Social Media Gets Real in 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!

If 2012 Is For Real…We Better Make 2010 Incredible!

2012 Movie Poster

What Will You Do Before John Cusack Gets Another Leading Role?

The Mayans have done one of two things with their calendar.  Either, they have predicted the end of the world, in which we have only few years to live in a state of constant anxiety or with absolutely no reservation…ORRRrrrr they were too lazy to count beyond 2012, which means we will live beyond 2012 and wished we lived the past two year with no reservation instead of being anxiety ridden.

Just for the sake of positive pressure, why don’t we all assume that the world is going to end in 2012.  What would you do in 2010 that would make you’re entire life meaningful?  The world is changing rapidly, the people that are going to facilitate that change are the people that are going to be able to picture what they want, plan out how to get it and make meaning  behind their entire course of action.

You may get the sense that I intend on making the most of my upcoming years!  And it all begins with 2010.  We need to make this the year that we go beyond New Years Resolutions and achieve what we are meant to achieve.

With all that being said it takes a little more than putting your mind to it.  It takes understanding, planning and action to accomplish great things in 2010.

Understanding- Start With Resolutions

We have all fell victim to poor New Years Resolution planning before…there is no need to be ashamed.  Typically what happens is you jot down a few things you would like to do in the new year.  The resolutions are normally 180 behavioral shifts from stuff you did the year before.  That paper you jotted down your resolutions on is supposed to keep you accountable throughout the new year…full proof right?

Try this…

  • Jot down everything you want to accomplish in the new year.
  • Explain to yourself why you want to accomplish each item.
  • Move you resolutions onto a goal list and see if each resolution fits within your master plan.

Planning- Set Goals

Goal setting is where your real planning takes form.  These are the items that you are a 100% accountable for.  These goals should be near and dear to you and act as a constant reminder of what needs to be accomplished.

Here are the steps you can take to make sure you don’t only set goals, but you accomplish your goals:

  • Take your resolutions and begin to separate them based on category.  Example) write for Mashable goes in the Personal Branding/ Social Media category –> Finish my first course of French goes in the Personal category.
  • Start building goals around resolutions you have set in each category.
  • Make sure each goal is measurable.
  • Give a timeline for the accomplishment of that goal.
  • Access all your goals and begin to reduce your list.  Begin to take away the extraneous and time consuming goals that won’t fulfill your overall mission.  Note that reducing your scope of goals can be even more important that building you goal list out.  If your list is too big, you may be overwhelmed and discouraged by your lack of progress because you spread yourself too thin.

Last but not least…

Action-Track Your Milestones

I learned that goal lists often get lost in the shuffle (just like resolutions).  Therefore, I made an effort to break down my yearly goals into monthly action plans.  Monthly action plans is much easier to manage than a list full of goals.  I have seen the best results when I:

  • Take goals from each category which need to be addressed right away.
  • Break them down into quantifiable goals that can be met over the course of a month.  Example) If your goal is to have 20 guest posts published in 2010, your action plan for January should be to write 2 guest posts for x and y blogs.
  • Create milestones for each week.  Over the course of 7 days, what will need to be finished in order to finish up your monthly goals?
  • Take a Post It and write out what you need to accomplish for that day.  Make sure to keep it short and sweet (maximum 3 medium sized tasks).  This will make sure you never loose site of the task at hand.

What I will be doing…

In case you were curious…here are a few things I am focusing on in the upcoming year.

  • Less time in front of the computer and more time reading and being physically active.
  • Exploring the outdoors.
  • Building up myself as a go to resource in the social media and young entrepreneur niches.
  • Become even more active in meeting new and interesting people.
  • Start a highly successful business (more on this to come).
  • Create multiple streams of income.
  • Begin to put money away in reserve.
  • Begin to learn French.
  • Hang out more with family.
  • Hang out more with friends.
  • Love my girlfriend more and more each day.
  • Live everyday with gratitude.

For me, 2009 was the fastest year of my life.  I hope I was able to absorb everything I took in.

For everyone, I hope 2009 has been amazing and even more importantly, I hope you accomplish all that you truly want to accomplish before the world ends :)

Business Ventures With Friends. The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Hands in

Hands In! Maybe?

If you are an entrepreneurs, it’s very likely some of your friends are entrepreneurs.  Which is fantastic right?  That means you can come together for ideas, advice and other forms of insightful collaboration.  Of course, there will be many opportunities for you to pursue ventures with your friends.  Pretty exciting stuff, I know.

However, one must consider the possible pitfalls of partnering with friends on ventures (impressive alliteration eh).  Many times friendships get tested and business decisions get clouded.

With a talented group of friends and more and more partnership opportunities coming my way, I have to consider the good, the bad and the ugly before I jump into a new venture.  And you should consider it as well.

The Good

The single most important thing is that expectations are set.  There must be one vision and one team moving in unison.  If they fall off track a bit, they have the wherewithal to hop back on and get moving in the right direction.  Since birds of a feather flock together, your friends most likely have some of the same skills, talents and interested.  That shouldn’t mean that roles and positions aren’t set.  Egos may be tampered with when one friend is named the CEO over another but a group must define roles in order to have expectations met and the organization operate effectively.  Setting expectations and defining roles based on each individual’s strengths and desires is the only way a business friendship combo can work.

When all is accounted for and everyone is on the same page, you can only imagine the benefits.  You are working side by side with people you care about on a project you care about.  There is nothing better in this world then spending quality time with good friends.  If you are able to start up a successful business with your friends, you live the virtues of spending quality time with them while changing the world and making money.  Doesn’t get much better then that.

The Bad

Business decisions sometimes takes emotionless fortitude to move the right direction.  On the other hand, for friendship’s to flourish, one must have the capacity to empathize with their friends on a deep emotional level.  If you cannot find a balance between the two temperaments, be prepared for a short and bumpy ride.  To find this balance the team must be committed to being as open as possible.  Disclose all, from you finances to your feelings.  If you stumble across a partner that is not willing to be open, pick up your bags and roll out.

Say you do get to the point where each team member can strike a balance between business and friendship and prove to be open with each other.  You’ve made it passed step one.  However, in step two, money is something that will need to be accounted for.  Many entrepreneurs have the idealist notion is that you create something great and the money will fall into place (I still work under the notion…yes I am a romantic).  But at some point some type of reality sets in, either your costs are piling up or money is flowing in (hopefully the later).  If your friends and business partners does not have a clear picture of their capital contribution things are liable to get bad.  Never, never let friendships break up over money.  Be smart and bring in a trusted third party part time CFO if you need to, the money is worth the money.  If you are in this position, go talk to my friend and financial expert Trishan. He is a honest and knowledgeable guy that will set up your company’s finances for you.

The Ugly

My first venture Blacktop Hoops is the quintessential example of friendships and ventures turned ugly.  I ended up collaborating with a friend I only knew for a short period of time.  We had our differences but since we believed we needed each other we stuck through it.  He later brought his friend on to be our developer.  Communication was terrible and there was far too much tippy toeing around people’s feelings.  End result, is that the partnership is now dissolved.  Learn the whole ugly story here.

Conclusion

Make sure you know what you are getting your self into before you jump into it.  Set expectations, roles and most importantly make sure your group compliments each other.  No good friendship is worth ruining over business and no good business worth ruining because of a friend. 

Have you worked with friends before?  What have you learned from the experience?

Be Open and Discover Opportunity

openness

This post was written as a feature article for the Brazen Careerist community.

In today’s professional world, our influence extends only as far as our relationships. This is fantastic news for the Hollywood lookalikes and handshaking enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the majority of us lack the jawline and the forearm fortitude to become a master networker and develop a strong personal brand.

Right?

Not even close.

Thanks to social media flattening the world, transparency reigns supreme. This means that the individuals who are authentic, knowledgeable and that can add value to an area of interest can make a name for themselves. This culture of openness has brought incredible opportunities my way, as well as to thousands of other proactive individuals looking to express themselves and make a difference. Here are some keys to success when it comes to opening up and creating opportunity:

Express Yourself

If you keep a keen eye to many of the popular social media channels you will notice that there are more and more interesting people these days. Actually, it’s not that the world is hosting more interesting people; it’s that we now have the platforms that allow anyone to position themselves as interesting. Millions of people watch Mr. Average Joe perform mediocre slapstick comedy on YouTube, while thousands of people on Twitter follow every link, word and character from the new Ruby on Rails Guru. Today anyone can be a celebrity, why not you? Go on TwitterYouTubeFacebookcreate a blog and show the world what you love and start adding value through expression.

Find Your Niche

If you are planning to start a Twitter account to constantly tweet about what you had for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expect to amass a huge following that will be interested in what you have to say, you are delusional. Find a niche that excites you and makes you want to share your expertise. If you share great content to the right people you will begin to gain credibility within your niche. Reach out to others in your niche and have real life conversations. You may be able to help each other out and build a strong relationship.

Have a Conversation

Don’t complicate this social media thing. The best personal branders are people leverage social media in order to have conversations with the intent to share and add value to the other person or community. Start reaching out to people you look up to and let them know you admire them, tell them a bit about yourself and express your unique opinion about their work. Becoming their friends is not so farfetched anymore. Also reach out to people in the same niche as you, they can provide you with a wealth of knowledge, partnership opportunities and/or cross promotional channels. Create enough conversations and you may be the next authority that everyone wants to have a conversation with.

The playing field is leveled for those willing to open up and get out there and play. Just remember be authentic, be knowledgeable, add value and opportunities will begin to come your way.

A Few Words on Gratitude

gratitude

I still have a turkey hangover…You know that feeling of being in a constantly satisfying daze?  And no, I am not alluding to any extracurricular activities.  Anyways that is besides the point.  After having a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family and friends and away from my computer; it was much easier to take a step back and reflect on what I am grateful for.  I look at all the wonderful people around me, the incredible area I live in, my health, my mind and everything else that makes up my life to this point and am amazed at how lucky of a person I am.  Giving gratitude on Thanksgiving is assumed, however I sometimes get caught up focusing on the  things I don’t have instead of giving gratitude for the things I do have.  I don’t have enough money, I have not had a successful startup yet, I am still not in Paris…this misappropriated thought structure can lead to negativity in all aspects of life.  Instead giving gratitude allows one to feel the roll over effect of positivity.  And a positively charged mind can do amazing things.  It may seem hokey to pass out thank yous like handshakes, to thank your parents for what they have done for you throughout the years or to count your blessings each and every night; however small acts such as those can help shed an egocentric mindset that stunts personal growth.  The next questions is: what can I do to give gratitude that will allow me to evolve as a more fulfilled human being?  So in the spirit of Thanksgiving I have put together a short list of ways I will give gratitude from here on out.

  1. Smile, greet and/or thank anyone who you pass by on the street, chat up at a register or see at the gym.  Basically, treat each daily occurrence with gratitude no matter how small.
  2. Actually tell people close to you that you appreciate them and why you appreciate them.
  3. Whenever your mind creates a barrier…count 3 things you are grateful for…then proactively overcome the barrier.
  4. When you are not happy about where you are in life.  Take five minuets to writer out some of your past and current accomplishments.
  5. Smile more.
  6. Tell more people that you love…that you love them.
  7. Greet every new day with excitement.

The life I live is an amazing one; it’s extremely powerful that I recognize that.  What are some ways you give gratitude?

25 Reasons to Love Social Media

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!

Unlimit Yourself

status-quo

Two memorable things happened last week:  I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Carlos Miceli, called “Ignore Reality” and I had a long and deep conversation with my younger brother Matt.  Carlos explored the realm of the completely irrelevant.  He took a look at the statistics, assumptions and boundaries that our society manipulates in order to keep the status quo the status quo.  In school we were told the A student becomes rich and successful, the jock gets the girls and the dumb kid is doomed.  Our entire life we are conditioned to accept this, wave the white flag and be content with whatever comes our way.  At 22 I almost fell into this trap…luckily I recognized something was terribly wrong and now strive to be someone terribly different.  So when my brother called me and needed help to get out of his rut, I was strangely excited.  He wanted to start moving forward but couldn’t figure out how.  While speaking with him, one thing I immediately noticed was when I suggested some possible options there was usually some initial excitement that was almost always followed by a “but”.  My brother is bright, athletic, good looking, charismatic and a leader yet he has trouble getting past the limitations he  imposes on himself.  So with the little wisdom I have, I suggested him to think beyond those limiting thoughts and think “what if”.

“What if you can do whatever you want…what would you do?”

I came to a realization that many people are governed by limiting factors (not the bio term).  Limiting factors which develop in each of us overtime due to over exposure to mediocrity.  These are some of the most dangerous agents in our lives.  They are agents of  restriction, fear and complacency.  They are the thoughts in your head that tell you, “you will never get that job, they only hire Ivy League grads” or “she will never go out with you, she’s way out of your range.” They hold you back from where your heart wants you to be.

So start to challenge assumptions that you have never thought of challenging before.  If something is one way, ask yourself why and find out why.  If you think you can’t do something just go do it.  Take actions which will help you break away from what limits you.  Simply put…unlimit yourself!

Strive to be an outlier…remove yourself from the statistical data.

PS) This is NOT an endorsement for Metro PCS (your welcome FCC)

Make a BIG Name at a BIG Conference

hellomynameisinigo

The last month of my life has made me feel far more important then I should feel. Airplanes, fancy hotels, San Diego, New York, VCs and CEOs…the usual. Not exactly, but with a bit more practice maybe someday soon it will be more “usual” then not. I have attended both the DMA Conference in San Diego and the Ad Tech Conference in New York. To my dismay I noticed something alarming at each conference…everything was the SAME. There was so much duplication I thought I was watching reruns of “Sister Sister” (ok bad joke). But serious, they were both marketing conferences. Marketers are meant to constantly find creative solutions with their right brain heavy mindset. What I saw was a bunch of companies that I could not tell apart to save my life and people spitting out the same pitch over and over. Maybe it was my lack of industry knowledge but I wasn’t intrigued by much.

Not to toot my own horn but on a bright note, my company and I were able to create some buzz, leads and solid relationships in a short amount of time (I thought by now being a social media company at a marketing conference wouldn’t be that novel). On a more personal note I tested a few assumptions out at these conferences trying to find some unique ways to meet the right people, create some new business and make a name for myself. Here are a few tips that work:

1. Hang with a Big Timer- It’s amazing how far chatting it up in a lunch line can get you. I an intriguing fellow who had a professional relationship with both the Google and Yahoo founders, has a PHD in Robotics, worked as a CTO of a major tech startup and was a key component to a recent presidential election. Needless to say, I didn’t know what to say. However, I was able to ask him engaging questions and build enough credibility for myself by sharing my insights on certain topics. By just spending 30 minutes with him, I was able to meet the man behind democrats.com and a CSO of a large marketing company. It pays to go BIG (inadvertently).

2. Throw out Something Unique and Memorable- At big conventions your handshake numbers will go through the roof, so bring some hand sanitizer and a note pad because it’s hard to keep up. It is nearly impossible to remember every single person you meet; many are giving the same pitch, introduction and representing the same type of companies. The people I remembered were the people that did something unique and memorable. From wearing a bow tie and snap on bracelets to telling exciting stories, there are many ways one can grasp your attention…because with all the duplication, you will be begging for something different. So try “different” out: introduce yourself as the “social media guru extraordinaire” (don’t forget to laugh after), wear some flamboyant get-up, or tell a compelling story as a pitch rather than the usually dry stuff.

3. Go Beyond Your Company…Personalize- When you prowl the exhibition hall you will naturally lock eyes with a representative at one of the booths; once that happens it’s over, you have to go and chat. The convo typically goes like this:

  • You: So, what do you guys do?
  • Rep: We provide top of the line solutions to help your company find and manage your customers…blah blah.

This approach is beyond boring since you have heard it many times over. I worked the booth day in and day out and tested a few things. What I found worked the best was personalizing your pitch. Personalize it based on who you are talking to…where they are from, what industry they are in, what company they work for and so on. Here is what I found to be an effective pitch:

  • Business Person: What do you guys do?
  • You: To be honest it depends on what you do. So tell me ____ what does ____ do? (while looking at their badge).
  • Business Person: Well, we are an interactive media agency out of LA looking for marketing companies to help us with our social media campaigns for some large health food brands we represent. (ideal)
  • You: Oh fantastic, it sounds like you guys have some great clients in a progressive industry! We have worked with some integrative agencies out of LA in the past and have helped them launch some very viral social media campaigns. Interestingly enough we have worked on a project with a health food company that we helped strengthen their presence on Facebook. What are you doing in terms of social media for your clients at this point?

You win right here because you are: 1) Asking them the initial questions, thereby guiding the conversation. 2) Appealing to their ego by sincerely stating they are special in some way. 3) Customizing your offering to fit exactly what they need.

4. Have Fun! - I don’t know about you but I am naturally attracted to happy people. Smiles and laughs go a long way when it comes to business…contrary to what some may think.

5. Follow Up- This is the most important point of all! Far too many opportunities are lost because of poor follow-ups (note: I have not yet followed-up with the people I spoke to at Ad Tech, eeek). Set aside the majority of your time the following week to organize your contacts and begin the follow-up process. During the conference, make sure that you write down notes on each business card you receive, you will thank yourself later. Second, when you get back to the office, organize your cards based on the most urgent to just basic contacts. Third, call the urgent ones right away and continue the conversation you had at the conference. Make sure to take notes about personal items you went over; it comes in handy to spark up the conversation again. Fourth, email those who are less urgent. You can use a template that you create but make sure to use some level of customization. Lastly, Follow-up on your follow-ups…don’t let anything slip.

Conferences can be the best opportunity to make a name for yourself. Leave nothing up to chance, be proactive and unique and your name should begin to spread! If you have some interesting conference stories or insights let us know!

When Your First Start-up “Fails”. What Do You Do?

Photo from Ethan Hein

Photo from Ethan Hein

If you are working on or thinking on working on your first startup, read this. It should help you avoid a messy situation.

In the journey of entrepreneurship, ups and downs are expected. So when BlackTop Hoops had an entire month of everything going right, it was to be assumed that the perfect storm was waiting right around the corner. Here is a quick story of how the perfect storm hit my first big scale entrepreneurial project, BlackTop Hoops, how I handled it and how you can do better.

I tried to forge the river and my wagon got flooded (everyone likes nostalgic analogies right?).

For those of you not familiar with me or BlackTop Hoops, I have been working on “BTH” for a little over a year trying to figure how to help recreational basketball connect and organize. I set forth to create social platform which would allow online communities of basketball players to highlight their basketball skill set, find courts to play on and organize game to play in (this was BTH’s core). Our (I’ll tell you the reason for the “our” usage later) grandiose plan was to help basketball organizations (leagues, tournaments and trainers) promote their companies and organize their members. We believe that rec. basketball is far too segmented to the detriment of basketball players …so we would build the community, bring in the organizations and create a meaningful/ profitable company Yayayy!! Easier written then executed. It turns out that when I started I knew absolutely nothing, but was ballsy enough to take the leap of faith and get going on the project. I guess I knew so little that a year later, I still didn’t have a finished product to push public.

The Facebook Experience- For Media Agencies and Their Brands

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.

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