Muy LoCo

Last October I decided I was out of excuses, and after three years of talking about it I completed my first WOD (workout of the day) at LoCo CrossFit. It was a brand new “box”, and it has been a blast watching the owners and head coaches grow our tribe thus far. It has been really interesting to watch other members come in and make incredible strides in their pursuit of health and fitness.

For me, progress has been less visible but equally life altering. How am I different?

1. I am no longer at war with the scale

I finally found the courage to “breakup” with my weight. Years of disordered eating, obsessive cardio, and allowing a number to dictate my mood and sense of self-worth are done!

2. I embrace failure

I am no longer worried about being better than anyone else, and I happily take on challenges that intimidate me. You get better by doing things outside your comfort zone.

3.I accept where I am today, but I don’t let it define where I will go tomorrow

I won’t lie and say I don’t get frustrated, but I am okay putting long-term success ahead of short-term ego. You do your best every time, and accept that “best” can vary, but “better” is always your goal.

4. Food is fun

I plan to write more on my paleo adventures, but I am learning to treat my body better by fueling it to perform. I still have some emotional eating triggers, but I am healing my body through good nutrition and it is just amazing.

I don’t think most people see a big difference, but I am okay with that. I am getting stronger – mentally and physically, and it is impacting all aspects of my life.

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Welcome back, Blogger!

It has been awhile since I was here, and this seems like a good time to dust off the blog and start writing again. (The cat is sleeping on me, so options are limited.) Today I have been musing about meaning and purpose. Several people in my life are having big days –

– my Dad turned 68
– my sister hung up her corporate hat and walked away from a stressful career
– my sweet young cousin is leaving the country to go to Germany for a year on a State Department fellowship

And what is my grand plan? Right now I am trying to figure that out. I finished my Master’s degree in December, and I am starting to feel like I should do something, but I am not entirely sure what that might be. I guess it is a classic “first world problem”; the truth is that there are too many options and as a result I am paralyzed by the fear that I might make the wrong choice.

So I suppose I should just get zen with my cat, and just make the most of each moment and each opportunity instead of worrying about what might (or might not) happen next. It couldn’t hurt to try. HhK

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Plus or Minus?

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I wish I was one of the cool kids

It has been interesting to watch the “see you on Google+” status updates cropping up on my Facebook newsfeed.  I guess maybe if I had a gmail account I could score and invite too, but I am not sure I see the point.

According to PC World, early reports indicate that approximately 4.7 Million beta users in the U.S. do see the point. I suspect it has a lot to do with feeling “chosen”, since everyone AND their Grandma is now on Facebook. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out – go peek at the demo to see what the buzz is about: http://www.google.com/+/demo/

I will admit it is pretty and the functionality looks very clean. I will also admit that I don’t have an account, even though my husband offered me his invite.  I guess he doesn’t see the point either.

The thing that surprises me the most is that Google+ doesn’t offer a solution to the biggest complaint you hear about Facebook – privacy.  In fact, it relies on the company’s general terms of service,  which give Google all rights to anything you publish.  Don’t believe it – read this:

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

Now, I appreciate that Google is very consistent in its terms.  I guess by removing any perception of privacy they are setting very clear expectations.  But who really reads the TOS? Right now the invite only nature of Google+ gives the perception of exclusiveness, but once they get past the beta will this totally open format *really* fly?

I guess we will have to wait and see.  I am sure some one will post about it on Facebook.

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Making Cents of Social Currency

When all else fails, lead with a pun.

The other night we decided to go to the movies,  and we took the girls to see X-Men First Class.  By some minor miracle, we arrived early and were able to take in all the pre-movie, pre-previews advertising.  I was astonished at how many of the ads made reference to social media, and specifically that the appeal was that [insert product name here] was cool or desirable because of its position in the social media space. The one that really got me thinking was for American Express:

Social Currency?

According to Douglas Rushkoff,  ““Social currency is like a good joke. When a bunch of friends sit around and tell jokes, what are they really doing? Entertaining one another? Sure, for a start. But they are also using content — mostly unoriginal content that they’ve heard elsewhere — in order to lubricate a social occasion. And what are most of us doing when we listen to a joke? Trying to memorize it so that we can bring it somewhere else. The joke itself is social currency.”

Okay, so I know a few good jokes, but what does that have to do with social media? (or AMEX reward points, for that matter)

I’m getting to that part.

Apparently this type of currency has the potential for value fluctuations, just like “real” money.  If you tell the best joke in the world to a bunch of people who already know it you are just another guy (or gal) who know the joke.  In fact, I suspect you could even damage your social value by appearing behind the times.  That means you have to keep your messages fresh and relevant for the audience you wish to engage.  By doing so, you can increase your reach and build social capital. But that isn’t all.

Now we get to the part of the social media game that I find most intriguing, and it is something I think should be a key element of any social media strategy – trading social currency to increase social capital. There are lots of folks operating in your niche in the social media universe, and you have to seek them out and promote their contributions (remember, social currency is frequently NOT original) and hope they return the favor.  So it isn’t just about using social media as a platform for your product; social currency lies in the creation of connections and in building value for your audience.

There are lots of ways to build social currency – check out Serious Play: The Business of Social Currency, or you can play Empire Avenue and grow your own social capital. (Proof that someone will make a game about absolutely anything!)

As much as I like the AMEX ad, I am convinced that reward points and social currency aren’t really related.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my reward points, but I think that real social currency is slightly more important when I think about building influence and community using social media.  Frankly, anything that allows for social media to be considered in fiscal terms will help me demonstrate ROI and improve my chances of getting buy-in for the C-Suite for investing in social media efforts.

That currency is worth its weight in gold.

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tap, tap, tap…Is this thing on?

I want to blog a little about blogging.  I thought this was a pretty absurd idea until I found out there are actually a lot of blogs that are completely and entirely focused on blogging.  Most of those blogs appear to be by people who seem to know what they are doing, or who at least are willing to claim they do. I am going to take Denise Wakeman’s advice and differentiate myself with a bit of narrow-casting.  I would like to confess that this blog business confounds and frustrates me.

Currently, I am responsible for two blogs; this one and my companies semi-official blog at www.teamarin.net.  So far, I have found there are a couple distinct challenges to managing a blog. First is figuring out what to write, who is my target audience, what is the point I want to make? Then there is the matter of getting time sensitive content online quickly.  For instance, we didn’t get our wrap up content for World IPv6 Day online at Team ARIN until better than two weeks after the event.  That is way too long a lag. But by far the biggest challenge is finding a flow.

To manage my business blog, every quarter I sit down and brainstorm about the topics and issues that might be relevant to my audience (assuming they are even listening) and map that against known calendar items in the world of Internet number resource related events, while making sure to leave plenty of room for breaking news and other *stuff*.  My goal for this year was to get our posting rate up to at least twice monthly, but I am plagued by the notion that it is enough?  The jury seems to be out, however according to blogger, Joe Pulizzi of Junta42,

Any content marketing initiative is a promise to your customers.  Once you find a frequency, such as two times per week, you need to stay with that frequency to keep your content promise.

Remember, like it or not, you are a publisher.  The best publishers in the world develop compelling stories AND do so on a consistent basis.  Make sure you are doing both.”

So, if I am providing compelling content on a consistent basis, I am good.  Except that I am not, because according to the folks and Mashable there is still a bunch of stuff I am doing wrong.  I am guilty of at least three of the five top business blog mistakes:

1. Too often, the blog is a bullhorn for press release type content

2. There is no conversation – we don’t have comments open, and those we approve rarely get a response. (That is an upper management edict I have yet to get overturned)

3. We aren’t all that discoverable.  I need to take SEO for dummies, because we just aren’t doing it and the one guy in my group that has any savvy isn’t willing to play.

In hunting for answers to my vague questions, I discovered that the real secret might lie in taking up African drumming.  Blogger Stephanie Krishnan (who is also blogging about how hard it is to blog – so much for originality on my part!) has a great metaphor for her life as a blogger and a drummer.  Sadly, it plays out rather how I expected – you just have to practice, be consistent, and persevere.  I guess I will just keep banging my drum!

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Got a minute? Grab your mobile!

Riddle me this, then read on.

I will freely admit that the first thing I do when I have a moment to kill is reach for my trusty iPhone (I hate it, but I love it), and generally I head straight to my email.  Some folks check their text messages, and others might head to their favorite apps. I know that waiting at the filling station is my time to check the latest on my NPR app. That being said, my mobile isn’t my favorite way to access information, and it generally ranks as a necessary inconvenience of modern life.

Still, mobile is where it is at for marketing. According to a Mobile Marketing Watch report issued on 17 June 2011, the latest Neilsen data shows that, during the past year, the amount of data the average smartphone user consumes every 30 days has ballooned by a whopping 89%! Coupled with ever rising smartphone sales figures, there is a lot of opportunity to develop and grow customer relationships using mobile marketing strategies.  If you look over the case studies at the Mobile Marketing Association website, you can see just how dramatic the response is to efforts on this platform.  One that stood out to me was a campaign hosted by Fort Thunder Harley-Davidson; they reported that “The first time we used our text messaging to inform our customers about a sale, we had our best sales day in nine months. Every time we use our texts to inform customers about events or sales, our store traffic greatly increases “

It is clear that mobile marketing is a highly effective, but that doesn’t make it easy to do well.  From a content creation perspective, to maximize you impact you need to find a way to be hyper-concise without losing the intention of your message.  That is close to someone asking you to rewrite the Iliad as a haiku.  Fortunately, there is good advice out there on creating content for mobile. According “How To: Optimize Marketing Copy for Mobile” by Mashable’s Ryan Matzer, mobile user behavior is shaped by  three key factors:

  1. Pockets of Use
  2. Perpetual and Inherent Distraction
  3. The (very) small screen

Bearing these in mind, copywriters need to change the way they approach content creation.

Fortunately,some of the guesswork is also going out of the process since it is tools like Google’s Website Optimizer allow you to set up multiple versions of your mobile site and engage in budget friendly A/B testing. You don’t need to have deep pockets to do some real pre-rollout research to fine tune your campaign.

It is a brave new world, but there is a lot of help to be found for those of us (raising my hand) who are a bit unsure how to best proceed in developing and implementing mobile marketing strategy.

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Love me some infographics!

One of my favorite things about new media is the rich role that graphics play in communication.  Infographics and data visualizations make information more engaging and sometimes more understandable than text alone.  The danger of these visualizations is, if done poorly, they can mislead.  It is kind of like reporting bias.  Unless the frame of reference is well set up front, the point can often be obscured or lost. One of my favorite pieces from my time in IMC 693 Visual Information Design, was this TED talk by David McCandless.

Data visualizations can reveal a lot of unexpected things that challenge our understanding and beliefs – something I think everyone should be willing and eager to do! As a writer, this poses an interesting conundrum – how can I say less and show more (with the help of the brilliant designer I work with) without making my own contribution seem irrelevant? So far, it hasn’t been a big problem, but I do cringe when I hear “no one READS”.  It is an existential dilemma.

So why am I talking about infographics?  Mostly because I found a cool one that speaks directly to what we are a part of in the IMC program.
How the Internet is Revolutionizing Education
Via: OnlineEducation.net

This particular visualization has me wondering what the landscape of higher education will look like in the next five to ten years as my kids head out into the world.  The implications of ever-changing delivery models makes me wonder if some of these emerging media tools, that we are looking at as ways to augment and improve conventional communications, won’t end up completely altering cultural conventions in ways we have never considered.  Don’t think so?  Try leaving your mobile phone at home one weekday and while you are at it, don’t go online either – see how it feels.  Think you could do it?

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June 8th is World IPv6 Day, and yes it matters to YOU!

This is one of those cool opportunities where I can share something new with my fellow IMCers.  If you tend toward the geek side of the spectrum, you probably already heard that Wednesday June 8th is World IPv6 Day, But there is a very real possibility that you don’t know, and even if you do know you probably aren’t too worried about it.  Let me tell you why you should be paying attention, and what this has to do with emerging media.

Once upon a time, there was no Internet.  (Crazy, right?) During those dark days, a bunch of really smart engineers figured out a way to “network” computers and pass information digitally, and to do this they developed an addressing system called Internet Protocol version 4, or IPv4.  The numbers used to create these addresses were part of a large but finite set based on a 32-bit numbering scheme, which provides a total of 4,294,967,296 discreet addresses.  A whole lot of stuff got engineered to support this addressing structure.  Then folks realized the potential of the Internet, and it became something all together different and larger than those smart engineers had anticipated. I’ll let Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf explain it:

It became clear in the 1990s that IPv4 wasn’t going to be big enough to support all the growth that was happening online.  So the smart engineers got together again (actually they do this a lot) and they came up with IPv6.  This address pool is based on 128-bit numbering scheme.  That means there are  340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374, 607,431,768,211,456 IPv6 addresses.

What does this have to do with emerging media? Well, right now as a consumer you can see pretty much anything you want to see online, and if you are a business you know what you need to do to be sure you customers can find you.  That is about to change.  IPv4 and IPv6 don’t work together seamlessly, and when IPv4 runs out, people aren’t going to ALL switch to IPv6 – try suggesting that to your network engineer and watch the reaction. Rather, you will have customers who are trying to reach you over IPv4 and IPv6, and you need to be set up so you can serve both audiences.

On World IPv6 over 300 organizations will be doing a dry run to see what living in an IPv6 world will be like.  This is a critical  test for everyone who relies on a stable Internet to run their business.  In IMC 619, we talked a lot this past week about how things like design and navigation impact a customer’s decision to do business with you online, and how important mobile browser friendly sites and apps are to future business.  I will take it one step further and say, none of that matters if your site or service 404s for a customer because you aren’t accessible using both protocols, and knowing that your service providers and other infrastructure are ready with a solid IPv6 transition plan can have a huge impact on the viability of your online presence.

So what are you doing June 8th?

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“But MOM,EVERYONE is on Facebook!”

Try living with a tween or young teen, and you are likely to hear this new twist on the timeless “but everyone else gets to _____” lament. While I sincerely doubt that *everyone* is on Facebook, I am more that a little surprised at the lackadaisical attitude of many parents I know.  The situation is so common that there is even a series called Facebook for Parents taught at Stanford University.

In additional to all the safety concerns that come along with unfettered access to these social fora, how does this fit in with online marketing to tweens/teens? Research is showing it is a channel that can’t be ignored.

Check out these stats from a Grunwald Associates study on tween and teen behaviors and attitudes about advertising within the social-networking environment:

The study validates that social networking is now an embedded component in the lifestyles of online teens and tweens:

  • 81% of online 9-17 year olds say that they have visited a social networking website within the past 3 months.
  • 71% of online 9-17 year olds visit these sites at least weekly.
  • Nearly half (47%) of 9-17 year olds, including more than half (55%) of teens, report participation in one or more advertiser-branded activity types in the last month.
  • More than 90% of tweens and teens say they’d like to hear about one or more types of entertainment products in social-networking sites.
  • Overall, 20% of teens report adding branded content to their own websites in the last month.

The study also showed that parents are okay with all this. (I assume these are the *nice parents* that my daughter claims exist.)

  • Overall, parents generally have a positive view of advertisers that sponsor services clearly designed to help their children become successful adults.
  • When asked about advertising placements, parents appear more positive about content that creatively engages their children and asks for their feedback, such as offers and information included in quizzes and polls.

(excerpts taken from MC Marketing Charts, if you want to read the full article.)

Interestingly, the same sort of infiltration has not occurred in the Twittersphere, no matter how much the prevalence of #JustinBieber and similar hashtags might indicate otherwise.

So my question is this, do you accept this reality and use this marketing platform for unintended audiences?  In my mind, that isn’t that far off of creating beer and cigarette campaigns that appeal to teens.

I don’t plan on becoming more permissive just because it is the popular or easy thing to do, and I am not sure I am comfortable with marketers trolling for youngsters in social networks.  It just seems kinda creepy.

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