.
  16. Live Feeds.
  17. Chris Brogan.
  18. Being a broke entrepreneur is cool.
  19. Neo-journalism….the rise of the novice yet profound blogger.
  20. The right brain has been reactivated!
  21. Screens are getting smaller…sorry TV.
  22. Digital stalking (you know who you are).
  23. ROI is more theoretical and less tangible.
  24. Human powered search.
  25. Community is back!

What are some reasons you love social media?  Comment and crowd source this list!

The Facebook Experience- For Media Agencies and Their Brands

Friday, October 30th, 2009

facebook-logo

I wrote this back in August but since I have been busy with other things and have been unable to post (more to come on that later) I wanted to post it again.  More importantly, Facebook is making some changes in regards to their developers API..which could possibly help brands create more successful campaigns on Facebook and do away with spammy apps.  With that being said…enjoy

Just to let everyone know…I am now working with the leading Social Media Application Development Company, Facebookster Inc. My role there is to develop business with clients that we believe 1) can benefit from social media and 2) need to be educated on the benefits of social media.  With that being said it’s a two fold process for our company: to educate and to implement.  So who are the users that are beginning to benefit the most from the “New Facebook”?  Well I believe it’s the progressive media agencies that are ready to bring their brands something fresh, engaging and bottom line oriented.  Here are some ways media agencies can pitch Facebook to their clients:

1. 2 way conversation-Traditional marketing for the most part, is one-way advertising in which a message is transmitted directly to a person that can chose either to consume the information or not.  Then…for the ad to be fully effective, they must act on the advertisement’s call to action.  I’m getting dizzy writing this (hope that all made sense).  On Facebook and other social media platforms, it is much more simple: it’s a conversation.  This means that brands can share information and have their fans respond in whatever way to this information.  Consumers more then ever are looking for transparency and now they can get it and much more!  Successful brands in this new economy are not only going back and forth with their customers but they are engaging them like never before.  Facebook Pages gives brand a platform to have these conversations on.

2. Leveraging Numbers- With over 300 million active members, Facebook is soon going to edge out the population of the US.  Half of that number comes on Facebook once a day!  Pretty much it’s easy to say that plenty of people unconsciously type in “facebook.com” into their web browser (I do it too…kinda scary).  Facebook is rapidly becoming the hub were people come to get their information.  That doesn’t exclude information about brands.  Basically if a brand does not have a Facebook presence they are missing out on customers and their competitors are most likely snatching them. (more…)

How to Catch a Whale on Twitter

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Throw enough Tweets and you'll catch a whale?

Throw enough Tweets and you'll catch a whale?

I have read numerous articles on how to use Twitter, how to gain followers and how to pick a stunning Twitter icon and a couple months later I am at 309 followers and 275 tweets deep.  Ya I know, not too impressive, if Guy Kawasaki didn’t seem like such a nice guy he would probably be laughing in my face.  But like most other facets of life I like to think it’s quality over quantity.  With that being said I have tried to absorb the most helpful blog posts regarding Twitter and disregard the others.  This is when I stumbled upon a simple post by Janet Fouts titled “6 Ways to Attract Twitter Followers“.  I believe this post was less about how to attract Twitter followers and more about how to make meaningful connections on Twitter.  She focuses on engaging people in meaningful conversation and therefore gaining their trust in the Twitter world…that is why I believe her strategy is more about forging relationships in the virtual social space rather than exploding your follower count (I think that’s what she meant all along).  This is exactly how I use Twitter, I have had some incredible conversations with some incredible people just by reaching out and trying to be helpful or supportive anyway I can.  Here are some of my methods: (more…)

What is Crowdsourcing? Video with Jeff Howe

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I am currently reading “Crowdsourcing” written by this cool cat Jeff Howe.  By this time many people know the term and typically base it around the premises that web users make web content for websites…ta-da!  Yes this is the superficial nature of crowdsourcing; however, there are much more technological and sociological implications which makes this new development veryyyy interesting.    Here our just a couple aspects of crowdsourcing that I think are interesting:

  • Shift from professional to amateur based “workforce”- Many industries once required certifications, degrees and a platinum badge.  With the information age in the forefront and the industrial age long gone it’s more evident than ever that specialization is not required as frequently as before and passion has now taken its place as being essential.  Many hobbyists are building some amazing tools with no proper training. (more…)
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