We wear a lot of hats at Metis Communications - messaging experts, media specialists, start-up advocates, mavericks and the list goes on. Our recent work with Joyful Heart Foundation is a great hat to wear.
Joyful Heart Foundation -- an organization that helps victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse mend their minds, bodies and spirits and reclaim their lives -- was founded by “Law & Order: SVU” actress Mariska Hargitay. Promoting this foundation, which supports such an important cause, has been rewarding work for us.
Joyful Heart is working on an ongoing and important issue in the United States – helping to end the rape kit backlog. Rape kits store the DNA evidence to bolster investigative leads, and are no easy task for victims. Today, most states have a backlog of thousands or tens of thousands of untested rape kits -- a needless contribution to the 80 percent likelihood that a rapist will get away with the crime. The foundation is launching the first comprehensive website on the rape kit backlog, endthebacklog.org, in conjunction with the airing of a special Law & Order: SVU episode on the topic. One of the goals is to educate others on this backlog within in our justice system, encourage people to support the cause and deliver this message to victims: your cases matter.
In spreading awareness about the rape kit backlog and supporting JHF events, one of our Mavericks, Rebecca Joyner, otherwise known as Country-Fried Mama, has enlisted the support of the blogger world (mommy, daddy and beyond) to spread the word about Joyful Heart.
Yesterday, Rebecca hosted a blog carnival on CountryFriedMama.com on the topic, “the world I want for my daughter.” Bloggers are encouraged to get creative with the topic in support of Joyful Heart - plug in “son” or “children,” etc., but the goal is in line with Joyful Heart’s mission – vocalize your greatest hopes for the future and let’s arrive there by working together to mend the world. By evangelizing these talented writers, Rebecca and her community are looking beyond the root issue of rape kit backlogs to the future we want for our children – an environment of love, hope, kindness and acceptance.
From a public relations perspective, we are helping to tap into a powerful online community. Dedicated bloggers are out there spreading the word within their circles, telling a few hundred or thousand people who tell a few hundred or thousand more. The blogosphere represents an opportunity for true grassroots movement, and it rallies for the causes that matter.
Nothing beats working for an organization that makes you feel like a part of something meaningful, something that can make a positive difference in the world. We hope that this groundswell will only increase as more people get involved in the discussion and feel that hope that we feel. If you are interested in joining the blog carnival, please visit Rebecca’s blog for details -- www.countryfriedmama.com. You can also show your support by visiting or donating to www.joyfulheart.org / www.endthebacklog.org, and remember to watch NBC tonight for the special “Law & Order: SVU.”
The online marketing community is always buzzing with ideas to help online retailers stay ahead of the curve with their customers and be proactive with their marketing optimization strategies. This week is no exception as Shop.org’s Annual Summit is being held with more than 3,200 retailers, vendors, media and analysts in attendance. To follow the Shop.org discussions online, check out the real-time Tweets using the hashtag #shoporg10 for an idea of trends, industry sessions, etc. being discussed at the conference.
Many of the conference sessions are focusing on shared secrets from the most successful online businesses -- from leveraging social media to keying in on past retail trends -- and they are all working towards a common goal: meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations and wants. As the holiday shopping season quickly approaches with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, online retailers are seeking out solutions that enable interactive and personalized web experiences, foster brand recognition and ultimately increase conversion and overall marketing ROI. If you are in Dallas this week for Shop.org, stop by the booths of two of our clients’ that help companies do just this.
- Amadesa provides a SaaS-based Customer Experience Suite, offering website solutions such as A/B and multivariate testing, behavioral targeting solutions and more. The company announced this week the formation of its advisory board, with two retail gurus heading it up: Matt Spiegel, CEO of Omnicom Media Group Digital and Lauren Freedman, founder and president of the e-tailing group. (Booth # 1012 / @Amadesa)
- SundaySky delivers a platform that automatically generates dynamic and interactive online videos out of existing web content that can be limitlessly scaled and placed across all channels including e-mail, widgets, etc. SundaySky is experiencing impressive market traction across various industries – check out its recent customer momentum announcement, listing leading e-commerce companies such as Delivery Agent, Inc., Universal, Otto, Gemvara, Moxsie, Inc. and Hanley Wood. (Booth # 100 / @SundaySky)
Amadesa and SundaySky are at the forefront of the trend to proactively optimizing an e-commerce website with solutions that are proven to increase conversions and improve the overall customer experience. Companies like these are changing the game for retailers and making a difference for all of us shoppers looking for the latest and greatest online experience.
I grew up in the South where the idea of respecting your elders was basically branded into your brain from the moment you were born. Yes sir and yes ma'am are standard no matter the age of the participants. You always say it to those older than you, even if you feel old yourself. It's a matter of respect. Even if you don't agree, you keep your mouth shut and listen. There's always a lesson, story or idea that will stick with you, even if it takes years of living your own life to understand.
I have a chart of "Elder Sayings" up on the wall of my home office that I lovingly refer to when I am having a difficult time convincing myself to take a risk. The list helps me cowboy up and stop any doubts, fears, concerns, etc. It also helps me steer my creative juices into the unknown, areas that others may question or down a road I would never normally go.
Here are a few of my favorite "Elder sayings".
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. Albert Einstein
In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. Carl Sagan
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Hunter S. Thompson
Given my upbringing, it's hard not to listen to them.
San Francisco’s Moscone Center is always a buzz of conference activity, but in the past month, a number of our clients (and Metis) have walked the center’s floors and hosted attendees at their booths. At two industry shows, VMworld and Intel Developer Forum, our clients interacted with partners, customers, vendors, competitors, analysts, bloggers and media.
From August 30 to September 2, virtualization dominated the streets south of Market at VMworld 2010. Four of our clients – Aprius, Embotics, FalconStor and VM6 Software – were there, each discussing their solutions and opinions around desktop virtualization, data center optimization, virtualization management, I/O virtualization, and public and private cloud computing.
More than 17,000 people attended VMworld. Conferences in the past few years have been doing any and everything they can to attract a crowd, generally to no avail. VMworld is always an exception.
So what are some of our key take aways from VMworld?
- Virtualization is still very much an enabling technology but the discussions focused on management and creating public, private and hybrid clouds. We are now seeing a wave of technologies that promise increased ROI and easier management, with varied approaches to adoption.
- Rubbing shoulders with so many companies makes it all the more critical that your message resonates and stands out – and not just in a marketing way – but as a tangible approach that speaks directly to customers and solves real problems.
- There are not enough hours in the day to consume the sessions, labs, content, conversations, parties, videos, Foursquare specials, Tweets, pictures and more. Check out the Wikibon livecast videos for a great review.
- Happy hours and dinners are highly anticipated and well-deserved events. However, you may kick yourself the next day if you stay out past 1 a.m.
The energy associated with an event like VMworld is palpable. You're surrounded by braniacs, industry leaders, and technology innovation from emerging companies. It's easy to get caught up in the spirit of it. This blog post from Virtual Insanity gives a great overview of the numbers behind VMworld. After taking it all in, it still excites the data center team here at Metis to talk about it three weeks later. We look forward to next year's event!
Even if you didn’t attend, thanks to real-time updates from Twitter, YouTube and blogs, you could watch the action unfold. Check out the Twitter updates that are still resulting from VMworld.
At Metis, we believe social media engagement hinges on an internal champion or an awesome client marketing team.
We help our clients listen, respond, learn and have meaningful conversations, but we advise them to do the social part themselves. In order for them to feel “engaged,” they must actually engage.
Melissa alluded to this on Friday when she talked about joining the real-time web and lamented how often we hear from folks who think social media is a waste of time. But no, this is not a blog post about social media ROI; it is about blog comments.
Unlike traditional media, blogging opens the door for conversation, rather than just one-sided broadcast. When you engage with bloggers, you demonstrate that you value the discussions they have started. As importantly, commenting on blogs can elevate (big emphasis here on can) your authority as an industry expert and gives prospects and customers one more window through which to interact with you.
Below are some quick tips to consider when commenting on blogs:
1. Further the discussion. Comments like, “great post” or “me too” don’t gain you much. To make your efforts more effective, pose a question, make a clear statement and provide a constructive comment.
2. It’s okay to disagree. Disagreements can lead to valuable educational opportunities and expose the nuances in a particular topic. Just make sure that when you do it, you…
3. Remain polite. Treat others as you want to be treated. Do not post comments when you are angry or upset.
4. Comments live forever (unless deleted by the blog owner). While we’re talking about commenting tips, we can’t neglect to mention this point. Consider your own personal brand and think, think, think before you write. You should also consider your company’s brand as well as any corporate social media guidelines or rules to which you should adhere.
5. Your comments ultimately belong to the blogger. Some bloggers retain the right to review and approve comments, in which case, your submission will not immediately appear. Note that bloggers can delete or omit your comments from their posts if they find them inappropriate (see item #3).
6. Drop the marketing talk. The blogosphere is about being real, and subsequent commenters, as well as bloggers, are free to call you out for blatant proselytizing. So talk like you would in person, engage in an authentic discussion and make sure there is value in what you say for a broad audience.
7. Include your website as part of your name and not in the body of the comment, which can be viewed as spam by the blogger and his audience. Most blogs allow you to link a website to your signature, making your name a path by which subsequent readers can easily reach your company website or blog.
The blogosphere provides a venue to visit with innovators and influencers, chat with them in view of a wider public and invite the whole crowd back to your place to continue the discussion. Those new to blog commenting can learn a lot from the Beatles quote, “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” The size of your return will equal the size of your effort, so go forth and comment wisely.
Got feedback? Please leave a comment.
“How can tweeting and posting on Facebook or LinkedIn benefit me or my business? I sell XYZ, and my customers aren’t on social media; it’s a waste of time.”
This is something we hear too often.
Listening to teachers and school administrators speak on a panel at the 140 Characters Conference this week about social media really resonated with me because we consistently educate our clients on the importance of these tools and answer these questions daily.
At Metis, we specialize in launching and working with startups and emerging companies. Our passion is taking these companies to the next stage of development in business and in marketing. Doing that involves taking traditional marketing and PR tools and integrating them with social media engagement, as well as developing and distributing content. Because this is such a priority for our company, we decided that this conference was perfect way to hear more about what others are doing in the industry.
At the conference, I had the pleasure of listening to Kirsten Olson (@bhsprincipal), author of “Wounded By School” and the principal of Old Sow Educational Consulting; Patrick Larkin (@bhsprincipal), principal of Burlington High School; and Sandra McCarron (@sanmccarron), a high school science teacher. They expressed the need to educate school districts – everyone from teachers, parents, students and the board about the importance of social media for education. In education, there is a challenge to unlock the assumptions about these tools, get teachers to commit and then unleash the full experience to their students. These educators are in an industry not so familiar with technical innovation. Most teachers are still relying on overhead projectors and working with ridiculously limited budgets when it comes to upgrading technology. They are traditional; they like face-to-face meetings or talking with parents via phone to tell how their child misbehaved or got a gold star for the day. They aren’t thinking about how their students and their parents are now getting information via Facebook or Twitter.
During this panel, it occurred to me that we face this every day – the continued lack of social media education,providing the reasoning behind why it IS beneficial to businesses, consumers, the government, the journalism community, school systems and more.
We as marketers are here to promote change, educate our clients to help them grasp new marketing concepts, get them to understand and commit to integrating traditional techniques with new media channels – and the reasoning behind doing so. Students, teachers and school boards can do this to communicate and engage with their community – figure out what’s working and what’s not, brainstorm with parents in real-time and voice concerns without parent-teacher meetings twice a year.
This is the exact same lesson that businesses that are not taking advantage of the real-time web need to learn. Imagine if companies use a portion of their marketing budget to hire someone to comment on forums, blogs and social media outlets, actually engaging with their target audience to figure out what their customers need and want to be successful in their marketing techniques. What if?
My point: Embrace the internet’s reach. Express yourself. Engage. Join in the real-time spirit and let others see it, whether you are in education or business to gain customers or educate students about out-of-the-box learning techniques. Because realistically, the students are the ones that will grow up to be the entrepreneurs with whom Metis deals on a daily basis. We welcome and challenge school districts and every entrepreneur out there to commit to social media. You might actually learn something…or…increase your customer base, raise awareness of your brand, recommend brands to others and obtain market feedback.
It’s easy for me to list the things that make me happy. My family. My co-workers. Your momma jokes. “Ender’s Game.” An awesome teaching moment. A white pizza from Fremont Pizzeria. It’s harder for me to understand why these things make me happy, when they’re generally either cliché or unexpected, and there feels like no rhyme or reason to them.
Lately, I’ve been curious about happiness and positive psychology. My summer reading list consisted of books predominately focused on happiness, psychology and culture: “Quirkology,” “The Happiness Hypothesis” and “Delivering Happiness.”
That last one in particular has stuck with me. “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose” was written by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and it’s a wonderful read about how you can achieve greater success and happiness on a daily basis at work and personally. The story of Zappos.com is an inspiring one to say the least. It’s equal parts hard work, luck, more hard work and building the right team.
I read this book on a beautiful Saturday morning with a cup of coffee by the lake. I laughed, took notes and said “wow” a lot. The unexpected part, the pay-off beyond that one day of inspirational reading, is that the feeling lasted. The takeaways are as tangible and accessible as my list of random items that make me happy.
- Own your core values daily.
- Business books are more interesting with goats and tutus.
- Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
- Be a family and a team.
I’m an official Zappos fan now, even though I’ve never shopped there. How do you love a company with which you’ve never had a personal interaction? The better question is how does the company orchestrate that feeling? The answer is easy; Zappos.com shares the love. It shares the highs and lows. “Delivering Happiness” emulates what is great about business. And you end up rooting for Zappos.com because it makes you feel like you are part of it.
But more importantly, you root for yourself and your team – at least I did. After all, we’re passionate about what we do and that translates into long hours and lots of time together. Happiness matters here at Metis because we matter to each other beyond the business, and that makes everyone stronger, more willing to take risks and yield better results. It also matters during the tough times, like when the people that you love and respect admit that they are Jersey Shore fans (the show:).
By Peter Gett
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the 140 Character Conference in Boston, a gathering of people from all different backgrounds to share how they leverage social media in their professional lives. Each presenter had 15-20 minutes to talk and the topics ranged from education to military to journalism and beyond. Chris Penn, (@cspenn), the vice president of strategy and innovation at Blue Sky Factory and the co-founder of PodCamp, was originally slated to give a talk on measuring marketing ROI in the era of the real-time web, but I like to believe he knew some Metis folks were in attendance and, therefore, changed his topic to Internet Superheroes. Regardless of the reason he switched it up, his presentation was amazing. I’d like to share a few points he discussed with us.
In this age of the “real-time web”, a phrase that was commonly repeated at the 140 Character Conference was: information moves faster than a speeding bullet.
A video of a plane crash landing in the Hudson River, which would normally have to wait until the evening news, gets disseminated through various channels in a matter of seconds, and within a few minutes, anyone in the world can see the heroics of Captain Jay “Sully” Sullenberg. A process that used to take traditional media hours now takes the average citizen mere moments. It’s almost supernatural.
So what kind of powers can you, the ordinary user, possess? Well how about mind reading, like Prof. Xavier? By following big names on Twitter, you are literally seeing into the minds of some of the most influential people in the world. Access to the thoughts and opinions of celebrities, politicians, industry leaders and religious figures has never been so prolific. Even Pope Benedict has a Twitter feed, although I’m 99 percent sure it isn’t actually him doing the tweeting. I’m not even sure what the Pope would have to tweet about! (Probably: “how crazy is my super tall hat? LOL!” or something along those lines). But the fact that you can go online and follow the UK Prime Minister, Bill Gates, LeBron James and President Barack Obama on the same website is nothing short of incredible.
Not satisfied with just one super power? Well alright then, how about super vision, like Superman? With services like YouTube you have the ability to see content from all over the world instantaneously and nearly simultaneously. From the election protests in Iran to flash mobs in Japan, from wild fires in California to penguin colonies in Antarctica, video content on the web has exploded in the last few years. In the U.S. alone, over 12 billion videos are accessed every month, and worldwide there are over a billion videos viewed every day.
These powers are nothing compared with the power you never realized you possessed. You have the ability to be in multiple places at the same time. You’re like Nightcrawler, but hopefully tail-less. With tabbed browsing becoming the norm, users are able to check out the Asian economic markets on one tab, the latest Twitter trends in the U.S. on another tab, and video from British Parliament’s latest session on a third tab -- all in the same window, all simultaneously, all in real-time.
Combine these powers and you have become the strongest Superhero this world has ever known. You’re a mind-reading, all-seeing, omnipotent force and your only kryptonite is a shoddy internet connection or a phone with no apps. But as Spiderman’s greatest influence, Uncle Ben, has taught us, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I believe it’s safe to say that most web users spend their time lurking; that is, passively viewing videos, browsing other’s Twitter feeds, or checking their friend’s Facebook updates.
But with all this power at our fingertips, Chris Penn believes we have a responsibility to do good with it. He urges us to “awaken our inner superhero” by doing more than just casual browsing. Generate content. Retweet important stories. Post pictures and videos of anything you think is significant. Use these powers to better yourself and your community and/or network.
The world needs more superheroes, and now more than ever it is possible for ordinary citizens to step up and save the day. Let Chris Penn’s words be the radioactive spider that turns all you casual browsing Peter Parkers into social media Spidermen (or Spiderwomen, of course!)