Friday, August 31, 2012

We All Crash And Burn, Sometime

We all crash and burn, sometime.

Personally and professionally, across all faiths and backgrounds, we all have moments of highs and lows. It's unavoidable -- we're human.

But I believe it's how you respond from the crash that defines you. Are you someone that gets up stronger than before, or someone that feels fortunate to limp away?

I posted an update to Facebook earlier this week about a meeting where our demonstration went haywire. It really was no fault of ours (no, seriously!) -- the network we were using had blocked many of the sites we integrate with as part of our demonstration, so a lot of things that we usually show, we couldn't. Even though it was a simple explanation that was clear to everyone in the room, the demonstration suffered because of it.

We crashed. And we knew it.

He's clearly had a rough life.
In personal manners, I think most guys this side of Brad Pitt have had the same experience I did when dating in that you probably heard a handful of No's before she was finally willing to give you a chance to win her over. But man, when you finally got that Yes, damn it felt good, right?

It often takes a few crash and burns before you get there, which is why you hear of guys that keep asking the same girl out over and over again because they're hopeful that eventually, she might say yes (see Cash, Johnny)!

If it's an opportunity (professionally or personally) that you really feel strongly about, you have to take the risk. And if you're unwilling to ask the hard questions (and be prepared for the answer you don't want), you're going to get the answer you DO want a lot less of the time. It's risk/reward, but when you stop asking, your chance of getting the answer you want, drops to zero.

I believe there are two things that can help ensure that a crash and burn while inevitable some of the time, isn't a total loss.

1. Every Experience is a Learning Experience

In business (and in your personal life), we encounter shall we say, interesting experiences on a daily basis. Some good, some bad, some that don't alter our pulse at all. But every experience is a learning experience, and here's what I mean.

With our crash and burn earlier this week, we saw sites being blocked that made no sense (who blocks So ahead of a meeting yesterday, not only did we test every site (of which some were indeed blocked), but we modified our script to adjust to the absence of those sites and where possible, substituted viable alternatives. We learned from the negative experience and used it to maximize our impact.

In your personal life, try to reflect on the things that caused you to arrive where you are (in a crashed state no doubt), and how it could have been avoided. Should you have called more? Did you call too much? Did you say the wrong thing? Was the timing/situation just simply not right? Was saying sorry simply not enough? Were you just an idiot (I know I am sometimes!)? I could go on and on...

When you crash, try to understand why it happened, and if if could have been prevented. If you learn something from the experience, it's not a total loss.

2. Get Back in the Cockpit

Some people dwell on losses for a long time, and it affects their outlook on life, their job, relationships, etc... And I'm not blind to the fact that we all cope with things at our own pace, and in our own ways.

However, it is absolutely true that after a crash, you need to get back in the cockpit as fast as possible to prove that the crash is not the norm; winning the race is the norm. The crash was an exception.

The longer you wait, the more reasons you'll find to delay getting back behind the wheel, and the more you'll suffer. If Johnny had stopped asking, June and he would have never become the love story that we've all come to know.

Don't be afraid of crashing. Be afraid of never crashing again, because if you never crash again, you probably didn't take enough chances.


Bad things happen. Mistakes happen. Network connectivity fails. Stuff just breaks. And it sucks. But the people that want to be the most successful in all facets of life take risks, are persistent, and stay focused on the things that are most important to them.

So don't be afraid of the crash, and you'll be surprised how happy you can be.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making Sense of All the Acronyms

It used to be so simple. CMS. Content Management System. Or, depending on what circles you ran in, perhaps it was ECM (Enterprise Content Management).

Then there was WCMS. Then WCM. Then CXM. And so on and so forth (and yes, I'm clearly skipping over dozens of others!).

As a marketer, you're charged with knowing what they all mean, and how the solution you (and/or your IT team) have chosen supports the functionality encompassed in the different acronyms.

And that's not easy.

The good news (tongue in cheek) is that I'm happy to add another one to the list; Digital Experience Management (DEM). Now, don't be scared, it's just a new twist on all the other acronyms that better reflects the technologies that marketers today really need to be successful.

The crux is that the ideal customer experience requires a new approach, one that allows marketers to consistently deliver the right content, to the right user, at the right time, in the right channel. Customers expect relevancy from their first experience with your company or brand, and a consistent experience across all channels - web, mobile device, email, and social. Marketers are challenged to analyze customer behavior and optimize content delivery accordingly.

Ektron recently released our Digital Experience Management solution, which:
"enables companies to acquire more customers and deliver consistent, relevant content across all digital channels in a way that can be measured and optimized to achieve business results."
Sounds great, right? But, the key is understanding that the new functionality is fairly minimal -- it's how it can all be tied together that makes this special.

There's essentially six components:
  • Content Targeting - the ability to leverage Ektron's content personalization framework to drive content within the context of a user's visit.
  • Email Marketing and Marketing Automation - the ability to tightly integrate with the leading email marketing and marketing automation tools like Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua, Exact Target and more, and to utilize the data and content from those systems within Ektron's Content Targeting technology.
  • Web and Marketing Analytics - the ability to understand the performance of websites and marketing campaigns, at a deeper level than ever possible before.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - the ability to leverage integrated search engine optimization functionality that maximizes the impact the web content management system can have on your organic rankings.
  • Multichannel Delivery - the ability to deliver consistent messages and branding across all digital channels.
  • Integrate with Existing Tools - the ability to leverage Ektron's Digital Experience Hub technology to tightly integrate with your existing CRM, Marketing Automation, and Web Analytics investments to deliver a unified customer experience.
Ektron’s DEM essentially allows your company to get found by your prospects so you can generate more leads, and lets marketers deliver a highly relevant, and consistent experience, to your customers and prospects across all digital channels. If you're a marketer and DEM is new to you, it's time to brush up on your acronyms because I don't see this one going away anytime soon.
To learn more about Ektron's DEM solution, please visit:

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Some People Still Get It, How To Let Vendors Down The Right Way

I know that this will come as a surprise to many of you, but I don't win every deal I'm in. I know, take a moment to let that sink in...

Well, not quite, I guess...
Last week, we lost a deal that we had invested a significant amount of time in. There were multiple onsite visits (involving Ektron resources from all over the country), custom proof of concept development, involvement by the Ektron product development team, executive team, and more. And we did everything as well as it could be done.

But we lost.

And that's ok.

Don't take that the wrong way, I hate losing. And after this effort, I am disappointed that we weren't selected. However, two things happened that made it a little less painful.

First, the CIO, whom I greatly respect, took the time to call and explain their decision. He explained their process, where they saw differences among the solutions, and what was most important to them.

He then let me ask a bunch of questions and gave me candid answers. We talked for almost thirty minutes and I felt like we got an "exit interview" so to speak. Even though we lost, we were able to learn some things that perhaps we'll do a bit differently next time.

Then, I got a call this week from their Web Manager. She knew that the CIO had already called and told me that we'd lost. She didn't have to call.

But she did.

And she expressed her gratitude to our team for the effort put forth. She praised us (without going over the top) and provided some additional detail around their decision. 

She didn't have to call me.

But she did.

I guess my point is that I don't mind losing -- I don't like it, but I understand that our solution isn't the right fit for every engagement. Getting these two calls provided helpful feedback and while I don't blame prospects that don't want to call each vendor to explain their decision, that approach doesn't provide vendors with any feedback as to what they could have done differently to present themselves more effectively, or how their product could be improved to have been a better fit.

If nothing else, they gave us a chance to answer the question "why not us", and there is value in that. These are good people, and people that clearly "get it". We may not have won this engagement, but I won't hesitate to try and work with them again if the opportunity presents itself.

And should the selected solution not work out, I'll be ready...

I wanted to add a link to a partner colleague of mine, Deane Barker, who maintains a blog at Deane saw this post and wrote a complementary post that is definitely worth a read. Enjoy: What You Owe Vendors Who Respond to Your RFP

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Role Social Media Plays in Coping With Loss

If you read my last post, you're aware that I recently lost someone close unexpectedly. It's been a difficult time as it is with the passing of anyone important to you, but one thing that has really stood out is the role that social media and social networking sites, particularly Facebook, have played in the grieving and healing process.

Social networking sites provide a great outlet for engaging with your friends and family and perhaps at no point in your life is this type of engagement more crucial then when you’ve lost someone. And while there are dozens of ways in which social media can help the coping process, I’ve highlighted a couple of the ways in which my cousins, who are coping with the loss of their mother, have seen Facebook help them thru this very difficult time.


Sometimes you want to whisper -- other times you want to SCREAM. For better or worse, social media channels like Facebook allow us to do just that, whenever we want.

At a difficult time like this, social media sites provide an outlet that don’t require us to pick up the phone and make a call, but rather allows us to take time to think about what we want to say, and then share it.

Take the post below; it allowed my cousin to memorialize his mother, in his words. He didn’t have to explain why he was posting it or answer any questions – he was in complete control of the message, and it was posted when he was ready to share it. And based on the number of likes and comments, the response surely had a positive impact on his healing process.

Say Things Once

When things happen unexpectedly, the first question is always "what happened?" For minor things, explaining what happened over and over again is usually not a problem. However, when it comes to the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to continue to tell the same story over and over again.

This is another area where Facebook (and other social media sites) provide the ability to share information with a broader group of people more efficiently. Take the post below for example:

Before Facebook, my cousin would have had to make dozens of phone calls to share this information and would have received another dozen calls from people who were unable to locate it on their own or heard it from someone else. In her words, every time she had to tell the story to someone, it made her cry, so the fewer times she had to do this, the better.

This also allowed the message to reach a much wider audience because it’s likely she wouldn’t have had time to call everyone. This led to a ton of positive, supportive posts and messages on Facebook, and a larger attendance at the services because people that they might not have thought to call, saw the message and came.

Support 2.0

Common sense tells us that the loss of a parent is one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to cope with. For most, what helps us get through difficult times is the support and love of our friends and family, and I think it's perhaps needed at this time more than any other.

I am close to my cousins and they know that I'm here for anything they need, but I also wanted to respect their need for space at a time like this. And clearly I wasn't alone. More than twenty unique posts containing messages of support and encouragement were posted on their Facebook time lines (instead of shared via phone call), and that's not counting the hundreds of comments and likes that each of these posts received. This respected their need for space, but let them know that we still were thinking about them.

It Provides an Online Memorial
My Cuz and I Rocking Our Z
Cavariccis circa the early 90's
In many cases, I’ve seen users setup Facebook pages in memory of others that are no longer with us. Whether or not that’s appropriate is up for discussion, but with the way the Facebook timeline functionality works, users can easily see all the posts that were made to or about them, the comments, the photographs, and anything else that was shared during this time.

While it may not be something they’re ready to consume right now, having the ability to view that display of support and love, and the memories that were shared is certainly something that very few (if any) other channels could provide. These memories and photographs (such as the award winner to my right), brought back good memories and showed how important an influence this person had on everyone she interacted with (she was responsible for dressing my cousin!).


Social networking sites and social media channels like Facebook are always going to be a lightning rod for discussion -- heck, just look at the recap of a conversation on this that I wrote about last week!

But for all those that are quick to dismiss the value that a social networking site like Facebook offers (regardless of its stock price), there are certainly moments in our lives where its value is immeasurable. Facebook can't bring back what we've lost, but it can certainly help ensure that her memory lives on.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your WCM

You have to watch this first:

I wish I could pull off a suit like the one George Michael is wearing, but it's just not meant to be for me... Anywho...

I had a conversation the other day with a client that was considering leaving Ektron (I know, how dare they even consider the possibility of another Web Content Management System!). We discussed some of the concerns they had with Ektron and when I asked which version of the Ektron WCM they were using, it turned out that they hadn't upgraded in more than four years, which in technology time, is like twenty-five years!

Our conversation turned to discussing the newer versions of the WCM and how many of the concerns they had about the product had been resolved in newer releases. However, similar to the words of George Michael and Elton John, they were indeed letting the sun go down on their WCM by not giving it the love and attention it needs.

Like any piece of software, if you don't maintain it/upgrade it/continue to take advantage of all it has to offer, it's functionality is going to get outdated and it's going to seem like it no longer meets your needs (even though it very much can).

For example, from the release that they were on to the current release, here are a few of the enhancements that have been made:

To be blunt, that's a ton of new enhancements. And yet, the client was considering leaving the platform simply because they weren't aware of all this new functionality.

We believe that Ektron is a long-term solution, and that as your needs continue to evolve and grow, our approach to supporting that vision will continue to adapt to support your initiatives. So don't let the sun go down on your WCM and save that for relationships and other less important stuff...

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Three Things I'll Always Remember About My Aunt Sharon

Less than a week ago, tradegy hit very close to home. With feelings of frustration, disappointment, heartbreak, and pain, I chose to celebrate instead of grieve.

When my cousin called to tell me about the accident, like everyone else, I was floored. Someone very close to me was taken suddenly, and without warning, from our lives.
The Three Stooges -- My Mother (left), My Aunt Sharon (right),
and My Aunt Sandy, Sharon's twin (center)

And yet, despite the heartbreak, the fear of having to share such awful news with others that were also close with her, and the sadness of knowing what lie ahead, I didn't cry.

I didn't get mad and punch the wall (though that was primarily because the baby was sleeping and I didn't feel like waking her up early!).

I didn't pour a stiff, tall drink to help me cope (that came later).

Actually, a small grin filled the corner of my lips, because the first thought that went through my head was an image of her smiling at me, saying "Hey Babe, I'm OK -- It'll Be Ok."

Everything was always going to be ok; everything always worked out. And if you knew my Aunt, you'd know that she called a lot of people Babe.

Perhaps she did that because there are so many of us in our special, extended family and it was just easier than trying to remember everyone's name... But with her, it truly was a term of endearment. If you were a Babe to her, it meant she loved you. And I loved being a Babe

For someone that had a difficult life (relative to what us younger folk consider hard), you would have never known it. Her smile could light up an entire room. And even if her life was at a low point, she'd listen to your successes and be genuinely happy for you. It's hard to find people like that these days.

She was strong. She raised three amazing children. She cared for and supported her husband as he battled illnesses for the last decade and a half of his life. And she worked -- doing hard work -- to provide for her family. She was strong, and she was brave.

She was also loud.

Last Friday night, I was fortunate enough to see her at a street festival. And while we talked about a lot of things, I'll never forget our last conversation.

The night prior, my wife and I had celebrated our anniversary and as part of that ritual, we always watch our wedding video (the reception part, not the actual service, who wants to see that...). As I was addressing the audience and thanking everyone for coming, I made a comment along the lines of "It's nice to meet so many people on my wife's side that I hadn't met before, and it's great that she got to meet the weird side of my family!"

Ba da bump.

And while the line went over well, there was one voice that was louder than the rest. In fact, my Aunt was hooting and hollaring like she was in the audience of the old Arsenio Hall show. It was great. She probably had been overserved, but if you can't get overserved at a family wedding, when can you, really? She brought such excitement everywhere she went, and we're fortunate that her daughter really seems to have the same effect (her sons, well, they're a tad more reserved...).

She was an amazing influence on my life and judging by the line that was out the door of the funeral home (and the fact that we had to park several blocks away to attend the Wake, in the suburbs!), it's clear that she had that kind of influence on many others too. I'm grateful that her spirit leaves on in my three cousins and will never forget the memories that we have.

But while there will be plenty of time to grieve, I think that for now, we need to celebrate her. We need to tell the stories that make us laugh. We need to have an extra glass of wine, because that's what Shar would have done. And we need to honor her not with tears, but by being reminded of all the wonderfulness she brought to our lives.

So there will be time to grieve, but for now, I implore those impacted by this to celebrate her, because if there was one thing she was really good at, it was celebrating.

There are three things that I will always remember about her. I'll remember to always be brave, even when things are darkest; I'll remember never to be afraid to be the loudest voice (or laugh) in the room; and I'll always remember that "Hey Babe, It's OK -- She's Ok."

I love you Aunt Sharon, rest in peace.

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Guest Blogger: @dkragen "The Webmaster is dead! Long Live the Webmaster!"

Guest Blog by Dave Kragenbrink (@dkragen) Solutions Administrator at Waukesha County
It wasn’t so long ago that every company was issuing the title of “Webmaster” to someone. It started out by being given to that person in the corner that knew what the acronyms WWW and HTML meant. Then it moved onto the person that understood that blink tags and purple backgrounds were not a good idea. Then, the person that understood that static content was not the right way to present information, was given the title. Most recently, it has been bestowed onto that person that was able to integrate application data into websites.
Now, however, I feel that the title of “webmaster” needs to be put out to pasture, and this is coming from a person that has “webmaster” in their job description.

I have been a webmaster for well over a decade now (circa 1998) and I have used the Ektron product since the 5.x days. I have lived through the breakthroughs and the growing pains both in the web world as a whole and the Ektron product itself. From consolidated information to distributed data. From static to dynamic, from 13” monitors to multiscreen and mobile.
About the time Ektron 7.x was released, there was a fundamental change in how I started marketing the web and the Ektron product to our users. I realized that I was no longer the webmaster. My users were. My job had really evolved into one of mentor and guidance counselor over all things web.

With the release of the 8.x platform, and specifically 8.6, I think my job has fully changed. I personally have not posted any content onto our company website in over 6 months. Instead of being in the “do this for us” business, we are in the “let’s show you how to do it yourself” business. With the easy integration of social media accounts into Ektron along with the push or responsive web design principles, the ability for us to get out of the content game is allowing us to focus on the presentation layer to a much greater degree. It allows us to get back to our developer roots.
Ektron 8.6 is putting these tools, once only in the developers purview, into the content editors’ hands; as is nicely described by Tom Wentworth (@twentworth12) in a recent blog post Web Content editing is fun again.

We are implementing pagebuilder currently and will be developing widgets for our users to use as well. This will only push us further and further from the content, which I think is a good thing.  So for all of you webmasters out there that fear giving up that title, don’t be. Embrace it. Evolve to the “Solutions Architect” role. Understand the tools that Ektron has and how to use them, then go and be an evangelist and bestow the title of “webmaster” onto everyone that contributes content.
The web is no longer a unique piece of technology that the title of webmaster can be bestowed onto any one person. All content editors are “webmasters”, while we, the “webmasters” of yore can fade back into that person in the corner that just makes things work.

My Thoughts
Dave hits on some pretty important topics in this post. The biggest one for me is the delegation of responsibility so that it isn't just one person controlling content, but rather the subject matter experts in each area managing their own content and messaging. That's a big shift from where we were technologically just a few years ago, and is something that I'm personally seeing more and more often. Thanks for Guest Blogging Dave, I hope you enjoyed it (I know I did!).

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do You Brag Too Much?

This morning, I participated in an online chat hosted by Elizabeth Bernstein, a noted columnist at the Wall Street Journal. The premise of the chat was to discuss "Bragging in the Facebook Age" and essentially, how to ensure that your messaging is effective, yet not offensive to the majority of your audience (you can please some of the all the time, but you can't please all of them all the time!). And for me, there were three primary takeaways.

#1: Tone Matters
Yes, it's very difficult to convey tone when you're posting to Twitter or Facebook because different people are going to read the same post different ways. But here is a good example of how Ms. Bernstein adjusted her messaging and tone to be more effective:

I live in Miami and have a pretty awesome view of the ocean. I looked out my window and saw a rainbow that was gorgeous. I wanted to post to FB and at first thought of saying: "Here's the awesome view out my window!" But isn't that obnoxious? Instead, I posted: "Here's a beautiful rainbow I just saw in Miami. I hope it brightens your day, too." I think it's all about how we say what we say.

It's a great point. Notice the way the post was phrased. She clearly wasn't bragging, though if she had added a line that said she "saw it from her balcony while drinking a pina colada", some people might have responded negatively (while others would have laughed!).

#2: Don't be Afraid to Unfriend/Unfollow
No one wants to hurt anyones feelings, but a lot of comments in the session were about people that were tired of seeing pictures of people's kids, hearing about other people's accomplishments, and so on. For me, that's probably the biggest benefit of being involved with social media. I love being able to keep tabs on what's happening with the most important people in my life.

For those that view it as a negative though, my recommendation would be to unfollow/unfriend (or if you don't want to upset someone, "hide" their posts in your timeline) because if their posts are really bothersome, they'll get the hint when others start to do the same.

#3: Frequency is the Key
I'm probably an offender of this principle in that I follow a lot of people that post really, really good content, so I share a ton of stuff, in addition to my own writings/findings. This probably pisses off some people that follow me (sorry!), but good content is good content (and can be worth a free lunch!).

There's no definitive answer as to how much is too much. Updating your status once a day might be too much for some and not enough for others -- but being cognizant of the frequency of your posts is important. If a post from you is the first thing you see everytime you log into Facebook (and you likely login several times per day), you might want to re-evaluate how often you are posting things...

Social media is still figuring itself out -- I mean, it's no longer the new kid on the block, but it's far from being defined entirely. Therefore, how you choose to use social media is really up to each individual because we all have different needs that it fills, and different thresholds for the information it provides.

I have included the link to the chat below in case you want to check it out. But for me, the main takeaways were tone, only connecting with those you really want to hear from, and frequency as the three biggest things that can help improve your social media experience.

Chat Archive:

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Blogger Tom Wentworth: Customer Experience Management - Technology or Strategy?

Customer Experience Management (CXM) is important to all businesses, there is no argument there. But what seems to be a common misconception is that CXM comes from a software product you install and that with the click of a button and a short download you can provide the ultimate customer experience.
One of the first things a successful business needs to recognize is the mindset that CXM is not a product; it is a strategy and discipline. No matter how you engage with a company, you should have a seamless experience. There is no technology you can install that gives you customer experience; it is a business process that technology plays a significant role in.
What Customer Experience Is
The most important thing to begin with is a corporate belief that customer experience is an important method to keep loyal customers as well as ultimately grow revenue. As a company, you need to instill the principle that anything that is experience related is a discipline and not a product, in order to achieve business goals through Customer Experience Management.
According to a recent Forrester Research, Inc. report,
"CXM technologies should not be confused with the profession of understanding and leading customer experience design activities. Rather, CXM solutions allow businesses to manage and optimize the customer experience through content management, commerce, targeting, analytics, and optimization capabilities across digitally enabled customer touchpoints.”
What Technology Provides
The technology factor does play a role in CXM because for most organizations, the digital channels are some of the most important touch points in a customer experience discipline. Customers visit websites, they join Facebook pages and they tweet at organizations, all of which have technology components to them.
For the most part, companies have made investments with existing customer experience solutions that provide information organizations use as a basis for CXM strategies. For example, analytics solutions provide a way for organizations to track data, which in turn allows them to be customer centric because to have a good CXM platform you need to have a strong data management strategy in place.
You also have to be able to track customers and that is a tie to CRM solutions. Email remains important because it is one of the predominant methods of communication used to keep in contact with customers. Web Content Management platforms are also important because content is the cornerstone of cross-channel engagement.

The approach to integrating technology with an overall Customer Experience Management strategy will prevent companies from seeking out any type of “rip and replace” technology to solve a CXM problem, which doesn’t actually exist. This strategy provides an opportunity to connect these integral pieces of your organization to content and context, which is the basis for implementing a successful customer experience.

The fundamental building block to a successful CXM strategy is content. Once there is buy in from the top of the organization that CXM should be considered a discipline, and this is a goal for the organization, content is then used to determine how it is customers want to do business with the company. If you integrate Web Content Management with your existing “Systems of Experience”, you can begin to market to customers in a holistic, cross channel way rather than the siloed approach we have seen fail in the past.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Great Content = Free Lunch

We're lazy. All of us. I don't care of you get up for yoga at 5 am, if I spend enough time with you, I'm confident that I could point out numerous examples of your laziness on display.

And I'm not saying it's a bad thing. We're all lazy.

But when it comes to social media and networking, being lazy can really hinder your ability to grow your network, share your message, and find new opportunities.

Here's what I mean. It's fairly easy to blog, tweet, post to Facebook, update Linked In, and manage all of your major social channels, online. You're not lazy for doing that. Where the lazy part kicks in is in carrying those social interactions to the "offline" world (read: real world), where those connections can really be fostered and grown.

I was having lunch the other day with @JillianMktng and we started talking about the different people/organizations that we interact with online, and how many of them really disconnect their "online" social media efforts from their "offline" social networking efforts, when indeed, those should be tightly connected. The conclusion was basically that if you're doing one but not other, you're missing the boat.

When I connect with someone on Linked In or Twitter, if their content is really engaging, I try to physically meet that person "offline". I mean, if their online content is really strong, they must be damn amazing in person! And it's proven to be the case.

I've had the opportunity to meet with really strong content creators like @jwillie, @jimdemaria, @paigeworthy, and @suzannecohen01, and have plans to do the same with others like @darcyschuller, founder of one of the leading social consulting firms in Chicago.

While I could certainly learn from them and build an "online" relationship with each of these individuals via Twitter and Linked In, that approach has nowhere near the potential of what having actual (unabbreviated) conversations in person can do.

That's why it's important to take your online social media experience, offline -- to share as much as you can in person (remember, the original social network). It'll be better for you, and will provide for a more engaging experience between you and your network.

I'm going to start leveraging the hashtag #GreatContentFreeLunch on the best things that I share. If your tweet is tagged that way and you'd like to connect with me (either for a free lunch on me, at an event, etc.), please DM me and we can set it up. I look forward to it, because while there is no such thing as a free lunch, if you create great content, you deserve one.

If you like this content (and I hope you do), please connect with me on Linked In, Google Plus, or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Are You All In?

One of the biggest perks of my career is that I spend the majority of my day on the phone or engaged in email conversations with clients talking about their goals and visions for their web experience. And while everyone's goals and visions have similarities, they also have major differences, which is what makes it really interesting.

The one thing that I've come to realize is that the clients that find the most success go all in, all the time.

They never talk about "dipping their toe" in the metaphorical water.

There is no "kinda".

There is no "well, we've talked a little..."

It's all or nothing, go big or go home.

A few months ago, I was meeting with a client to discuss their goals specifically around social media. They had questions about using social for lead generation and obvious concerns around compliance issues as a healthcare organization.

However, I explained to them all the things they were missing by not taking advantage of social channels and opened their eyes up to a whole new avenue for customer interaction that they were basically ignoring. Though there were concerns from upper management (and probably still are today), they are now extremely diligent in updating their Facebook page, interact with clients daily via Twitter, and even setup a Linked In group that encourages interaction amongst employees. These interactions and collaboration simply would not be happening without social media, something that they were afraid of primarily because they just didn't know enough about it.

They took a risk -- and the early returns are extremely favorable.

We talk so much these days about risk and reward, but I fear that the number of us willing to go for the big reward are heavily outnumbered by those too fearful of the consequences. In fact, when I'm in a meeting and sense that this is the case, I start walking down the path of how Ektron provides risk aversion for clients, instead of focusing on all the marketing and technology benefits it provides.

Isn't that insane? Focusing on how "safe" a choice our solution is as opposed to how "great" it is -- it just doesn't seem logical to me. But perhaps that's the world we live in today.

I guess the takeaway here is that you shouldn't be afraid to be great, because you might just surprise yourself when you are. I'm not saying that you should completely ignore consequences. If you jump off the cliff and the water isn't deep enough, bad things will happen. However, if you never take a big risk, you'll probably never be as great as you could be.

If you like this content (and I hope you do), please connect with me on Linked In or follow me on Twitter.

Friday, August 3, 2012

In a Minute: How to Best Use Hashtags on Twitter

Wrapping up a busy week, I went ahead and put together a quick video on some ways to best use hashtags on Twitter. It's mainly targeted at folks that are new to Twitter, but should confirm some best practices for even the savviest veteran. Enjoy!

If you like this content (and I hope you do), please connect with me on Linked In or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What Do You Want to Know?

Cute, right?
I might be letting the cat out of the bag (which an expression that I've never really understood because I don't know why you'd put a cat in a bag, ever, but I'll go with it), but I'm pretty stoked about Ektron's sixth annual Synergy Conference this November. It's always a great opportunity to mingle with clients and prospective clients as well as Ektron implementation and technology partners.

However, this year's lineup of speakers is pretty damn impressive. You've got one of the top Digital authorities, an extremely well-respected author credited with creating the concept of Mobile First, the engine behind and the freakin Godfather of Responsive Web Design, among others. 

I'm honored to announce that I will be putting my name up alongside theirs (though I really need to work on a tagline -- is "Creator of Everything Awesome, and Bacon", taken already?). Which leads to my question -- what do you want to know?

I know that you're all dying to tap into the bottomless pit of wisdom that is my brain, so I'll reign it back a little and share that my session is going to be focused around social media strategies and trends, and how Ektron can support these initiatives (is that generic enough to leave mistique around it?). What could I talk about that would guarantee your interest in attending my session above all others (because after all, all that really matters is who's session has the most attendees)?

I can promise the following:
  • I will answer any question about any topic that you can think of, because that's what usually happens with social media
  • I'm going to create a hashtag just for my session, cuz I'm like that
  • I will quote (or use lyrics in an analogous way) from at least one song from the 80's, 90's, and 00's (and I am open to requests)
  • There might be prizes (also open to requests)
  • I will actively encourage you during the session to constantly check your mobile device (but only for social media purposes, and only if you're saying nice things about me!)
  • There might be a special guest or two
  • There might be booze (ok, that's a lie, but it's a good way to boost attendance).

The conference is in Washington, D.C. (REGISTER HERE) and starts the day after that little election thing. If you can make it, I guarantee it will, if nothing else, be entertaining...

So, what do you want to know?

Be sure to look for Tweets with the hashtag #EktronSynergy for the latest!